Generally an inhabitant of the unseen world, Troy Powell can disappear on the landscape. Like a ghost, he slips into his target area with all his gear before sunrise without spooking his quarry. …
Generally an inhabitant of the unseen world, Troy Powell can disappear on the landscape. Like a ghost, he slips into his target area with all his gear before sunrise without spooking his quarry. Dressed in a ghillie suit, most never know he was there.
There was a time when Powell brought a weapon, but he found the moments of excitement before pulling the trigger lasted but a brief moment. Powell is an accomplished Wyoming hunter. The Powell resident uses that experience now in much the same way, but he’s traded his weapon for fast glass and his trigger is the shutter release on his Nikon.
Immediately after taking a shot with his rifle, the work of harvesting prey for transportation out of the wilderness dulls the excitement of the moment. All that remains of the intimate view of wildlife are fleeting memories of a limited view through the scope and the smell of powder.
Now his moments last a lifetime, permanently captured for all to see. His beautiful photographic images are enduring and his trophies live to be captured “on film” another day.
“Photography allows you to still have the trophy,” he said. “It’s just not a head on the wall.”
The self-trained wildlife photographer took three awards in the annual Wyoming Wildlife photo competition. He won first place and an honorable mention for photographs of birds — his favorite subjects — and another honorable mention for a photo of a majestic bull elk.
Powell started making the transition in 2015. Some life events aren’t worthy of celebration, but in this case he finally had enough personal time to go back to the hobby he loved as a kid at Cody High School. Unlike the often underfunded whims of youth, this time he had the resources to purchase much needed equipment.
That’s not to say equipment makes the photographer. Lenses and cameras, as expensive and technologically advanced as they are, mean little without putting in the work.
“Light is everything,” Powell preaches.
When many are just arriving with cameras in hand, Powell is already on his way home. He prefers early morning hours over sunsets. The wildlands come to life at the break of day and Powell is determined to be there waiting in the shadows with camera in hand.
He rarely travels to Yellowstone National Park. When he’s there, he’ll keep driving when others are jamming the roads to see a predator near the road.
“I don’t even get out of the vehicle,” he said.
He doesn’t want to photograph what everyone else is seeing. He wants his photographs to be of special moments only possible when his subjects believe they are alone. He is largely a mystery in the Park County photo community, often making the best photographs but rarely making an appearance. He even works remotely.
The winning photos weren’t his first, but this was his breakout year in the popular contest operated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. Thousands of photographs were entered with wildlife being the most competitive category. Photographers from Park County did very well overall in the competition.
In the recreation category, Powell resident Kinley Bollinger won first place with an awe-inspiring photograph of her father, Dr. Kirk Bollinger, studying a map in the peaks of the Wind River range.
“Along the 30-mile route I photographed hundreds of plants, animals and landscapes,” she told the magazine. “However, the most impactful photograph happened when I crested a ridge to find my dad taking a break on a rock and looking at the topography of the area on his trusty, paper map.”
Northwest College photographic communications professor Christine Garceau also won honorable mention in the recreation category.
Cody’s Anita Holdren won first place in the scenic category. Powell’s Cheryl Elliott and Holdren won honorable mention awards in the flora category. Cody’s Amy Gerber brought home two wildlife category honorable mention awards. Julia Cook also scored an honorable mention, as did Powell’s Rob Koelling and Clark’s Kathy Lichtendahl.
The contest is open to all photographers but the photographs must be taken in Wyoming. Savannah Rose Burgess, of Jackson, won the grand prize for a photo of a beaver called “slap shot.”