LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK – USA > Red Columbine (North Fork, Grand Teton National Park)
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Innumerable wildflowers of every color, shape and kind blanket the valleys and riversides of Grand Teton National Park, turning it into a paradise on earth. This red columbine was one among countless others in the Cascade Canyon North Fork.
Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern USA just 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park. The jagged peaks of the Teton Range rise dramatically out of the Great Plains to an altitude of 13,800′ (4200m). Grand Teton’s pristinely preserved wilderness features valleys covered with Columbine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers, raging mountain rivers and rugged, snow-covered peaks. The park is home to many different kinds of animals including grizzly bears, elk, moose and marmots. Due to its stunning beauty, Grand Teton National Park is one of America’s most popular national parks.
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men…” (Psalm 107:15)
I woke up around dawn to photograph the North Fork of Grand Teton National Park in the morning light. About 8 am, after a couple of hours of shooting, I finally sat down on a boulder next to the trail to eat my breakfast.
All of a sudden, to my complete bewilderment, a couple of photographers carrying day packs and tripods over their shoulders passed me. Had they been ascending, I wouldn’t have been so surprised, for we were only about 14 km (9 miles) away from the trailhead, but they were descending a lengthy track that had come from over a mountain pass.
I called out to them, “Where have you come from???”
They explained that they were local photographers who left the trailhead at 2am in order to get up to Lake Solitude to shoot sunrise, a 30 something km (20+ miles) round trip. They were obviously gluttons for punishment because both of them said they had to go to work later that afternoon.
I couldn’t resist asking the golden question: “So, did you get some fantastic shots for all your effort?”
They dropped their heads and admitted, “No, not really. The lighting was really difficult. Nothing really worked.”
They showed me a few of their shots, and I sadly had to agree with them. They weren’t nearly as fantastic as the incredible effort they had put in to capture them.
Wilderness landscape photography requires a great deal of effort. In addition, great shots often depend on a number of factors which are out of human control, such as the right combination of weather, sun position and light. Photographers also have to negotiate difficult terrain, such as boulders, shrubs and cliffs to get their tripods in the perfect position.
I can definitely sympathize with these photographers who put a great deal effort to capture shots yet come back with nothing because it happens to all of us.
This is why, after these photographers left, I greatly thanked God for blessing me with a number of beautiful shots that same morning lower down in the North Fork of the Grand Tetons. I was so thankful for his grace that my efforts were not in vain.
I also thanked God for his sovereignty in my situation. Like these men, my goal had also been to make it up to Lake Solitude that morning so that I could shoot sunrise. However, the previous day I was too fatigued to continue and found myself camping several km short of Lake Solitude and shooting these photos further down that morning instead. God worked it out for the best because he blessed me with beautiful photos right where I was at.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)