Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 3: Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

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Abandoned Dream – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

Part 1  Part 2

In 1970, E.B. White published a fictional children’s novel called The Trumpet of the Swan, which is largely set in Red Rock Lakes, Montana. E.B. White is probably best known for penning Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are literary classics. While The Trumpet of the Swan is not as well known as the other two books, it is also considered a classic children’s novel. Not long before our road trip, we read this book as a family.

My 10-year-old son, Jonathan, who likes geography—you will frequently find him looking at maps and drawing maps—said to me, “Look, I found Red Rock Lakes!” He pointed to a spot on the map that appeared to be very close to our campsite in Island Park, which is in Idaho but very close to Montana. It turns out that the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which is where the book is set, was only an hour drive away from our campsite. We made plans to visit this remote refuge while there.

The Red Rock Lakes area features lakes, rivers, marshlands, prairies, forested uplands, and mountain peaks. It’s highly diverse. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge, including the illusive trumpeter swan, the main character of E.B. White’s novel. Moose, elk, deer, bears, wolves and many other animals call this place home.

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Upper Red Rock Lake – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

The road to Red Rock Lakes is dirt. Rough at times, lightly flooded at times, and narrow at times, and quite rural the entirety, this was a fun drive in our four-wheel-drive truck. We did see some other cars and people, plus plenty of UTVs, but mostly we were alone. Not many people venture out to this lonely place. Red Rock Lakes might not be easy to get to, but it is highly rewarding and worth the journey.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is incredibly beautiful! Breathtakingly beautiful at times, in fact. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground! I didn’t see much wildlife myself, but I image that wildlife photographers would love this place, too. Upper Red Rock Lake (which I have no idea why it’s named that as I didn’t see many red rocks) is surprisingly still and reflective. It reminded me a little of the Great Salt Lake, but smaller and freshwater. In some ways the refuge was like stepping into E.B. White’s book, and seeing it in person brought the words to life. I would love to spend several days there, not just a few hours. I hope to someday return.

These photographs were mostly captured with a Fujifilm X100V, and a couple were with a  Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens. On the X100V I used my “The Rockwell” and Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation recipes. On the X-T30 I used my Velvia and Tri-X 400 recipes. Both cameras are great, but the X100V is such a wonderful travel camera that it renders the other gear largely unnecessary.

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Red Rock Lakes Sign – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red Rock Road – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Frontier Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Dilapidated Dream – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Abandoned House by the Hill – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Green Hills – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Distant Mountains – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Wildflowers 1 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Mountain Wildflowers 2 – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wildflower Meadow – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Wildflowers in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Forest Flowers – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Flower in the Forest – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Poolside – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Red Rock Lake in Green – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Algae Water – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Pelican on the Shore – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Looking For Trumpeter Swans – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Grey Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Fujinon 90mm

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Upper Red Rock Lake Monochrome – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Monochrome Lake Reflections – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

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Water Pipe – Red Rock Lakes NWR, MT – Fujifilm X100V

Part 4 coming soon!

Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 2: Dirty Jobs & Failed Dreams in Rexburg

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Grease Work – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

Part 1

These photographs were all captured at the same place: a Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg, Idaho. On the very first day of the road trip we stopped in Rexburg for lunch. You just never know when photographic opportunities are going to present themselves, so it’s a good habit to have a camera within easy reach. For me, that was the Fujifilm X100V. Surprisingly, that Jack-in-the-Box in Rexburg provided the chance to create some interesting pictures.

Rexburg is perhaps best known for being underwater when a dam broke 1976, which flooded the area. The town recovered. It’s the last city before Yellowstone, and seems like a nice enough place. Like everywhere, hard working people are what keeps things moving forward. It’s the thankless jobs that often go unnoticed, yet they’re critical to a functioning society. It’s the premise of the television show Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe. I encountered a couple of those important yet invisible people while in Rexburg.

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Blue Truck Trailer – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

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Drive Thru – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

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Out of Order – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “The Rockwell”

Right next to Jack-in-the-Box in the same parking lot was a closed and abandoned Wingers. According to the sign, it had been opened for 13 years. I’m not sure why it closed: lazy employees, poor management, mediocre food, bad location, current economic times? I can only speculate, but I’ll never know the answer—it doesn’t matter, anyway. What I found interesting is that just a few steps separated hard working yet invisible people from an empty building that had similar people in it, but no more. They’re gone. Their jobs are gone. They’ve moved on. The dream that inspired its opening failed, leaving only ghosts of the past behind, a haunting reminder of the fragility of it all. Invisible People and Ghost Dreams would be my alternative title to this post. Maybe we’re all ghosts. Maybe invisibility is a super power. Maybe I just inspired the next album for some indie rock band somewhere.

For the top four photographs I used my new “The Rockwell” film simulation recipe. In fact, these were some of the very first pictures that I captured with this recipe. The bottom four photographs were captured using my Fujicolor Superia 100 film simulation recipe. These two recipes are pretty much opposites of each other: one is boldly vibrant, while the other is rather dull in comparison. Juxtaposed recipes for juxtaposed subjects. One mundane stop in a rather ordinary town. You just never know when photographic opportunities will present themselves, so be ready.

