Jackson Hole – It Never Disappoints!

I recently returned from a backpacking trip in Yellowstone National Park, a trip in which my group never saw the sun and was constantly wet.  Heck, it was the last week of August and one night the snow line came within a few hundred vertical feet of our camp!  With the weather making things such a struggle to stay dry and warm, it was a real challenge to get out and take great pictures.  Don’t get me wrong, I am busy editing a bunch of photos that I did take in Yellowstone, I just wasn’t as successful as I had hoped to be.

Personal expectations aside, I did manage a few great images on the morning of my last day of vacation.  I had just dropped my travel companions off at the Jackson Hole airport and was heading north towards Togwotee Pass and on towards home in Casper, Wyoming when I noticed the storm clouds start to part and barely reveal glimpses of the Teton Range off to the west.  I thought the moment was right just as I was pulling up to the start of a construction zone.  I pulled off the road onto the shoulder and jumped out of my truck to get a few images as the clouds lifted off the mountains.  I got a tongue lashing from the flagger for exiting my truck at the start of a construction zone, but after a week of frustrating and lack luster photography conditions, I was fine with taking the abuse in order to capture a special moment in an incredible mountain setting.

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Spearfish Canyon – Black Hills, South Dakota

I spent Memorial Day weekend this year in the northern Black Hills in western South Dakota.  The weekend was mostly a mini family reunion; so, that meant drink coffee, eat, chit chat, repeat.  However, Nancy of Prairie View Imagery and I did find time to hit up a few of the highlights of Spearfish Canyon.  Even though I was raised in South Dakota, I have not spent much time in the Black Hills, but Nancy was an excellent guide!  Sadly, with the cold and rainy spring, even though it was the end of May, few trees had budded out and had leaves.  At least the above average snow in the winter accompanied by the spring rains meant more water flowing through the canyon and over the waterfalls!  I thought Spearfish Falls were especially picturesque.

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Yellowstone National Park – A Look at the Geyser Basins

Yellowstone National Park…I currently own five maps that cover the topography and trails of the entire park.  Yet, I have never been in the Yellowstone backcountry.  In fact, I have only visited Yellowstone once.  Even though I have moved to Wyoming, the park’s closest entrance is still a four and a half hour drive from my home in Casper.  Even with the long drive, I plan to visit America’s first National Park many times to come; in fact, I’ve officially booked a four day backpacking trip into its backcountry this August!

Until August, all I can do is look at my earlier images from the park and dream of what sites are to come.  I’m so excited, I had to share a few…

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Tensleep Creek – Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming

After spending last summer working in southern Florida, I’ve been itching for months now to get out and camp in the mountains.  Last weekend, after nearly a year and a half break from camping in the mountains, I headed up to the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming.  Not only was this trip my first camping trip of the summer, but was the first time I’ve ever camped in the Bighorn Range.  After an above average snow year, I was not able to penetrate very deep into the mountains, but still found a great camping spot in a massive meadow along Tensleep Creek.

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I got into the mountains later than I had hoped and had little time to set up camp and then get out and shoot sunset.  I was only able to get off a handful of quick pictures before darkness set in.  If I would have known it would have been my only colorful sunrise or sunset of the weekend, I may have hustled more to get out of Casper earlier!  I woke up Saturday morning to an inch or so on the ground!  While the sunrise was pretty much non-existent due to the cloud cover, I still had fun running around taking pictures before the snow melted off.

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An uncommon occurrence in Wyoming, there was little wind on Saturday morning.  I took advantage of the lack of wind and enjoyed the reflections of the mountains in the ample pools melt water.

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Even without the high peaks of the Bighorns in view, incredible views still abound.  After my morning photography exploration, I set off on a hike up to East Tensleep Lake.  I was surprised to find that even though the lake sits around 9700′, about three feet of still still holds on in the forests surrounding the lake!  I guess it will still be some time before I press into the high country!

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After hiking to East Tensleep Lake, I ended up enjoying a nap in my tent while another small snow storm blew through.  At this point, I was wondering if it was really mid-June or was it actually mid-May.  The storm did pass and I was able to head back out in time to shoot sunset and then later, the full moon; but, I will share those images another day.

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I’m Seeing Double, Triple, and More

Let me start by saying I don’t use Photoshop very often.  Probably like most photographers, I prefer be taking pictures and pretty much loath organizing and editing them on my computer.  However, Photoshop is a wonderful tool that can really extend a photographer’s creative vision.  Last weekend, I spent a lazy day on the couch and learned how to combine multiple photos into a single frame; and in doing so, created an action sequence.  I’ve done it here with skiing action, but the technique could be used for all different types of action sports and even wildlife.  Anyway, I learned something new and it has me seeing doubles, triples, and more!

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Categories: Photoshop, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Prairie Silhouettes – Stanley County, SD

Cows are anything but sexy, so thinking of them as a good photography model or subject would probably be considered a bit odd.  I must say, my opinion of cows is probably less romantic than the average person.  After spending six years of my youth working on a large scale dairy farm, I’ve lost nearly all interest in spending my free time around these big and smelly animals.  I have no illusion of how “cute” baby calves are and how much “fun” it would be to feed and take care of them.  Spoiler alert: when you have over one hundred calves to feed twice daily, seven days a week, the “fun” runs out in a hurry!

