Posts Tagged Wyoming

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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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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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Fall, Winter, Fall, Winter, Winter, Winter, Winter

The title of today’s blog is a sort of recap of Wyoming’s seasons. At least what we’ve had so far. It’s snowing again, and I think Winter is going to set in for good now.

Between the two or three snowstorms in September and October, the cotoneasters in the front yard got all autumny. I went out several times to do some close-up photography (most photographers, including me, generally call this macro photography, but as I understand it, that’s wrong. It’s really micro photography. But if you’re in the .1% of people who insist on being right no matter what, one can sound kind of goofy. So what I’m about to show you are macro shots). (Oh, man, I love parenthetical phrases. They’re so confusing and cool. And they make even me lose my train of thought. Here’s what I was going to say before I so rudely interrupted myself.) Every time I went to make images, Ma Nature turned on the wind machine so I couldn’t get a good image. I finally sort of snuck up on here and got these shots.

Anyway, here are a couple new autumn cotoneaster shots and one you’ve seen before, but one that is something of a victory for me. I’ll tell you more later.

I’d say fall is my favorite season, followed by winter, then spring. I hate summer with its heat, bugs and heat and humidity (in some places) and heat. No, I can’t explain why I’m drawn to the desert, which invented heat. Here is why I like autumn best:

Autumn Cotoneaster 1

Click on image to enlarge

Here’s another example.

Autumn Contoneaster 2

Click on image to enlarge

This fern has driven me nuts. I photographed it in Alaska and put it on the blog as an hommage to Ansel. After all, when I saw this image, I instantly recalled his fern and horsetail shot in, I think, Glacier National Park. I had a poster of that image until life happened and in the transition I managed to damage it. But I always liked that image. I had to emulate Ansel with this scene. When I got home I started to get the photo ready to print. I still can’t explain why, but I can tell you what went wrong. No matter what kind of B&W conversion I used, I got a color cast to the image. Kind of green. Something I hated, but that people who looked at the print said they kind of liked. Well, being the potential-customer-oriented salesman I am I ignored their comments and continued to try to get the stupid thing black-and-white. I finally got there, although I can’t tell you how and probably can’t ever replicate the process, but here is the image I came up with.

Another fernBW

Click to enlarge

Ansel did it right, starting with black-and-white film. Cheers!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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I see, I see

Well, I’ve been absent for a while for a number of reasons. First, my hard drive failed and it took a while to get it replaced. Kudos to Western Digital for being prompt and honest with the warranty replacement. I’ve not got all my fotos back alive and am ready to make new ones. But you probably already knew that.

Assuming #1 is resolved. I had a situation where the vitreous in one eye detached and tore the retina. In order to avoid a retinal detachment, I had a laser procedure last week wherein the doc basically spot welded the retina back in place. That should avoid any nasty follow-up pathology. The floaters will always be there, but the black dots that cut the light hitting my retina should dissolve. Apparently they’re red corpuscles.

So today, after following doctor’s orders and not reading or working on the computer, I got the camera out. Spent some time calibrating my lenses (one was off in its focus) and taking a few fotos of the local flora and fauna. Mostly the flora.

I wasn’t totally happy with my macro lens’ focus, but now I think I’ve got a good adjustment set up and I think this image of a little yellow flower should show that. My landlord’s grandson got sick of looking at the patch of dirt in front of my house and went crazy sowing flower seeds. It has taken since June, but I’m finally getting a couple blossoms here and there.

Here’s one:

Christian's LYF

Click on image to enlarge

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Another Round with Ma Nature

Well, Ma Nature is cooking us here in Wyoming. It was 86° when I got down from the Mountain. And, of course, she fiddled with me while I was trying to do some photography, too, so all-in-all, she’s not being very nice.

It dawned on me earlier that even with my hard drive crashed and trashed and unresponsive and dead and kind of zombie-like, that I would need to continue making photographs. Heck, if my next step doesn’t work I will have to rebuild the thousands of images I had on there. Better get after it.

So I went up to the mountains. After falling in to icy runoff from a snow field (not that dramatic, really, just got in up to my ankles), I found some flowers that seemed to need to be photographed. As is usual with Ma Nature, as I approached the flowers, the air was calm and clear. After I set up the camera, set the exposure and got ready to make the image, Ma turned on the wind machine. Never fails. Perhaps it’s to teach me patience, but that’s something I already have most of the time.

Maybe it’s just to be mean. That’s more likely: she always makes it rain when it should be clear, makes it clear when it should be raining, and she’s left the oven door open lately. grrrrr.

Anyway, here are a couple flower shots that aren’t too bad. Both flowers are on stems from the same plant, but as you’ll notice, the second one seems to have been treated more roughly than the first. I like ’em, anyway.

LYF 1

LYF 1

LYF 2

LYF 2

Yes, they’re LYFs. Little Yellow Flowers. At first I thought they were Arrow Leaf Balsam Roots, but I don’t think so any more. They’re simply those yellow ones I saw today. (Remember, I told you I knew two kinds of flower by name: one is Indian Paintbrush, the other isn’t.)

