Thursday, January 24, 2019

LOESS BLUFFS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUDGE


 A DAY AT LOESS BLUFFS 
(Click on any image to enlarge it)




Loess Bluffs (formerly Squaw Creek) is a 7,350-acre refuge, established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a resting, feeding, and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. It is home to 301 bird species (including nesting bald eagles), 33 mammal species, and 35 reptile and amphibian species. During spring and fall migrations, Loess Bluffs' wetlands attract as many as 400,000 snow geese and 100,000 ducks. During the fall and winter, as many as 400 bald eagles have been spotted. Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge includes forest, grassland, cropland and wetland. It is an Internationally Important Bird Area (IBA.) A 10-mile, self-guided driving tour is available.


This was another outing with Bob Colvin. Lots of planning involved. I texted him and said you want to go to Loess Bluffs for the day? He replied, when we leaving? Bob's pretty easy when it comes to outdoor photography. Bob lives in Jefferson City, MO and I live three miles away in Holts Summit, MO. This was a 4 hour, one day trip for us. We left at 5am on a Saturday morning on November 24, 2018 and arrive around 9am. For the most part it is interstate all the way so it was a nice drive.

Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm lens, f/13, 1/1600 sec., ISO 500 

When we first arrived Bob called my attention to the entrance to the area.  My first reaction was O-shit.  The snow geese looked like a plague had descended on the water.  The day we were there the number of snow geese was estimated at 100,000. Based on what I saw I would not have doubted it.  How they count such a flock is a mystery to me.  You could hear their honking a block away.  There are always hundreds maybe even thousands constantly hoovering above the group.  I honestly don't know how they land without getting injured.


Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/2500 sec., ISO 640
Most wildlife photographer photograph anything that flies, moves on land, or swims in water.  While watching the snow geese I observed something moving in the reeds near where I was standing.  Sure enough it was a Muskrat. Never got a really clean shot of him and was amazed that I was able to focus on this guy.

The common muskrat is a medium-sized mammal that has short front legs with small feet, stronger hind legs with large feet, and a vertically flattened, scaly tail that is slightly shorter than the combined length of head and body. The hind feet are partially webbed. The back is blackish brown, and the sides are lighter brown with a reddish tinge; the underparts are still lighter, shading to white on the throat. Their musk glands produce a mild and offensive odor. The principal concern with the muskrat is damage to earthen dams caused by their burrowing. Tunneling into dams can result in leaks or even complete dam failure.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/5000 sec., ISO 500
We continued our drive around the marsh pools. The marsh pools are about three feet deep, replenished by Squaw and Davis Creeks, a well on Mallard Marsh and natural precipitation.   The road around the various pools is 10 mile in length and well maintained.  One of our reasons for this trip was to capture images of Trumpeter Swans.  Reports had indicated there were a large number of them here and we weren't disappointed.  There were quite a few the day we were there and they were easy to photograph and not intimidated by the cars and photographers.  I was using a Nikon D500 with a Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary Lens and Bob was using a Canon 7D Mark II with a Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  Neither of us had any trouble getting some decent shots.


Trumpeter Swans once nested over most of North America, but disappeared rapidly as civilization advanced westward. By the 1930s, fewer than 100 remained south of Canada. With protection from hunting and the general public, populations have rebounded in parts of the northwest.

Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/5000 sec., ISO 500 EV +0.67
Largest of the native waterfowl in North America, and one of our heaviest flying birds, the Trumpeter Swan was almost driven to extinction early in the 20th century. Its healthy comeback is considered a success story for conservationists. 

Ordinarily the Trumpeter is quite sensitive to human disturbance; in protected areas, such as some parks and refuges, it may become accustomed to humans and allow close approach as I mentioned above.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/10, 1/800 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
These birds favor large but shallow freshwater ponds, or wide, slow-flowing rivers, with lots of vegetation. They obtain food from underwater, and/or above water's surface; sometimes on land, especially in winter. To forage in deeper water, swans upend with tail up and neck extending straight down, finding food by touch with bill.  To me this is one of the most regal birds on water. There is an elegance and grace to them.  Did you know that prior to taking flight they will bob their heads up and down, honk, and start swimming in a line positioning themselves to lift off into the wind.  This helps give them elevation when taking to the air.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/2000 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
As we continued around the refuge we spotted Canadian Geese as well.  What interested me was they appeared to be resting or even nesting on top of Muskrat dins. I noticed some of the swans doing the same thing.  

