Firehole Canyon, Yellowstone National Park.

For photographers, mid-day light typically means downtime, but it can also be an opportunity to learn about stop-down filters for a heavy-lit, long-exposure photo, when light seems too harsh to manage well. Our plan was to spend the morning on the Firehole and then move to the Gibbon for the prime light of late afternoon; this photo was taken in the middle of the day. A LEE 10-stop filter combined with a LEE .6ND graduated filter allowed enough light to fill in a balance between highlights and shadows, and enough time to create the bleeds of whitewater. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone with techniques and equipment takes time, but the reward is learning something new and maybe getting a great shot when you least expect it.