The Idaho State University Visual Communication trip to Yellowstone National Park was great. We got to stay at the Research and Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, which made a great base camp. The group was mostly made up of Dr. Terry Ownby’s photography students, and Dr. Judy Morris’ video students. The combination of these two groups was great for me since I participated in both programs while working on my undergraduate degree. We set out for the park each morning and shot the geothermal features as well as any wildlife that we encountered. I got a ton of photos and some video. We saw several bison, deer, elk, and a black bear. We also witnessed a raven unzip and steal items from the saddle bags on a BMW motorcycle in the parking lot at the Yellowstone Lodge.
I made a return trip to get some night shots, and I have to say it is a completely different experience. The geysers make horrific hissing and growling sounds when there are no tourists around to drown them out, and you can feel the ground rumble under your feet when you have the boardwalk to yourself. I would recommend you try some night hiking in the park if you dare!
Here are my favorite shots from the trip. They are in random order, so browse through them full screen by clicking on one. I will post a random video or two later on after I finish editing the clips.
The wind chopped up my mirror, but this beaver dam below the Grand Tetons was awesome
Excelsior feeding her steam to a thunder storm. It was epic to witness this interaction
Trees that grew too near to the geothermal features of Geyser Basin back lit by the full moon and light painted with my LED flashlight
The view from the trail downstream from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park
Excelsior on a stormy day
Another angle of the spring above Mammoth Springs glistening in the sunset. I am digging the crepuscular rays in the sky
Light painted a geyser with my LED flashlight in Yellowstone National Park
Saw this from the road and had to take a shot.
Shot this panorama at Grand Prismatic while wishing I could fly my quadcopter up and get a look at the actual pool. It is pretty much illegal to get a higher vantage point, sorry
Bison chilling in the grass enjoying a nice breeze in Yellowstone National Park
The view from the second story balcony in Yellowstone Lodge near Old Faithful
This is my professor Dr. Ownby spotting the next vantage point on the Grand Prismatic boardwalk.
This was a feature on the trail to Morning Glory. I am not sure what it is called, but I felt it needed its picture taken
Green light by Jason Churba, Blue Lazer by Kyler Michaelson
Here is Geyser Basin from a half a mile away. I love the way the steam was interacting with the storm clouds
One of the geysers at Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park
One of the vistas at Norris Basin in Yellowstone National Park
The steam from a geyser backlit by the full moon and milkyway framed by dead trees that grew too close to this geothermal hot spot.
The trees have grown too tall to see much of the river, but here is my version of the epic and historic Ansel Adams shot
The water here is so clear that you can see the bottom of the pond and the reflection of the trees at the same time. Teaming with leeches and salamanders, this is one of the only bodies of water that can empty into both the Atlantic and the Pacific
Could not drive past these dead trees above Mammoth Springs with out taking a shot. I wish there were more clouds, but I like the way it turned out
Shining my blue lazer at the mountain top as a car drives through the scene in Yellowstone National Park
This is why its called Yellowstone
Light painted this rock with my led array and an amber gel while waiting for dusk to turn to night
Playing with my lazer
This is our group at the very spot where Ansel Adams photographed the Tetons and the Snake River
This meadow was a ways off the main road. We hoped to catch a heard of elk moseying through, but instead got this awe inspiring vista
Heard of bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park
Had to capture this very meta moment of our video professor Judy Morris capturing the photography group
Shadow selfy with a geyer at night in Yellowstone National Park
These evening primrose bloomed just in time to capture the light of the full moon and stars
The Grand Prismatic Pool in Yellowstone National Park. I wish it was legal to fly my quadcopter here
Here is the continental divide. You can pee into both oceans from here if you gyrate a little bit
The mighty Tetons and the majestic Snake River
Geyser backlit by the full moon
This is where hats go to die. Just down wind from the Grand Prismatic Pool boardwalk
This crow knows how to open a zipper and steal your sh!t
Sheepeater Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There was a bear sighting across the river from here
This awesome feature was glistening in the sunset above Mammoth Springs
One of the prismatic pools at geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park. I wanted to take a soak since it was a cold day and this seems like a nice hot tub. Too bad it is illegal and would kill you
Found this cool spot to shoot the stars, rocks, and peaks in Yellostone National Park
Black bear walking around a hill in Yellowstone National Park
Full moon reflecting off a prismatic pool at Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park
Light painted this paint pot with my LED flashlight in Yellowstone National Park. This thing freaked me out. It was hissing with demonic howls and the earth was rumbling under my feet. I didn’t notice it during the day with tourists everywhere, but at night being there with just me and Jason Churba was a chilling experience. I truly felt the power of this place
This raven was a bad ass. Just chillin in a tree waiting to steal from everybody. We caught him later unzipping and stealing from a motorcycle saddle bag
I had to shoot the mountains and stars reflecting off the waters of Grand Prismatic Pool. You can see Mars and just barely make out the Milkyway.
