December 19, 2014, 06:04:36 PM

Author Topic: Yellowstone vacation advice  (Read 6513 times)

stilscream

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2013, 12:30:21 PM »
I will be bringing my gitzo tripod with gimbol head and manfrotto monopod. Without a tripod astrophotography would be a pipe dream.
My wife and I are not athletes by any means but we do like hiking up in nature together, so she will love seeing all the bison, and elk. I hope to take pictures of wolves, bears and eagles. I live in AZ, so it will be a welcome relief from the heat of the desert to be up there in the mountains. Though my wife will not be able to do strenuous hiking, she won't be a big ball of baby yet. She is understanding of my passion even though she does not partake. She woke up at 3 AM with me to get sunrise pictures on our last vacation. I booked a hotel 2 hours from YNP, so I am hoping evening wildlife activity is as high as morning so 3AM is not a repeat offense. She would also choose to go with me than sleep in (most of the time). Also, I work in a pawn shop, so I've picked up a spotting scope and pair of Nikon binoculars for fairly cheap.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 12:38:06 PM by stilscream »
7d, 5d mk iii, 1d4, 1dx, 35mm f1.4L, 70-200mm IS ii USM, 300mm f4 IS USM, 600mm f4l is USM, 400mm f2.8l is usm, 14mm tamron f2.8, 17-40mm f4L, 24-70 f2.8L USM, 85f1.2L USM, 100mm f2.8 macro

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2013, 12:30:21 PM »

tpatana

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2013, 01:19:16 PM »
I booked a hotel 2 hours from YNP,

Uh oh.....

2 hours as advertised, or 2 hours as someone real experience? The traffic can be quite horrible at times. Not at 3am, but still.... If there's bear/bison/elk/squirrel/anything interesting by the road (during the day), estimate about 2mph average speed for couple miles.

For my trip, initially I booked a hotel ~1 hour away, just to get something as everything inside YNP were fully booked. Then I planned calling in every few days to check if the lodge by the Old Faithful would have cancellations. I think on my second call there was cancellation, and I was able to get the lodge cabin for less than I would have been paying for the lousy inn 1 hour away.

And if that would give you (me) 1 hour more sleep every morning, I'd be happy paying way more for that.

Especially, do you really want to wake up your wife 3am every morning? I know, people should think twice before marrying a photog, I tried to warn my wife but since when she listened to me. But waking up 3am doesn't sound vacation to me. If I go sleep after that, sounds more like my kind of vacation.

unfocused

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • ********
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
    • Unfocused: A photo website
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2013, 02:20:50 PM »
I booked a hotel 2 hours from YNP,

Uh oh.....

Double Uh oh....

Seriously, take it from a guy who has been married three times – you are courting disaster here. I'd follow tpatana's advice and start calling Xanterra (the park's hotel vendor) now and looking for cancellations anywhere in the park.

Two hours travel time to the park entrance only gets you to the park entrance. Once in the park, you have to get someplace. Google Maps estimates over four hours drive time around the Grand Loop and that is pure driving and very optimistic since it doesn't take into account stops and congestion.

Now, consider all the gear you are talking about hauling with you and add in set up and take down time.

When I went with my two daughters, we camped inside the park and it still took us the better part of a day each day to get to any of the major sites (that is, to actually see the sites and not just arrive there and turn around and drive back).

If you really are locked into the two-hour away location, then I would say to just focus on the astrophotography. Plan on getting up and on the road early in the day, heading to a location with leisurely stops along the way to see wildlife. Get to your planned spot for the night time shots sometime mid-afternoon to check things out and then tuck your wife into the back seat so she can sleep on the way back to the hotel.

Get up the next morning and repeat for a new location.
pictures sharp. life not so much. www.unfocusedmg.com

takesome1

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2013, 03:12:25 PM »
stilscream

I am going to Yellowstone the first week of September, this will be my fourth trip in as many years. A friend has a cabin by West Yellowstone's entrance that we stay in.

For gear I would suggest either the 1D X, IV and the 5D III. Leave the other bodies at home. Of course the 600mm then something wide.

You didn't mention visiting the geyser basins. If you have never been to Yellowstone the geyser basins should be your first priority. They are what makes Yellowstone unique. Other places in the world have bears, eagles and wolves but no geyser basins. We spent the first three days of our first trip watching water boil.

