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06-11-2012, 04:08 PM   #1
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Yellowstone National Park

My girlfriend and I are hoping to make a trip up to Yellowstone for our senior year trip of college. I've got a big surprise for her whenever we finally get there!

Anyways, more of the photography side of things: Currently, my kit only consists of a K-r, the 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses, and a 50/1.8 Super Tak. Due to money being an issue, I probably won't be able to flat out buy the lenses I would want for this sort of a trip but I will, instead, likely rent them.

Having never been to Yellowstone before, I had a few questions:

1. Would a weather-resistant system be preferable to my K-r? I could always rent the K-5 and WR lenses.
2. I was planning on renting:
12-24mm F4 or 15mm F4
50-135mm 2.8 (general purpose)
Telephoto lens (Not sure which one yet, opinions?)
Any comments on my lens set up?
3. Any suggestions on absolute places to see while at Yellowstone? We'll likely be staying at Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons. We'll have a free day and a Yellowstone tour day included in the package that we will likely be signing up for. During our free day we plan to head into Yellowstone for our selves. Any places that are absolute MUST sees while there for the day? And any other places in the Grand Tetons that we should most definitely plan on going to see?

06-11-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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Top Ten Attractions - Yellowstone National Park

plus we went on to 45 parallel there was a river with hot springs coming into the river so there was a dual streams with a cold and warm water...

Enjoy the time!
06-11-2012, 04:39 PM   #3
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One place a bit off the beaten path is the grand canyon of yellowstone. Another good place is the mammoth hot springs. Early in the morning, roaring mountain. At the entrance you will get a map of the park with all the sites.
As far as your equipment, unless you are there when it rains, your Kr should be fine.
In regards to lenses, when I was there, I had the 18-55 kit lens, Tamron 28-300, and the Sigma Bigma. Only used the Bigma once for closeups of baby bison. A wide angle is a must for the usual reasons but also for taking shots of bison walking next to your car when you get caught in a buffalo jam on the highway.
Yellowstone is a great place. Enjoy. And if I got your hint right, hope she says yes

Dennis
06-11-2012, 04:56 PM   #4
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You have a very nice kit to begin with - the 18-55 and 55-300 will cover all you need except for a good WA - and renting the 12-24 is a great choice. I think the K-r with those 3 lenses would be plenty enough for anything you come across.

Only thing I would suggest is that if you aren't real familiar with your 2 lenses yet, get out there and practice with them before you go - find their sweet spot in FL and aperture and you'll be all set.

I don't know if I would be more excited about making images at Yellowstone or popping the question......since I've "been there and done that" with the second, I would be way more excited about having the chance to photograph Yellowstone!

06-11-2012, 06:53 PM   #5
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I was in Yellowstone a week ago Sunday. Spent one day in the park before spending three days at Grand Tetons. In my opinion, the DA 12-24 is too wide for most of what you'll find in Yellowstone. It may prove useful in the Grand Tetons at places like String Lake, Taggart Lake, and Jenny Lake (although a standard zoom lens like the DA 16-45 would do just as well). It will be too wide elsewhere.

On my one day at Yellowstone, I started out with the DA 16-45. But that soon proved too wide (and not long enough!), and I replaced it with the FA 24-90. Except for a brief interlude when I used the DA* 300, the 24-90 was the only lens I used the rest of my day at Yellowstone. It was perfect for the type of landscape I came across, which is kind of on the flat side: sort of a big plateau with more modest sized mountains, the larger mountains being faraway, in the distance. Longer focal ranges work better in such a landscape, and FF standards work best of all (at least if you want to keep lens swapping to a minimum). Unfortunately, I don't believe you can rent an FF standard zoom for the Pentax K-Mount (other than the FA* 28-70). You may be better off just using the lenses you have and swapping them when needed. Or, if you want better optics, rent the DA* 16-50, the DA* 50-135, and possibly the DA* 300 if you want to get wildlife.

As to where to go: well, you can't see all of Yellowstone in one day. I'd get off to as early a start as possible and head up to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. From there I would head off to the Norris Geyser Basin. If it's sunny, spend some time at the basin; if not, you can concentrate on waterfalls and wildlife. Between Canyon Village and Norris there is the Virginia Cascades, and between Norris and Madison is Gibbon Falls. There's also quite a few buffalo along the Madison River this time of year, and some elk. If you want to photograph bears and wolves, your best bet is to drive into West Yellowstone and visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (definitely worth a stop it's cloudy and/or rainy). Return to Jackson Lake Lodge via Biscuit Basin and visit as many of the thermal sites as you can cram in. If it's not too crowded and you have time, stop and watch Old Faithful go off.

