What’s that sound? A bear! A wolf! These were my thoughts as I walked across a very foggy and dark Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. I kept thinking, "why do I always think bad thoughts"? Was it from watching too many horror films? Was it instinct that was honed by ancient relatives and is now permanently part of my subconscious – fight or flight? Whatever it was, it kept me on edge for the walk to the Yellowstone River.
The drive from Grant Village to the Hayden Valley took forever. The fog was so thick I could only go 15 to 20 mph. Arriving at the scouted location I tagged on the car’s GPS the day before, I sat there wondering if I should just wait in the nice warm car for the fog to break up. As I looked out the window at the darkness, the easy answer was stay in the warm car. Instead, I told myself that some of the best photographs are taken when the weather is at its worst. Therefore, out into darkness and fog I went to find the edge of the Yellowstone River.
Walking in fog so thick it was like being under a blanket and darkness so impenetrable I could not see my outstretched hand, I made my way very slowly and noisily to the sound of the river in the distance. I sang some Bon Jovi and then some Pink Floyd in an attempt to notify any other mammals in my path that I was coming. All the while cursing to myself for leaving my flashlight in Grant Village. Every now and then something would make a noise in the dark and I would yell in that direction to make sure whatever made the noise knew I was human. After what felt like hours I finally reached the river’s edge.
I unpacked my camera gear, got setup and began to wait for the sun. I was still singing songs and talking to myself to make sure everything around me knew I was human and not breakfast. After some time, not sure how long, the predawn light started to illuminate the landscape around me. Soon there was enough light to take some photographs of the fog enshrouded trees and river. After determining where I was located on the river I moved to the river’s bend to position myself for sunrise.
After about an hour, I was having serious doubts the sun would ever break through. Based on my iPhone app I knew exactly where the sun was in the sky and it was well above the horizon. I just could not see the sun standing in a fog bank. I decided to wait for another 30 minutes and then call it a morning. All of a sudden the sun struck a blow to the fog! I started taking photos as the sun shined brighter and brighter. It was like someone turning on the light in a room-it happened so fast. Moments later everything was bathed in yellow as the sun battled with the dense fog in Hayden Valley. Too quickly the battle was over with the fog triumphant and the sun shrinking away in defeat.
One to two minutes, that was approximately how long the sun lit Hayden Valley that morning. I absolutely love this photo because it was just pure fun to take. After the sun lost the battle that day, I stood there and said “cool” out loud. It was absolutely worth the effort to capture that one to two minutes. That one to two minutes is why I love photography.