Home Tips & Technology Behind The Shot: Bison In Snow

Behind The Shot: Bison In Snow

Photo By Albert Wollerton

I first visited Yellowstone National Park in the fall of 1969, four months after returning from Vietnam. I had a Beseler Topcon 35mm SLR film camera, but I wouldn’t have called myself a photographer. A friend and I backpacked into the mountains of Yellowstone’s Beartooth Pass, and while I came back with some nice images, I always wanted to go back to see more of the park.

It was not until January 2017 that I made it back to Yellowstone, almost 50 years after my first visit. I was traveling in Yellowstone with five other members of the National Photography Enthusiasts Group (NPEG). The group’s members around the country hold and lead “Groupshoots” in areas where they’re familiar with the photo opportunities. NPEG’s founder, based in Bozeman, Montana, hosted this Groupshoot. The park was beautiful and very different in the winter, offering a whole new perspective of the wildlife with a lot less people.

The six of us spent the first few days driving around Lamar Valley near the park’s northeast entrance. Lamar Valley is known for its wildlife, and we saw foxes, moose, elk and bison. I really wanted to get a shot of a bison covered in snow, and while we had seen several, I didn’t have that one really memorable image yet.

On January 26, six days into the trip, we took a snow coach into areas closed off to cars due to the heavy snow. Working our way through a lot of pullouts close to the Madison River, we stopped to see what might be around. It was 8 degrees Fahrenheit out and serene with no wind, and we spent quite a bit of time in this spot. I eventually spotted this bison lying behind a snowbank, his face covered with snow and framed with some trees.

The first time I opened the image back home in Kentucky, it just screamed at me that it had to be a monochrome. I processed the image in Photoshop using the Black & White adjustments, manually adjusting the color and contrast to achieve the final image.

I have a framed 12×18-inch print hanging on the wall across from my computer, so I look at this image every day and remember the experience.

See more of Albert Wollerton’s work at albertwollerton.smugmug.com.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM at 400mm, Induro Carbon 8X CT314 tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead. Exposure: 1/250 sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 1600.

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