Ansel Adams’ famous photograph of The Tetons and the Snake River was my inspiration for visiting the Grand Tetons. When I first saw that photograph it had an impact on me like few others since and I had an immediate desire to visit.
It was during my research for this trip that I became aware of another iconic scene – a view so evocative of the region that it became a must-have for me to shoot.
Where and when?
T. A. Moulton Barn in Grand Teton National Park, taken in June 2012.
The background story
When I planned my trip to Yellowstone in the summer of 2012 it was a no-brainer to include a few days in Grand Teton. I had seen the photos – as has everyone visiting the Grand Tetons – of the barn. Built between 1912 and 1945, it is all that remains of a former homestead. With the wooden fence in the foreground and the majestic mountain backdrop, it has become an iconic symbol of the area.
This particular location is so well known that is not hard to find. I did a scouting trip the day before to determine sun location and different compositions. Sunrise would have the front of the barn perfectly illuminated so I decided to shun sunset (when any light would be behind the mountains) and return the next morning – which happened to be my last day in the park.
How it came together
T. A. Moulton Barn is easy to get to, sitting just off a rural road. I haven’t been back since and I suspect that it is now a lot busier as awareness of the location has increased. But this particular morning it was just me, Natalie and a group of very charming senior Texans on what must have been the most memorable school reunion trip ever. I knew where the sun position would be and so it was just a case of waiting (and hoping) to see if the light came.
Why is it a favourite?
Everything just worked. The sun came out and lit the barn in the most golden light – so much so that many of my shots from that morning had to be desaturated. The sky had just the right amount of cloud – not so much as to hide the peaks completely but not completely clear as to be lifeless. The air was crisp and no one was fighting for the “best” positions.
No question, we were spoilt that morning. A herd of bison even wandered into the scene (which sent me and my American friends into elation). You couldn’t have drawn a more complete scene. It was as perfect as I could have hoped for a first attempt.
When I look at this photograph now I can’t help but see things I would do differently from a technical point of view (in eight years I would like to think I have improved!) But unlike some of my older images, the faults are not something I dwell on. Every time I look at this photograph it brings back visceral memories of that morning and that means far more to me than technical imperfection.
I can remember how the air tasted. How the sunlight felt on my face. I can remember the very gentle breeze passing over the grass. The sound of the bison grazing and the bluebirds swooping from the fence posts. It was the most beautiful, perfect morning in a truly spectacular location. To this day I feel privileged to have witnessed it.
The fact I had a camera to document it was just the icing on the cake.