Archive for June 2015

Friday Foto Talk: Using Your Tripod, Part II   9 comments

The Grand Tetons greet a June morning recently. 31 mm., f/15 @ 1/5 sec., ISO 100.

This is the second installment on tripods.  Not how to choose them; no recommendations on brands here.  Instead we’re going into when and how to use your tripod.  When is a tripod necessary?  And when can you get away with going light and doing hand-held photography?

It seems to me there is some confusion about tripod use out there.  Some folks can’t bring themselves to take their tripods out, and end up hand-holding the camera in light that really demands some stabilization.  They end up with far too many blurry shots as a result.  Others fall into the opposite camp.  They seem to think it’s necessary to use a tripod at all times, no exceptions.  This can, largely because of an unchanging point of view, result in lack of variety and a boring “planned” look to a collection.

The truth is this: it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a tripod or not.  What matters is that you’re getting the shots you want, at the quality you want.

I just took this shot yesterday afternoon in the aptly named Beartooth Mtns., Montana. You can only see the feet of the black cub hiding behind mom.

I grabbed this shot just yesterday afternoon in the aptly named Beartooth Mtns., near Pray, Montana. You can see the feet of the younger black cub hiding behind mom.  400 mm., f/14 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 400.

Here is what I consider when deciding whether to take my tripod with me to shoot (I always have it in the vehicle.  It makes little sense to leave it at home):

  • LIGHT:  This is by far the most important factor to consider.  Is it bright and sunny out or is the light low?  I almost always use a tripod when shooting near sunrise or sunset.  And when I’m going to be in thick trees, or if heavy cloud cover is reducing the light, I’m using my tripod.  Conversely, if it’s very bright out, I just don’t see the need to be shackled to a tripod.
  • TYPE OF LENSES:  If you’ll be using lenses with longer focal lengths, consider more seriously the use of a tripod, no matter the light conditions.  That’s because it’s much easier to come out with blurry images when shooting at longer focal lengths.  Following the old rule of thumb, i.e., shooting at a shutter speed where the denominator is no less than the maximum focal length of your lens, can demand the use of stabilization.

   In other words, if you are using a 70-200 mm. zoom lens, at any of its focal lengths, you shouldn’t try to shoot hand-held at anything slower than 1/200th second.  If the lens has built-in image stabilization, that can mean (depending on how steady your hand-hold technique is) being able to shoot at 1/100th or even 1/50th second.  But a tripod is a much more sure way to stabilize that longer lens.  For the f/2.8 versions of 70-200s, and for extra-long lenses, on the order of 400 mm. or more, take a cue from sports and wildlife photographers:  a monopod is a nice solution when you’re mobile and/or the light is bright enough.  More on monopods next time.

On a ‘go-light’ hike through a canyon in Utah where I (barely) got away without a tripod for this reflection of the cliff walls in a vernal pool.  50 mm., f/13 @ 1/50 sec., ISO 640.

  • TYPE OF SHOOTING:  Will you be doing landscapes, where the quest for great depth of field means apertures will be relatively small?  If so a tripod is usually in order because those small apertures force slower shutter speeds.  There are exceptions to this, which I’ll cover next time.  For now, just think in terms of how much freedom of movement you need, how quickly you’ll be changing positions.  Factoring in the light, does a tripod make sense?

  Will you be walking through a populated area getting candid travel shots of people and their environment?  If so, a tripod  may just get in the way.  And besides, apertures are often wide, because of the frequent need to “go shallow” in terms of depth of field, to isolate the subject against an out of focus background.  One caveat about cities:  If you’re shooting a lot of architecture a tripod can come in handy, depending on how bright the light is.

  Macro photography is very difficult (but possible) without a tripod.  Consider this:  If it’s worth the extra weight to take your dedicated macro lens on a nature/photo hike, does it make sense to leave your tripod behind?  With static portraiture you can go either way.  One one hand, why not?  You’re not carrying it anywhere.  But no matter how still the model can stay, a live subject can’t help but move a bit.  So you’re going to need faster shutter speeds no matter what. What about flash photography?  Since a flash freezes movement, you can get away without a tripod more easily.  If light is dim however, I’d use a tripod.  That’s because you may want the dimmer background of your flash-lighted subject to be sharp too.

Sandstorm, Owen's Valley, California.  A quick grab without the need for a tripod, partly because I was able to use a modest aperture.  144 mm., f/8 @ 1/250 sec.