As for wildlife, the eagles nest at the West Yellowstone entrance road right before you get in to the mountains. They also nest on the east entrance road. The roads follow the rivers and the eagles stay on the rivers.

Go to the North entrance road, going from Mammoth out of the park is a good bet for Big Horn sheep.

I have seen wolves at the east and west entrance roads. The wolves will not stand for pictures as most of the other wildlife do. I have heard that the park rangers shoot the wolves with rubber bullets when they get close to roads. They want them scared of cars and people for their safety and ours.

I am a bit negative on wildlife viewing in Yellowstone. I think some of it is manipulated by the rangers to control the crowds. I was told by one ranger to go to a certain spot to see grizzly the next day, when arrived we found a buffalo that had been killed over night and the bear and her cubs were eating it. Very convenient that it was close to a large parking area as well.

Yellowstone is a giant road hunting adventure for city slickers. If a bear (or anything remotely interesting) makes an appearance it will be a traffic jam. Getting a shot with your 600mm might be tough when everyone with their point and shoot is running out to get close to an elk.

Most people find wildlife by finding parked cars. If you want to have fun just stop and get your spotting scope out and see how many people stop and try and figure out what you are looking at.

If you are two hours away from Yellowstone you are to far if you are going in every day, unless of course you are staying at one of the Teton lodges. Then have fun in the Tetons.

drmudd

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2013, 03:21:58 PM »
I was in Yellowstone last weekend to photograph the wildlife.  The traffic was not to bad, but the smoke/haze from the Idaho fires obscured the skyline.  The bull elk were not moving but should go into rut within the next few weeks…   

francis

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2013, 05:18:24 PM »
Here is what I will suggest.

7d+600+TC. If you get luck to see the wolf. Normally they will be quarter mile to half mile away.
1dx+70-200. This is for all other wildlife.
5d mk iii+35 (better to have 24). This is for geyser, landscape and astrophotography.

Your hotel location is the real concern for me. But anyway, relax and enjoy the trip. I have been to the Yellowstone area several times. And I planned to go back next year and try to stay in hotels inside the park.

stilscream

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2013, 05:23:30 PM »
I will also be there the first week of September! Perhaps we might meet for coffee and share some of our prize shots.  ;D
I clumsily booked a flight into Cody, and hotel --was then able to change hotel to Big Sky, MT which is about 2 hours away from Hayden Valley according to Google Maps. My wife has a cousin who lives in Missoula (Western MT) whom we plan to visit during our stay. I onlyeish to get up at 3AM if the results will be dramatically better than evening time. I saved $500-600 by not booking in the park.Not to mention the places were booked despite the horrible, horrible reviews.
7d, 5d mk iii, 1d4, 1dx, 35mm f1.4L, 70-200mm IS ii USM, 300mm f4 IS USM, 600mm f4l is USM, 400mm f2.8l is usm, 14mm tamron f2.8, 17-40mm f4L, 24-70 f2.8L USM, 85f1.2L USM, 100mm f2.8 macro

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2013, 05:23:30 PM »

stilscream

  • Rebel T5i
  • ****
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2013, 06:02:27 PM »
I love my 1DX, and I like my 1d4, but the battery chargers are huge -- they take up the space of a lens. They are meant to charge two batteries at once. I think my 7D will cover my fps/wildlife needs while my 5d3 will cover my astrophotography and low light situations. I can use one tiny charger to charge both cameras batteries. If I took my 1Dx, I probably not be able to carry a 2nd body (this sounds like a bad idea) or I would have to ditch a lens to make room for the charger. -- I think I would miss not having the 14mm, 35mm, and 24-70mm I was planning to take. Can anyone suggesting the bigger bodies give me reasons why they would choose to sacrifice the space? If birds was the main thing I would be taking photos of I'd agree, but it seems birds of prey are much rarer than various other mammals which might not require an extra 4fps or extra spot of low light performance. Am I wrong? Are Ospreys and Bald Eagles and (I hope, hope, hope) Peregrine falcons common?

