Picture, if you will, a sorcerer waving his magic wand. Somewhere in the mist before him an object begins taking shape - a snow-encrusted bison, its likeness appearing beside a small pond whose waters reflect the muted colors of sunrise momentarily trapped on a nearby mountain. At that instant, you press the shutter, capturing the magic of the moment.
The event described above took place during one of my winter wildlife photography workshops in Yellowstone National Park. My group and I were aboard our chartered snow coach, exploring the park's frozen interior. Looking out the window, we spotted it. The image that every wildlife photographer visiting Yellowstone in the winter dreams about . . . a snow encrusted bison, enshrouded in morning mist, and lying next to a thermal pool of heated water.
“Stop,” I yelled to the driver. In less, than a minute, we were exiting the vehicle in anticipation of capturing the image of which we dreamed. Then it happened. The bison got up, gingerly shook off his covering of ice and snow, and calmly walked away, leaving us sad and dejected that we had missed the photo opportunity of a lifetime.
However, there was still hope. Lying some 20-feet away from the pool of steaming water was another bison. He, too, was encrusted in snow and ice. I began pleading with him, not out loud, but quietly in my spirit, “Please, please, get up.” I don’t know if he heard me, but after a moment, or two, he stood.
Then I began pleading again, “Whatever you do, please don’t shake.” Continuing, I added, “I beg you, please let the snow and ice stay on you.” Did he hear me? Who knows, but he never shook off his icy covering.
Unfortunately, he was still some distance from the pool of water. However, feeling a little more confident by now, I figured, what’s there to loose? So, I continued my conversation, “Go to the pond so we can make your picture.” You guessed it. Ambling slowly toward the pond, where upon his arrival, he stood and waited for me to take his picture. However, by this time the rising steam was so thick, I could neither see the pond nor the bison.
Dejected, I simply cried out to whom ever might hear my plea, “Please, clear up so I can make the picture.” Suddenly, the fog began to lift. At that very moment the sun peaked its head from over the mountain behind me, illuminating the hillside just past bison, and in turn reflected its morning colors in the pond next to bison.
I clicked the shutter.
Who says that magic doesn’t happen.