Destination Yellowstone

Bull elk crossing steaming Madison River at sunrise, Madison Junction, Yellowstone
Bull elk crossing steaming Madison River at sunrise, Madison Junction, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM at 400mm. Exposure: 1/3200 sec., ƒ/11, ISO 100.

Adam Jones has been a nature photographer for more than two decades, but unlike many, he hasn’t narrowed his focus solely to wildlife or landscapes. All aspects of the natural world interest him, which is fitting for a photographer who travels regularly to shoot in one of North America’s premier destinations for photographing wildlife and landscapes. It’s Yellowstone National Park, where the flora and fauna and out-of-this-world nature of the land combine to form any outdoor photographer’s dream destination.

Outdoor Photographer: What drew you to first visit Yellowstone?

Adam Jones: First off, it was the wildlife that appealed to me. They call Yellowstone the Serengeti of North America because it’s considered the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48. And I went there just to photograph elk and bison and deer and pronghorns like everybody else does, and hopefully some bears. I went there and actually, on my first trip, I was a little disappointed. I was like, “Man, this stuff’s a little bit harder to get than you would think,” other than the obvious bison and elk standing in a field doing nothing. But I went back and did a little better and started seeing all the other possibilities. All the patterns and colors, the steam, the grass… To me, some of those little frosty meadows in the mornings are just spectacular, and they only last a few minutes. Once the sun gets on them, it’s over.

Boulders and trees in steaming Yellowstone River at sunrise, Yellowstone
Boulders and trees in steaming Yellowstone River at sunrise, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM at 300mm. Exposure: 1/2 sec., ƒ/13, ISO 100.

OP: What keeps you coming back year after year?

AJ: The park just offers so much, so many chances for wildlife and scenics and sometimes combining both. A lot of places I go, I know I’m doing pretty much nothing but wildlife or nothing but landscapes, and if you happen on to something else, great. But Yellowstone tugs at your heartstrings in both directions every time you enter the park.

OP: Do you plan your day according to the subject matter?

AJ: I like the “do what nature gives me” type of approach. I’m not a hardcore wildlife guy, nor am I a hardcore landscape guy. I like to do it all, and whatever nature’s giving me, that’s what I’m going to take. I am not a dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore wildlife guy. I love it, I go to Africa every other year and shoot there, and it’s almost 99 percent wildlife and that’s perfectly fine, but I know what I’m going there for. Yellowstone has such diversity of subject matter. Lighting, with all the steam vents and mist flying around the rivers on those cold mornings, it’s just magical. And I just don’t want to be sitting there chasing after some elusive wildlife while all this other fabulous stuff is going on right in front of me, and ignore that for the potential piece of North American wildlife that everybody’s seen before.

Herd of bison near Old Faithful Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
Herd of bison near Old Faithful Geyser, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM at 170mm. Exposure: 1/640 sec., ƒ8, ISO 400.

OP: If you’re interested in photographing a variety of things, Yellowstone seems ideal.

AJ: It certainly helps. I had a gentleman inquiring on our workshops, and he said “Well, what kind of photographer are you anyway? I was looking at your website and I can’t tell if you’re a nature guy or a landscape guy.” And I went and looked at his [website], and he was a pretty accomplished wildlife photographer, and I just honestly told him I don’t think this class is going to be for you. When I go out and take a group—because I don’t want to take 10 people with me and just be sitting around waiting for something to happen—we go to scenic destinations first. And if we encounter wildlife along the way, it’s just a bonus. That’s kind of how I approach the park. There are so many scenic, great places to be, I know I’m going to get something. And if wildlife happens to walk out in front of Old Faithful when it’s erupting at sunrise, then so be it. I’ll take it.

OP: Do you do a lot of post-production work? Your images look very natural.

AJ: That’s what I’m trying to go for: the way it really looks. I have stuff that’s over-polarized, and I look at it later and go, “What the crap was I thinking?” And I go in and I turn the blue down. I shoot everything in RAW, so every picture’s touched to some degree.

