Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The one that started it all

Badlands Angles and Strata

This is the image that got me thinking about using black & white processing for some of the Badlands photographs. I liked the original color version, but not because of the colors. I liked the shadows going off on those angles and the contrast between the tones of the sedimentary strata. The colors seemed to distract from those elements more than helping them, thus I tried it as a black & white and really liked it.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Badlands in Color and B&W -- part 2

Badlands Triangles (Color)

Here is another set of color vs. black & white versions of the same image. There was much less color in this particular area of the Badlands. The shapes were wonderfully fascinating though. I was particularly drawn the the two triangular, almost pyramid, shapes.

Black & White version after the jump.

Badlands Triangles (Black & White)

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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Badlands in Color and B&W - part 1

South Dakota Badlands (Color)

I thought it would be good to show color and black & white versions of the same image of the South Dakota Badlands. As you can see above, there are colors in the Badlands. Those colors are close to each other in overall feel and can distract the viewer from other elements of the scenery.

Follow the jump for the black & white version.

South Dakota Badlands (Black & White)

In the black & white version, you can see the textures and shapes much better. It is those textures and shapes which makes the Badlands feel so different from the surrounding prairie not to mention the Eastern US where I live.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Drive-by shooting ...

Female Antelope, South Dakota Badlands

When we were driving through the Badlands, a couple of female antelope were grazing by the side of the road. I was able to get a series of images thanks to my camera's continuous, high speed mode. To be honest the camera does sound a bit like a machine gun when I'm ripping frames off like this. The antelope were within 20 feet of the road, sometimes closer, but didn't seem to really notice the noise. However, forget about being able to stop or even get out of the car. A ranger was close by making sure that people kept moving and stayed in their vehicles. Which was probably just as well, someone could have gotten hurt if they had spooked one of the animals.

This particular image was what I think was one of the better ones from the drive-by shooting ... er, photographing. The fact that it is back lit is something that I find interesting about it as you can see the sun filtering through it's horns.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

South Dakota Bandlands


While the South Dakota Badlands are impressive there is not a lot of color in them. They are mostly tans and browns with some yellows and reds in the same tone. This made me think that there might be some good black & white possibilities in my photographs. This is one of the photographs that I think works best as a black & white. It is more about the play of the shadows and shapes than it is about the the impressiveness of the landscape itself.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Scale (Part 2)

South Dakota Badlands National Park

Back to the subject of showing scale. The two people at the overlook illustrate the scale of the distant landscape of the South Dakota Badlands. I took a similar photograph without any people at the overlook and it doesn't give the same sense of vastness that having the two people in it does. At least the way that I look at the images.

Follow the jump for the other photograph.

Badlands Scenic Overlook

What do you think about it?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Rushmore Through the Trees

I'll get to the "Scale (Part 2)" entry with the Badlands photographs. Today finishes out the Mount Rushmore set.

More after the jump.

This photograph was taken from one of the last scenic overlooks that we visited in the Black Hills. It was actually taken on the path rather than the overlook itself. I just happened to catch a glimpse of Mount Rushmore through a "tunnel" of trees and thought it would make a good interior frame for the monument. I don't recall what the actual overlook was overlooking as I don't recall actually getting to that particular viewing area.

My mother said it was very convenient for one particular tree to have died. If it had been alive, it would have been standing in the very center of this "tunnel". Without it though we had a clear view of Mount Rushmore, and an image of the monument that you don't typically see. You might notice the dead tree leaning to the left near the center of the frame.

At this particular scenic stop there was a forestry crew clearing out dead or dying trees. Most of the people at the overlook were actually watching the workers. I recall hearing their chainsaws from the "Washington's Profile Overlook" which was quite a distance away and on the other side of Mount Rushmore.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scale (Part 1)

George and the Car

Sometimes I find it difficult to convey a sense of scale in landscape photographs. The most common method of doing so is to place something familiar in the frame as a reference. Since, I'm still hesitant to take photographs of strangers, providing that sense of scale by including people in the photograph generally doesn't happen. However, while photographing George Washington's profile at a scenic stop, I realized that I could include a car as a reference scale.

It is not what I would consider the best image that I have from this particular location. On the other hand, it is the one that conveys the scale of the Mount Rushmore monument the best of all of the images that I took that day.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Mount Rushmore and the Errant Polarizing Filter

Moon and Mount Rushmore

After visiting the relatives in North Dakota, we headed out to return home. Our plan was to go down to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore and the South Dakota Badlands. The problem with that plan was that there is not a direct route from northeastern North Dakota to southwestern South Dakota. All of the roads in the Dakotas generally run North-South or East-West. There are precious few diagonal NE-SW / NW-SE trending roads, let alone interstate highways.

The trip took a full day, but we did get to see quite a bit of both Dakotas' various landscapes. They are not as completely flat as you might think. There are distinct regions with their own character that I wish I could have spent more time exploring.

More after the jump.

We spent a couple of nights in Rapid City, South Dakota. Our one full day there was spent visiting Mount Rushmore and some of the Black Hills region. The Mount Rushmore monument has changed since I last visited as a teenager. I remember parking, going up to a single viewing overlook, and then leaving. Since that time the National Park Service has greatly improved the visitors' area with museums, a cafeteria, gift shops (of course), a large amphitheater, and a boardwalk trail that takes you closer to the monument. The trail affords different views and angles then you see in the typical postcard stereotype image. While the trail is not really strenuous, there are stairs on it which make you realize how out of shape you are ... i.e. I need to walk up more stairs. Visitors can also rent a self-guided, recorded tour device near the park's entrance. However, ee didn't rent one as we just wanted to experience the park for ourselves.

This photograph was taken near the "Sculptor's Studio" museum which is along the tour trail. I am always a sucker for daylight moon images as it speaks to my sense of irony having the moon visible during the day. I used a polarizing filter to darken the sky enough to accent the moon above the Presidents' sculptures. Further on down the trail I heard my polarizing filter fall off the lens and clatter down the rocks beneath the boardwalk trail. It didn't break, but it was well beyond my reach. Lesson learned: Don't turn the polarizing filter in the direction which loosens it.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Rising Water


The area of North Dakota where my mother grew up used to be fields as far as you could see. However, that has been changing the past several years. Water has been rising throughout the region. Roads have been cut off. Farms flooded out. Devil's Lake, Stump Lake, and Lake Lorretta have all overflowed their banks and inundated hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. In many places instead of wheat fields, there are now plains of cattails stretching as far as the eye can see.

We saw this old, abandoned farm house on a small hill. It's fields taken over by Lake Lorretta. The county road we were on had obviously been elevated to stay above the lake water. Even then, it was only a couple of feet above the water.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In North Dakota

Rolling Field, Big Sky

Everything up in North Dakota is so very different than here in South Carolina. The fields, prairie, and sky seem to go on forever.

The lines in the field make me think that the closest hay bail was trying to roll toward the ones in the distance. The nice clouds also added a great texture to the sky.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back in town


I've been out of town the past couple of weeks to celebrate my grandmother's 95th birthday. She lives in North Dakota, and we made some sightseeing side trips on the drive up and back.

The photograph above is a riverboat on the Mississippi River near the town of Bellevue, Iowa. I thought the split-toned treatment looked best for this shot compared to the straight color image.

More stuff from the trip to come.

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And here is the rest of it.

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