Sandstorm, Owen’s Valley, California. A quick grab without the need for a tripod, partly because I was able to use a modest aperture.          144 mm., f/8 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 100

 

 

  • WEIGHT:  This is not a factor I ever consider by itself, but always in combination with other more important factors.  One important thing:  my tripod isn’t terribly heavy.  If you’re looking to buy one, I highly recommend spending the extra for a carbon-fiber model.  And don’t pair it with a ball-head that is overkill for the (heaviest) camera/lens combination you use a lot.

   I’m not suggesting you get a tripod that is too light for the gear you’re supporting.  But don’t get one that’s heavier than you need either.  If you plan to hike and do photography, get a carbon-fiber tripod, period.  Also, make sure your camera backpack has a tripod attachment system that holds your tripod snugly, no swaying around.

   So how to think about weight?  Weight might sway me if I’m on the fence about bringing a tripod, depending on how far I’m hiking.  But I’m always careful to not let any laziness about carrying extra weight slip into my thinking.  The goal is not to carry less weight, it’s to get better pictures.  More on this in the next post.

An older bull bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.  500 mm., f/6.3 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 1000.

An older bull bison in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.                                                     500 mm., f/6.3 @ 1/500 sec., ISO 1000.

  • TIME:  This is something I mentioned in Part I.  You may make a quick decision to forego the use of a tripod for this reason alone.  It’s always tough to make this rapid-fire decision on the fly.  But you do know when time is of the essence, when light or your subject is changing or moving quickly.  I’ve missed great shots by a second or two.  We all have.

   So if you’re the type of photographer who believes a landscape shot always demands the use of a tripod, I would reconsider your position and be more flexible.  As long as your camera does a pretty good job with noise at higher ISOs, you can get a nice sharp image before the light changes.

In the next installment, we’ll look at some examples to highlight how and when to use camera stabilization of all types, whether it’s a tripod, a monopod, or just a rock.

While shooting (on a tripod), I was getting hit by a big dose of steam from this hot spring along the Firehole River, Yellowstone.   16 mm., f/13 @ 1.6 sec., ISO 100.

While shooting (on a tripod), I was getting hit by a big dose of steam from this hot spring along the Firehole River in Yellowstone.
16 mm., f/13 @ 1.6 sec., ISO 100.

 

 

Two for Tuesday: Natural Gas & Climate Change   3 comments

Rainbow over a drill rig, Bakken Field, North Dakota

I’m not going to get political here, don’t worry.  I actually long for the days when climate change was a scientific not political issue.  It seems strange now but before the late 80s/early 90s global warming was discussed among scientists.  Not many of the general public knew about it or cared.

But in the scientific community, it was already a well-studied and discussed phenomenon.  It really gained traction in the 1960s when a critical mass of data had been collected.  Especially influential were the (steadily rising) carbon dioxide readings from the top of Mauna Loa, a large shield volcano making up much of the island of Hawaii.  You can’t find a better spot to collect samples of the atmosphere, untainted by any local sources of pollution.

I recall taking a university seminar on paleoclimatology and seriously considering focusing on that, using glaciology to study it.  I didn’t, perhaps because I was scared off by the sheer complexity of the subject (so many variables and feedback loops!).  But I wonder what it would’ve been like, mid-career, to witness it become such a silly political football.

These two images are from the Bakken Field in western North Dakota.  Bakken is the name for the oil field and also the geological formation, a shale that lies more than 10,000 feet beneath the prairie.  Much of the drilling in the Bakken nowadays is for natural gas not oil (though that is still big too).  Gas is what this large drill rig in the picture at top is going for.  Although there is plenty of gas in this well, it will still be fracked to recover even more.  At least here in the Bakken, fracking does not endanger water supplies; it’s just too deep and is also cut off from shallower aquifers by impermeable shale beds.

All over this part of North Dakota you see gas flares, one of which is pictured with the setting sun at bottom.  Although these flares of course release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, they are quite necessary for safety.  And they don’t even begin to compare to the gas released from pipelines between here, the source, and the refineries.  Hooked to each gas flare is a monitor which measures how much gas is escaping.  The problem really lies in the pipelines, where we just don’t have a good handle on how much is being released.  I think that has to change.