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Available Building – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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Available – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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Thistles In The City – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

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This Restaurant is Closed – Rexburg, ID – Fujifilm X100V – “Fujicolor Superia 100”

Part 3

Traveling With Fujifilm, Part 1: Introduction

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Sunrise & Travel Trailer – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 1600

I recently returned from a road trip across several U.S. states, which I photographed with a Fujifilm X100V and X-T30. The trip began in Farmington, Utah, which is where I live, and over a week-and-a-half my family and I pulled a travel trailer across Idaho, Wyoming (just a little), and Montana, and back to Utah. I visited two national parks. I saw incredible lakes and rivers. It was just a great road trip!

Upon returning, I was unsure how to best share the experience with you. I decided to break the trip into a series of articles called Traveling With Fujifilm. I’m not sure exactly how many parts there will be in all, but there will be many! This is Part 1. It won’t necessarily be in chronological order, but I hope in a logical order that makes some sort of sense.

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Rural Diner – Tremonton, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 1600

The trip began on July 2nd right after sunrise. The trailer was already packed and ready, and already attached to the truck. We just had to load ourselves into the truck and leave. There are six of us: my wife and I, plus our four children. The truck seats six. It was a tight fit. We bonded (and occasionally not), as we spent significant stretches of time together on the open road.

The first day took us from our home in Utah to Island Park, Idaho. For the most part it’s rural country. We made a few stops for gas and food, but mostly pushed through to the destination. Island Park is amazingly beautiful! I’ll save that for another article, so you can look forward to it.

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Phillips 66 – Malad City, ID – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Superia 100

The film simulation recipes that I used for these three pictures are Fujicolor Superia 100 and Fujicolor Superia 1600. I only used the Fujifilm X100V for this section of the trip. This camera is great for this type of photography. No need to carry a camera bag filled with lenses. One camera, one lens. In fact, I used the X100V for about 90% of the pictures on this trip. While this article has only a few photographs, most in this series will have many more.

Come along for the ride! Join me on this adventure by following this series. I hope that you’ll find it enjoyable, inspirational and perhaps even helpful to your photography.

Part 2  Part 3

Video: Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly (500th Post!)

Follow along with me as I photograph Monument Valley! The video above, Monument Valley with Fuji X Weekly, is a behind-the-scenes look at my photographic adventure to the incredible desert formations of southern Utah and northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation. It was a thrill to experience Monument Valley. It really is an amazing place!

This was my last trip before the worldwide pandemic shut down all of my travel plans. So far I’ve had to cancel two trips, and there’s likely one or two more that won’t happen. I hope that this video will bring you some joy. I hope that it reminds you of some recent travels that you’ve done. I hope that it inspires you to dream of where you’ll go and what you’ll photograph when you can once again go places.

My wife, Amanda, and I created this video. Actually, she did the majority of the work. Amanda recorded the clips. She did all of the editing. She coached me through the narration. I have a face for radio and a voice for print, yet somehow she made the video look great! Her vision, her storytelling, and her talents are what made this happen. Thank you, Amanda!

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Evening at Monument Valley – Monument Valley, AZ – Fujifilm X-T30 & Rokinon 12mm

The photographs in the video were captured using a Fujifilm X-T30 and X-T1. I used four different lenses: a Fujinon 100-400mm, Fujinon 90mm f/2, Fujinon 35mm f/2 and Rokinon 12mm f/2. Amanda recorded the video using a Fujifilm X-T20 with a 16-50mm lens and a GoPro Hero 8 Black. The film simulation recipes used on the X-T30 were Velvia, Kodachrome 64, Analog Color, Dramatic Monochrome and Agfa Scala, and Velvia and Monochrome were used on the X-T1. Amanda used PRO Neg. Hi on the X-T20.

This article marks a significant milestone that I wanted to point out to you. This is the 500th post on Fuji X Weekly! Many blogs never make it to 500 posts, either because they publish too infrequently or they simply give up before it’s reached. What it means for you is that there’s a lot of content on this blog! If you haven’t been following Fuji X Weekly since the beginning, there are a ton of articles that you might have missed. There are perhaps many posts that could be helpful to you and your photography that you’ve never seen. I invite you to explore the older articles. The best way to do this is click the four lines on the top-right of this page, and either search a topic or browse the archive. Anyway, thank you for being a part of Fuji X Weekly! Without you, the 500 Posts milestone would not have been reached. You are appreciated!

Be sure to follow Fuji X Weekly, so that you don’t miss anything! I invite you to follow the Fuji X Weekly YouTube channel, as well. If you liked the Monument Valley video, I invite you to give it a thumbs-up, comment and share!

See also: Monument Valley – A Monumental Landscape

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5 Tips For Photographing Grand Teton National Park (Without Going Inside The Park)

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Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

The Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is incredibly beautiful! It’s one of my favorite places. Once you’ve been, you’ll want to return again and again. There’s a magical quality to it, similar to that first view of the Grand Canyon or a misty morning in Yosemite Valley. If you’ve never visited the range, it should be high on your bucket list of places to see! The Grand Tetons are a landscape photographer’s playground, and you definitely need to visit with a camera in hand.

