I am now reaching the point in this photographic essay about the parks where I can see the light at the end of this beautiful journey. As I work the last few sets of images I find myself reflecting on the lessons I have learned. I am awed by the overwhelming beauty of all the Parks I have visited and am grateful for the images I have taken along the way. While processing these images I was transported back to the experiences of each location, to contemplate their value to me as a place of opening... of heart and mind and now to bring them to all who are interested through the blog postings.
All of the parks I visited were awesome in terms of the landscape, each possessed a unique difference, a quality of light, color, texture and space that gave them a special feeling. Some locations were filled with forests and greenery others were barren, arid and waterless. They spanned from large boulders and arches to fine sand and sage brush. There is so much variety in the world... I am a better person for the experience of seeing and being in it, collecting, composing and sharing it.
Many of the National Parks were similar and different in their own way, but one stood out above the rest as unique and special in a different way. Yellowstone Park is a place where animals flourish in abundance, herds of buffalo roam free and often block the road. Elk and dear are easily spotted and are often seen near the roads that lace throughout the park. Eagles soar overhead, moose and wolf are more difficult to spot but can be found if one takes the time and is patient. Great Grizzly and Black bear own the right of way wherever they go. At first glance these animals appear to be tame because of their fearless ability to walk up close to people, I must remind myself that they are truly wild and dangerous. The energy of the wilderness fills the air. I am touched someplace deep and visceral, emotions rise and life feels full and immediate. It is a totally unique experience, almost primordial. Needless to say that I was apprehensive each time I left the safety of my car to walk to a nearby hill or follow a trail. It was altogether possible that I could encounter danger around the next turn. I kept my excursions limited but inevitably there would be a necessity to venture out if I was to get the shot I was looking for.
This brings me to the next series of images that I am going to share with you. The animals of Yellowstone. At this point I have been living in the park campgrounds for many days, and am adjusting to the flow of life in the park. In the morning herds of elk and buffalo are on the move and can be seen in the campgrounds. Living in a tent here is not recommended unless you don't mind wild company dropping in. I am grateful for my Subaru although the space is cramped it provides a safety shell from more then the weather. One morning I awoke to a large buffalo looking in my car window, he stood there covered with snow his large eye blinking the flakes away as he gazed at me.
Soon he had moved on and I was up and off into the park for more encounters. It wasn't long before I came across a young bull elk, I was amazed at how the animals seemed to be unafraid of me as I took their picture.
After the elk gave me a snort I got back in the car and moved on deeper into the park. I was driving across a bridge when I spotted a dark spot about a 1000 yards off of the left side. I stopped at the end of the bridge and got out my gear and walked back half way across the bridge and set up my camera. I would like to saying that the next images you will see were gathered at great risk to my life and limb. I was prepared and knew how to react if things got to dangerous. The images were taken with a 70mm lens and as you will see I was very close to the animal.
It was not long after setting up my shot that it was clear that I was looking at a male Grizzly Bear. I saw him and he saw me and once he saw me he began to walk slowly but steadily towards the bridge. I thought he would pass under the bridge so I kept shooting. Soon however he was walking up the bank towards the end of te bridge where I had parked my car. I began to walk to the car and kept shooting as not to miss this opportunity. By the time I got to the front of my car he crested the hill right in front of me. He stopped and let out a loud growl the depth of which froze my blood and made my heart pound in my throat, but I kept standing my ground behind my camera and did not move except to focus and shoot. Here are some of the key shots in the series of 80 images.
The Grizzly approaches and gives me a long hard look.
Now I can hear him breathing and making noises as if to say here I come. But suddenly just feet away from me, he stops growling and without a care in the world ... he sits down. Now he is posing for the camera. I am thrilled. This is a moment in my life that I will never forget.
|Clearly he loves the camera|
|Soon he is up and walking away.|