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Archive for November, 2009

Twice I had to stop and tighten the leather cinch on my saddle. It kept sliding to the right and I felt like I was riding on a slant about to fall off. Each time I dismounted to make the adjustment my horse, named Charlie, would take a deep breath filling his lungs with air.

When I remounted he would exhale and loosen the saddle again. He thought he was tricky but I got him the third time, stalling long enough to get those straps tight and my saddle straight. 

This was my first photo assignment that covered a cattle drive. I had been on many pack trips into the wilderness and photographed more than a dozen rodeos, but this was my first real working cowboy experience.

cattle drive

Cattle Drive in Centennial Valley, Montana

Of course not being a wrangler, (I don’t like the word dude), I was elected to ride the dusty drag line bringing up the rear, herding any stragglers wanting to double back to the ranch, and turn them toward new pastures as we approached the Centennial Valley.

The Centennial Mountains in Southwest Montana cover a swathe of some 28,000 acres and has some of Montana’s best wild and very rugged country. They connect the northern Rocky Mountains with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

This rough range runs along the Idaho-Montana border south east of Dillon, Montana with prime vistas and a notable wildlife population. http://www.dillonmontana.net

Native American tribes, especially the Shoshone-Bannock and the Nez Perce knew the Centennial Valley very well as it was a favored travel route between the headwaters of Big Hole River and Yellowstone country to the east.

At the base of the Centennial Mountains on the north side is the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Red Rock Lakes is designated a National Natural Landmark, (http://www.redrocks.fws.gov/) as well as one of the few marshland Wilderness Areas in the United States.

Centennial Valley

Centennial Mountains

Its diverse natural habitat provides an ideal nesting environment not only for swans, Sandhill cranes and other waterfowl but numerous hawks, eagles and peregrine falcons. The massive Centennial Range protects the valley and dominates the southern skyline blocking any view of Idaho.

Some years ago I taught Wilderness Photography Workshops through a local guest ranch that borders the Refuge so I was very familiar with the geology and terrain we were working the cattle into. Our ride was slow and very dusty as we moved 250 head of cattle from the Matador Ranch into the broad picturesque Centennial valley.

Although there were a dozen riders it was really the Australian Shepherd and Blue Healer dogs that did most of the work. Just a few barks and nips kept the cows bunched as they herded them in the right direction.

Three of the drovers chased down the strays that would take off running into the sage bellowing and crying out as if a bug had just bit them in the butt.

The quarter horses we rode knew just what to do. They could turn on a dime nosing the cows around not letting any steer get ahead of them. Actually, those of us ridding drag just took in the sights and occasionally cracked a bullwhip, more for the fun of it then a disciplinary tactic against a steer.

Two of my fellow riders were writers on this project so I just worked on some action shots of wranglers, faces and expressions. Only once was I able to get in front of the herd to photograph the oncoming steers and cows.

This was a bit disappointing to me. At times when on an assignment you have to accept what is offered, when you are a guest, even after you try to explain why you are there and the kind of imagery you want to expose for, to tell your story. Sometimes, you just can’t push the issue. You have to make the best of it.

I accepted the issue at hand and still enjoyed the day. I photographed the basics for the story and played cowboy working on my horsemanship.

Trumpter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

In the distance from the hills behinds us in the west, just barely above pine tree level, we could hear honking. Even above the constant moos and bellows of calves and cows, it grew louder. Then perhaps fifty or more Trumpeter Swans flying in a tight V formation zoomed overhead soaring toward the Red Rock marshes. Honking was so loud even the steers and horses looked up to see what was going on.

It was as if the world stopped, the entire herd, horses and riders were suddenly silent and a vortex opened allowing the flight of trumpeting white swans to pass through, channeled directly to the lakes just below us.

A whip crack snapped in the air, the vortex closed and the cattle drive was back on.

Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or through email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

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The Grand Teton and eight other peaks stand at over 12,000 feet with the Grand at 13,770 ft. the tallest in the range. Autumn is my favorite time to visit this National Park in Wyoming.  www.grand.teton.national-park.com . It doesn’t matter which side of these mountains you are on, the colors are magnificent.