More to follow,

Bob

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Well, since the rapture didn’t happen

I decided to go out and get some evidence that Spring has sprang. I was going to walk along the Laramie River Green Belt, a trail along the outskirts of town that can be pretty pleasant, but it didn’t happen. When I got there I found that someone in the City decided I was too stupid to avoid flash floods or rapidly rising water, so they closed the trail. Just another example of people in authority being overprotective. Yes, we’ve got a lot of water to come, the snow pack is almost 3x what it usually is (if the people who write the stories are accurate with their math. They say it’s 187% higher than normal. That means, in real math, that it’s almost three times as deep as usual). (God, I love parentheses.)

Anyway, it’s been pretty cool in the high country (cool enough to snow) so, while the water is up to the stream banks, I didn’t feel much of a threat for the trail that runs above the river. But, being a law-abiding citizen, I moved on. The University of Wyoming campus has a pretty decent landscaping program, so I went there looking for flowers that would stand still in 24-mph winds with gusts over 30. Found some, too.

I’ve always loved daffodils. They’re bright, cheery, interestingly shaped and a sure sign that Winter is going to give us our usual 3-month hiatus from blizzards. I like to brag that I’ve been snowed on every month while living in Wyoming except August. I’ve seen snow in May (my graduation day had over a foot of snow), June (18 inches on June 6th a couple years ago) and have been snowed on at the 4th of July rodeo. September is a transitional month and snow often falls then. Actually, last August Tom and I were hiking in the high country and got pelted with white stuff, but I think that was ice pellets, not snow, so I’ve got to try again this year.

Anyway, here are some of the daffodils UW staff and students get to admire every day.

 

Daffodil UW Campus

Daffodil UW Campus

I really prefer the all-yellow versions of the narcissus, like the one above. The others are pretty, to be sure, but I guess you could say I’m a traditionalist.

Here are some of the multi-colored variety:

Three Daffodils, UW Campus

Three Daffodils, UW Campus

Well, that’s it for Spring. It will undoubtedly snow tonight.

 

More to follow.

Bob

 

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Ma Nature’s Little Jokes

Well, even though I haven’t been bad-mouthing Ma Nature lately, she has had her way with me. I think I’ve told you about her tricks, but here is photographic evidence of her capricious nature.

The first two fotos are from Laramie a couple days before Christmas travel. As you can see, we had a bit of a storm. The University campus was a winter wonderland. I caught Ben Franklin getting ready for a snowball fight:

Ben Franklin Contemplates a Snowball

Ben Franklin Contemplates a Snowball

Then I went to the Student Union to hide:

Wyoming Union in snow

Wyoming Union in snow

The next group is from Arches National Park December 30 (yes, I got a firewire cable). A little exciting driving to get here, then some, er, interesting hiking to get to some of the places and what a great day of photography.

I love Junipers, no matter what the weather, no matter what the day. The juniperus utahensis has so much character. This old guy is just waiting for the thaw.

Juniper in Snowstorm

Juniper in Snowstorm

The fins area is where Landscape Arch is located (more in the next post on that one). The land was layered and then just tipped up on its side. It’s a real wonderland. Especially in the snow.

Fins, Snow, Arches NP

Fins, Snow, Arches NP

And then there’s Delicate Arch. What more can I say?

Delicate Arch, Snowstorm

Delicate Arch, Snowstorm

I met a New Zealander this morning. He was gracious in that he allowed me to say New Zealand was the land of hobbits, then we talked about Arches. He was quite impressed with U.S. National Parks in that getting to them and seeing the cool stuff was pretty easy: just drive to them in many cases. Oh, yes, a hike of a mile or so to see the really cool stuff, but no real effort required. He, too, appreciated the weather because, he observed, it kept the crowds down. Yep, yesterday was the only day I ever stood alone at Delicate Arch. The Kiwi said that in NZ, getting to the parks requires ‘putting on your hiking boots.’

More to follow.

Bob

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Sometimes size does matter

Here’s an image I’ve been looking at since I moved to Laramie ten years ago. It’s a group of hoodoos in Shirley Basin, Wyoming, about halfway between Laramie and Casper. Either I never had a camera or the light was awful. A scene like this requires perfect light to make it work.

Well, perfect light and the right lens. The only place you can photograph from is a small parking area just off the highway. Needless to say, when the object is a half mile away, even the longest zoom available on the G11 isn’t enough. I cropped the original, eliminating about a third of the surrounding nothing, but the cropping still isn’t right. The light is just getting there, but I was in a hurry to get home after an, er, interesting meeting that morning, so took the shots I could and hoped Photoshop® would help. It did some.

Here’s the image.

Hoodoos Shirley Basin

Hoodoos Shirley Basin

I’ll keep working on it and one day will take a longer lens and see if that helps. For now, I can say that I finally photographed it.

More to follow.

Bob

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