2 Mar

Canary Springs at dawn, Yellowstone

There is something primal—something elemental—about Yellowstone, a reminder of the Earth’s ancient past, born of fire in the forge of creation. Although that fire has now cooled, it still smolders in places, spilling forth from hidden pockets beneath the surface. In Yellowstone, creation continues, deeply woven into the tapestry of the landscape.   

"Creation" - Yellowstone National Park

"Creation" - Yellowstone National Park

I made this image during dawn twilight at Canary Springs, part of the Mammoth Hot Springs geothermal complex. Low light meant long exposures, perfect for recording motion over time. I made image after image, experimenting with the ebb and flow of rising steam blown by the wind, searching for a meaningful convergence of elements. Often, such a convergence doesn’t happen. Sometimes it does. Suddenly, almost before I could react, the wind whipped the steam into curling shapes, pillars of smoke riding swirling zephyrs ascending from the surface of the thermal pool. I had my moment.

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 14-24mm lens (@24mm), ISO 50, f/16, 6 seconds. 

Ian PlantAbout Ian Plant (395 Posts)

Ian Plant's photographs and instructional articles have appeared in a number of books, calendars, and magazines, including Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. Ian writes a regular blog column for Outdoor Photographer online, and he is the author of numerous instructional eBooks and videos. Ian leads several photo tours each year.


  • Ian,
    This is a breathtaking image! I don’t use words like that generously. But this image really brings the elements together in an ethereal way. And as you know, I am a sucker for ethereal images :)

  • What a moment indeed. I’ve never seen such a beautiful slow exposure of fog. Love it.

  • Ian,
    Just started looking at your stuff. I just came out of Yellowstone the other day, now in the Tetons. I visited the Canary Pool at dawn, and I gotta say WOW! Awesome image. That’s a magical place for certain. I found a great pool called Sulfur Springs in Hayden Valley, stumbled over it. Have you ever been there? Wonderful feature.