The Canada goose, also called the Canadian goose, is a large wild goose species with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America.  The farther north you go the darker and smaller the Canada Goose is.  The Cackling Goose is a smaller version of the Canada goose with shorter necks and bills.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/10, 1/1250 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
Driving along the tour route you will have no shortage of spotting Bald Eagles.  We noticed what appeared to be several nesting pairs.  Visiting areas like this during the winter, when there are no leaves on the trees, affords you the opportunity to easily locate nests.  There are several along this route. 

Eagles can be opportunistic feeders and a lot of the water fowl will die as a result of exhaustion.  Eagles have been know to prey upon them if hungry enough. 

They will go from a dark headed, dark-bellied bird in year one to a white-headed, dark-bellied bird in year four. In year two, the belly is mostly whitish flecked with brown, but the entire head and breast are still dark, giving the bird a hooded look. In year three, the head whitens and the belly darkens. Early on in this year, bald eagle bellies will be predominantly white with brown flecks, but the brown will win out, replacing most or all of the white. The face, crown, nape, and throat will go from mostly brown to mostly white.  The image above appears to be an eagle over one year of age. It's iris is beginning its transformation to yellow and white plumage is beginning to show.


Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/640 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
I am not an expert on frogs but I think this is an American Bullfrog.  If so, it is Missouri's largest frog. It ranges from green to olive to brown. The back may have small brown spots or dark, indistinct, irregular blotches. The hind legs are marked with distinct dark brown bars. The belly is white, and the throat may have some gray mottling. The external eardrum is large and round. On adult males this tympanum is much larger than the eye; on females, it’s about the same size as the eye. This species has been known to reach 8 inches from snout to vent. Call is a deep, sonorous “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” that can be heard from half a mile away or more.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/800 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
Most birds will take flight as your car approaches and will definitely take flight if you stops. However, Bob stopped the car and to my surprise this Grackle made no attempt to leave.  He was in a bush right outside my car window.  The sun was shining through some clouds and it hit him just right.  At first they appear to just be a black bird but they have a lot of iridescent colors in their feathers. 

A Common Grackle's black plumage is glossy and can show bright purple, bronze, or green highlights, especially on the head. Adult common grackles show a pale yellow eye, contrasting sharply with the dark head.  They eat mostly insects but they are opportunists and will eat nesting bird's eggs, small fish, mice, and frogs. In winter their diet shifts to seeds and grain. The impact of foraging winter flocks on crops has earned the common grackle a reputation as an agricultural pest. Most of the grackle’s foraging is done on the ground, where the birds toss aside leaves and rubbish to uncover their food.  Did you know that Common Grackles will capture bats in the air and eat them? They also ambush House Sparrows in parks and near bird feeders, knock them on the head, and eat them as well. Now that is according to Bird Watchers Digest.
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/6.3, 1/800 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
One of my all time favorite challenges is to photograph hawks.  Why?  Because unlike eagles they are skittish and prone to taking flight.  See one on a fence row?  Stop your car 100 yards away and watch how fast they take to the air.  It was a treat when we spotted this guy and he was so intent on something that he did not see me get out of the car and start taking his picture.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Mr. Hawk. 

This appears to be a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. They are pale below with broad and brown belly band.  Head is brown mixed with white feathering.  Tail barred brown and whitish. They inhabit open terrain such as farming or forest clearing.  Look for red-tailed hawks along highway edges, over farm fields and forest clearings, and in almost any other open habitat with at least some telephone poles or trees on which they can perch and scan for prey.  
Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 400 EV +0.67
Continuing our drive we come across another pair of eagles. Bald eagles migrate to the refuge by late fall and early winter. As many as 300 immature and adult bald eagles and an occasional golden eagle may be seen during the migration peak, usually by the first of December.  This may have been a nesting pair as they were close to a nest and stayed together in the area. Most birds will defecate prior to taking flight so have your cameras ready to get that lift off image.  These two were quite comfortable and we left before they did.  They could have been protecting their nest from squatters.