Tree silhouetted at sunrise on foggy morning, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
Tree silhouetted at sunrise on foggy morning, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 28mm. Exposure: 1/5 sec., ƒ/20, ISO 100.

OP: Do most of your images have a polarizing filter to improve the saturation?

AJ: Yes, they are typically polarized but not always all the way. Now the color comes through. I don’t need a polarizer to make the sky blue at all, I just need it to get rid of shine and glare and so forth. If it’s not polarized, all the waxy leaves are shiny, and then you turn it and it’s gone crazy saturated and there’s the difference right there. The one thing you want to watch out for, on wide angles in particular, is not over-polarizing the sky. Because it polarizes just one side, and that looks awful. So occasionally I will combine two images, so if the full polarization really helps, say, the foreground land features, polarize that, then take it off or just turn it to where it’s not doing anything, and then just snap another one with sky even and then merge the two together. It’s easy to do; if you’ve got an even sky, you can make it as blue as you want.

OP: How frequently do you visit Yellowstone? Do you have a favorite time of year?

AJ: I’ve probably been there 15 times. In the last three years I’ve gone with Canon every September, teaching the EOS Destination Workshop. It sells out every year, so this year we’re doing two. I’m so happy to continue doing that, and occasionally we make it out in the spring. But September is my favorite, far and away my favorite. It can be pretty cool that time of year. It’s in the teens and 20s in the morning. Sometimes it’s in the 30s and it may get up to 75 during the day when it’s sunny. So you’ve got to leave all dressed up like it’s wintertime, and then by lunchtime you’re running around in a T-shirt. It’s cool and crisp and it’s good weather, or good atmospheric conditions, anyway. But the main thing is that the wildlife is in prime condition. The elk have already pretty much completed most of their rutting and dueling for their harems and everything, but they have their harems rounded up, and the big bull elks are in their prime, and they’re bugling and they’re keeping their girls all together and herded up. And your coyotes and wolves and deer are all in prime coats. And the bison. If you go out there in June, the bison have all pieces of shaggy wool on them the size of hubcaps falling off, and it’s not real attractive. The other reason to come in September is the crowds are gone. The kids are back in school, the vacationers are usually gone, and the park generally is deserted. It’s not deserted, but…You know, wildlife guys like to have the whole park to ourselves.

Sunset silhouette on Great Fountain Geyser, Yellowstone
Sunset silhouette on Great Fountain Geyser, located in the Firehole Lake area of Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM at 30mm. Exposure: 1/15 sec., ƒ/11, ISO 100.

OP: If you were advising young photographers on their first visit to Yellowstone, where should they visit first?

AJ: It could be anywhere. Madison Junction is a favorite area. I would hit all the major big spots. I think the ideal trip to Yellowstone would be to spend two or three days at the north end, coming in up around Gardiner and then two or three days over at West Yellowstone or the lake or something like that. Just explore completely different ends of the park, because it’s a huge park to try to cover the whole thing. That’s one of the reasons I just keep picking a few spots.

OP: Some folks balk at photographing popular locations.

AJ: Well, yeah, I totally get that. I tell everybody at my workshops who wants to make money, don’t go to the popular overlooks because that’s not going to make you any money. But if you haven’t been to Yellowstone and it’s your first time, you certainly want to go see those things. I couldn’t agree more. It’s always fun to find the next new place or visit someplace new, but it’s all about the light for me. You’ve got to shoot what light is available, and I’m trying to put myself in locations I know where the light is going to be coming from and how it’s going to interact and collide with the graphics.

Morning sunburst over ghost trees, Yellowstone
Morning sunburst over ghost trees, Yellowstone National Park. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM at 16mm. Exposure: 1/160 sec., ƒ/22, ISO 800.

OP: What equipment is crucial?

