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Wild West #5. Grand Tetons.

Heading north from Pinedale with Isabel, we spent a night in the Grand Teton National Park.

For awhile I was riding in back with Isabel, and she poked me in the ribs. Just like old times. When our three kids were little, we sometimes called the back of the car the “pigs’ nest.”

What makes the Grand Tetons so impressive is that as seen from the park and the road they rise straight up from the flat valley carved by the Snake River. More commonly, big mountains have a scrim of foothills covering them.

We crossed paths with two elated men returning from nice three-day hike around one of the Tetons, the Cascade Canyon/Paintbrush Canyon loop, I’d like to do that some day if my legs hold up. But, actually, Isabel, as a native, tends to know of equally interesting but less travelled paths.

A moose was lolling around near one of the paths, and there must have been twenty photographers clustered there, many of them with tripods. The shutterbugs looked tense and disgruntled, maybe because the moose was standing up to strike a grand pose. Or maybe becauase they’d already taken their “big picture” and didn’t know what else do to.

I don’t quite get why someone would use a tripod for landscape photography. If nothing much is moving, you don’t really need to stabilize the camera. Maybe they want to use an extreme telephoto, in which the slightest jitter is going to be amplified. Or possibly they like to use long shutter speeds so as to damp down to tiny apertures and get deep depth of field. Or maybe they’re just gear-fetishists. A tripod really slows you down. I’ve learned to do a kind of Zen-moment shutter-squeeze thing so I can shoot a 1/60 or even 1/30 sec exposure fairly reliably. Also I keep an eye on the ISO setting, and dial that up if I want a faster shutter speed so I can get less tele-jiggle and more depth of field.

We looked in at a little chapel in the park, with a stained glass image of the Sacred Heart. Whose heart is that, exactly? The Virgin Mary’s? No, research shows it Jesus’s. It’s a good icon. When I’m tense and unhappy because I’m being a jerk, my heart feels that way, as if it has barbed wire around it. I try not to go there very often.

A few years ago, I blogged a picture from a chuch in Kecskemet, Hungary, they went one step further with the Sacred Heart image, and showed it with a knife sticking through it. More dramatic.

There was some nice morning light on the wood in the church. But really you’d be more inclined to think of God as being up in the mountains. The Grand Tetons. Which is French for the Big Breasts. Nearby is the Gros Ventre range. The Plump Belly mountains. I’m picturing some very lonely fur trappers…

2 Responses to “Wild West #5. Grand Tetons.”

  1. Enon Says:

    Why tripods? It’s a combination of lowest ISO, long lenses, F5.6-11, and a desire for pixel-sharp pictures using high-resolution sensors. (The super-resolution medium and large format scanner backs absolutely require tripods.) Sometimes they want a long exposure to blur moving water while keeping everything else sharp. Also, sometimes they want to do exposure bracketing, later combining the images into high-dynamic range (HDR) pictures, which requires perfect registration of the differently-exposed frames. When the pictures get blown up to large sizes, the extra care taken shows. With normal prints up to 8×10 it’s much less of an issue. Also, yes, some people just like gear.

  2. glen Says:

    True Love

    Greg James, World Renown Tattoo Artist

    We are but busts of ageless souls
    sent home to remember,
    work and play,
    to still feel the sting
    of daggers through the heart.

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