Nikon D850, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/1250 sec., ISO 640 EV +0.67
We saw a fair share of juveniles in the area.  Juveniles have been know to hang around their parents for the first year or until mom and dad run them off.  More than likely this is a fledgling.  We met some ladies from the State of California who came to Loess Bluffs to photograph and a gentleman from Oklahoma.  They, along with Bob got some killer shots of a juvenile starting a fight with an adult.  That was short lived. The driving tour takes you around the pools and marshes and affords many opportunities to observe and photography wildlife.  
Nikon D750,  Nikkor 24-70mm Lens, f/10, 1/500 sec., ISO 200 EV -0.67
For me no trip anywhere is complete without taking in and photographing the area landscape.  I was attracted to this setting sun reflecting on the marsh areas near the banks as well as the clouds in the background.
Nikon D750,  Nikkor 24-70mm Lens, f/10, 1/500 sec., ISO 200 EV -0.67
I am a sucker for a good sunrise or sunset.  It was an overcast day but there were areas where the sun was breaking through the clouds.  It was still early in the afternoon but the cloud cover was low and the sun above was bouncing ambient light off the clouds and providing a nice reflection on the water.

Well that completes another weekender trip photographing nature.  If your ever in the area be sure and plan a visit.  For more information follow this link.https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Loess_Bluffs/.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you've enjoyed our adventure to Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refudge.  Please leave me a message and let me know where you are from.

John Gilbert
https://www.jmgilbertphoto.com/
 https://www.flickr.com/photos/gil-bear

Monday, January 14, 2019

UNION COVERED BRIDGE

Snow Day Trip To A Covered Bridge
(Click on any image to enlarge it)
This past week we were hit with a blizzard of a snow storm here in Mid-Missouri.  Some areas reported up to 19 inches of snow and temperatures were below freezing.  At my house I had to go out and shovel an area for the dog to go to the bathroom.  Okay so while I was out there I cleared off an area around my bird feeders for my feathered friends. A friend of mine captured an image of the Union Covered Bridge a little while back on a previous snow day.  Between the bridge and creek it made for a stunning image.  So Bob Colvin an area photographer and I had added this to our bucket list of places to visit.  Waiting for the right time was critical for us and we were rewarded with this gorgeous snow.

Bob and I live in the Jefferson City, Missouri area and are both members of the COMO Photographers Group out of Columbia, Missouri and we are officers of a newly formed club, "Friends of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Photography Group".  We try to get together once a month to do some one day field trips to practice our sport of photographing nature.  We recently spent a weekend in Dubois, WY and The Grand Tetons, both blogs of our adventure available on my blog sight.

It was luck that we were both ready to get out of the house and seize the moment to photograph this bridge in its winter wonderland.  Not a lot of planning for us just a simple text you wanna go, yes what time we leaving.  Bob travels this area on his semi-retired job so he pilots us on the outing.  We must congratulate the Missouri Department of Transportation for an exceptional job of clearing the roads.

We traveled form our locations by way of highway 54 going towards Mexico, MO.  Once in Mexico Bob pointed out a beautiful old home which is now a Museum for the American Saddlebred Museum and the Audrian County Fire Brick Museum.  We made a not to stop here on our way back to capture this scene.  I am going to include it in this blog first since I have hopefully peaked your interest.

The Graceland Museum was built by John P. Clark, a native Virginian, as a reminder of the more genteel society he once knew "back home." The mansion was host to Col. Ulysses S. Grant during the early days of the Civil War. Nine of its rooms contain displays that permit visitors to experience the Victorian elegance of the past as well as the rich history of Audrain County.  There are some unique displays here so you might want to check it out. https://www.audrain.org/museum-collections.
Fujifilm with Fuji 18-135mm lens, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 0.67, EV +0.67
We got lucky as no one had walked through the yard.  We shot this picture from the parking lot across the street at a credit union.  These were hand-held camera shots.  Take the picture then move on.

