The first group of new images from my Rocky Mountains photo tour is now online and ready to view. Click this link to view them. This selection represents the first leg of my trip, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. It includes photos made during three separate backpacking trips into the most spectacular backcountry locations in the Sawtooths. Sawtooth Lake, Baron Lakes, and the famous Alice-Toxaway Lakes Loop. Also among this group are images from Little Redfish Lake and meadows of Stanley Basin. Both of these locations yielded some great images on this and previous visits.
The Sawtooth Mountains backcountry has been on my must photograph list for many years. They were on the schedule last year, but due to widespread wildfires and smoke I had to cancel the shoot. This year, however, provided ideal conditions for an extended stay. And I took full advantage of it. In addition to there being no fires or smoke, several passing summer storms provided beautiful evening and morning light. Perfect conditions for landscape photography.
After I complete editing and processing all the images from the rest of the trip I’ll return to the beginning and write detailed posts about all the locations I photographed.
To see even more images from this and previous trips to the Sawtooth Mountains please click this link to go to the Idaho gallery of my Archives. All images are available as fine art prints and for commercial licensing.
Next group of new images coming soon: Wind River Range Wyoming
Sunrise over Little Redfish Lake, Sawtooth Mountains Idaho #56173 Purchase
Another great spot for photography in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho is Redfish Lake and Little Redfish Lake. While both lakes have spectacular views Little Redfish is smaller, and offers better intimate compositions than its bigger neighbor.
After my success at having good light at Stanley Lake several days before I didn’t think that luck would strike twice in the same trip, but it did. The first evening I scoured the lakeshore for good compositions. I found the best spot was one that obviously was used by photographers in the past. You can always tell by the small patch of ground worn bare and hardened. The light was nice and I got a few good shots. However evening light puts the range mostly in shade. Morning promised to be a better time for photos, if the light was good.
As always I got up before sunrise and set up in my spot and waited. Like several days prior at Stanley Lake fog threatening to obscure the view. The stillness of the air meant the surface of the lake was mirror still, and I kept my fingers crossed. Also the sky was cloudy and it didn’t look like the sun would break through. Luck was with me though, and as you can see from these photos the fog held off and the clouds began to clear. Perfect timing, as the first predawn light began paint the sky with purples and reds.
The clouds and atmosphere that morning were just right to keep the light and colors going long after the sun had risen. As the light began to wash out the fog came back and closed off any views until the heat of the day burned it off. I packed up and decided to check out the bigger Redfish Lake, there the fog was also thick but there was a couple of surprises for me which I’ll save for the next post.
Sunrise over Little Redfish Lake, Sawtooth Mountains Idaho #56184 Purchase
Sunrise over Little Redfish Lake, Sawtooth Mountains Idaho #56196 Purchase
Another location I visited on my recent photo trip to Idaho was Bruneau Canyon. Located on BLM land in a remote corner of the Snake River Plain in SW Idaho. This canyon is more well known to white water enthusiasts than photographers. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until thumbing through an Idaho tourism brochure I picked up in a rest area. Given the hot sunny and windy conditions and a long drive on a dusty gravel road I wasn’t sure I wanted to include it in my itinerary. However I soldiered on and was glad I did.
Bruneau Canyon is roughly 40 miles long, cut through layers of basalt by the Bruneau River. From the overlook it is 800′ deep. Getting here in mid-day the canyon was a bit of a disappointment, the light was pale and featureless. Aside from the big gash in the earth there was absolutely nothing else around. Just flat plains as far as the eye could see. The only other cause for excitement was a government sign announcing to travelers they are entering an Air Force bombing range.
As always in photography light means everything and as the sun dipped to the horizon things began to pick up. After sunset when alpenglow kicked in there was some nice warm even light on the canyon walls. The next morning look very promising with wispy clouds glowing in beautiful colors before the sun came up. Unfortunately the majority of them weren’t over the canyon, but it turned out well anyway.
If you decide to visit the Bureau Canyon make it part of a trip that includes other nearby spots like Shoshone Falls or the Owyhee Uplands. Make sure you’re ready to be on your own, although there are great spots along the rim to camp in solitude there is no water, cell phone reception or any other facilities. You also might want to bring a helmet for the objects falling from airplanes!
Full moon over Stanley Lake and McGown Peak, Sawtooth Mountains Idaho #55933 Purchase
Last month when I was photographing in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho one of my main goals was to come back with some exceptional images of Stanley Lake. This lake is on the northern end of the Sawtooth Mountains. With McGown Peak in the background, it is one of the more classic scenes in an area overflowing with photo great opportunities. On this trip I was lucky enough to get not one but two instances of exceptional light.
My first day in the area found me photographing a couple of meadows. They were filled with wildflowers about a mile up the trail from the lake. While at these meadows an evening storm began to clear. Just in time to fill the sky with fabulous tones of yellow orange red and finally purples and pinks. I felt lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to photograph the wildflowers and McGown Peak. But at the same time I knew that the view from the lake must have been awesome too. Unfortunately the lake was too far away to include it in the same evening session.
While back at my camp that evening I was a bit disappointed to see the night filled with stars. That meant the morning would most likely be an empty blue sky, not the conditions I had hoped for. I awoke before daybreak to check out the lake anyway and as I expected there was not a cloud in the sky, but the lake was mirror still and a full moon was drifting down from the sky to the right of McGown Peak. As I was setting up my camera as if by magic fog banks began to form over the lake, thinking rats now I wouldn’t even get this basic photo. But the fog started to spread into wisps and concentrate in areas that would enhance the composition.
After the sun began to wash out most of the color in the mountains the fog rolled back in and completely obliterated the seven for the next hour or so. The first photo below is the result. I ended up with about a half dozen variations, with of course a few verticals included for possible cover placements. A very satisfying mornings works.
Sunset over Stanley Lake and McGown Peak, Sawtooth Mountains Idaho #56121 Purchase
After having more good light and photo sessions in other nearby areas, I was ready to move on to Redfish Lake, another great location. The sky was hazy all day with threats of approaching showers. It didn’t look like there would be anything worthwhile to photograph in the evening. However, at the last minute I had a hunch to head back to Stanley Lake, since it was so close. The showers never appeared and the haze began to thin out into streamers of high clouds. Those condition were perfect for catching colorful rays of light, even after the sun had set.
All I had to do was set up in the same spot as before and hope and wait for the sky to start glowing. I wasn’t disappointed. I had plenty of time to make me great images, even after the sunset. The second photo in this post is from that evening. As with the evening in the meadows several days earlier I noticed in the opposite direction some incredible cloud formations. They were glowing in orange and reds. As if taunting me to pack up my camera gear and drive like mad to chase the light just down the road. However, I knew that would be a futile effort. The light was fading and there wouldn’t be enough time to get to a suitable location.
I just stood there and enjoyed the sounds of the Loons and remaining light.