Lone Bison on the Road Strolls into Second Place

Yellowstone National Park is a treasure trove of photo opportunities, boasting a wide array of wildlife and geological features. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see a photo from the area finish in one of the top spots in our Shoot for the Stars contests.

This second-place Landscape photo by Global Discovery Vacations member Joe M. exemplifies the interpretative nature of photography – does this photo represent the futility of man-made infrastructures in nature or does it exemplify the triumph of a wild spirit? It can also just be a buffalo in the road. However you look at it, Joe gives us his take from his trip to Yellowstone.

What brought you to Yellowstone National Park?

My wife and I went to Yellowstone once before in 2003. We wanted to go back because we loved the area and my hobby is wildlife photography. You can get a lot of good scenic and wildlife shots in the Yellowstone and Teton areas. We also made this special because I wanted to take my mom and dad, who had never been. Every day we would hop in and take on another section of the park – taking walks and driving through.

It was a great trip. My wife and I will go back again. My parents enjoyed it more than I thought they would. We would get into the park early and see some animals and some of the sights. We saw Old Faithful and made our way over to Lamar Valley during the evening hour, when more of the animals came back out. I got some great shots of pronghorn, buffalo, coyote and some bears coming back. We did pretty well as far as animal viewing was concerned.

We enjoyed the resort (Island Park Village Resort). It was the perfect size and made for a nice base camp. It wasn’t too far away from where we wanted to go. We used that condo to store our groceries and pack our lunches at night, or we could go into town to get something to eat. It worked out really well and it was special to have my folks there.

How did this photo come to be?

“Sometimes the bison dictate the pace as you navigate the beauty of Yellowstone National Park.” – Member Joseph M.

The picture I submitted that had all the buffalo was funny because we were in a traffic jam for over three hours. We didn’t know what was going on at first, but when were close enough, I had to get photographic evidence of the problem. I got out of the car to take a picture, and when I turned around, I saw a single buffalo coming up the road. I liked how the road had the “S” shape to it and the shadows going across. The photo turned out really nice.

You’ve got to go to Yellowstone. It’s got something for everybody. It has the landscapes and cool natural features such as geysers and waterfalls. But it has wildlife, too. It’s one of those places where in 20 minutes, you can see something completely different than where you were just at.

How did you become so fascinated with animals?

From an early age, our family had pets. I grew up with dogs, my wife and I have cats. We’re kind of partial to the big cats in wildlife.

Usually, the places where you can see a lot of wildlife are also beautiful and pristine. Some of these places have less of the human footprint. There’s something about seeing an animal in its natural environment – nothing between you and it and having the ability to watch it – you get to see how smart and beautiful some of the animals are.

How did you get into photography?

“Waiting for the big moment. Photographers line up in anticipation within Yellowstone National Park.” – Member Joe M.

I’m self-taught in terms of photography, but with digital cameras, you can learn faster. You can get instant feedback and make changes on the fly. I’ve gotten better since I started in the early 2000s, when digital photography started taking off.

Do you travel based on wildlife photo opportunities?

This is what my wife and I typically do. We both love wildlife. She also is big on history and culture and we like to mix that up a little bit. In August we went to the Pantanal area in Brazil to try to see jaguars in the wild. We’ve gone to a few wildlife refugees as well, such as Bosque del Apache in New Mexico and one at the tip of Texas. That’s what I love. I just like to go out for a walk or drive and not think about anything else.

We’ve enjoyed the membership but haven’t used it to its full capacity, primarily because my wife and I are still working. But we see opportunities coming up. Looking ahead, I see you have a few places in Costa Rica. I have been there for work but never for myself. So I’ve thought of going there and seeing the rainforest and volcanoes. Any kind of place within range to activities and animals – I’m a sucker for it. It just relaxes me.

We’re looking forward to seeing more photos from Joe in the future, especially if they involve animals!

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.