Posts Tagged Montana

Caught in the Act!

I took a hike today down by the Yellowstone River. Under a highway bridge I found some interesting icicles. The photo conditions weren’t very conducive to photography, but when I noticed there was water dripping off the icicles, I decided I had to try to capture a drop.

After several tries, I guess I got my timing OK. While it would have been better to have a faster shutter speed, the drop was changing shape as it fell, so the squashing is probably pretty natural.

Here it is (click on the image to enlarge):

Icicle

Icicle caught in mid-drip, Yellowstone River, Billings, Montana.

 

A little way down the trail, I met a woman who expressed some disappointment that she couldn’t find any Cedar Waxwings. All I had seen so far was a Magpie, so I wished her well and headed back to the car. Soon I was in the middle of a flock of Waxwings. Here’s one:

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Quite a handsome bird!

Moret to follow,

Bob

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Birds at the Zoo

There are interesting birds at Zoo Montana, too. The first one we encounter is a bald eagle (actually two of them). When I first came in, neither felt like posing. One hid behind a rock and the other was nowhere to be seen. As I was leaving the park, I decided to check one last time, just in case. That was a good decision. I found an eagle perched in a very good location. He seemed to be giving me the skunk eye in one of the images below, but I don’t blame him. If anyone tried to take a picture of me, I’d probably do the same.

Here’s the stern look from the eagle (click on the images to see them full size and with proper color):

 

Bald Eagle portrait 1

Bald Eagle portrait 1

 

I guess he decided it was OK for me to take photos, because he started to strike a few poses. This profile is one I particularly like:

 

Bald Eagle profile

Bald Eagle profile

 

Well, the bald eagle is a beautiful bird (even thought Ben Franklin didn’t like them too much), but there are others that aren’t native to the Americas that are awfully pretty, too. I caught this guy looking something like a teenage boy strutting his stuff:

 

Peacock

Peacock

 

I think I really like my new Sigma lens. All the zoo photos were taken with it and it seems to work just fine.

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

I got a new lens last week. I had read quite a while back about the Sigma Contemporary 150 – 600 mm lens. 600 mm is a good length for taking pictures of critters and birds that don’t necessarily want their pictures taken. And the lens looked like it would be a good choice, so I ordered one. It finally came last week. I got the first one shipped west of the Mississippi, according to the dealer. I was going to wait until the weekend to test the lens, but once I got home and read through the instructions, I thought I’d better make sure it worked. It did.

My first image was a portrait of Sparky, my furry, fat cat. I used flash on this one, and it worked out just fine, I think (click to see full size and proper color).

 

Sparky

Sparky

 

Sparky is a handsome fellow, but a rather small subject. I bought the lens in hopes of catching a little bigger wildlife. With that in mind, I went to Zoo Montana, Billings’ own small zoo. They’ve got a few cats there, too. This one seemed to be pretty photogenic and willing to give me a nice profile as well as an environmental portrait.

 

Tiger profile

Tiger profile

 

A little while later he seemed to be looking for something. I thought this got a rather nice view of his environment:

 

Tiger portrait

Tiger portrait

 

Lots of pretty kitties in town.

More to follow

Bob

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Western Wildlife

As I entered Yellowstone and went through Mammoth Village, I encountered a lot of traffic. Of course, I knew right away what was happening. The elk herd was on the move. I found a parking place and grabbed the camera with a 300 mm lens. There was a young woman in a ranger uniform nearby and between her shouted exhortations for drivers to move on and not stop in the middle of the road and to stay away from the elk, I struck up a conversation with her. It wasn’t very in-depth, but I think she appreciated the fact that I agreed to get back in the car if he moved our way, so she answered couple questions. Like, why was he wearing the laurel crown? He looked kind of like an elven prince from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and seemed to think he was quite handsome. She said she’d never seen anything like that, but that he’d been scratching the antlers in a tree and the leaves just kind of came along. He didn’t seem to mind. He was more concerned about the cars, charging one every once in a while to show he was ready to defend his harem. Here’s what he looked like:

 

Bull elk, Mammoth Village

Bull elk, Mammoth Village

 

Another kind of wildlife presents itself at Beartooth Pass. There’s a rest area about 2/3 of the way up the pass and along with a bevy of pit toilets, there’s a spectacular view for the adults and entertainment for the kids. I can’t guess how many people feed these gophers (or chipmunks or pot guts or whatever they’re called), but it must be a lot. Including yours truly. A girl, about ten or so seemed to feel sorry for me that all I had was a camera, so she came up and gave me some sunflower seeds to feed the critters with. I thanked her kindly and then, of course, fed the beasts because I didn’t want to disappoint the young lady. This one held still long enough to get a good portrait.

 

Gopher, Beartooth Pass

Gopher, Beartooth Pass

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Back to Yellowstone

There’s so much to see in Yellowstone that a day trip simply isn’t enough. Along with the images I shared the other day, there’s more.

The icon of Yellowstone is probably Old Faithful geyser. It goes off on a pretty regular schedule. I got to the parking lot and walked toward the viewing area. There were a whole lot of people there, so I figured it would go off pretty soon. After about ten minutes, there it went! An earthquake several years ago extended the time between eruptions and cut down a little on the volume of water that goes out with each event, but it’s still awfully spectacular. As I photographed the event, I was thinking Black and White. I think it was the right choice. (Don’t forget to click on the thumbnails.)

 

Old Faithful showing off

Old Faithful showing off

 

On the way back down to Gardiner, I stopped at the Gibbon Falls. You might remember the image I showed you last week of the Gibbon River. That’s a few miles upstream from the falls. The sunlight was direct and harsh, so I thought doing a high-dynamic range image would be a good idea. The direct light highlights and the dark shadows were much more than the camera could capture properly, so an HDR seemed to be a good idea. I think it was. Here’s the shot:

 

Gibbon Falls

Gibbon Falls

 

I’ll share a little wildlife with you next time.