 I wish I had a 24mm f1.4L II, which would be perfect for astrophotography and I am tempted to splurge more, but I really need to sell gear being that I have my first child coming. And, I have a 35 f1.4, which is close and 14 f2.8 Tamron which will probably also be useful. I hope to sell my 600mm f4L IS USM and 400mm 2.8L IS USM which I use seldomly. This is one of the main reasons I am going, so I can use it before I get rid of it. Incidentally, probably selling 2 bodies as well.
7d, 5d mk iii, 1d4, 1dx, 35mm f1.4L, 70-200mm IS ii USM, 300mm f4 IS USM, 600mm f4l is USM, 400mm f2.8l is usm, 14mm tamron f2.8, 17-40mm f4L, 24-70 f2.8L USM, 85f1.2L USM, 100mm f2.8 macro

PsionicBOOM

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2013, 07:17:45 PM »
If I were you, I would take the 1DX and the Canon 600 f4, the 70-200, and the 35 f1.4.  Use the 35 to take landscapes and pictures of your wife, use the other two for pictures of other animals.  Take a pocketable point-and-shoot with which you might ask someone to take a picture of you and your wife together.

I would take the 1DX for the combination of full-frame and high fps.  I don't really see why more than one DSLR would be necessary... unless this was purely a photography expedition and you were leaving your wife at home.

I'm not a professional photographer, but thanks to living in northern Utah, and my parents' timeshare in Jackson, I have been fortunate to go to Yellowstone almost every year for the last 20.

Forget the gear and figure out what the purpose and priorities of the trip are. This is one of the the last chances you and your wife will have to be together alone for at least 10-20 years. Do you really want to spend it with your eyes glued to a viewfinder while your pregnant wife sits there being devoured by mosquitoes?

Take plenty of pictures... but use this trip as an enjoyable experience for both you and your wife, use it to familiarize yourself with YNP, then return another time as the photographer - who sits in one place for hours, waiting to be eaten by wolves.

With my family, we usually spend a day in Yellowstone.  Each year, we choose which half of a loop to see, of the two loops, and that's about all there is time for, in one day, if you're not staying in the park.

The maximum speed limit is 45mph, but you might average out to 20mph, if the bison herds are near the roads.

Sometimes we see a lot, and sometimes we don't see much.  I once backpacked through the backcountry with my scout troop for five days, and didn't see anything.  This time of year, you will probably see a lot of animals, but also lots of overcast, so don't count on astrophotography.

Personally, I would either invest in a few more CF cards or take the laptop.

Pack a lunch, snacks, drinks, hand sanitizer for the outhouse, and good tunes.  Stay on the designated trails or die!

tpatana

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2013, 07:43:34 PM »
I saved $500-600 by not booking in the park.

?

I booked a cabin from the lodge (~300ft from the Old Faithful), and it was around $100 a night. Anything outside the park were around $150-200 a night, so I saved plenty by being inside the park. Plus saved plenty of time which is even more valuable and rare commodity, plus some extra saving because of less gas for driving.

So I'd seriously recommend to consider calling Xterra (or what was the official agency, don't use other agencies as they'll just go though Xterra and take their extra cut), and check if they have vacancies. It's your vacation and you make your choices, but I just can't imagine being 2 hours away from the park.

takesome1

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2013, 10:11:38 PM »
If you go in the West Yellowstone entrance at 3:00 am you will most likely drive within a 1/4 of a mile of me. ;D Don't honk.

You might try grabbing a room in the park or at one of the entrances one night to give you more time in the park. First time in the park many people do the top loop one day and the bottom the second. It is a full days drive to do either.

I would take the 1D's over the 7D any day. I had a 1D IV and a 7D last time I went in the park and tried them side by side on some big horn sheep to see which gave the best pic. Shots several hundred yards off the 1D IV won easily. Pixel density isn't everything. I was using a 500mm on tripod, doing live view focus to tune in on them.

Eagles as you come in the entrance to the West, watch the Madison. Usually a pair that nests at the edge of the mountains.

If you go up to Mammoth, and then go east on the Grand Loop Road, between Mammoth and the NE Entrance Road there is a dirt road that is one way (the only one I know of in the park). I have taken it many times and have gotten closer to wildlife on that road than any other. Buy a park map and you should be able to locate it easily. It is west of the petrified tree.

Another road I always hit when I go by and that is paved, if you go toward Old Faithful is Fire Lake Road. Interesting geysers and wildlife.

