Tips for Photographing Sunrise at Mormon Row: Grand Tetons

ALPENGLOW: the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on high mountains.

I desperately wanted to experience that moment of alpenglow for myself. I'd never witnessed it. I don't live near the mountains. I don't often wake up to watch the sunrise. I knew I'd have the chance to at the start of my trip out west. I couldn't wait to have those painted mountains for myself.  My experience at Mormon Row was incredible be in every possible way and in all directions.

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We drove up to Mormon Row from where we spent the night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We chased the sunrise as we drove the quiet road, and the photos leading up to this moment were equally stunning. 

 Antelope Flats

Antelope Flats

I pulled into a gravel area, the Grand Tetons and T.A. Moulton Barn behind me. Before me sat the quiet grasses of the Antelope Flats. The sunrise was just beginning its ascent over the horizon, beyond the distant hills. The trees dotting my view were lined with the morning mist, highlighting their still figures in a faint, warm glow. 

 Photographing the sunrise [and barely awake!]

Photographing the sunrise [and barely awake!]

There were a number of likeminded photographers and sunrise lovers out at this spot patiently waiting. All of them stood facing the mountains. I was the only one shooting in every direction, not just the 'main event.'

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How could they miss such effortless natural beauty at their backs? The rugged, jagged peaks of the Tetons and the soft, bucolic plains dotted with trees and barns carry such contrast and created a dynamic sunrise experience I’ll never forget.

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If you find yourself staying in Jackson Hole or want to catch that alpenglow over the Grand Tetons, here are a few tips:

 Photographers at T.A. Moulton Barn

Photographers at T.A. Moulton Barn

A couple days before you plan to go, research the sunrise time for Jackson, Wyoming. Weather.com has this information, along with the weather forecast naturally, which would also be useful information! From Jackson Hole, I would leave at least an hour before the sunrise time. I would have liked a bit more time to experience the twilight hour, so I would even leave 90 minutes before sunrise, but some of us need more sleep than others!

 Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

The morning we went, it was somewhat cloudy in Jackson Hole, but as we drove towards Mormon Row, many of the clouds began to burn up, leading us to an absolutely stunning twilight sky. I also find a slightly cloudy sky to be even more moving than a perfectly clear one. Clouds add sculpture and movement along the mountains and the plains and added an beautifully feathered layer to my photos.

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While you're there, it's easy to become so entranced with the Grand Tetons, that gorgeous alpenglow and the beautiful barn in the foreground. I certainly was, but I also took time to photograph every facet of the space I was in. I shot the wildflowers, the rustic fencing, the sunrise over the plains behind us, the barns in the far distance. Capturing more than just the grand show over the Tetons allows me to have the complete picture of this experience.

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Most photographers at this spot were camped in the one spot, with tripods set up. I can only imagine how breathtaking their photos were [I wish I could see their perspective of that sunrise we shared!], but I made a point to move around and shoot the sunrise, the Grand Tetons and the barn from varying vantage points. 

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A special thanks to my mom for photographing me photographing things! We did grab a couple selfies with the Tetons, which is another item I recommend adding to your shot list! We had such a wonderful time sharing this moment together, and I'm thankful to have photos of our entire sunrise experience.

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If you're able to, I'd recommend coming back to this spot more than once on your trip. If I could, I'd bring my tripod on one day, and remain in a fixed position and then on a second trip, spend the entire time moving around and capturing every facet of Mormon Row. I know I'll come back here again one day, and capture this singularly beautiful landscape. 

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