Don't forget to bring mosquito repellant. The little vampires are beginning to rev up for the season and they are pretty bad in places (West Yellowstone and String Lake were the worst last week, not so bad elsewhere.) Good luck and have fun!

Last edited by northcoastgreg; 06-11-2012 at 06:58 PM.
06-11-2012, 06:59 PM   #6
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Having been to Yellowstone just before, during & after the "Fire(s)", the 18-55 & 55-300 will be more than sufficient as other have mentioned...most of my 35mm film work in my Super Program was primarily shot with a 24-50mm F-4 A series where you will be shooting close.
The top 10 link pretty much covers it unless you also have the time to get in some quality fly fishing in... The Echinus Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin had been predictably active in the past & you can get within several feet of it to witness the pool filling up then receding after the show it puts on...just protect your equipment from the spray regardless of WR! Otherwise, there is much to do & see depending on your preferences. To maximize time, I explore the Park as a figure 8 with an upper & lower loop over a 3 day period then take in the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody & / or the Tetons / Jackson Hole area. To fully enjoy the Park is not seeing it all through a lens...take it all in & enjoy - watch out for the moose.
06-12-2012, 07:33 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for all the feedback. I had no clue the 12-24 would be TOO wide for Yellowstone. I'll look into the DA* as well. I kind of want to rent premium glass for the trip since its something I won't get a chance to do very often. If I rent another body then my girlfriend can shoot a bit as well.

I'll do some reading on those locations and find out where the tour guide takes us on our Yellowstone day so we can go to other locations on our free day.
06-12-2012, 09:17 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
I had no clue the 12-24 would be TOO wide for Yellowstone.
It's not. It's one of the most versatile travel lenses. Of course it depends on what you shoot, as always. The canyon and falls are nice and it's right off the highway. The geysers are smelly You will need the 55-300 for wildlife.

06-12-2012, 12:03 PM   #9
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Got it. I'm tempted to possibly rent a higher quality long lens as well. May as well if I'm renting the other stuff as well!
06-12-2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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After looking at both cameralensrentals.com and borrowlenses.com, I think I'll be renting several lenses and a K-5. That way both my girlfriend and I will have a body to shoot on and a few lenses each, while swapping around throughout the trip.

Lenses:
DA 12-24 4
DA* 16-50 2.8
DA* 50-135 2.8
DA* 300 4

Plus a K-5 body.

Travel wise, would these prove to be too heavy while hiking throughout the day? It'll be split between the 2 of us, + maybe a small travel tripod that I already have if I decide to bring it. I was thinking that with ordering those 4 lenses and a K-5 body, between the 2 of us we could each have a "normal" length lens between the 16-50 and the 50-135 and then each have a "specialty" lens with the 12-24 and the 300, either for landscapes or wildlife, depending on the situation.

Opinions on this list?
06-12-2012, 06:47 PM   #11
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I just got done with a trip out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks a few weeks ago. I had the same dilemma as you. I ended up renting the 12-24 and the 60-250. I already owned a tokina 28-70/2.8, 18-55wr, and dal 35 as well as the k5 to attach it all to. I carried this all in a Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW and didn't think it was too heavy. I think you'd be fine split between the two of you.

Definitely get the 12-24. A wonderful lens to capture all the geysers and hot springs with. At times I wished I even had wider! I'd consider a good wide angle a must at yellowstone.

As much as I loved the 60-250, sometimes I wished for more length. I think the da*300 would be a good choice for you. Maybe you should consider switching out the 50-135 for the 60-250 just for the added versatility. I don't think you'd miss the 1 stop advantage of the 50-135.

Mostly I found myself switching from the ultrawide for the static scenery, then we would spot some wildlife and I'd have to quickly change to the longer lens. Having 2 cameras would have saved a bunch of hassle.

Most of all I'd encourage you to spend more than two days in the park, especially if you want to do some hiking in different areas. It really is a huge place and the time it takes to travel between areas of the park is misleading. I spent 4 full days in the park and could have spent many more hiking to different areas. I also spent a day in Grand Teton park and wished to have spent at least another day there, too.

These guys will be waiting for you I'm sure...


06-12-2012, 07:09 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
You have a very nice kit to begin with - the 18-55 and 55-300 will cover all you need except for a good WA - and renting the 12-24 is a great choice. I think the K-r with those 3 lenses would be plenty enough for anything you come across.
I agree, and don't forget the 50/1.8. I was last at Jellystone in my pre-dSLR days but I remember the angles and vistas. I'd take at least my most minimal kit: Tamron 10-24, DA18-250, FA50/1.4, Raynox DCR-250. Some views demand the width, some the reach, some the closeness (but the DA18-55 focuses real close too), and a Fast Fifty for campfire scenes etc.