Good Luck


Valvebounce

  • 1D X
  • *******
  • Posts: 1089
  • Still can't use most of it to it's full potential!
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2013, 12:55:00 PM »
Hi Folks.
I read this reply to my missus, we both had a good laugh from it, thanks for that, thought it was quite close to the reality of these situations too, some real good advice for most of us in a relationship I would think!

Have a great trip.

Cheers Graham.


...Am I making any mistakes?

Yes. Unless you want some other guy raising that baby for you.

Forget the gear and figure out what the purpose and priorities of the trip are. This is one of the the last chances you and your wife will have to be together alone for at least 10-20 years. Do you really want to spend it with your eyes glued to a viewfinder while your pregnant wife sits there being devoured by mosquitoes?
7D + Grip, 40D + Grip, 20D, EF-S 17-85 Kit lens, EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM, EF 2x III, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 C, 50mm f1.8, 550EX some Filters Remotes Macro tubes Tripod heads etc!
20D, BG-E2N, 17-85mm, 50mm are pre loved. :)
(300D Saved a holiday, E-FS 18-55 Cosina 100-300 retired)

FTb-n

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 277
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2013, 02:12:12 PM »
My wife, two kids, and I just returned from Yellowstone.  We visited the park by RV and didn't do any trail hiking, so my photo needs will likely differ.

I used ThinkTank hosters, one for a 7D w/70-200 f2.8L II, and another with 5D3 w/24-105 f4L.  The latter was my most used lens -- love the IS.  I also kept a Hoya HD polarizing filter on it.

To be fair, my want to get the shot under the most optimum lighting was tampered by not wanting to drag the family out before dawn or onto the trail.  Still, I found my gear selection quite handy for all but flying creatures.

Toward dusk, I swapped lenses and put the 70-200 on the 5D3 then upped the ISO in anticipation of buffalo street dance by headlight shots.

Lastly, don't forget the bear spray.  There have been several grizzly sitings and one attack near Canyon Village in the past few weeks.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2013, 02:18:36 PM by FTb-n »
5D3, 7D | 70-200 f2.8L IS II, 24-70 f2.8L II, 24-105 f4L IS, 35 f2 IS, 17-55 f2.8 IS, 40 f2.8...  |  PowerShot G16, S100

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2013, 02:12:12 PM »

wsmith96

  • Canon 7D MK II
  • *****
  • Posts: 495
  • Gig 'em
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2013, 01:41:56 AM »
If you really want to get wolf shots you have to be incredibly patient and understand that they will be some distance away most of the time.  You'd want to have the 7d + 600 + 1.4 to get any decent shots.  They get closer in the winter incidentally and even then I was wishing I had more range with my 7d + 500 + 1.4. 


I agree with the advice above regarding patience and distances.  I took my family to YNP in July and were fortunate to come across a grizzly bear with cubs and a wolf pack chasing an elk herd.   I really pushed the limits of my gear (rebel and 70-300 non L IS) to get some pictures to prove that I actually did see them.  Don't laugh at the quality, but these are crops of the originals.  Both were taken at a great distance - I would estimate at least 1/4 mile.

I found that I shot the majority of my pictures with the 17-55 lens as there are lot's of things to see that you can just walk up to - in some cases, even the animals.  Your 24-70 will suit you well for your walk around lens, and may be the lens you use most of the time.

I also added Fred at the bottom. He was our resident bison that slept pretty much outside of our cabin at Lake Yellowstone.  He was quite friendly, but I didn't get any closer that what you see in the pic.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 01:51:43 AM by wsmith96 »
What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

celliottuk

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 32
    • View Profile
Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2013, 10:22:04 AM »
A sideways thought...
I've been to Yellowstone and loved it. I recommend getting a (Human)guide. Driving around (Each loop takes a day) is great if you want to see the Geysers/mud pools/thermal springs-they don't move! Raptors are everywhere, and each car park is as good as any other, and you are likely to see Bison without a big lens(Probably blocking a road that you are trying to get down!), but, if you want something special-wolves etc, you really need a guide who knows where to take you. Without one you may well drive straight past them without ever knowing.
Remember, it's high, so, take some cold weather kit with you anytime from October to April

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Yellowstone vacation advice
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2013, 10:22:04 AM »