As a child, I loved puzzles. It didn’t matter what type of puzzle (a wooden cube, a plastic maze, entwined metal pieces or a jigsaw puzzle), I was always thrilled to receive one as a gift. It was my goal to figure it out as soon as possible, even if that meant staring a pieces for hours (which rarely happened). I seemed to have a knack for puzzles.

On our annual family vacation to Maine there was always a jigsaw puzzle dumped on a table at the start of our stay. I have fond memories of the hours my Dad and I and my sister (Kris) spent putting together our prize. We’d work late into the night and all day on a rainy day.  We never failed to complete one, and on some vacations we did two or three.

Grand Teton Disappointment

After our first morning shoot at the Grand Teton National Park, we were a tad disappointed. There were no clouds and thus, the sky did not light up with brilliant colors. The photos were nice, but not award winners. This continued throughout our stay. We shot the mountains from sunrise to sunset as well as in various weather conditions. In a span of just a few hours, we saw the skies change from cloudless blue to stormy grey. We experienced thunderstorms, fog and filtered sunshine along with the start of the wild flower season. Beautiful scenery, just not quite what we hoped.


It was only when I looked back through at the photos, that it clicked. The photos may not be award winners, but they were jigsaw puzzle perfect.

So I got to thinking, what makes a photo puzzle-worthy? For the Sklenak household on vacation, the puzzle image had to have the following:

  1. A beautiful scene. Landscapes were best, especially if it were either a place we wanted to visit (e.g., the Swiss Alps) or a place we’d been (e.g., the Grand Canyon). I especially enjoyed scenes with water and boats and or reflections. To me, they were twice as challenging and I was always up for the challenge.
  2. A scene full of color. I can’t imagine doing 1000 piece puzzle in black and white, can you?
  3. An image rich with details. The image needed to have variations in color and content. The more detail it had in elements like trees, leaves, water, reflections, and mountains, the better it was. It also made it easier to sort the puzzle pieces and work on smaller sections. If it had lots of detail, it made it more complex and again more of a challenge as well. I didn’t want to do easy puzzles.
  4. A puzzle worth keeping. Lastly, I wanted the puzzle to be worth saving. Something, that if I really liked it, I could use that puzzle glue and hang it on the wall.  I never did this, but after putting in all that time to complete the puzzle, I always wanted this option.  

Here’s a few of the images. Let me know what you think. Do these photos fit into the perfect puzzle category?

I love the perfect reflections on this photo, the purple predawn hue, and the hint of red in the trees to the right. This puzzle would definitely be a keeper after assembly.

What do you think the pronghorn was thinking about? Perhaps the majesty of the Tetons? (photo by Jeff)

We were hoping for spectacular colors at sunrise, but instead we had beautiful still reflections, and a scene that looked as if the mountains were floating in the clouds

Very challenging, but perhaps, too many clouds?

A great view from behind our cabin.

A cloudless sunrise, but a beautiful reflection. 

Stormy skies with hints of sunset color. This is almost the same scene as a above, but with clouds added.

And remember, it is all about the light.



Enjoying the beauty of a cold, spring day in the Tetons.