Monday, October 11

Mammoth Hot Springs

Know what I like about Yellowstone National Park?  That it may be one of a handful of places on this earth where there is a higher per capita of cameras than people and not just little point-and-click jobs a few steps above being disposable but SLR's with exchangeable lenses and tripods.  Whether the people just have too much disposable income and know how to properly use these or not is another matter.  I guess the challenge then for anyone shooting pictures in Yellowstone is not to find something beautiful, because there is plenty of that, but to find something that no one else has yet captured or to capture it in a new and different way.  I'm not going to pretend that I managed that in my one-day whirlwind visit to America's first national park, but I would like to discuss taking pictures of Mammoth Hot Springs, our first stop.
In family trips to the Canadian Rockies near a decade ago I first saw hot springs.  They were little things, a spot of bubbling water or a stained line on a wall of rock.  Mammoth Hot Springs is nothing like this.  They are, in a word, mammoth.  They rise up and extend longer than most houses.  A section of the boardwalk had to be removed recently because the hot springs were still growing.  The trick in this case becomes how to best capture this immense feature.  This first picture tries to catch it all.

The pool at the bottom and the very lowest levels that have begun to dry out.  The tables, the bubbles, the steam and the everything.  I am generally of the opinion that it fails.  In trying to contain everything, it gives it all short shrift.  Nothing is emphasized, and some of the wonder is lost.

This second picture is slightly tighter, removing the pool at the bottom to focus on the rest, and emphasizes color, which is a good choice when the fine detail is lost, but again fails.  There is too much and no particular emphasis to really draw our attention.

So I tried to focus on some individual elements of the hot springs.

Steam is in emphasis here.  It seems like a safe choice.  There is a certain drama to not being able to totally see everything.  This picture is hobbled, though, by poor framing and composition.  Steam seems to lose a great deal of mystery, too, when it is pictured on a clear, sunny day.

These two pictures examine some of the other unique physical growths of the hot springs.  I'm sure they have a proper geological name somewhere, but I am content to call them tables and bubbles.  They're not bad pictures.  They are close enough to reveal details, and the composition is decent, especially with the tables in how they grow, but I must admit a preference for this final picture.

This is a microsm for the whole of the hot springs.  There is the steam.  There is the table on top.  There are the bubbles.  The wide range of colors are represented.  It captures everything that makes the hot springs so fascinating but brings it all in close enough that the detail can be seen and appreciated.

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