AJ: A tripod. Actually, a sturdy tripod. Some people have these little flimsy, junky tripods that aren’t capable of keeping anything steady. Polarizing filters for your landscapes, that’s another one. I preach that all the time. People ask me how I get this great color, and I say, well, the polarizing filter sure is helping. If I were going tomorrow, I’d take two camera bodies, one full frame, the 5D Mark IV, which I truly love, and then the 7D Mark II, which surprises a lot of people because it’s not the high-end wildlife camera. But what I like about that is the 1.6x crop factor. It’s 20 megapixels, ten frames per second, and now I’ve got a 160-640mm when I take my 100-400mm lens with me. And the new 100-400mm lens is just extraordinary. It’s a hand-holdable little outfit that fits in your camera bag, and you take it everywhere you go. So now I don’t have to take the big gimbal head, I don’t have to haul my 500mm out there. It just all adds up, and it makes you more dedicated to shooting wildlife. I can be on the fly and switch back and forth without having camera bodies all over me, because I hate camera straps. I just don’t like things hanging on me.

OP: You utilize the long lens for landscapes, too?

AJ: I do. I would be the first to admit, I love landscapes, but I make sure that I pick the lens that gives me what I’m seeing—whatever’s going to record it. I don’t just jump out with a wide angle and go, “I’m going to make something work because you’ve got to shoot wide angle for landscapes.” I see it in my head first, in my mind, and then I pick whichever tool will get the job done. The image of rocks and steam rising from the Yellowstone River, that’s one of my favorite shots that I’ve done recently that I consider a landscape, and it’s a telephoto landscape. About a 300mm lens; 275mm actually. It’s a shot everybody drives right past. It’s right as you go into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, you cross over a big tall bridge going over the Yellowstone river, stand in one corner, and you shoot down to the other corner. It’s not early morning and it’s not 10 o’clock, but it takes a little while for the light to get down in there. I love the separation that the fog gives the rocks and the trees silhouetted on top of there. Without the mist in there, it just looks like nothing.


See more of Adam Jones’s work and get info about his Canon EOS Destination Workshops in Yellowstone at adamjonesphoto.com.

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A Fall Color Map To Plan Your Photo Trip

Fall color in Grand Teton National Park, September 2016.

We’re wrapping up production of our October 2017 Annual Fall Color Special Issue this week, which will be available through digital newsstands in mid-September and in print the first week of October. In it, we showcase a selection of top locations around the country to photograph fall color, with insights from pros who know these locations well, along with tips for capturing and processing fall color images.

Today we came across an interactive fall foliage prediction map at SmokyMountains.com, by way of Mental Floss. The SmokyMountains.com website offers tourism info for Smoky Mountains National Park and the local community, but the interactive map provides fall color timing predictions for the entire continental United States.

fall color map
The interactive Fall Foliage Prediction map at SmokyMountains.com.

The interactive fall color map has seven levels from green, which is “No Change,” through brown, denoting “Past Peak.” The colors in between indicate the various stages of color peaking. As you slide the control on the timeline below the map, you’ll see when and where to expect peak color across the U.S. Very useful! According to the map, we’ll start seeing peak color at higher elevations beginning in the second week of September.

For an article about the map on Mental Floss, writer Michele Debczak notes that, “Because the summer has been especially wet for much of the country, the trees are expected to transition sooner in the year.” Debczak spoke to the map’s creator, Wes Melton, who added that not only will the colors start earlier than usual, they are expected to persist longer. “Other than the Pacific Northwest,” Melton told Mental Floss, “we are expecting warmer-than-average fall temperatures during the September through November time period. These warmer temperatures are expected to prolong the color season.”

I’ll be headed back to Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park this year for the Summit Nature Photography Workshop. Looking at the prediction map, we may just barely miss peak color. It’s going to be close.

Are you planning a fall color trip? Check out our article “Techniques For Fall Color Photography” for tips to make your best photos of the display.

