Techniques from the Techs

Using the 18-400mm in Yellowstone National Park


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Ken Hubbard  Armando Flores  Erica Robinson  Janet Vuong  Jeff Allen  André Costantini

To say Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful places in the National Park system is an understatement for sure. Spanning more than 3,500 square miles, Yellowstone is filled with colorful and mesmerizing thermal features such as Grand Prismatic, the jaw dropping sites of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, to the other worldly landscape of the Mammoth Hot Springs area. With so much beauty to see and photograph you can easily see why Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks with nearly 4.5 million tourists wanting to take in its majesty each year.

With that many visitors each year, overcrowding and vehicle congestion has become an issue in many of the iconic locations of Yellowstone, especially during the midday hours. It is always best to make your way into the park as early as possible or stay later in the day to avoid some of these crowding issues and capture the good light of sunrise and sunset.

© Ken Hubbard
Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD: 1/20th Sec, F/11, ISO 640 @ 58mm

One of the most beautiful and peaceful locations in Yellowstone National Park is the Mammoth Hot Springs for sunrise. If you want a location that you have pretty much to yourself before and during sunrise, this is the spot. Since the hot springs area is very large and involves some climbing of boardwalks and steps, try to arrive about 1 hour before the sun rises to photograph during the bluish light of dawn through the warm glow of sunrise.

© Ken Hubbard
Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD: 1/160th Sec, F/11, ISO 640 @ 29mm

As you make your way along the boardwalks, be careful to stay on them and not walk on the springs themselves, they are very delicate and can be very dangerous. There are a number of beautiful spots to pick for sunrise that will make for incredible photographs, but try to be at one specific location as the sunrise comes over the mountains. Canary hot springs overlook is just that spot with its steaming water cascading down the bright yellow and orange sulfur-dependent filamentous bacteria steps. When you arrive at the small overlook area you are perfectly positioned with the sun behind the steam and its rays beaming through creating an incredible glow to go along with the beautiful colors. Be careful with your metering as not to blow out the highlights of the white areas of the scene. Remember to view your histogram for exposure and try bracketing your images so you have a few samples to choose from when editing.

© Ken Hubbard
Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD: 1/160th Sec, F/22, ISO 640 @ 65mm


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