The world is definitely warming, not evenly of course (as if any reasonable person would expect that).  We are in large part responsible for that, and I believe that human influence on climate extends back to the dawn of agriculture, over 9500 years ago.  We aren’t the first life-form to influence the world’s atmosphere and climate, and neither have we caused the biggest changes (single-celled bacteria hold that honor when they infused the atmosphere with oxygen).

But two things:  (1) we aren’t done yet; and (2) although the world has seen big changes in climate in the past, this change promises to affect us and the rest of the world’s life forms in huge ways.  We’ve built up our culture and changed our very natures as a result.  So even though we won’t be rendered extinct by climate change (probably), the changes coming are such that civilization could very well be thrown into utter chaos.  And that’s on top of causing the 6th major extinction of life across the board.

As many have said, it’s a moral issue.  Can we in good conscience leave that sort of world to our descendants and the creatures who share this planet with us?  The pope spoke about climate change this past week.  More religious leaders need to join ranks.  But most of all, we need real fundamental change in how we produce and use energy.  And now it’s bordering on a political post, so I’ll stop there.

Natural gas flares into the sky at sunset, North Dakota

Friday Foto Talk: Tripod or Not, Part I   6 comments

The grassy shore of Lake Quinalt on Washington's Olympic Peninsula is perfect for a sunset stroll.

Did I need a tripod for this?  The grassy shore of Lake Quinalt on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is perfect for a sunset stroll.

Tripods are one of the most essential of photography accessories.  That’s mostly because stabilizing the camera is the surest route to sharp images.  But in case you’re wondering, let me say right off the bat that this post is not about choosing a tripod.  I assume you either already have or soon will have a tripod/head setup which suits your camera equipment and budget.  So this post is about the decision to use your tripod.

 For movement blur in this little unnamed waterfall in Washington, I needed a tripod.  But the water was almost too deep to use one.

For movement blur in this little unnamed waterfall in Washington, I needed a tripod. But the water was almost too deep to use one.

If I was like other photography bloggers and teachers, this would be a very short post.   I’d say, “anytime you want sharp images (most of the time, right?), put your camera on a tripod and leave it there, no exceptions.  If I gave you that advice I’d be a hypocrite.  Actually, I very often shoot hand-held, my tripod sitting (lonely) in my van or at home.  And I’m not talking only candid portraiture or when using a flash.  I’ve done plenty of landscape photos hand-held as well.

But why not shoot from a tripod (or at least a monopod) all the time?  It’s not that simple.  Here are the pros and cons of using a tripod:

PROS

  • Image Quality:  A tripod allows you to use the lowest ISO your camera has, and that will result in an image without noise.  Noise will negatively impact any image, and though you can use software to reduce or eliminate it, that process softens the image.
  • Image Sharpness:  If you use mirror lockup or a shutter release trigger, it doesn’t matter how slow your shutter is.  A solidly built tripod and head will keep your camera perfectly still.  Those parts of your image that are in focus will be as sharp as your lens optics can accomplish.
  • More Flexibility:  You can use as small an aperture (for depth of field or a sunstar) as you want.  If you’re on a tripod, you don’t need to worry about your shutter speed being too slow, blurring your shot.  As long as your subject isn’t moving that is.
  • Slow & Deliberate:  Using a tripod helps you to slow down.  You tend to be more deliberate about things when on a tripod, leading to more careful compositions.  Set the camera in precisely the right spot at the right height.  Then use LiveView to focus manually with great precision.  This sort of approach is essential for shooting macro/close-up, but the same logic applies to landscape and even portrait photography.
I had a tripod on a recent hike in Glacier National Park.  But didn't use it for this bighorn sheep who was shedding a winter coat.

I had a tripod on a recent hike in Glacier National Park. But didn’t use it for this bighorn sheep who was shedding a winter coat.

 

CONS

  • Missed Shots:  Taking the extra time to break out your tripod, short as it may be, can mean the difference between getting a fantastic image and missing it.  Whether it’s on your backpack or in your car, sometimes you just don’t have the time to set it up.  But, you may ask, “if my camera is already on the tripod, we’re not talking about any extra time, right?”  But think about it.  Using a tripod just takes more time.  Adjusting leg length between shots is just one part of that extra time.
  • Less Flexibility:  It seems as if I’m contradicting myself.  But while a tripod allows more flexibility in some ways, it takes it back in others.  When tethered to a tripod, we just don’t change perspectives as much as when shooting from the hand.  We don’t get super-low, we don’t zoom with our feet or turn around as much.  In short, we don’t get nearly as many different angles & perspectives as we get shots.  You can definitely mitigate this by forcing yourself to move around with your tripod.  But I still see plenty of photographers, parked at a scenic viewpoint, shooting picture after picture from a tripod that never moves an inch during their session.