If you’re undecided about where to go, QT Luong suggests “Ten National Parks For Fall Foliage.” Or, check out these travel guides from our October 2016 Fall Color Special Issue:

California Gold

Colorado Fall Color Pilgrimage

Peak Color In Michigan

Autumn In The Northeast

The post A Fall Color Map To Plan Your Photo Trip appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Photo Of The Day By Jim Shoemaker

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Alpine Garden, Mt. Rainier, Washington” by Jim Shoemaker. Location: Mt. Rainier, Washington.
Photo By Jim Shoemaker

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Alpine Garden, Mt. Rainier, Washington” by Jim Shoemaker.

Follow Jim Shoemaker on Facebook to see more of his photography.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Jim Shoemaker appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

10 best gaming mice: best gaming mouse to buy

Update: With the G903, Logitech has exhibited once again that a wireless gaming mouse can entertain cutting-edge performance, sans the caveats, this time by demonstrating that charging one doesn’t have to be a chore. Read on to number 2 on our list to find out more!

While AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the processing space, and Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors are just around the corner, it’s only a matter of time before you start rethinking the hardware that accompanies your PC. Yes, even the mouse. 

On the other hand, determining the best gaming mouse for you is a tricky endeavor. After all, not everyone wants to spend a fortune on the low-latency but wireless Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum if it can be helped. On the other hand, most of us don’t want to settle for the cheapest of the bunch either when it means missing out on fancy lighting and high DPI sensitivity options. 

Nevertheless, regardless of what’s right for you, you’ll find all of the best gaming mice right here. Each entry has undergone thorough vetting prior to its inclusion, even if they haven’t all been given a proper review. Read on down for an unadulterated list of what are, hands down, the best gaming mice you can buy in 2017.

The SteelSeries Sensei 310 is an unparalleled gaming mouse, both in price and performance. The low cost keeps it in line with what you would otherwise pay for a new, triple-A game release on Steam while its exclusive TrueMove 3 optical sensor, produced in collaboration with mouse sensor monopolist Pixart, makes it nigh-impossible to compete with. That’s because this mouse, with no preference when it comes to dexterity, exhibits some impressive real-world sensitivity results. What’s more, the jitter reduction component of the SteelSeries Sensei 310 aims to keep you from making erroneous moves after chugging an entire 2-liter of your preferred citrus-flavored soft drink.

Read the full review: SteelSeries Sensei 310 

Undeterred by years of ridicule for their comparatively higher latency, the Logitech G900 of yesteryear proved once and for all that wireless gaming mice don’t have to suck. Though it’s merely a subtle iteration on that model, the Logitech G903 only reassures us of that conviction. Gracing a slightly altered G900 design with Logitech’s own PowerPlay mouse pad that doubles as a wireless charger, the Logitech G903 is an expensive, yet rewarding investment. On one hand, the cost might deter someone who wasn’t likely to buy it anyway, but on the other, you’re getting a high-DPI wireless gaming mouse that contends with even Razer’s best.

Read the full review: Logitech G903

Flashy and desirable, there’s no confusion as to why the Asus ROG Gladius II is a bit pricier than other gaming mice in its class. Boasting swappable buttons, a clickable scroll wheel and a sensitivity toggle, this mouse has all the bits gamers crave. There’s even top-to-bottom RGB lighting for an extension of its already-handy customization. Although it doesn’t feature the swappable weights that many others in its price range do, everything else feels comfortable and up to snuff. Better suited for first-person shooters than MMOs, the high DPI rating and 50g acceleration make the Asus ROG Gladius a feat to behold despite lacking features in areas where cheaper mice have conquered.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Gladius II

It’s obvious from the moment you look at the price tag that the Corsair Glaive RGB mouse was designed to go head to head with the Razer DeathAdder Elite. And while Corsair has had a ton of luck with its PC cases, keyboards, RAM, power supplies and cooling systems, a Corsair mouse is automatically a tough sell due to a lack of history alone. Luckily, the company’s latest gaming mouse effort is built for comfort, featuring a coating of soft touch paint and interchangeable thumb grips that augment ergonomics even further. At that point, the nearly perfect three-zone backlighting system and high-DPI Pixart sensor (not to mention the niftily included DPI status lights) are a mere bonus.