Despite my current lack of interest in bovine, cows are not difficult to spot on the great plains and a lot of areas in the American West.  After all, much of the landscape has been modified by man in order to raise cattle.  Indeed, they are an important food resource and without them the world would be a less tasty place!  Can you imagine the world without ribeye steak or a good beef roast with mashed potatoes and gravy?!?

This weekend I went for a drive down the Bad River Road outside Pierre, South Dakota.  After driving around for an hour or so, I was confronted with a beautifully colored sunset but the majority of the landscape was still nothing but short, brown, and wholly uninspiring grass, I turned my attention to these large four legged residents of  the expansive ranch land and said to a herd of cows, “You will be my models tonight!”  Well, cows are not sexy, but it turns out they can still look good in a picture!

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Casper Mountain Road – Casper, WY

The other week, as a spring storm cleared out of town, I ran up the Casper Mountain Road to try to get a few shots of the fresh snow.  The snow was really wet and heavy down in Casper, but up the mountain, I was surprised by how light the snow was and also that all the trees were covered in frost!  The sunset wasn’t all that bad either…  🙂

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Backcountry Skiing in the West Elks – Colorado

I may have moved to Wyoming, but I still have a lot of ties back in Colorado; ties to friends and also ties to the mountains.  I am especially fond of the West Elks and particularly the Ragged Mountains, a sub range of the Elk Mountains.  The Elks are the same mountains that surround the popular ski town of Aspen, Colorado, but the West Elks are much less traveled.

It was in the West Elks where I went backpacking solo for the first time and also where I fell in love with backcountry skiing.  The tiny town of Marble is an incredible place; buried in the mountains and bordering wilderness areas on three sides, the scenery around this town with population of less than 100 will likely never change.  Also, the quarry that supplied marble for the columns of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial came from this secluded corner of the Rocky Mountains.

Last weekend, a couple for friends and I drove up the road to the quarry to access some of the best backcountry skiing terrain I’ve ever explored.  Powder hunting was my primary objective, but I did stick my small Canon mirrorless camera in my backpack to snap a few shots along the way…

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Mika the husky surveys the scenery as Lee pauses just before topping out on our goal for the day.

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It is hard to get a good look at your line below with cornices blocking the view.  Still, the more distant views aren’t anything to complain about!

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Cornices?  What cornices?  Mika isn’t concerned about approaching the edge and getting a better view!

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It’s a long and steep trip up from the valley floor.  The only way to get to the top is by putting one foot in front of the other; Jason is busy doing so in fine style as he nears the last pitch of uphill.

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Lee drops in along a steep ridge while Mount Justice looms in the distance.

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Lower in the bowl and out of the steepest terrain, Lee lets loose and makes big and fast turns down the mountain.

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After Lee enjoyed his run down the mountain, Jason dropped in and enjoyed the untracked powder snow.

I absolutely enjoy Wyoming, but to be plain and simple, I miss this special place…

 

Categories: Nature, Skiing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Addicted to Photographing the Sun

Reviewing my images lately, I’ve noticed I’m getting addicted to shooting directly into the sun.  At least for me, including a celestial body in an image, whether it is the sun or the moon, adds additional interest and keeps me examining an image longer than I would have if it were not there.  In fact, when reviewing my all time favorite images, well over a third of them include either the sun or the moon!  If you follow my photography but had not noticed this trend, scroll on down!

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I’ve found it is easiest to shoot the sun when it is still very low on the horizon.  In fact, so low that part of the sun is still below the horizon.  The sun is so bright, that even if only a part of the sun is above the horizon, it is plenty bright and can present a challenge to obtaining a proper exposure.  But, thanks to the digital revolution, there is no waste; I just shoot and shoot and shoot until I get an exposure I like!

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Although the middle two images in this post are from Grand Teton National Park, I took the first image a short drive outside Casper, Wyoming. I took the last image (below) outside my childhood hometown of Pierre, South Dakota.  If you pay attention, you can find incredible landscapes right out the back door of pretty much anywhere.

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When looking at all these images, I can’t help but remember the mad dash to get a picture pulled together before the sun rose (or set) from the horizon.  Even though I am reminded of my stress when I took the photo, hopefully you are reminded of the beauty in nature that is all around us.

Thanks for stopping in and having a quick peak!

 

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Favorites Images from 2011

In 2011, I spent a significant portion of the year working in the San Luis Valley around  Alamosa in Southern Colorado and quite a few of my images reflect my time spent in that area of the state.  However, I continued to explore the wild spaces around “home” in the central mountains of Colorado.  It seems every time I go hiking in the wilderness that is right outside my backyard, I see more spots off the beaten track that I want to explore.  Just the mountains of Central Colorado could keep a hiker busy for a lifetime, not to mention all the other backpacking opportunities that abound in the American West!  I typically shoot landscapes, but I included a few images of backcountry skiing and snowboarding.  The majority of my skiing in 2011 year was around the Wolf Creek Pass area on the Eastern side of the San Juan Mountains but I did make it over to Silverton where the mountains are so big and rugged I imagined I had been somehow magically transported to Alaska!

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Aspen Porch – Aspen, Colorado

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Mt. Blanca Star Trails – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon and Wind – Sanford, Colorado

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Couloir Skiing – Silverton Mountain, Colorado

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Rime Trees – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Self Portrait – Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

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Horse Portrait – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Horse Pasture – San Luis Valley, Colorado

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Moon Rocks – Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

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San Luis Sunflowers – Outside Sanford, Colorado

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Clearing Storm – San Luis Valley, Colorado


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