Not only did we actually have an autumn this year, but I actually photographed it

fall_barn_43937-9_hdrIn several years past the leaves have fallen from the trees so quickly that there hasn’t been much opportunity for photography.  2016 will not count as one of those years.  While I’ve been beyond busy lately, I did manage to take a couple of trips roaming around and pointing my cameras at some of the fall colors.


fall_barn_43907-9_hdrAnyone know a good roofer?  I’ve found some gaps.


fall_bridge_44099-101_hdrIt wouldn’t be fall without a walk down the trolley tracks.  There were a few portrait photographers utilizing the bridges that morning.


fall_trolley_tracks_43961-3_hdrI used to play on these tracks and bridges as a kid.  That’s why I had Poison Ivy so many times.  These days I just get one little spot, and that’s it.  I guess I built up a tolerance.


churchtown_43836-8_hdrNaturally I had to chase down one of my favorite former country churches.  This one still receives plenty of TLC.


churchtown_43943-5_hdrThe first day was cloudy, so I went back for some blue sky.  I can’t decide which I like better.

I have some other fall photos too, but it’s a busy morning – so I’ll have to stop there for now.

If Morton County had a Joshua Tree, this might be it

tree_n_bale_40335My “stranded on a deserted island” album is Joshua Tree, which you can now get on vinyl again at Walmart.  Strange.  Every time I see a tree like this, half yucca and half bonsai in its appearance, I think of the imagery of Joshua Tree National Park.  Of course, we have our own species of flora and not a whole lot of desert, and this shot throws in a hay bale for good measure to give the photo that North Dakota flavor.

A hard shot to get

flax_field_40493I didn’t realize that flax blooms for such a short time!  Thankfully I happened upon this field at the right time.  A couple of days later all the blue was gone.  Apparently the flowers only last for a day.  Even though each flax plant makes many flowers, I guess these fields are only visible for a fleeting moment each season.

Hard to consider them “Badlands” when they look like this in the morning



I understand that traversing this region in a horse-drawn wagon during any number of inclement North Dakota weather situations could lead one to term the Badlands as such, but in this era of modern convenience I can only conjure words such as beautiful, breathtaking, and the like.  At no time is that more evident than at sunrise or sunset, of course.





One other thing: critters.  That word may seem too diminutive for something as enormous as a North American Bison, but what the heck.  Thankfully they’re docile and don’t mind photographers.  I choose to use a long telephoto lens for my bison shots, thank you very much.



The herd is always on the move, and during this particular shot we got that lesson in frightening fashion.  While snapping away with the telephoto and allowing myself to get too wrapped up in the action, I pulled my eye away from the viewfinder to discover that the herd had all but enveloped our immediate area – car and all.  We hopped in the vehicle and made a slow, steady retreat.



I’m a city kid, so I don’t understand horses…other than that they are special, empathetic creatures.  I followed a couple of packs of wild horses and watched them interact.  Once they realized I wasn’t advancing on them, they got back to doin’ their lazy horse thang, and it was calming to watch them at leisure and play.

I am still busy with “new homeowner” stuff, but would like to get a couple of Badlands trips in yet this year.  You can bet that I’ll share the fruits of such journeying should my wish come to pass.

South Unit overlook

wind_canyon_35576_hdrI got to cross one more location off my photography wish list, sort of, as I took my family to the Medora Musical a couple of weekends ago.  One place I wanted to scout for a future “dark-to-dark” photography day was the Wind Canyon Overlook at the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It was everything I expected, but even more challenging to photograph.


wind_canyon_ip_7025Click for larger image

I took a quick panorma with my mobile device and scouted out some other potential locations for the future.  I’d like to catch this location at pre-dawn, sunrise, sunset, and at night.  A friend and I are scheming to make that happen yet this fall…we’ll see how that actually works out.

I’ll never run out of things to photograph in Bismarck-Mandan, or North Dakota in general.  Time, however, is another issue.  But I had little boys who loved to grab one of my spare cameras and photograph prairie dogs and bison with a 300mm lens, so I intend to make more trips as soon as we get more settled into our new house.

