Something that photographers have to be prepared for is the unexpected. Nowhere is this more true than the greater Yellowstone area. In this case, prepared means being ready to take a photograph at any second.

Wildlife is great at hiding. If they weren’t, it would be easy to get great shots. Sometimes (all the time with bison) they come out in the open, and that could be for an hour or just a few seconds. If you’re spending ten seconds getting your camera ready, you may have missed your only opportunity.

I took a trip to the Quake Lake area yesterday, about 30 miles outside of West Yellowstone. I expected the bighorn sheep to be there, and they were. I hoped to see a grizzly bear, moose, or elk, but they did not show up. What I did not expect were the two bison walking down the highway on the way back.

Since they aren’t inside the national park, and there was only one other car around, I was able to stop and photograph these bison at close range. Had I not been prepared, I would not have had the time to get this shot. I’ve learned to have my cameras on and ready in the passenger seat, so all I have to do is pick one up and start shooting. Below is the result of preparation!

Note: I was safely IN my car.


Bison near Hebgen Lake. Canon 7D, Canon 300mm ƒ/4L, 1.4x TC, 420mm @ ƒ/8, 1/800s, ISO 3200 (purchase print)

After this afternoon trip, I had to go back to town to eat and get more gas. I debated going back out, but there was a storm coming in and the light looked like it could be great. I’m glad I didn’t stay inside!

Electric Peak is the highest mountain in the Gallatin Range, and it was lit up with the last golden light of the day. Since this peak was 11 miles from where I was, I used my longest lens combination, making for a non-conventional landscape shot.


Canon 7D, Canon 300mm ƒ/4L, 1.4x TC, 420mm @ ƒ/8, 1/800s, ISO 400 (purchase print)

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>> Trent