After a long hiatus, I plan to return to blogging. Book reviews, articles, and photographs will soon appear in this space.

I curtailed my activity in the face of a couple of events in Fall 2013. The government shutdown forced the temporary closure of Yellowstone and scuttled my trip. Then, in November, my eldest sister (not the one who works at YS) received a diagnosis of hydrocephaly (water on the brain) and faced surgery and rehab. As anyone who maintains a blog knows, any interruption can cause a long term shutdown. Momentum and discipline flee.

The last couple of years have given me a fair share of photographic adventure. I finally made it to Yellowstone in 2014, I returned last year, and I will head out there again next month. As an added treat, my good friend and photo buddy Duke will be along.

Yellowstone presented many photographic challenges . The range of natural features calls for a lot of technical chops, and the size of the park requires a measure of time management and light evaluation. Reading up prepared me, but not enough. Rangers, park employees, and other photographers turned out to have invaluable tips and information. I have heard the excellent Chris Nicholson speak a couple of times on various aspects of National Park photography, and I highly recommend his website and book (

Although I have become comfortable with landscape photography over the past few years, Yellowstone’s unique variety of thermal features and its distinctly western topography call for lots of problem solving. The Yellowstone Foundation selected one of my pictures of the canyon’s Lower Falls as one the top 100 photographs in their Yellowstone Forever contest last year, which validated all the hard work. (A slideshow is here: )

My wildlife photography lags way behind. Capturing animals requires a combination of knowledge (what behaviors should I expect?), skill (the array of choices for settings is staggering), and patience, as well as timing and speed. I missed myriad shots because I did not have my camera prepared when opportunities arose. When I was ready to fire, the moment had sometimes passed or worse lay a half hour in the future. At the decisive point, I had to be ready to steady my camera, pan, or move. My yield was poor by any standard, just a handful of usable shots a day. It gave me some comfort to read that the best wildlife photogs consider a yield of 30% sharp and framed, 3% up to high standards all around, and 1% keepers to represent an excellent output.

I am renting a more suitable lens (the expensive but excellent Olympus 300mm f/4 with dual stabilization) and will be practicing closer to home. I don’t expect to get the sorts of yields that people who spend a hundred days a year do routinely. As Samuel Beckett said, “Ever try. Ever fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

I fly to YS on September 18. Expect a daily post when I get there, and a few in advance as I prepare.