From Mexico veer left onto highway 15 going north.  Stay on highway 15 until you get to route M and go left or west.  You will travel on Rte M until you get to Rte. C and then go north which for us was a left turn.  You are going to exit Rte. C onto State Spur C which will take you to the Covered Bridge.  Since the Union Covered Bridge State Historic Site in Monroe CountyMissouri, is maintained by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as a state historic site to preserve the Union Covered Bridge, there was a sign on Rte. C directing visitors to the bridge right at the Rte. C Spur turnoff.
Nikon D850, Nikor 20mm Lens, f/8, 0.6 sec., ISO 160
Rte. Spur C is also County Road 962.  The bridge spans the Elk Fork of the Salt River.  The above image is a picture of Bob Colvin photographing the bridge from a higher elevation.  This picture also shows the road as it crosses the Elk Fork.

Nikon D850, Nikor 20mm Lens, f/8, 0.08 sec, ISO 100, EV +1.67
I took this picture from the road on a tripod and cropped out the tire tracks that were leading across the Elf Fork.  This was the widest lens I took with me and now wish I had taken my 16mm fish-eye.  The distance from the road to the bridge might have been 50 to 100 yards and my lens just barely covered the this angle of view.  An alternative was to shoot this as a pano which I did later.

The bridge was built in 1871 across the Elk Fork of the Salt River as a link in the Paris-to-Fayette road. Its name comes from the nearby Union Church. In 1968 a partial restoration was completed using materials from the Mexico Covered Bridge which was destroyed the year before by flood waters. In 1970 the Union bridge was closed after structural timbers were damaged by overweight trucks. 
Nikon D850, Nikor 20mm Lens, f/8, 0.6 sec, ISO 160
This view was obtained by standing in the water as it cascaded over the concrete road crossing.  The water was moving swiftly but was not high enough to create any stability issues for me or my tripod. Again I need a little wider angle to have framed this up a little nicer in my opinion.  The temperature was around 28/29° F.  There was very little wind and what there was was sporadic.  The water was pretty clear which adds to the foreground lead-in to this composition.

A total restoration was completed in 1988. The bridge was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The bridge is a 120-foot-long (37 m) Burr Arch span that is 17 feet 6 inches (5.33 m) wide and 12 feet (3.7 m) high. Joseph C. Elliot built the bridge in 1871 from local oak. It is sided in clapboard and uses wood shingles. Two earlier uncovered bridges at this site were replaced in turn due to deterioration. (Wikipedia)
Nikon D850. Nikor 20mm Lens, f/9, 1.0 sec., ISO 100

Here is a view of the Elk Fork as it travels downstream.  With all the snow it was hard to get a handle on the surrounding terrain so we did not venture along the banks.  I would have loved to have been able to capture the bridge from downstream so as to include this cascade in the foreground composition.  I will need to check this out come spring.  I can see the need for a set of chest waders in the future.  I recently watched a video by David Morrow Color Theory Photography Guide which I found awesome.  He talks about measuring the colors of your image using a color wheel and then trying to bring out the complementary colors of your image based on its reading.  His video show you how to do that. Its really worth watching.  Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IMOOwR0kLo  With that said I measured my colors and found that even though the snow appears to be white in the above image it in fact has some blue in it.  The complementary colors for blue in this image is yellow and orange.  When I processed this image  I selectively created a layer mask using the color picker and applying it to a hue/saturation mask to enhance the yellow and orange colors.  This is supposed to be more pleasing to our eyes and brain but I will let each viewer decide its effect.

Anytime you go out to take pictures be cognizant of your surroundings.  Sometimes something that you might never notice could be worth taking a picture of.
Fujifilm X-T2 and Fuji 18-135mm Lens, f/3.6, 1/180 sec., ISO 200, EV +0.67

As we were loading up to call it a day the dead leaves of these trees caught my eye as being so orange.  I am sure that being surrounded by a white cape helped to make this stand out to me.  I went over to take this picture and then notice that the Elk Fork was in the background and was shaded in hues of green.  In processing this image I cropped it to take advantage of the dead leaves framing up the tree as if it was watching the river bathing.  I also used the color theory above to accentuate the oranges and green hues.

