Calm at Firehole Spring – Yellowstone

Firehole Spring sparkles like a sky of deep blue turquoise, it’s inviting crystal clear water set flush to the earth like a giant hot tub. But beware, this is no swimming pool. The docile looking waters are nearly boiling, so enjoy it’s unearthly beauty, but let it bathe alone.

Firehole has nearly constant activity roiling under it’s surface, as  thermal bursts appear like small white explosions. Sometimes it’s subtle while at other times water may spit into the air as thermal bubbles reach the surface. On this day in early September it seems unusually calm affording me this unique crystal like view into it’s depths.

Set amid a rather barren patch of land, backed by shrill trees and sparse grasses, The pool sits just off Firehole Lake Drive, nearly unmarked and easily passed by. It seems plain, but when you get out and stand near, it’s impossibly clear water mesmerizes the eyes.

I took this in the early morning as bold clouds drifted overhead and I gave it some time, carefully planning the composition and working to use the land and the light as best I could.

For photographers. How it was made… 5D MK2, 17-40L, 19mm, ISO50, 1/40, f13

I actually photographed this as a bracketed HDR with long exposures, but as I often do, I made a few other frames of the same composition at various settings (something I often do once a composition is set). In the end I decided that HDR blending was not adding anything as the dynamic range was not that wide and this single frame gave me plenty to work with, while keeping details sharper).

This is one of those images that sat in the que for a few weeks as I looked at it over and over again deciding how I liked it. Finally I went for it. I kept it pretty simple, adding some tweaks and a slight split toning using my Lightroom presets. Finally I went into PS and used the Orton Effect action from Hollywood Effects 2. This used subtly, gave a very gentle mood glow to certain areas. I then did some detail work, burning, dodging and cleaning up the scene.

That’s about it. I think what made this image work was composition planning. The editing I did was very important to the result, but it was not radical in digital terms. I took my time analyzing the composition at setup and that gave me a perspective that I really like. Doubtless I could have benefited by having light that was more perfect, but then again the pool is not generally this calm, so perhaps my timing was perfect. Either way I hope I took advantage of what I had for a unique look into the heart of Firehole Spring… Gav

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2 Responses to Calm at Firehole Spring – Yellowstone

  1. Seeing how I have been to this exact location. I can only hope that some day to 1. Return and 2. To make a image that will come somewhat close to your breath taking and humbling picture. Can it be done with a APS-C sensor and a 35mm fx lens?

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