Broken connection #6

Looks like the end of an era along this stretch of road near Regan. These wires have actually been disconnected for a while, but this is the best opportunity I have had to stop and get the right photo of them. The sun, sky, and green fields were all in perfect form for this shot, and I was there on one of the motorcycles with a camera to take advantage of the good fortune!

Here’s one for you: even those these lines have clearly been in place long enough to perform their intended service to the point of becoming obsolete, there are still federal subsidy programs in place from the 1930s to provide telephone and electric connections to rural areas. Once a federal program like that comes to life, look out: you’re probably going to pay for it forever.

Right place, right time

My friend Ken and I were out bouncing my truck around the back roads and trails in search of a couple of old farmsteads to explore with our cameras. As usual, many other opportunities presented themselves along the way. Case in point: this lovely vista along a section line road just after sunrise.

There’s so much color in the sky around sunrise and sunset, adding a special touch to an otherwise unremarkable scene. Everything takes on such a unique vibrance during that Golden Hour light, and it’s great when that happens with something photogenic nearby…and a great friend to share the experience.

Just playin’

In February I posted this photo of some old bridge pilings sticking out of the ice southwest of Mandan. I liked the lines of the sky and progression of the height of the wood protruding from the ice, as well as the color. This was shot as part of a monthly photo contest themed “shadows.” Shortly thereafter I decided to play around and came up with a couple of alternate versions.

First, I thought I could better illustrate the shadows by converting to black and white. That made the sky look empty between the horizon and clouds so, in an effort to focus the eye more on the shadows of those wooden pilings, I decided to crop it to landscape proportions. It also allowed me to capitalize on the apparent emptiness of the distant sky.

Then, to illustrate the cold of the ice a little more, I put a 12% blue overlay on it. I almost think that I was a bit too heavy-handed with the blue, since I’m going for a subtle effect, but here it is. While I maintain the bleak black and white look of the photo overall, I think it helps make the ice look even cooler than its surroundings. If not, it still allows the ice to stand apart from the rest of the photo.

Photography doesn’t end once the shutter is clicked, or even once the photos are processed. Any photo can be revisited and cropped, processed, colored, or even manipulated in countless ways. That’s part of the appeal for me. While I save the “manipulation” part for a select few photos, it is occasionally fun…as long as it’s used stylistically and not deceptively. Photoshop is easily as fun as photography itself.

Melange and malady

At last – some snow! It’s a couple feet less than I prefer, having grown up in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, but it’s a start. Of course, I set things in motion when I took my snowblower in for a tune-up…but this isn’t even enough to bother with it. I have a little boy who LOVES to shovel snow, so we turned him loose instead.

I managed to capture this incongruous mixture of random rural elements while out on some remote gravel road, as usual. This particular photo is actually from quite a while back; I spent most of my weekend unconscious while trying to sleep some sort of cold/flu/sinus malady instead of outside with the cameras.

I sure was excited for the Northern Lights which resulted from a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun over the weekend – but of course it was cloudy! I actually don’t mind that so much, since my ailment had me bedridden (or couch-ridden) anyway. If conditions had been right overhead and I’d missed the event due to illness, I’d have been plenty frustrated!

Here’s to the start of another great week.

Deer crossing

I took place in a photo shoot at Double Ditch a couple of days ago and saw something interesting as packed up and departed. Can you see it in this shot? Out on the ice? Of course not…I couldn’t, either – and I was there!

It wasn’t until we were almost back on the highway that we spotted these two deer bolting across the river on the ice. We stopped for a second so I could grab my biggest telephoto lens and snap a quick shot.

These two critters slowed down and walked very tentatively across the shore ice. I didn’t stay more than a few seconds so I don’t know if they made it without breaking through. I suspect they may have bolted across because of a pair of coyotes we saw out on the ice earlier. Neither are something you’d expect to see while out along the river on a nice, sunny afternoon!