Well this concludes another blog and another great photography field trip.  We left around 9AM and were back around 1PM. Photography can clear your mind and rev up some creative juices and it gets you out of the house. 
This is a composite of two separate hand held images stitched together in Photohop to create this panoramic view.  I did not shot this with the idea of making it into a panoramic. I shot this with a 45megapixel camera and during processing I ended up with a file almost 500megabypes in size. O my.  I guess I got lucky that these two images lined up it Photoshop.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my weekend adventure.  You can check out more of my photography trips at www.jmgilbertphoto.com and don't forget to check out my archive of blog here as well.

John Gilbert Photography
gilbej49@gmail.com

Friday, January 4, 2019

GRAND TETONS IN WINTER



A DAY AT THE TETONS 
 (Click on any image to enlarge it.)
On a recent trip to Dubois, WY at the end of November 2018 Bob Colvin and I decided to spend our last day with a trip to Grand Teton National park.  The Grand Teton National Park was only 55.6 miles from where we were staying.  Normally this might only take an hour to drive but for us it took longer because 1) the roads were covered in snow and 2) we kept stopping to take pictures along the way.


We hadn’t gotten that far out of Dubois when we spotted a cow Moose and her calf near the side of the road.  Naturally we had to stop and capture this opportunity on digital film.  
Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/5.3, 1/640sec ISO 1250
The road was covered in a packed layer of snow and the temperature was below freezing that morning.  The Highway Department had done an excellent job of clearing the roads but you still have to drive with caution because of the packed snow.  Bob was the designated driver.  I think I scared him the day before by doing a fishtail in a parking lot and although he didn’t say anything his actions told me he was driving from that point on.  No problem for me I got to act as the wildlife spotter, hence the Moose on the road. 
Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/5.3, 1/640sec ISO 5000
What I like about these shots was the creek being part of the exposure.  It was 7:45 am and the sky was a solid sheet of grey.  This required a higher ISO and a wider aperture to adjust for the lighting while maintaining a high enough shutter speed to match the lens length.  They were just standing there checking us out so my shutter speed of 1/640 second was sufficient to capture the image.  It was lightly snowing which makes for fun getting the focusing system to lock on to the subject while ignoring the snowflakes. 
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Lens, f/14, 1/125 sec ISO90, EV +33
The landscape along the way was beautiful with its winter blanket of white snow as cover.  Yep another stop along the way to get in some landscape shots.  As we got closer to our destination the sky cleared and was a vibrant blue which for me makes for a colorful high dynamic scene.  A few clouds would have added to the overall composition but when dealing with nature you take what you can get.   
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/16, 1/125sec ISO 110
It wasn't too long before we saw the Tetons.  Since we were coming from a higher elevation going towards the Tetons Valley we were afforded a great opportunity to photograph the Tetons from a higher vantage point.  Look closely and you can see a fog hovering over Jenny Lake.  Man it doesn’t get more gorgeous then this and I am sure I did not capture it in all its glory.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/11, 1/500sec ISO 160
Once we reached Moran Valley we opted to take US 191 into the Grand Tetons National Park.  The road was not open all the way to Yellowstone but we were able to get to Colter Bay which sets on Jackson Lake.  Along the way we stopped at the Oxbow Bend, one of the most photographed scenes in the area.  If you happen to be there in the spring or summer in the early morning hours you will be treated to the sun rising over the Tetons painting them in shades of purple.  But you better get there really early, like 4:30 to 5:00 am to be able to claim your spot. 
Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/6, 1/2500sec ISO200 EV+.33
The Snake River creates the Oxbow Bend.  While we were there parts of the river appeared to be frozen and out in the center were about a dozen Trumpeter Swans.  Largest of the native waterfowl in North America, and one of our heaviest flying birds, the Trumpeter Swan was almost driven to extinction early in the 20th century. Its healthy comeback is considered a success story for conservationists. Ordinarily the Trumpeter is quite sensitive to human disturbance; in protected areas, such as some parks and refuges, it may become accustomed to humans and allow close approach.
  
