Two years ago when we came for a visit we took a trip to Antelope Island, which is an island in the Great Salt Lake. The island runs north and south and is perhaps 15 miles long and about 3-5 miles wide. It was originally owned by the Mormon church and run as a ranch but is now owned by the state of Utah and is a state park. On Thursday, the 13th, we made another visit to the island. On our previous visit the seeing had been terrific, and I had gotten some great shots of the lake and the surrounding mountains. On Thursday, there was a good deal of haze in the air, which made photography a lot more difficult, especially in the middle of the day when we were there. Following are a few of the landscape shots I attempted.
The dark haze on the horizon is visible in both these shots. Pretty disappointing.
When I blew the above photo up, I realized that one of the guys in the boat was taking my picture as I was taking his.
The Great Salt Lake exists because it sits in the Great Basin, which includes much of the states of Utah and Nevada and portions of the states of Oregon, California, and Colorado. The Great Basin is surrounded by mountains and other land that is higher and there is no outlet to the ocean. The floor of the basin in the region of the Great Salt Lake is very flat, so in most places the lake is very shallow for a substantial distance from the "shore." In working with the photos that I shot, I found that it was best to crop them to exclude much of the sky, which was pretty featureless the day we were there. The width of the photos also accentuated the flatness of the terrain and the line of the horizon, such as it was.
We did take a short hike on the west side of the island where there were some hills with elevation. Here are a couple of shots I got on the hike.
Although they are difficult to pick out, there are a number of people on the beach in the shot above
Again, I felt that cropping the above photo into a linear shot helped. It also helped, I thought, to include the foreground vegetation to provide more perspective. Despite the viewing conditions, the land does have a stark beauty.
This, obviously, is a photo of Jeff taking a photo of Bei.
There were some opportunities for wildflower shots also. This is probably the best of those that I took.
I did remember to take this shot with the lens wide open (f/4) to isolate the flower from the background.
Named Antelope Island, the island does include a population of antelope, and we saw quite a few during our visit. The antelope tended to be on the move most of the time and kept their distance, so capturing a good shot of them was a challenge. Here is one taken from behind--not the most becoming, although it was quite a sharp shot.
And here is the best of the other antelope shots that I got.
This antelope was quite a distance from our car, so even with a 300 mm lens, this involved quite a bit of cropping.
American bison (buffalo) were introduced on the island in the late 1800s as part of a ranching operation and have generally thrived. When we visited the island two years ago, it happened to be the day of the annual "roundup" at which time the bison were herded into pens on the island to be inspected and marked. We were a little earlier this year, so the bison were just lounging, grazing, and doing whatever it is that they do when undisturbed.
Bison, despite the fact that they are generally not fast moving, pose their own photographic challenges for a number of reasons. First, they generally have their heads down to graze, so that they are obscured by the tall grass. Second, they are quite dark against the lighter background of dead grass, making for difficult exposure choices.Their coats on the front part of their bodies are generally heavier and lighter, and it is difficult to capture this unless one overexposes the overall shot. Third, the animals are huge and I was not comfortable getting too close. Here are a few shots that illustrate these issues.
It is pretty common to see one or more birds perched on the bisons' backs.
Here are a couple of better shots.
At one point on our hike, we encountered a bison standing about 15 feet off the trail.
After initially thinking I would simply walk past the bison on the trail and hope that he would just move away, we decided to move off the trail, giving him a wide berth. Here is another shot of this bison as we passed by.
On our drive we came across another group of bison walking parallel to the road and got some better shots of the animals backlit by the afternoon sun.
In the shot below, I liked how the bison was framed by the yellow shrubbery behind it.
Eventually, this group of bison chose to cross the road ahead of us.
This brings up the obvious question: Why did the bison cross the road?