Mark Warnes captures the rugged beauty of Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal landscape without falling into the trap of capturing clichés
My dad bought me a camera for my birthday when I was young and I’ve been addicted to photography ever since. I shoot Nikon because I love the stories behind the photographs. From Don McCullin’s lifesaving Nikon F to Thomas Mangelsen’s devoted studies of nature, the most compelling images always seem to feature Nikon. It’s now my turn to tell my Nikon story.
Kit choice is important in Yellowstone. Timing is critical in a harsh environment like this – there’s often no second chance to get the shot. I needed to trust my cameras 100%, so I took my trusty Nikon D750. The Grand Prismatic Spring
 is both breathtaking and frustrating. Its sheer scale, combined with the hordes of tourists, narrow boardwalks and billowing steam, make it challenging to photograph. However, I discovered that the hill behind the spring provides wonderfully colourful shots as the afternoon light catches the water. Shooting from here is not condoned by the National Park Service, as there’s a risk of bear encounters, but it provided the best view of the spring’s geothermal energy. My second shot of the spring
 was taken with an 1835mm wide angle zoom,
Its sheer scale, coupled with hordes of tourists, narrow boardwalks and billowing steam, make it difficult to photograph
to try and capture the sheer size of the spring while retaining some of the finer details the bacteria mats provided in the foreground. A polarizing filter helped reduce reflections from the water whilst enhancing the vivid colours of the spring. Contrary to most photography advice around, it’s actually best photographed in the middle of the day, when the overhead sunlight filters deep into the coloured pools.
For Dawn Fishing , I set up at dawn, hoping to catch some elk or bison in the morning mist that hung over the Madison River. As the sun began to warm the cold air and burn through the mist, silhouettes of the fishermen started to appear in the river. As the mist lifted, the scene began to glow golden.
I’ve always loved the iconic Ansel Adams images of Yellowstone. My shot of the Lower Falls  was taken from a popular vista known as Artist Point. I wanted to focus on the great light bouncing off the rugged landscape in the foreground, while still conveying the power and beauty of the falls themselves. Using a tripod allowed me to use a slower shutter speed to slightly blur the waterfall and mist. I felt it enhanced the movement in the scene. I also used a narrow aperture to maximize depth of field, and keep all of the main elements of the photo in focus.
Grand Prismatic Spring 1 Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8, 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO100 Dawn Fishing Nikon D750, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, 0.8 sec, f/14, ISO100
Grand Prismatic Spring 2 Nikon D750, 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5, 1/100 sec, f/13, ISO100 Lower Falls Nikon D750, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, 1/25 sec, f/16, ISO100