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Ghost Riders in the Sky

I recently traveled to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. This awe inspiring area is a landscape and wildlife photographer’s dream.

Yellowstone has an amazing variety of wildlife, natural beauty, rugged wilderness, majestic peaks, and abundant wildlife. More about Yellowstone during future blog posts.

Teton Mountains

In my opinion, there are few landscapes as striking and memorable as that of the Teton mountain range. To me the Tetons, with its abundance of Mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers and big skies conjures up the rich cultural history of the American old West, pioneer homesteads and cattle ranches.

While traveling along Highway 191, heading towards Jackson Hole, a song began to play on the radio. “Ghost Riders in the sky” , written by Stan Jones and performed by multiple artists, the Outlaws being my favorite. The Outlaws 1996 performance of Ghost Riders in the Sky

The song tells the story of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One of them warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever “trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies”.

Inspiration comes in many forms

The song’s powerful imagery in my mind combined with the beautiful scenery was the inspiration for creating the Ghost Rider’s composite image.

A composite image is one image made of multiple photos placed and blended together. The goal is to create a visual illusion, creating a scene that looks as though it existed but never actually did.

Creating the composite image

When creating a composite, I start with the background. I used a series of seven images taken during my visit. These were later combined in photoshop to produce this panorama of the Teton mountains.

Teton panarama
The foreground was created using a series of five photographs taken in Wyoming of the Snake River. The background and foreground were then blended in photoshop.

Foreground grassland

Back home in the studio

My first step after returning to New Jersey was to gather some props to add to the realism and feel of the image. Flea markets, and thrift stores are a wonderful source. I found this great duster at a local Good Will store, and the cowboy hat was a flea market find.

Studio cowboy

Photography can be a wonderful experience and composite images are only limited by your own imagination!  Please contact me to discuss your imagination inspired project.


About the Author

John Manna is a New York / New Jersey Metro Area based digital artist photographer who looks for inspiration in turning everyday images into whimsical works of art to be enjoy for generations to come.