Stormy animal day

Hills of Gros Ventre and Blacktail Butte south

Hills of Gros Ventre and Blacktail Butte south

It was a stormy day in the Jackson Hole area, so we decided to go out looking for animals. There were moose reported out past Kelly and that’s what I was hoping to capture. As luck would have it, those moose were as far away as possible. That’s the way animal photography works most of the time.

The first shot on the right ended up being my favorite because of the interplay between light, shadows, shapes, and branches.

As luck would have it, there were several nice images that rendered well in black and white. One even surprised me that I thought it would look good in b&w but actually looked better in color because the green standing out against the plain brown and slate gray of everything else is what caught my eye.

DSC_D8_9777DSC_D8_9752< Posing, making some interesting triangles with his face and horns.

Walking in the landscape as a small animal, this young one has to keep a sharp eye out for trouble. As bighorn sheep seem to have very acute vision, this didn’t seem to be a problem for him. >

DSC_D8_9747DSC_D8_9740< I was quite excited to actually get an “okay” shot of two bighorn sheep head butting. I heard the crack several times but every time I looked, they were just standing around like nothing had happened.

Some of these sheep will come right up to your vehicle on the refuge road. Of course you have to be very careful when you drive around and it’s best not to get out of the vehicle. They like the chemicals and salts falling off vehicles, so they’ll actually come up and lick car tires. I did my boy scout duty today and towed a guy in a Nissan Altima out of the ditch on the side of the road. He tried to be proper and pull off to the side, only to immediately sink into 2 feet of snow, swamping his car. A little tow strap action got him on his way.

DSC_D8_9738DSC_D8_9727These young bighorn sheep look rather cuddly, though I’d not like to have one around once he gets older. He might give me a huge headache.

Kelly was able to get some video of this young ram munching on the refuge road twigs. He was so loud her iPhone actually captured the crunching. That was the funniest thing of the day.

DSC_D8_9723DSC_D8_9716Even though the animals were fun to photograph, I found some arguably more interesting scenes to capture. A few of them turned out fairly well. I haven’t decided what the power line and the crepuscular rays say, so you’ll have to make your own interpretation.

The sastrugi raking off the sage sticking out of the snow reminded me of Antarctica. Of course continent 7 doesn’t have any plants, but the windswept shapes of snow reminded me of Antarctic Tears.


At first I thought this shot would look great in black and white but it was the green against the brown gray of everything that actually caught my eye. Once I toned the image, it had not excitement. So the color version actually ended up working better. Finding shots where there’s a single item that’s out of place with the rest always makes for an interesting shot.

DSC_D8_9703DSC_D8_9684The moose was way out there, sitting, down, and facing away. He was no doubt tired from the photography and video he enjoyed having done on him the past couple days. I was hoping for something more exciting. But I’d be resting, too, if I had to run around all day in winter munching on twigs. The wind cooperated and make a blasting bison shot. I was hoping for some worse wind but this worked okay.

DSC_D8_9671DSC_D8_9669Hunters were along the refuge road looking for their prize elk all day. There have been some big disputes about the hunting here but I’ll leave that to other forums to discuss.

The hunters had to slog through knee deep snow to go after the animals they were looking for, so they had to work for their food.


Flat creek is the perfect place to catch swans, cygnets (baby swans) and mallards One doesn’t even have to drive barely past town to capture these magnificent animals.

Bad weather days are actually very nice to photograph in because there are far fewer people, the light is more interesting, and the drama can be much higher. A plain bison standing in sage in the middle of the summer – boring. A bison laboring to find something to eat while being blasted by 20 knot wind-driven snow – interesting.

Click on any of these photos to see a larger version.

Note – As always, all of these images are copyright and are not in the public domain. Please contact me if you’d like to use them. For most uses, I’ll happily oblige.

Happy shooting as we head into Thanksgiving!

1 thought on “Stormy animal day”

  1. Vicki says:

    Lovely pictures! We never got to see big horn sheep when we were living there except with binoculars! Fascinating commentary as always!

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