Read the full review: Corsair Glaive RGB

It’s not everyday that we see a company known for its sound cards try to take on companies as renowned as Razer and Logitech with a competent gaming mouse of its own. Creative’s Sound BlasterX M04 is exactly that, however, and it’s actually fairly impressive. The 12,000 DPI rating means you won’t need to use pointer acceleration to use the mouse successfully. The RGB lighting scheme, which is controlled using Creative’s own Sound Blaster Connect software, is displayed across a subtle accent at the base of the mouse. Clearly, the Sound BlasterX Siege M04 is a winner in both function and style.

Read the full review: Creative Sound BlasterX Siege M04

You know what you're getting with a Razer DeathAdder mouse, and this year's Elite model adds a new eSports-grade sensor and features the same right-handed ergonomic design as its predecessor that moulds into your hand, all while adding two new buttons beneath the mouse's scroll wheel to change DPI (or dots-per-inch) on-the-fly. While the DeathAdder Elite misses out on more advanced features such as the free-spinning scroll wheel that you'll find on Logitech's Proteus Core, the Razer's pretty RGB lighting (customizable lighting with 16.8 million color options through Razer's synapse software), big and accessible left-mounted buttons and grippable scroll wheel make it the best mice available in the price tier below.

Rival 700

SteelSeries has ventured where few gaming mice have dared by adding a black-and-white OLED display to its Rival 700. Of course, you can’t just add a screen to something without implementing some sort of functionality. That’s why, in Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Minecraft, this rampant rodent can be used as a customizable tool to enhance your play sessions. In its less utilitarian form, it can also be used to display animated GIFs. Better yet, the Rival 700 hardware is modular, too, giving users the autonomy to snap covers on and off and even swap between a three- and six-foot USB cable. There are even tactile alerts in place, set to trigger vibrations when in-game resources are replenished. Overall, a distinct piece of tech.

Best gaming mice

In recent years, wireless gaming mice have cultivated a rather adverse reputation, mainly in response to their perceptible lag. With the G900 Chaos Spectrum, however, Logitech seeks to change your mind. Using some form of wizardry, the company somehow managed to get its polling rate down to 1 millisecond on a 2.4GHz connection. Accompanied by accelerated coverage of the entire DPI range, zero smoothing and filtering, this gaming mouse is prepared for everything from your next game of Hearthstone to tournament level Heroes of the Storm. That goes without mentioning an ambidextrous design ideal for left-handed players in addition to a modular button layout.

Corsair M65 Pro

Featuring a grippable leather texture down the left-hand side, using the Corsair Harpoon is light slipping into a comfortable car with leather upholstery. Not a very expensive one, mind you, as the Harpoon is a budget offering that looks and feels cheaper than mice twice its price. Which is to be expected, of course, and with a snappy optical sensor and six programmable buttons including a center DPI switch and forward and back buttons on the side of the mouse,  you have everything you need to game in any genre. Its average size makes it a good fit for both small and large hands, and Corsair's RGB-lit logo on the back makes it look rather cool when rested on your desk.

G502

Logitech’s G502 Proteus Spectrum can be customized with up to six 3.6 gram weights, giving you a lighter or heavier mouse to wield, but it also packs surface-turnable gaming sensor packs Logitech's Delta Zero tech, which lets you use it on a wide variety of surfaces beyond your regular mouse mat. Clicking a middle mouse button lets the G502's scroll wheel spin freely, which helps prevent knuckle strain when navigating long webpages and forms. Add to that 11 customizable buttons including four on the left-hand side, a three-speed DPI shift under the scroll wheel and a logo that lights up 16.8 million colours in the dark using RGB backlighting, and you have one attractive, tech-stuffed gaming mouse.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article