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/10, 1/1000sec ISO160 EV+.33
Continuing north on US191 toward Colter Bay afforded us numerous opportunities to frame up the Tetons with various foreground settings.  This is my first time ever seeing the Grand Teton National Park covered in snow.  The blue skies and cold air, it was 17° when we got there, set the mood for shooting this winter wonderland.  Insulated underwear, snow boots and fur lined cap were the order-of-day.  They had just plowed the road and there were only three other cars there so a lot of the landscape had been untarnished with foot-prints.  What captured our interest in this location was the fog above the ground and below the mountains.  Upon investigation this was coming from Jackson Lake.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/10, 1/800sec ISO 160, EV +33
  Cropped in view to accentuate the fog a little better.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/10, 1/800sec ISO 160, EV +.33
There are no salts or other minerals used on the road in this area but they are plowed pretty close to the road so that driving on them was excellent.   The evergreen trees were capped in snow as were the mountains.  There was a good 10 inches of snow on the ground.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/16, 1/250sec ISO 160, EV +.33
We continued towards our destination, Colter Bay and the Jackson Lake, in search of the fog.  There were lots of stops along the way to photograph the Tetons at slightly different locations with the lake and fog coming into few.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/10, 1/640sec ISO160 EV+.33
Another friend, Niala Branson and I stayed here at Colter Bay back in the fall of 2011.  It is a really nice area.  Driving in the area it was so quiet and peaceful.  Colter Bay Cabins were closed for the season but the rest rooms at the gas station were open.  This is also where the park maintenance crew offices and sheds are located so the roads to this area are plowed.  Here I walked over to the lake.  This is a good indication of how deep it was. 
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/10, 1/800 sec ISO160 EV+.33
Finally I reached the lake and there was a layer of fog suspended over it.  This was awesome and surreal.  There were some tracks which could easily have been Moose because they were in the area.  This shot gave me a leading line around the lake as well as towards the fog clouds,  Gotta love the tones of nature. 
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/18, 1/125 sec ISO160 EV+.33
As I was leaving the lake I noticed the sun shining through the pines and re-positioned myself so I could get the sun's rays while shielding my lens from overexposure.  Normally, I would shoot two exposures one for the lights and the other for the darks but since I didn't have a tripod with me and I was hand holding the camera I exposed for the bright areas knowing that I could recover the shadows in post processing.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/16, 1/250 sec ISO160 EV+.33
Well after several hundred images from this area we decided to head on down to Mormon Row and the National Elk Refuge.

Mormon Row, formerly known as the town of Grovont, was settled in the late 1890s by Mormons from the Salt Lake region. Due to the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted land ownership to any person willing to build a house and cultivate the area for five years, this community was able to establish a presence in the area east of Blacktail Butte. Settlers secured 27 homesteads that they built close together to share labor and community.


Today, two picturesque barns highlight Mormon Row. Settlers John and Thomas Alma (T.A.) Moulton built these barns on adjacent homesteads. After nearly 30 years of working the land, John replaced his log home and barn with a new carpenter-constructed two-story gambrel barn north of Antelope Flats Road.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/16, 1/200 sec ISO160 EV+.33
Settlers dug miles of ditches to bring water from the Gros Ventre River to their fields. In the winters, these ditches would freeze so families traveled to the river with buckets to gather much needed water. It wasn’t until 1927 that a dependable water source to residents was available year round. Families mainly grew hay and ninety-day-oats, as these were a few of the only crops that were able to survive the short growing season and harsh conditions of Jackson Hole. Families also owned cows, whose milk and meat provided food, as well as horses, that helped settlers till the fields.
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/14, 1/320 sec ISO160 EV+.33
South of John’s homestead,  is T. A. Moulton's barn which took over 30 years to build this gable-with-shed style barn. Photographers from around the world stop by T. A. Moulton’s barn to capture this iconic historic structure with the Teton Range in the background. 

