“Tetons & Jenny Lake”

Tetons & Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (c) Mike Utley

In this August 1996 image from my trip up north, I spent a couple of days in Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming. This is a faerie-tale land of serrated peaks, forests, rivers, lakes and majestic wildlife. On this morning, after a rainy night, clouds obscured the peaks and hung low over the lakes and forest; a brooding presence. It was windy as I scaled the bank of Jenny Lake in order to set up my tripod in the water. I wanted a low angle for my 24mm lens to include the foreground rocks to contrast their smooth textures with the jagged Tetons in the distance. Small whitecaps adorned wavelets as the breeze came in off the lake and blew the clouds from the mountaintops. This is one of my favorite images. I like the raw power of the scene: the basic elements of earth, water and sky, as well as the turbulent motion of the water and clouds. The foreground rocks anchor the image and serve as a tranquil focal point / counterpoint to the chaos in the lake and clouds beyond. I also like the limited color palette hereβ€”it almost lends the scene the feeling of a black & white image and allows the viewer to focus more on the shapes and movement of the scene. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

29 thoughts on ““Tetons & Jenny Lake”

    1. Thanks, Gary. I was trying to avoid the cliche’ Rule of Thirds here, so I composed the scene with the foreground rock more towards the bottom middle (but not quite), and the lake/mountain boundary line not quite center or third. The Tetons are magical, and Jenny Lake was gorgeous that windy morning. Thanks for you kind words–much appreciated. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Diana. Yes, those thick, low clouds certainly imbued the mountains with a sense of dread. Earlier in the morning, the peaks were completely obscured by the cloud layer and the lighting on the land was surreal. By noon, the clouds had blown off for the most part. I tend to enjoy inclement weather as far as photography goes–it creates dramatic lighting and adds so much character to a landscape. It’s a magical place, rain or shine, that’s for sure. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Friedrich. Had the water been still, those cloud reflections would have been pretty cool. I was looking to record the rocks below the surface so I used my polarizer filter to eliminate any glare or reflections on the water. I like the color change from a sort of green hue to a deep blue where the water deepens. It adds a sinister undertone to the scene for me (I can’t swim, so deep water is sort of terrifying). Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated. πŸ™‚

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  1. I especially love the look of the water in the foreground, Mike. It looks like a transparent sheet of satin. Soft and smooth to the imaginary touch. Again, the hue of blue is so pleasing. Yes, I have to promote my favorite color. The peaks and the clouds in the background are a menacing presence. But the rocks at the front are chilling and relaxing. haha! Yeah, I’m kinda crazy. But your work is superb. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Terveen. I was hoping you’d like the blues in this one. You nailed it–I was indeed looking to contrast the chaos in the background with the stillness of the foreground rock. It’s sort of a theme in my photography, I suppose, trying to impose order on chaos and make sense of my broken life. I want to be that rock in the foreground, strong and stable, not buffeted by life’s tempests. I can’t achieve that in real life, so I tried to capture it in my photos. Thanks as always for your kindness. It’s so appreciated. πŸ™‚

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    1. Many thanks, Daphny. The lake was a bit angry when I made this image, but I’ve seen it calm and there’s such a dramatic difference in personality when the waters are still. I always look forward to your comments and kind support. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much, Peggy. There’s a lot going on here, as you mentioned. There’s stillness and motion and contrasting textures (smooth, jagged), and the clouds add a sense of impending doom. I still recall trying my best not to fall into the water as I made this image. My tripod was in the water and I was using it to steady myself. I had a lot of fun making this shot. I appreciate your warm support so much. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Jeff. “Mystical and magical” certainly describe the Tetons. The sheer beauty of the place is staggering. One could spend a lifetime there and not see everything it has to offer. (Just gotta watch out for the black bears and grizzlies and angry moose!) πŸ™‚

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  2. wow this is gorgeous Mike. I’m going to a wedding at the Grand Tetons in Sept and will visit Yellow stone.. Can’t wait!!! xo LOVE a sneak preview. love the sultry beautiful power of the water, sky and mountains!! πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

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    1. Thanks so much, Cindy. Yellowstone and Tetons in September… If the leaves have begun to change while you’re there, you’ll be in for a treat! Autumn is gorgeous in that area. Here’s wishing you way too much fun while you’re there, and I hope you take lots of photos. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your kind words as always. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you kindly, Xenia. I really wanted to get close to the water for this one. For me, there’s such a visceral feel to this image, the power of the water and earth and sky. And yes, I love the color palette, too, and I find it contemplative as well, especially in the water, where it transitions from shallow green to deep; blue. There’s a sense of depth and timelessness as the water stretches out to the distant mountains. Thanks as always for your kind words. I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you kindly, Joan. The Tetons are magical. I have images of Jenny Lake when the weather was calm and its personality is complete different in those shots. I loved the mood of this scene. It had rained the night before and the clouds were clearing, but not without protest. It was windy and the lake was grumpy and it made for a wonderful image: brooding sky and water, dark color palette, and in the midst of it all, that foreground rock sitting so peacefully in the water. I really love that place. πŸ™‚

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