Cold Night on the Yellowstone

Jake Mosher won first place in the National Wildlife Federation’s landscape and plants photo competition for the photo depicted above.

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Montana landscapes can win you awards if you know how to capture them properly.

Jake Mosher, 48, took advantage of the Absaroka Mountains and the Paradise Valley early one morning in March 2019.

He set out with his camera and captured an image of the Milky Way — going from pink and orange to a cold blue — above the mountains. Fog in the photo accentuates trees in front of the range, and a slow shutter shows movement from the passing Yellowstone River in the foreground of the image.

The photo, “Cold Night on the Yellowstone,” won first place in The National Wildlife Federation’s landscape and plants category, and is featured on the organization’s website. Mosher’s photo was selected out of nearly 29,800 images submitted for the conservation organization’s photo competition.

Mosher, a former explosives engineer who ran a blasting program at a mine in eastern Montana, has been doing landscape photography full-time for the past three years. He said he’s always appreciated the outdoors and capturing it, and that the honor is a “pinnacle award for a photographer.”

“It’s some validation that people are noticing,” Mosher said, “and hopefully it makes a difference in how people view the world around us.”

Mosher grew up in northern Vermont but has lived in Montana for 25 years. He said photography has been a great way for him to combine several of his interests including arts, the West and the wild.

The photo was taken near Emigrant. Mosher said he chose that image to enter into the contest because it was the closest to what he saw that cold March morning along the Yellowstone River.

“It’s just one of those scenes,” he said, “being at the right place at the right time and having everything come together.”

Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.