How to photograph landscapes while on the road with kids....

and The Most Photographed Barn in America

It's the school holidays and I am just back from a trip with the family to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, a landscape photographer's dream destination. Why? The Tetons are a stunning mountain range.

Here comes the wikipedia-ish bit about the Tetons:

The Tetons are part of the Rocky Mountains and extend for approximately 40 miles (64 km) in a north–south direction through the U.S. state of Wyoming.

The name Tetons comes from the fact that early Voyageurs named the range "les trois tétons", the three nipples, as the peaks reminded them of breasts.

Keep in mind the voyageurs were French Canadian fur traders who would have spent long periods of time in the wilderness with little female company.

Of course much of the seminal photography of the U.S. National Parks is by Ansel Adams, so here is his take on the Tetons, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Stunning right? Due to forest growth you can't replicate this particular view anymore.

Which brings me back the topic of this post - the "most photographed barn in the USA". Actually there are two barns that win this title, they look pretty similar and they are within a few hundred metres of each other. They are the T.A. Moulton and John Moulton barns on Mormon Row in Jackson Hole, Wyoming - just outside the south entrance to Grand Teton National Park. In fact they are similar enough that even the Grand Teton National Park Foundation mistook one for the other.

A quick internet search brings up thousands of photos of the historic wooden structures. They all have the mountains in the background taken at all times of day and night and at all times of year. There are an incredible selection of photos on the Best of the Tetons website.

It is part of a photographers nature to want to get that unique image and yet we can't resist the siren call of an iconic photo spot.

I had to drop by Mormon Row on our way out of the National Park to catch our evening flight out of Salt Lake City.

The morning started out sunny but soon enough the clouds rolled in and a light rain started to fall. A nightmare for a family trying to fold a tent and pack all our camping gear. But in the back of my mind I was quite happy. Why?

As a photographer traveling with 3 young kids I am not always able to get to a spot when the light is at it's best.

That's the way it is. So I knew that with the packing and the drive we would not get to Mormon Row until noon. I was happy that there would be some cloud cover and not that horrible midday, direct overhead light. The aim was to get some texture and mood out of the clouds.

plastic shopping bag rain cover Hasselblad camera
Fancy plastic shopping bag rain cover for the Hasselblad

My main shot would be black and white Arista Edu Ultra 100 on a Hasselblad.

4 rolls of Arista Edu Ultra 100 black and white film
4 rolls of Arista Edu Ultra 100 black and white film

I did some long exposures with a 15 stop ND filter from Haida, with shutter speeds of around 4.5 minutes to 9.5 minutes.

This is when the kids start getting restless.

A few long exposures and before you know if you have been standing around in a field for 30 minutes and more. I try to involve them in the process but film/ analog photography can seem alchemical and doesn't provide the immediate gratification that digital photography does. So off they wandered with mum exploring the nearby homesteads and marveling at the horses in the next field.

little boy and camera at mormon row
Impatient assistant waiting for long exposure to finish

I always like to have a backup on digital. Below is the image from my Fujifilm X100s. 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) is different focal length to the 80mm (50mm equivalent) on medium format, but it gives an idea.