Views from: Jackson Lake Lodge, Teton Point Turnout, Lunch Tree Hill, Jackson Lake Dam, Oxbow Bend on the Snake River, Schwabacher's Landing, and vantage points along US Highway 89.
Photography: Stephen Talabac Post Processing: Diana Talabac
Lacking the foothills typical of many mountain ranges the Tetons abruptly vault some 6,000 to 7,000 feet above Willow Flats creating an imposing, awe inspiring granite edifice.
I frequently got up well before sunrise during our stay at Jackson Lake Lodge to discover the photo opportunities the morning light might bring. Turbulent cloud formations sometimes hung just above the range and a long, velvet-like low cloud appeared to be suspended above the lake and willows of the aptly-named Willow Flats.
With a fresh cup of hot coffee in hand, I joined a few other photographers in the crisp early morning air on "the deck" behind the lodge. The expanse of Willow Flats in front of me led to views of Jackson Lake and the nearly 14,000 foot peaks of the Tetons. Moose could sometimes be seen browsing on the willows, and the occasional bugling of a bull Elk or the "rattling" bugling sounds of Sandhill Cranes would momentarily interrupt the morning silence.
As the sun began to rise, it would first light up the east-facing summit of Mount Moran and its prominent "handle" of Skillet Glacier. The underside of the clouds that wrapped themselves around the summit became illuminated by the warm, morning light reflected off the summit. Then, as the sun rose higher in the eastern sky, additional peaks, including the tallest, Grand Teton, became bathed in warm yellow and red hues.
Occasionally, in the late afternoon, gray, turbulent clouds would sometimes bring short-lived rain showers. The moisture laden air that rose and formed clouds over the tops of the Tetons would spill over the peaks and, in slow motion, begin a silent, tumbling avalanche of fog down the mountain side. Occasional breaks in the clouds provided opportunities for the late afternoon sun to break through and, for fleeting moments, crepuscular rays would illuminate stands of Aspen on the valley floor. Continually pushed by strong wind currents aloft, the cloud clusters would inevitably disperse, then reform, and the magical rays of light, scattered by water vapor suspended in the air, would fade and then vanish only to reappear moments later through a new break in the gray clouds. Then, as if a giant stage spotlight was turned on, another stand of Aspen was momentarily illuminated with directed beams of light.
Teton sunsets are spectacular at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River and from many other vantage points along US Highway 89. They can be fiery-red and they sometimes offer up sublime Crepuscular Rays that light up the landscape as if they were bright stage spot lights.
Ansel Adams' iconic photograph of the awe inspiring Snake River vista has inspired landscape photographers to photograph the Tetons ever since. We stopped at Oxbow Bend on several evenings to capture the magical light that occurs as the last rays of the sun set behind the Tetons and illuminate the summits to the east.
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