Follow these tricks of the trade from Jeff Vanuga to make your wildlife photographs look like they were taken by a pro.
See it Hayden Valley, Yellowstone NP
When to go During the annual rut in July and August, when bulls are active
Yellowstone’s iconic bison may reach 2,000 pounds and can run as fast as 30 mph.
Pro tip Use a telephoto lens—though bison may look docile, they’re quite agile and can be aggressive. An 100-400mm lens is a good bet. Park regulations advise wildlife-watchers to stay at least 25 yards away from bison and other ungulates.
Tools Canon 7D camera, 100-400mm lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/400 second
See it Mary’s Bay, Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone NP
When to go Bears are active from March through November.
Yellowstone’s largest predators frequently amble through open meadows near the park roads. Besides Yellowstone Lake, good griz-spotting locations include Lamar Valley, Bechler, Hayden Valley, and Mount Washburn. Hikers should follow good bear safety practices in the backcountry.
Pro tip Frame your shot with active space for the animal to look or move into. (Bear? Use a long telephoto lens.)
Tools Canon 1D Mark III with tripod, 500mm lens with 2X extender, ISO 1000, f/8, 1/100 second
See it Gros Ventre River, Grand Teton NP
When to go Late October to early January, before bull moose drop their antlers for the season.
In winter, moose congregate in low-elevation areas with abundant willow. Other good places to spot a moose include Soda Butte Creek and Pelican Creek at Yellowstone, and Willow Flats and Blacktail Ponds at Grand Teton.
Pro tip Use good wildlife ethics. Don’t make noises to get a moose to look at you or interfere with its normal behavior.
Tools Canon 7D camera, 70-300mm L lens, ISO 400, f/5.6 with +²/³ exposure compensation, 1/320 second
Capturing the essence of Yellowstone on film is both easy and challenging. There’s beautiful subject matter almost everywhere you turn, but taking the perfect photo isn’t always a snap. Jeff Vanuga — a professional photographer based in Dubois, WY — has been photographing Yellowstone since 1980 and has a few tips of the trade.
P.O. Box 1450, 63 Leseberg Ave, Dubois, WY 82513