Since I first got into photography, around the age of 16, I have always had one particular photo that I wanted to take - the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone from above. One of the first photography books I ever purchased had this particular photo on its cover (I still have it on my bookshelf today) and I was entranced by the otherworldly pattern and colors of the hot spring.
Last week, during a family vacation in Jackson Hole, I booked an aerial flight with Jackson Hole Aviation, with among other goals, to photograph the Grand Prismatic Spring. The flight was booked for last Monday, however due to the large amount of smoke in the air from surrounding wild fires.
About 15 minutes after passing through the Teton range and headed north into Yellowstone National Park, the pilot points to the general area of the hot springs - and it's socked in fog. My heart began to sink a little. In my head I was already working out ways to get back to Wyoming to photograph this area next year should we not be able to see it this time. But we headed to the area anyway, and as expected, the Grand Prismatic was barely visible from above. Just a faint view through the fog. Fortunately after making several passes, the sun started to hit the fog and clear the view of the hot spring below just in time. We ended up making about 8 passes with each pass revealing more and more of the color and pattern of the spring. I had hoped for a crystal clear day, but I think the fog, add a different element to the photographs that differentiates it from what I originally planned.
Photographically, making these images was much more difficult than I expected. The plane had a window you could open to point your camera out of, but going 120 MPH, trying to hold still, and shooting with a large lens that is being buffeted by freezing cold winds, makes it challenging to say the least. I basically set my camera on the fastest shutter speed possible and clicked away somewhat blindly. Scrolling through my hard drive just now, to select these images, there are certainly a good amount of bad photos. But I'm excited about a couple of them :)