Autumn Sunrise at Oxbow Bend

Mount Moran Above Fall Sunrise

I’ve called Jackson Hole my home since 2008, and yet, somehow, I never did get up early to capture Oxbow Bend at sunrise during the peak autumn season. Whether it was due to inconveniences, bad timing, or simply wanting to avoid the crowds, for whatever reason, I simply hadn’t gone to get the iconic shot.

Finally my wife pushed me to go get it. It was time. I woke up in the pre-dawn hours and began driving the 45-60 minute journey to Oxbow Bend under a clear starry sky. Most photographers would want some clouds with their sunrise to add splashes of color to the sky, but this was the day I chose and so I’d be forced to make the best of it.

I pulled up in the subtle glow of dawn and made my way down to the water’s edge. To my surprise, the crowd wasn’t nearly as congested as I had built up in my head. In addition, everyone was quite friendly, contrary to the rumors of Oxbow Bend at sunrise that I had heard.

After meandering along the shore for a spot that spoke to me, I settled in next to a lovely couple from Colorado and began snapping a few early dawn shots, pleasantly surprised to see clouds moving in over the Teton Mountains.

Dawn painted in a wonderful sunrise that struck magnificent color into the sky above, by then coated with high and low clouds reacting brilliantly in the early sunlight, though very little sunlight actually directly hit the mountains or foreground landscape. The sun retreated behind some eastern clouds, and I took that opportunity to call it a morning from that spot. I gathered my gear and headed back to my car. I turned on the engine and had nearly pulled away when I noticed bold streak of amber sunlight slowly exposing elements of the landscape, highly contrasted against the dark clouds that had continued to roll in. I stuck my camera out the window, snapped a quick photo, and proceeded on my way as the light quickly faded. Little did I realize that that would be my favorite shot from that morning.

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