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A Dream Reality | by A Camera Story
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A Dream Reality

When I embarked on a trip to Yellowstone during the long July 4th weekend, a friend of mine had suggested that I visit the Hayden valley at sunrise to capture the mist rising off the Yellowstone river. I was not particularly convinced by his argument as the only thing I saw when I made a trip to Yellowstone way back in '09 was skies washed in a dull depressing grey complemented by an even more dry and dull landscape. Apart from a few keepers, that trip wasn't particularly purposeful.


But my luck was different this time. One night of the trip was spent at Yellowstone Canyon campground, close to Hayden valley. The previous evening, I had visited this place to get a general idea of what to expect and where to shoot. However, I wasn't sure where to go. Nevertheless, I managed to force myself out from the tent into the cold atmosphere of dawn and drag about 6 other folks as well (who weren't particularly happy about being woken up at unearthly hours) and drove off to Hayden valley.


I wasn't expecting much, but as soon as the road got closer to the river, I noticed the change: Mist.

Mist, all over the place, was rising from the calm river surface aided by the cool morning which I was not expecting. As the road dipped, the mist-turned fog from an adjoining creek enveloped the entire place. Knowing that something magical would happen, I stopped there.


For about half hour, until the sun rose, I was practising compositions, trying to isolate interesting features; needless to say, it did not yield a whole lot of keepers. Then the sun rose and that magic happened.


As it hit the rising mist from the calm surface, they started glowing. Considering that the mist was all over the place, it gave an ethereal dreamy feel to the entire place. As the sun warmed up the water, more mist started to rise up, adding to the effect even more. This was far more than what I was expecting. It was as though I was transported to Nature's heaven, adorned with lakes and fog and mist and bountiful sunlight whose golden rays warmed up up the entire place. I wanted to remain there forever and shoot, however, hunger pangs beckoned us photographers back to the campsite.


It was truly a scene that I can still remember and go back to in times of deep stress that I face often. My "happy place".....


While it was spellbounding to look at, it was hard to shoot. It required me to frame tightly to avoid the glare of the sun for the most part. Switching to the wide angle lens, I realized the only way to capture this scene was to bracket shots. So I set up the tripod low to the surface and bracketed off 5 images at F14, ISO 200 and various shutter speeds using a 17-50mm F2.8 lens.


Photomatix rounded up the post processing and with a bit of levels and WB adjustment to get the right colors, I got this result.


Yellowstone National Park


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Taken on July 3, 2011