Crater Lake, Oregon under a late winter sky on my last visit in April.

  • Restrictions:  Some places (museums for example) forbid the use of tripods, mostly because they’re a tripping hazard.  But even where they’re allowed, and if other people are around, you always need to bird-dog them.  Kids especially represent a hazard not so much to themselves but to your equipment!  Also, depending on how much adjustment your tripod has, can steep slopes enforce restrictions on where you shoot from.
  • Camera Security:  I know about this one with firsthand pain.  In sketchy situations (such as the top of a waterfall), you should certainly keep the camera strap around your neck whether using a tripod or not.  But it’s nonetheless easier to get separated from your camera when it’s mounted on a tripod.  Anytime your camera isn’t in your hand, in your bag or slung around your neck, it’s vulnerable – to theft or damage.
Going light on a hike through a canyon at Natural Bridges, Utah, and a challenging close-up of these hedgehog cactus blooms.

Going light on a hike through a canyon at Natural Bridges, Utah, and a challenging close-up of these hedgehog cactus blooms.

It may look at first glance like the pros win out over the cons.  But not so fast.  That first con is a biggie.  This may sound like hyperbole, but if you miss the biggest shot you’ll ever get the chance at, in your life, all the perfectly sharp, perfectly average images in the world won’t make up for it.

So it’s worth a part II on this subject:  we’ll look at what to consider when deciding whether or not to use your tripod.  As usual, it all depends on the situation (you knew I was going to say that!).  Happy weekend and happy shooting everyone!

Long exposures like this at Lake Tahoe demand a tripod.

Long exposures like this demand a tripod:  Lake Tahoe, California.

 

 

Glacier National Park in Spring: Things to Do   13 comments

Springtime in East Glacier, Montana

Springtime in East Glacier, Montana

Lets continue with Glacier National Park in springtime.  This post will suggest things to do if you visit the park in early season (May & June).  Check out the introductory post too.  I visited this beautiful park in NW Montana last month.  Though much of the park was snow-free, most of the high country was inaccessible because of snow.  The famous Going to the Sun Road, which crosses spectacular Logan Pass, was closed from the Avalanche trailhead & campground on the west side all the way over to the east entrance at St. Mary Lake.

Spring was in the air at lower elevations, with green meadows, flowers and busy critters.  That atmosphere, combined with relatively few other visitors and all those waterfalls made the trip very worthwhile, despite Logan Pass & St. Mary Lake being closed.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

A Caveat:  If you’re going to Glacier to knock some shots off your photography bucket list, you should stop reading right now and find another avenue of research.  For one thing, it being early season, I wasn’t able to access ever-popular Triple Falls or St. Mary Lake (at Sun Point).  So I’m not much help for these two very popular places to shoot at Glacier.

The internet features thousands of pictures from these two spots, and it seems everybody with a camera wants to (or feels they should) see and shoot them.  They’re on the itinerary of every photo workshop at Glacier (they have to be, people would feel cheated if they weren’t).

That’s why, as those who’ve been reading this blog for awhile have probably already guessed, I’ve happily skipped them on all my trips to the park, even in summer or fall when they’re accessible.  Besides, I don’t need to keep a group of workshop participants happy.  And I don’t do bucket lists.

St. Mary Lake, East Glacier

Here are a few ideas for things to do if you come to Glacier in early season (photography suggestions follow each one):

  • Rivers & lakes are plum full in spring.  So it’s a great time to float the Flathead (north or middle forks) in a raft.  These rivers approach Class III but are mostly mellow Class I & II.  Look for outfitters based in Kalispell or Whitefish, or closer to the park at West Glacier.  This is a favorite weekend activity for local residents of the Flathead Valley.

** Action shots on the river, especially if you’re able to capture people’s expressions in the great light of a lowering sun, will make you popular with companions.  If you’re nervous about shooting on the water, buy a relatively inexpensive waterproof point and shoot camera.  But the chances of capsizing on the Flathead, especially in a raft, are slim indeed.

Swiftcurrent Creek spills over a raucous waterfall on its way from the lake of the same name.