Yellow and gold Quaking Aspens plus the splashes of red maples and green pine seem to be as dominant in the landscape as the snow capped peaks and the curve of the Snake River that carves the valley floor.

Fall Landscape Teton National Forest  Idaho

Teton Range Idaho 11x17 print

With only two roads bisecting the Park unless you hike one of the 200 miles of trails for a different view your fall images can have a tendency to look similar to other photographers all searching for their own point of interest. But with that in mind you have some alternative choices that can give your photos a slightly different take. www.fs.fed.us/btnf/

This glaciated landscape is vast with no foothills just the jagged mountain mass jutting up from the valley floor. Tuning into the heart of the Yellowstone ecosystem one can’t help but be open to the Native American travel lanes and the mountain men who explored this wilderness just two hundred years ago. Knowing a little history and geology of the location you travel to opens your psyche to more photographic possibilities.

The Tetons were named by French fur trappers who when on the Idaho side of the range thought several peaks resembled women’s breasts. Guess they were on the trail a long time. A long list of historic figures explored these U-shaped valleys and alpine topography.

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming 11x17 print

Autumn Teton National Park 11x17 print

Jackson Hole community, (www.jacksonholewy.net), was named after a fur trapper, David Jackson, who would “hole-up” in this location in the late 1820’s. John Colter a member of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition was the first non-native American to experience the grand spectacle of the Tetons in 1805.

You can’t help but photograph the grand vistas. This Park is perfect for wide angle images. Because the Tetons run north – south morning light gets flat fast so you have to be aware of parting clouds and other weather phenomenon that can enhance the scene.  You have to be disciplined to get up early and be on location to record those miraculous moments when it is all about the warm glow light.

Fall Teton National Forest

Fall Landscape Tetons 11x17 print

To travel means you are a tourist and of course it is OK to compose and record the common scenes that everyone photographs. But do not stop there. Squat, climb or perhaps choose a strong foreground or the vanishing point perspective of a river or creek to put your own slant on things.

Use all the lenses in your arsenal to interpret what presents itself to your view and try various exposures that can improve texture and color. Sometimes it can be a simple polarizing lens that amplifies the intensity of the endless blue sky and white cirrus clouds that peaks your interest. Experiment, search and interpret your experience this Rocky Mountain destination. www.nps.gov/grte

Related posts:

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/no-fall-color-only-seed- pods-to-photograph/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/lee-metcalf-wilderness/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/absaroka-beartooth-wilderness/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/yellowstone-national-park/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/crown-of-the-continent-glacier-national-park-montana/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/the-pristine-thorofare-a-yellowstone-experience/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/salty-legs-and-mountain-goats/

https://myphotovisions.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/track-of-the-grizzly-bear/

Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or through email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

 

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Fall was lousy this season in Montana. We had an early hard freeze, single digits, in early October, when all the leaves were still green. Then it snowed several inches of wet slush breaking branches and leveling bushes and flowers all around town.

When it warmed up again the shriveled blackened leaves just dropped to the ground leaving things rather bleak looking. Normally, fall will last two to three weeks and you can follow the colorful changes along each valley and riverbed up into the mountains. Sadly, it was not to be this year.

That was October. Now in the middle of November it is 55 degrees and everyone is walking around in shorts, without jackets, thinking it is summer again.

So my plans for autumn landscape photography fizzled.  Bit disappointing but you have to take what you get since that is just the way things are.

Today, I went to several stores looking for flowers or a nice colorful plant to photograph but nothing clicked.  This afternoon I went walking instead and found these Blanket flower seed pods near a pond just on the outside of town. Not a lot of color and not the warming hues of yellows and reds I wanted but they did catch my eye.

Blanket flower seed pods

Blanket Flower Seed Pods

They are both soft and sharp at the same time. Cold, brown, even dead looking yet there is some warmth and life still there pushing out into the sunlight. Strong backlight pulled the image together and gave it dimension. Otherwise it would have blended right in to the lifeless scene.