View of the falls from down along the designated path.
This project was a lot of fun. I set out with the idea to reveal a secret history in the landscape. The hidden world only existed as a series of personal connections and memories associated with the land. With the help of modern technology I was able to uncover these places and create a visual representation to share. I hope you enjoy the body of work that is the result of 2 months of focus.
Truth be told I came up with this idea to make beautiful landscape photos, and then to augment them with unique CG assets. I generated these assets using hard edge modelling and photogrammetry. I textured the assets by taking photos on location and extracting diffuse, specular, normal, displacement, ambient occlusion, grunge, and crack maps from them. I also made procedural textures when there was no reference available in the field.
Went out to McTucker Pond with X Finney to shoot landscapes for an upcoming series. Here is one of my favorites from the session. I was shooting handheld so i am pretty happy with the level of clarity in the shot.
For this assignment we had to look through our archives and find a universal theme in our previous work. Then, take a weekend and shoot 15 shots specifically planned out to represent or comment on the chosen theme. It was hard to look at my photos through this filter at first, but I eventually started to see a theme emerging. The theme was isolation. I decided to shoot the assignment in the Idaho desert where I go to seek isolation. The following shots are some of my favorites from the weekend shoot.
This image represents the view seen from Isolation Summit. When one seeks the refuge of isolation this is the reward.
This image represents the unique nature of an isolated subject. Isolation nurtures novelty since solutions must be found out through experience.
This image represents the independence of an isolated subject. The Big Southern Butte stands alone in the Idaho desert. The Butte single handedly supports a diverse ecosystem in the middle of an arid landscape.
This image represents isolation and what it takes to truly achieve it. I find that in out modern world, it is difficult to be physically isolated. We tend to stay digitally isolated; confined to a internet bubble or videogame world. This image represents the spirit of an independent adventurer overcoming obstacles to find his or herself alone in the wilderness where one can heal from the inside out.
This image represents the resilience it takes to remain in isolation. Here is a deep well which is used to draw water up from the Snake River Aquifer to water sheep, horses, and cattle.
This image represents isolation by showing this tattered flag posted at the summit of Big Southern Butte. The butte is located all alone in the Idaho desert, and this flag stands alone in the ripping wind that perpetually rakes this cliff face. This is a popular location for hang glider pilots to jump.
From the high vantage point, this image emphasizes the level of isolation experienced through this project.
This mysterious grouping of boxcars represents the decay that comes with prolonged isolation. There were row after row of these old boxcars lined up in the middle of the desert. I have no idea what they are for, and I didn’t stick around too long to find out either.
I went out to City of Rocks in Malta, Idaho. This area is known for majestic granite forms and pioneer history. This area was a landmark along the Oregon Trail. I had a blast climbing up the building sized boulders to get a unique vantage point on the moon rise and sunset. Once the sun went down it was time to set up at Castle Rock to shoot astro-panoramas. It was great connecting to the history of this area and spending time exploring the unique geography.
Outside of City Rocks in Idaho
Old wooden wagon wheel outside city of rocks
The old wagons are lined up facing west into the sunset.
I loved these old wagons
These old wagons are outside of the City Of Rocks Visitor center
This is the valley below Castle Rock
This old house sits along the trail into City of Rocks
Some of the view of City of Rocks
These wind carved stone forms are all over in City of Rocks
This archway is in City of Rocks, Idaho
The Old Oregon Trail cutting through the valley
This is another view of the old farm house
The creek draining out of City of Rocks
City of Rocks, Idaho
The sunset shining into a granite boulder
This is a puddle on top of an enormous boulder
This is a puddle in a huge boulder in City of Rocks, Idaho
Huge stone head in City of Rocks, Idaho
The moon peaking through a stone formation in City of Rocks, Idaho
The moon in City of Rocks
Big moon over Malt, Idaho
City of Rocks in Malta, Idaho
Watching the moon rise in City of Rocks, Idaho
Moon rising over City of Rocks, Idaho
The moon rising over Malta, Idaho
Sunset in the City of Rocks, Idaho
Castle Rock in Malta, Idaho
Moon rising behind a huge boulder.
Castle Rock and the stars in Malta, Idaho
Panorama of the night sky behind Castle Rock in Malta, Idaho
These are my deadpan landscapes. I am no purist, and I wanted to capture the emotion and the sense of place present in each location. Sometimes this goal required me to deviate from the typical deadpan rule book and style guide. I really enjoyed shooting these photos, but it was a sacrifice converting them to black and white. I love the way the series turned out in black and white, but I will post the full color versions in another post if you wish to view them too. The colors in these skies are worth a look.