The town of Grovont once contained multiple ranches, homes, a church, and a school. The church, built in 1916, played a critical role in the community, serving as a social stage for all, regardless of faith. Although the building was moved to Wilson, it is marked at Mormon Row by fence posts, two cottonwoods, and a spruce tree. 
Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art Lens, f/14, 1/400 sec ISO160 EV+.33
In the mid-1900s, Mormon Row was acquired to expand Grand Teton National Park and in 1997 the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Below are descriptions of some of the barns that still stand today, offering the same feeling and setting of the district as it was 100 years ago. 
Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/5.3, 1/2000 sec ISO 200 EV+.33
After photographing Mormon Row we continued our adventure heading towards the Elk Refuge when we spotted a group of cars along the side of the road with people and cameras pointing west.  This is always a good sign that wildlife is nearby and sure enough there was a Bull Moose and Cow grazing about 100 yards from the road.  Bob and I travel ready to stop at a minute's notice and set up outside the car.  Our tripods are in the back of my Grand Cherokee fully extend.  Just pull them out slap on the camera and you're ready to shoot.  Having multiple cameras with different lens works great for us.  One camera is set up for landscapes and the other for wildlife.  With a bright sunny day and at this distance focusing with a low ISO is pretty much guaranteed. 
Nikon D500, Sigma 150-600mm Lens, f/8, 1/800 sec ISO 200 EV+.67
Moose are large ungulates (hoofed mammals) identified by their long, rounded snouts; huge, flattened antlers; humped back; thin legs; and massive bodies. Moose are also the largest members of the deer family. They are also the tallest mammals in North America. Their height, from hoof to shoulder, ranges from 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters). Males are heavier than females; males weigh 794 to 1,323 pounds (360 to 600 kilograms), while females weigh 595 to 882 pounds (270 to 400 kg), according to the National Museum of Natural History.

Moose live only in areas that have seasonal snow cover. The animals prefer colder climates. They cannot tolerate temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) for long because they cannot sweat, and the fermentation caused by their digestion creates a large amount of heat.
Nikon D850, Nikor 300mm Lens, f/8, 1/1600 sec ISO 160 EV+.33
Well we finally made it to our destination the National Elk Refuge Road.  To get to this road stay on US 191 and go into Jackson Hole.  Go right or east on Broadway until you get to the National Elk Refuge Road and then go left.  This road will circle back around and reconnects with US 191 if all the access roads are open however, on this trip they were closed so we had to back track.  We spotted Big Horn Sheep, and Pronghorn on this road.  There were a lot of Big Horn Sheep and as this was the rut season they were not interested in vehicles except for this guy.  He was just standing in the road as cars passed by giving them no thought.  We stopped some 100-200 yards back and got out of the car to take his picture.  He stayed there for quite a while and then began watching us and proceeded to come our way.  Well he got closer and closer and was headed straight towards me and I was on the passenger side of the car.  I took a lot of pictures being cognizant of his distance to me.  I learned my lesson shooting a buffalo in the Badlands once.  I got so wrapped up in shooting his picture that I paid no attention to just how close he was getting so I was not going to repeat that situation again with this big guy.  Besides this guy can kill a man instantly by butting him with those horns.  I jumped into the car and Bob at the wheel was ready to go so we just drove around him. 
Nikon D850, Nikor 300mm Lens, f/8, 1/1000 sec ISO 160 EV+.33
There were a lot of Big Horn Sheep in this area and for sure it was the rut season.  This guy was following a ewe which was in heat.  Note the head up and curled back lips.
Nikon D850, Nikor 300mm Lens, f/8, 1/1250 sec ISO 160 EV+.33
The rams can be seen resting a lot. The rut season keeps them in constant motion and breeding draws a lot of energy out of them.
Nikon D850, Nikor 300mm Lens, f/8, 1/800 sec ISO 160 EV+.33
The really great thing about this road was how close we could get from our car.  Most of the time we were able to stand outside the vehicle without interfering with the sheep or causing them any distress.  Using a telephoto lens can have a lot of pluses and well as some drawbacks.  As long as you are within a reasonable distance you can get some killer shots.  With the light we had, keeping a low ISO was a plus as well.
Nikon D850, Nikor 300mm Lens, f/8, 1/1000 sec ISO 160 EV+.33
There were a lot of rams in this area and is the winter grazing area for Elk, Pronghorn, and Big Horn.  This was the first time I have traveled this road and we were so thankful that Bill told us about it.  Well we  got a lot in for just one day and made it back to Dubois at a reasonable hour.  This was a great trip.  

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you enjoyed this trip with us.