I like the mottled background of this image. It adds texture to the scene by repeating the circles.

It wasn’t a bright autumn landscape but being open to circumstances and making an effort to see what is there usually means you can connect. That is really all I was asking for.

What do you do when what you hope to photograph just isn’t there?

OK, so the next post will be about those bright fall color landscapes found in the Tetons of Wyoming and Idaho.

Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or through email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

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Standing on top of the Mesa, at Island in the Sky, sheer sandstone cliffs descend a thousand feet and more. Views are fantastic in every direction. You could be on another planet. A wilderness of red rock formations this is a high country desert unlike anywhere else on earth.

Canyonlands, in southern Utah, is at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. It spreads over 527 square miles of diverse desert highlands and is Utah’s largest park.
Canyonlands National Park (435-719-2313) www.nps.gov/cany .

Weather of water and wind plus the pull of gravity have carved this terrain, cutting into its red layers of sedimentary rock gouging out dozens of colorful canyons, magnificent mesas, bowing arches and sprawling spires.

This land is other worldly, bleak, powerful and beautiful. Canyonlands is as rugged as anywhere in the world. Its’ wild red desert atmosphere is contrasted by the rich blue endless sky. More than 150 million years of geologic forces continue their daily shape shift to the cliffs and canyons engraved by the Colorado and Green Rivers.

Canyonlands is visually fantastic, a dream of ancient earth.

Island in the Sky - Canyonlands National Park Utah

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands, Utah 16x24 Giclee Print

Its’ colorful landscape was once inhabited by Ancestral Puebloan Indians.  Some of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved and can be seen along with some remarkable petroglyphs. We stood in awe of those in an area called Newspaper Rock. They looked like aliens from space with large heads, big eyes and wistful bodies.

We explored all day working on landscape photos and taking in the drama that appeared at every turn on the hiking trails. Our trip was in late May so the weather was warm but not the blistering heat that permeates the summer months. Still twelve hours plus in the sun was enough for this day.

There are few roads but many trails for foot and bike traffic in the three main sections of the park. Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze are each unique in their geology. They are remote and require a lot of time for personal discovery.

Relaxing at camp after our fourth day hike with a crackling fire was welcomed and following dinner we settled in closer to the flames as the night covered us with a shadowy blanket. Brilliant starlight spilled out from the blackness of the universe.

Laid back we were identifying constellations, watching for satellites and shooting stars. Even the Milky Way stretched brightly from horizon to horizon.

Sap imbedded in the logs we burned snapped and kept shooting sparks into the night like a mini volcano. One red hot ember ejected straight into my eye. My reflexes made me shut my eyes a fraction of a second before it hit me singeing just my eyelid and lashes. Not too serious but it was great camp excitement to end the day. So we thought.

Coyotes howled in the distance, probably miles apart. Their songs seemed to echo up from the river and along the steep canyon walls. We were lost in the moment.

Suddenly, a brilliant light shot through the night sky from the north. It was much faster than any of the satellites that we had seen before. Abruptly, it stopped dead in the heavens, zigzagged like someone scribbling on a note card and then took off in an instant 90 degrees to the west. We were speechless for several seconds trying to comprehend what we had just witnessed.

All of a sudden, a loud excited gasp rose from the campground breaking the silence. Many other people had seen what we had just observed. What the hell was that? What did we all just see? Chariots of the Gods?

Were these alien signs, petroglyphs and flying objects just all imagined with a blistered eye?

Back home in Montana we have relived this episode a dozen times. Was it real? What flies beyond our imagination?

Canyonlands National Park
2282 Southwest Resource Boulevard
Moab, UT 84532-8000
United States

Map Canyonlands National Park

Phone 1 (435) 719-2100
Fax 1 (435) 719-2300

http://www.nps.gov/cany

Canyonlands Natural History Association
http://wwwcnha.org

Canyonlands Information:

http://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/canyonlands/national_park.html

Hiking and Biking Trails:

http://www.utah.com/moab

Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or through email at: wayne@rangeofvisionphotos.com

 

 

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