Swiftcurrent Creek spills over a raucous waterfall from the lake of the same name.

  • Camping lakeside is a wonderful way to spend a weekend in May or early June here.  Lake McDonald is an obvious choice, but Bowman Lake, also on the west side, is more out of the way and gorgeous as well.  You’ll need to drive a gravel road into Bowman, but it’s well graded for 2WD, and in early season not too washboarded.  On the east side, camping (and hiking) along Two Medicine Lake is a superb choice.

** Campfire pictures (and videos) are sure winners.  I’m talking people pictures, not close-ups of the fire.  Help to get your group in the mood to sing and dance, then stand back with your camera on a tripod and capture both freeze-frame (higher ISO) and movement-blur shots.  Or zoom in for a close portrait of someone telling a story, face to the firelight.  Can you think of other ideas?

  • As long as you’re camping by a lake, spring is a fantastic time to paddle, either in kayak or canoe.  Morning is best to avoid any wind that may come up.  And drop a line if you’re so inclined.

** Photograph canoes & kayaks in quiet, peaceful, and watery settings at sunrise, sunset, or even in the moonlight.  Shots of people (fishing?) or just the empty boats can both work.  Sure these can look a bit cliche, but if you’re genuinely trying to capture the mood of a peaceful paddle, these types of pictures can really shine.  Of course sunset or sunrise by a lake also provides the perfect chance to shoot landscape if the light is right.

Lake Sherburne, East Glacier

Lake Sherburne, East Glacier

  • Wildlife watching & photography is great this time of year.  Dusky grouse were mating when I visited in May, and the deep “thump thump thump” calls of the male permeated the forest everywhere I went.  I saw moose and plenty of deer, along with bighorn sheep.  Mountain goat are quite common as well, especially if you hike to one of the high rocky ridges, such as Apgar Lookout near the western entrance.

I didn’t see bears this time, but they are mostly out from hibernation at this time of year.  Note: there are plenty of grizzlies in this park, so travel in groups if possible and make noise when you’re hiking (especially if alone) in areas where you can’t see far (no bells, loud talking instead).  Discretion is the better part of valor: shoot grizzlies from a distance!

** You have to be patient to get pictures of dusky grouse, but the males (like males of any species, including us) are easier to approach when they’re displaying and their minds are elsewhere.  The real challenge is to get a shot of a female!

** Bighorn sheep are fairly easy in most areas of Glacier because they are habituated to humans.  But in order to observe more natural behaviors, and to get close to young ones, you need some patience.  For both sheep and goats, if the terrain and your abilities allow, climb above them at a fair distance and circle around.  Then descend slowly, approaching from above.  That tends to keep them much more relaxed than if you were to approach from below, where most of their danger comes from.

Dusky grouse displaying his inflatable neck sac, the sound a deep thump-thump.

Dusky grouse displaying his inflatable neck sac, the sound a deep thump-thump.

 

Next time I’ll cover hiking at Glacier.  It might have to wait until a follow-up trip in a few weeks, after which I’ll be able to recommend not only good trails for spring, but perfect hikes for summer as well.  Happy traveling!

 

Flowers bloom in springtime from an out-of-the-way spot I found along Flathead Lake, Montana.

Spring flowers bloom above Flathead Lake, Montana.

Glacier National Park in Springtime   18 comments

The Mission Mountains north of Missoula, Montana

I’m in the mood for a travel post, so here goes.  This is the first of at least two parts.  Glacier National Park lies in northwestern Montana.  It’s part of a larger park, an international peace park,  spanning the border with Canada.  The Canadian portion is called Waterton Lakes.

Glacier is a place of beautiful, rugged mountains and big blue lakes, a place of charismatic wildlife, including grizzly bear, moose, and even (rarely seen) wolves.  Because of widespread glacial retreat over the past century or so (an effect of global warming), you need to hike into high country to get up close and personal with the park’s namesake glaciers.  Those that remain, while visible from the road in places (mostly on the east side) are relatively small.  Much more obvious are the spectacular landscape features left by the extensive glaciation of the past.  U-shaped valleys, glacial lakes, sharp aretes (knife-edge ridges), moraines and more lie around every corner.

Springtime is lambing season: Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

Before I get too far, I have a pet peeve.  When we read about travel destinations, either in a guidebook or in a blog like this, the author invariably tells you when is the best time to visit.  We are so used to this that we feel cheated if it’s missing and go off to another source to find out this important piece of information.

