Pentax Field Report: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Started Aug 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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markgv
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Pentax Field Report: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Aug 22, 2012

I was able to spend almost a week in Yellowstone recently. It is a beautiful place with a large variety of photographic settings: mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, geysers, hotsprings, wildlife, and fauna. Color everywhere... lots of opportunities for interesting macros... There are just so many pictures waiting to be taken, but the biggest challenge is not just getting 'postcard' pictures, as gorgeous as they can be! I did quite a bit of hiking, and that offers some off-the-beaten-path possibilities.

Just some observations if you are planning a trip there.

• I have a K-x. For lenses, I brought on the trip the DA 18-135, the DAL 55-300, and a Sigma 10-20 (f4-5.6). Since I was hiking quite a few miles, I tried to travel light, and so I always took the 18-135 and either the 55-300 or 10-20. I took over 600 pictures. Using ExposurePlot, 32% of my pics were at 18mm and another 25% in the 20-30mm range. Only 11% were 100-135mm and of these, most of them were at 135mm used for macro shots. Only 2% were in the 150-300mm range.

Conclusion: The DA 18-135 was an outstanding lens, and I ended up often just taking it out on hikes. I really like the Sigma 10-20, but it just wasn't worth carrying it around for the situations in Yellowstone. The 55-300 is another great lens, that is handy for getting wildlife shots, but when the buffalo walk right by the car, I didn't need it as much as I thought. For good and ill, I didn't see any bears! The pics attached are simply representative of what the 18-135 can do.

• I had mostly good weather in early August. One very overcast day dulled some of the photos, but a partly cloudy day is not bad. It offered lots of opportunities for interesting shadows, especially in the canyon.

• In the Old Faithful Geyser Basin, I think you might get better pictures in the morning rather than the afternoon. It's worth the walk up to the geyser basin overlook. The challenge with pics in this area is that there are so many people around. If you are looking for a 'wilderness' feel to the pics, all the buildings in that area clog up a lot of the backgrounds. You need to look for the angles.

• I had trouble getting pics I liked in the Yellowstone Lake area. It was just too 'big' for an interesting shot without getting a huge expanse of water and tiny little mountains in the distant background. There is a "Elephant Back" path on the northwest side of the lake that climbs up for a view. I didn't have time for it, but that might offer a better view. I also did not get to West Thumb or further south and east.

• The Yellowstone River runs basically from SW to NE in the Canyon area. This means that you are going to get interesting and constantly changing pics all day long as the light and shadows change. If you want views of the falls, the main designated viewpoints really are the best. There is lots to see if you hike along the north or south rim paths, but there aren't many views of the falls. BTW, I was out a little before 8am one morning, and there were only a handful of people out.

Some pics:
Dragon's Mouth Spring

The butterfly shot is much sharper in the non-resized, non-reduced original. The DA 18-135 does an excellent job for this kind of pseudo-macro.
Yellowstone Canyon

 markgv's gear list:markgv's gear list
Pentax K-x Pentax K-30 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Pentax smc DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6ED AL [IF] DC WR +2 more
Pentax K-x
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