More to follow,

Bob

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It Was a Dark, But Not Stormy, Night

When I got to Yellowstone last week, there were predictions that we just might get to see some Northern Lights way down south because of a big Class X flare on the sun. I went out to a dark location in the park to see if I could spot some.

Well, it got good and dark and cool after the summer heat, but I didn’t see any aurora. First, I was out too early, then the moon came up and even at half phase it lit up the sky pretty good. That’s always a challenge for getting a good look at aurorae, so I headed back to my warm motel room.

Next day I drove into the park and gawked around for a while. The road goes along the Gibbon River, so I thought that might make for a nice scenic shot. It did. What you see is the result of the high-dynamic range (HDR) process. HDR has been pretty controversial, although it’s now getting recognized as a valid way to fiddle with photos. Early HDRs were very contrasty and the colors were over saturated, so I didn’t do many in the ‘early days.’ Lately, the process has become more predictable and useful, so I decided to try it with this scene. Worked out just fine.

Here’s a look at the Milky Way from Yellowstone. Looks pretty much the same anywhere in North America, I guess, but the high altitude might have made for clearer skies. They definitely were darker! (As always, click the thumbnails to see the images at the right size and with proper color.)

 

Milky Way, Yellowstone, NP

Milky Way, Yellowstone, NP

 

And here’s a look at the Gibbon River.

 

Gibbon River, Yellowstone NP

Gibbon River, Yellowstone NP

 

I’ll share a few more from Yellowstone in the next few days.

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Well, That’s Crazy

I went to Yellowstone this weekend. On the way back, I stopped to look at the Crazy Mountains just in case there was some autumn color starting up. I didn’t see any of that, but did see a nice panorama that I thought I’d share with you.

This is actually seven images stitched together in Photoshop then minority tweaked after the stitching. I think it came out pretty well and thought I’d share it with you.

Don’t forget to click on the thumbnail to see the image full frame (it may not fit entirely on smaller monitors, but you can scan back and forth to see the full image).

 

Crazy Mountains Panorama

Crazy Mountains Panorama

 

I”ll share some of my images of Yellowstone as the week goes on, so be sure to check back.

More to follow,

Bob

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Where I live Redux

I’ve been kind of behind the times with my posts and I apologize for that. I thought today I should share with you a little more about where I live.

I went up to Beartooth Pass on the Montana-Wyoming border this morning. I used to live in Wyoming and love the state and live in Montana now, so it makes sense to shoot along the border.

A bonus was I got to walk in some fresh snow. Those of you who know me well know I hate summer, love autumn and winter, and really enjoy spring. Today made me feel like Autumn couldn’t be far off.

Here are a couple images from today. They’re actually the same image, just processed differently. They’re seven-shot panoramas, which means I took seven photos and then let Photoshop merge them into one huge file. I quite like the color one, but can’t pass up an opportunity to convert them to black-and-white whenever I think the image will work that way. You can look and decide (click on the thumbnails to see them in their full glory).

 

Beartooth Pass Panorama (The files are really big, so it might take a while to download when you click on them).

 

Beartooth pano in color

Beartooth pano in color

 

Beartooth pano B&W

Beartooth pano B&W

 

Shot some more that I’ll try to get uploaded this week.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Jewel is in the Lotus

When we were at the zoo a couple weeks ago, we came across a pond of water lilies. Lotus if you will. The lotus has a lot of meaning to Eastern religions. The Lord Buddha sits on a Lotus Throne. The flower is so complex that it requires a lot of contemplation. It’s very symbolic because its roots are in the mud, yet a beautiful flower is the end result. The Jewel is in the Lotus. That’s the basic meaning, as I’ve been told, of the Mani mantra: Om Mani Pedmé Hung. I’ve read that this is the favorite mantra of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet. When one chants that mantra, one is supposed to realize that no matter what his or her origins are, the potential for inner beauty is there. Our true nature is not in the mud but in the realization of beauty. Not a bad thought to carry around.

Here are the lotus I found in good old Billings. The backlighting was a challenge, but I think Lightroom helped me control it (click on the thumbnails):

 

 

The Jewel is in the Lotus

The Jewel is in the Lotus

 

And the true nature of the lotus may be as a Black & White image. Who knew?

Pink lotus

Pink lotus

 

I’d better go meditate for a while.

More to follow.

Bob

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Brought to you in Glorious Monochrome!

Well, you know me. Still trying to make a good Black & White image. I’m showing improvement and some of the images I’ve done lately I’m pretty happy with. It’s funny how I can be looking at a brilliant green scene and see monochrome written all over it. I guess that’s my preference, so I lean that way. I’ve been up in the canyons lately and have done a lot of wildflower photography. And I’ve noticed the non-floral scenery. While I still can’t understand mountains and trees as well as I can the desert, I think I’m getting there.

Here are some monochrome scenes I’ve seen lately (as always, click on the image to see them full size and with the right color. Oh, no color this time):

 

Here’s my boy Gandalf, The Gray Cat. He was sitting thinking about the birds at the feeder, so he held still for a while. Not a bad portrait.

 

Gandalf the Gray Cat

Gandalf the Gray Cat

 

This False Hellebore or California Corn Lily (I’ve been told) just called to me, saying, “Monochrome.” It was right.

False Hellebore

False Hellebore

 

And these are, to all intents and purposes, weeds. I don’t have a clue what family they belong to, so I’ll take the lazy way out on the naming.

Weeds, Big Timber Canyon

Weeds, Big Timber Canyon

 

I’ll keep working in this old-timey mode, I think.

 

More to follow.

Bob

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