When you visit Yellowstone, you're visiting the closest thing we have in the U.S. to a wildlife safari. Driving down the road you can see bison, grizzly, elk, coyote, fox ... and if you're extraordinarily lucky, wolves. Photographer Donald Quintana was just this lucky on his last trip to Yellowstone earlier this month. Here is his story behind the shot:
"Wolf Watchers lined both sides of the road leading to the Lamar valley through the area called Little America in the upper part of Yellowstone National Park. Spotting scopes pointed up towards Specimen Ridge, they focused on tiny little salt and pepper spots moving about. With great excitement in their voices, they shared the fact that these were the wolves of the Junction Butte Pack. Much too far for even the largest of our lenses, we drove past knowing that the chances of seeing a Wolf up close would be based on chance, luck and just being in the right place at the right time.
"We’d driven about a quarter of a mile past all the wolf watcher activity, when a member of our vehicle reported seeing a small figure briefly running through the sagebrush behind a small hill. As coyotes were prevalent throughout our adventure our mind shifted in that direction. Then, as if in unison, the entire car screamed out 'WOLF!' Not more than 30 feet in front of our vehicle a lone wolf, that is called Twin, began to amble across in front of us.
"In all of the excitement, one of the photographers in the car quickly jumped out of the vehicle and the game was afoot. It was now or never, the rest of us began to pour from the vehicle as well, everyone except me. I was tangled in a mass of camera straps and seat belt unable to budge from the drivers seat. Panicking, I was going to miss my opportunity to get a photo of this beautiful animal as it quickly moved away from us. Finally after a great struggle, I was free of my constraints; I could hear the others photographer’s shutters exploding. My only chance was to hop out, stand on the running board, and shoot across the top of the vehicle. Everything up to this point was the rear end of the wolf as it jogged farther away. Not the best photo angle, but a wolf butt is still a wolf, so shutters were firing.
"My lens and camera combination were the new Canon 7D Mark II, EF 500mm and 2x Teleconverter. Since the wolf had moved a considerable distance from us, I believe this was a winning combination. As I locked focus on his posterior, he stopped, turned around and gave one last glance back. I shifted focus to his eyes, and fired away. Then as quickly as he had appeared, he faded into the sagebrush. Had I gotten my shot? My fingers crossed, I decided to wait to look at the image until I arrived home."