This of course, for nearly every destination, is pure bull.  I’ve heard professional photographers complain about how over-popular and over-exposed places like Iceland and Patagonia are getting.  Too many photogs. and too many pictures.  And yet they all continue to schedule their workshops at the same time of year.  It’s like the busiest road near where you live.  You only think of it as having tons of honking cars or bustling people on it.  But try taking a walk there in the middle of the night, or the middle of a snowstorm.

Spring is also a time of plentiful water falling down the mountainsides:  above Grinnell Lake.

Spring is also a time of plentiful water falling down the mountainsides: above Grinnell Lake.

Is there really a “best” time to visit?  Maybe, but travel authors are giving their opinions, as should be obvious from the word “best”.  You aren’t learning about the only time to go but the best time with regard to climate and other factors (the main factor being the author’s personal opinion).  It’s a very subjective topic that is far too often presented in a misleadingly factual manner.  Now some places are virtually off-limits during some times of year because of major road closures or other factors.  But it is a very rare destination that can’t be visited at any time of year.

Glacier lilies are the first to bloom after the snow melts in Glacier's subalpine regions.

Glacier lilies are the first to bloom after the snow melts in Glacier’s subalpine regions.

For example, on a trip across Montana a couple weeks ago, I had plenty of options other than Glacier.  But I love the scenery in the NW corner of the state, so I drove up toward Flathead Lake through the Mission Valley (top image).  After that, it was an easy decision to go a bit further to Glacier.  It was my first springtime in Glacier (late May is still springtime in the northern Rockies).

Every photo workshop plying this park I’ve ever heard of is scheduled in high summer, some in early fall.  But that doesn’t mean other times of year aren’t worthwhile.  I guarantee you’ll be amazed at the park whatever time of year you go.

I may sound like I’m contradicting myself here, but I’m going to recommend, if it’s your first visit to Glacier, that you think about sometime after 4th of July weekend, on up to early October.  But if you’ve been before, if you want fewer fellow tourists, or if you want a slightly different experience, consider either an early (May to mid-June) or very late (mid-October into winter) season visit.

In May, and most years well into June, you’ll be dealing with snow in the high country.  The famous Going to the Sun Road over Logan Pass was closed to vehicles when I visited.  It’s closed until at least mid-June most years.  That’s a big draw for Glacier; first timers want to drive over that pass.  But read on for a way around that apparent limitation.

It didn’t bother me too much that Logan was closed.  For one thing, I’ve been to the park before in summer and have driven over the pass.  Also, because of the closure, not too many people were there, even though it was Memorial Day weekend.  Best of all, I found out that Logan Pass wasn’t actually inaccessible after all.  You can bicycle up from the closure gate!  Bike rentals are available at the store in Apgar Village, the main hub of activity in the west part of the park.

You can also walk of course, but it’s a longish hike.  Granted, once on top you’ll be walking around on huge snow drifts.  But it will most likely be compact enough to not sink in too far.  And you’ll be sharing it with just a few or no other people.

Weather moves in over Two Medicine Lake.

High-country hikes were snowed in during my visit, but that left plenty of hiking to do.  Opened up for consideration were out of the way places I’ve never before explored, and probably wouldn’t if I was busy doing the more popular stuff you see in pictures on the web (over-shot Triple Falls or St. Mary Lake from Sun Point for example).

If you go in wintertime, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is not only magical, you’ll get pictures very unlike the mainstream.  You can even go by rail in winter and stay at the historic Izaak Walton Inn, which has wonderful groomed cross-country ski trails.  The Inn is just outside the south boundary of the park.   You can rent a vehicle to explore (with XC skis or snowshoes) those parts of the park open to traffic.

A doe, a deer, a female deer...

A doe, a deer, a female deer…

You see, there are always ways to make a trip worthwhile, no matter what time of year you go.  So when you read about the “best” time to go someplace, you should at least take it with a grain of salt.  For one thing, “best” times are usually also the most crowded and expensive times.  Also, any pictures you get will end up looking more similar to what’s been done before.  That’s because each season brings its own unique light and weather conditions.

Next time I will offer some ideas for things to do if you decide to break with the crowd and visit in Glacier’s spring season.  I’ll also cover ideas for photography there in spring.  So stay tuned!

Light from the setting sun illuminates the peaks along Lake Sherburne.

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