EDIT: I just read the OP's last item:
QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
I think I'll be renting several lenses and a K-5. That way both my girlfriend and I will have a body to shoot on and a few lenses each, while swapping around throughout the trip.

Lenses:
DA 12-24 4
DA* 16-50 2.8
DA* 50-135 2.8
DA* 300 4

Plus a K-5 body.

Travel wise, would these prove to be too heavy while hiking throughout the day?
That's a load, all right. And you likely *will* want a Fast Fifty and something for close|near-macro shooting. But divided amongst two of you it won't be too bad, depending on how you've otherwise burdened yourselves. Oh dog, the stuff I used to pack into the woods...

Suggestion: Double-check the weights. Do some test-runs with the loads you expect to carry. See if you're comfortable with them for hours and hours, eh? It's amazing, how schlepping a few ounce or pounds LESS makes the day go better!
06-12-2012, 08:34 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone! I appreciate the feedback. I found a different lodge to stay at that is closer to Yellowstone, rather than the Grand Tetons. We'll most likely be staying at Parade Rest Guest Ranch. Has anyone heard of it or know of any experiences staying there? It seems like a great deal. All-inclusive rate with tours, horseback riding, rafting, fishing, etc. Just 10 miles outside of the west entrance to the park. As a result we'll be in Yellowstone primarily the whole time, which is what we really wanted.

I'll play around with some of those lens ideas and see what we decide on. If my budget allows I'd like to be able to rent them all for 2 weeks to have a bit of time to play with both the lenses and the K-5 before the trip to become more acquainted with them.

I'm debating on just getting the 12-24, 300, and K-5 for budget sake and then using my 18-55 kit for an all-purpose lens. Although...having a nice all-purpose lens would be pretty nice too. So many decisions! At least I have plenty of time to think about all of it.
08-21-2012, 10:16 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Field Report: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

(I was going to start a new thread, but my observations fit here...)

I was able to spend almost a week in Yellowstone recently. It is a beautiful place with a large variety of photographic settings: mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, geysers, hotsprings, wildlife, and fauna. Color everywhere... lots of opportunities for interesting macros... There are just so many pictures waiting to be taken, but the biggest challenge is not just getting 'postcard' pictures, as gorgeous as they can be! I did quite a bit of hiking, and that offers some off-the-beaten-path possibilities.
Just some observations if you are planning a trip there.
  • I have a K-x. For lenses, I brought on the trip the DA 18-135, the DAL 55-300, and a Sigma 10-20 (f4-5.6). Since I was hiking quite a few miles, I tried to travel light, and so I always took the 18-135 and either the 55-300 or 10-20. I took over 600 pictures. Using ExposurePlot, 32% of my pics were at 18mm and another 25% in the 20-30mm range. Only 11% were 100-135mm and of these, most of them were at 135mm used for macro shots. Only 2% were in the 150-300mm range.
    Conclusion: The DA 18-135 was an outstanding lens, and I ended up often just taking it out on hikes. I really like the Sigma 10-20, but it just wasn't worth carrying it around for the situations in Yellowstone. The 55-300 is another great lens, that is handy for getting wildlife shots, but when the buffalo walk right by the car, I didn't need it as much as I thought. For good and ill, I didn't see any bears! The pics attached are simply representative of what the 18-135 can do.
  • I had mostly good weather in early August. One very overcast day dulled some of the photos, but a partly cloudy day is not bad. It offered lots of opportunities for interesting shadows, especially in the canyon.
  • In the Old Faithful Geyser Basin, I think you might get better pictures in the morning rather than the afternoon. It's worth the walk up to the geyser basin overlook. The challenge with pics in this area is that there are so many people around. If you are looking for a 'wilderness' feel to the pics, all the buildings in that area clog up a lot of the backgrounds. You need to look for the angles.
  • I had trouble getting pics I liked in the Yellowstone Lake area. It was just too 'big' for an interesting shot without getting a huge expanse of water and tiny little mountains in the distant background. There is a "Elephant Back" path on the northwest side of the lake that climbs up for a view. I didn't have time for it, but that might offer a better view. I also did not get to West Thumb or further south and east.
  • The Yellowstone River runs basically from SW to NE in the Canyon area. This means that you are going to get interesting and constantly changing pics all day long as the light and shadows change. If you want views of the falls, the main designated viewpoints really are the best. There is lots to see if you hike along the north or south rim paths, but there aren't many views of the falls. BTW, I was out a little before 8am one morning, and there were only a handful of people out.
Some pics: Lion Geyser - Dragon's Mouth Spring
The butterfly shot is much sharper in the non-resized, non-reduced original. The DA 18-135 does an excellent job for this kind of pseudo-macro.

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