Many people who see the Grand Tetons do so from their car. U.S. Highway 191 runs north and south just east of the mountain, offering spectacular sights the whole length. There are so many amazing views of the range that don’t require an entrance into the park. Yellowstone National Park, which is a little north of the Grand Tetons, is the more popular park of the two, and Jackson Hole has itself become a destination, so a lot of people only see the Teton Range as they travel between the two places. While taking time to go inside the Grand Teton National Park is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, it’s definitely possible to experience exquisite views from outside the gate. Going inside the national park isn’t required for a memorable Teton visit. Below are five tips for photographing the Grand Tetons from outside the park entrance.

The Off Season Is The Best Season

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Tetons From Mormon Row – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Avalanche Canyon – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

The Grand Teton National Park can get very crowded. Even though it plays second fiddle to nearby Yellowstone, it still sees a ton of visitors from across the world, especially in the summer months. The winter months are harsh yet could provide some amazing photographic opportunities for those willing to brave the elements, but that’s not when I’d recommend visiting. There are a couple of small windows that are better suited for travel to the Grand Tetons.

The month of May is an excellent time, as the crowds are low since school is still in for many people, and the weather is usually decent enough. The earlier in the month you go, the smaller the crowds will be, but the temperatures will be colder and it still might feel like winter. Mid-May is the sweet spot. Mid-September to mid-October is another excellent time, as most children have returned to school, and the weather is still decent enough. The earlier you go the better the weather, but the larger the crowds will be. Late September is another sweet spot for visiting Grand Teton National Park. If the forecast is for clouds and cold temperatures, it could provide a dramatic environment for your pictures, so it might be preferable over endless sunshine, but be prepared for the conditions.

Early Morning Is Magical

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Mountain & Clouds – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Sliver of Illumination – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

While sunset can be a spectacular time to photograph the Grand Tetons, nothing beats sunrise. Since the highway runs on the east side of the range, the sunrise light is often better for photographing the mountains. The early morning “golden hour” is a time that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to arrive well before the official sunrise because the peaks will illuminate before the valley. If you can only be there for either sunrise or sunset (and not both), make sure that it’s sunrise. It’s worth getting up while it’s still dark outside to catch the early morning light on the Teton Range.

Because the sunrise will light the tips of the peaks first, it’s a good plan to begin the day with a telephoto lens. Once more of the landscape has daylight, you can switch to a wide-angle lens if you’d like. The Grand Tetons are a place where you’ll want the option for both telephoto and wide-angle focal lengths, and you’ll probably switch between both frequently.

Mormon Row Is Historic

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Mountain & Mormon How – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Barn In The Mountains – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

If you are starting off your photographic journey in the early morning, make the Mormon Row Historic District your first stop. It’s located just north of the Grand Teton National Park entrance on the east side of the highway. The old houses and barns are found about a mile down Antelope Flats Road. The John Moulton Barn is probably the most famous of the historic structures, and surely you’ve seen pictures of it, but there are other buildings that are equally picturesque. Mormon Row is one of the most famous spots at the Grand Tetons for photography, so even during the off season you’re likely to find a crowd with cameras at this place.

Besides the historic buildings, this is a location where you might spot bison, as buffalo commonly graze in the area. You might also see deer or even moose. Always be vigilant around wildlife and keep a safe distance. While the animals are fairly used to crowds of people, they can still be quite dangerous, so don’t get too close.

Schwabacher Landing Is Unbelievable

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Tetons From Schwabacher Landing – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

After you are done photographing the barns at Mormon Row, head further north up the highway to Schwabacher Landing. There’s a little road on the west side of the highway that takes you down close to the river, which is calm and reflective thanks to a bunch of beaver dams. Honestly, this place is magical! It can feel unreal. It’s my favorite place at the Grand Tetons, so be sure to stop here.

If there’s a place that you’ll want to use a tripod and really take your time, this is it. Walk around the trails a little. Soak in the scene. Enjoy the incredible nature that’s around you. Don’t be in a hurry to head down the road. Be in the moment, because the moment is amazing. If you are visiting during the off season, there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself. Don’t miss Schwabacher Landing because it’s unbelievably beautiful!

Snake River Overlook Is Iconic

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Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

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The Tetons and the Snake River, 2017 – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1

About 21 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the Snake River Overlook, which is a pullout on the west side of Highway 191. There are a bunch of scenic pullouts along the highway that offer stunning views of the Grand Tetons, but this one is special because Ansel Adams captured one of his most iconic pictures at this spot. What makes it especially great is that you can capture the Snake River winding in front of the incredible mountain range. This is a good place to finish the morning, and, if you can, return for sunset.

As a photographer who has studied Ansel Adams’ work, who has been inspired and influenced by his pictures, there’s something prodigious about being in the exact spot where he captured one of his famous pictures. It’s walking in the footsteps of greatness. It seems particularly appropriate, when you visit the Teton Range, to pay homage to Adams by making your own photographs at the Snake River Overlook.

See also: 5 Tips To Become A Better Photographer