Here are images from my Black Hills and Badlands trip from June of 2011. This first page features shots from the first 3 days of my trip. The second page with images from Day 4 can be found at a link at the bottom of this page.
I took over 900 images during my 4 days out there, so choosing which ones to display here was a real issue.
Some of the landscape around Hill City, SD. There are all sorts of rock formations surrounded by lush, green trees. This was taken in the evening, after I had arrived. I used Nikon’s “Active-D” lighting on the “high” setting to accentuate the blue sky. I did that for most of the images on my trip.
A neat rock formation. I used my Tokina 12-24mm “Soupcan Stan” lens for this. Please note significant “keystoning” on the tree in the right hand side of the image. I still think it looks cool.
As I took this, I thought; “I’ll Photoshop out the contrail”, but now I realize it’s a vital part of the image…if that jet wasn’t there, I’d Photoshop it in! Also, I was stunned when I discovered this was taken with my old Nikon D70s (2005 technology). I guess the old war horse has some fight in it, yet! I am very happy with this shot. Plus, I’m pretty sure it was hand-held with no VR/VC…haw!
This was taken very close to the last image; I think it was across the road. It remains one of my favorites. A good benchmark image for the beauty of the Black Hills area. I do wonder if the rock on the right center is flipping me the bird, however…
I arrived at Mount Rushmore at twilight to get some nighttime shots of the monument. As I parked on the top level of the ramp, I got out of my car and I saw this. I said out-loud; “Mount Rushmore, you’re going to have to wait!” What a bonus. This image usually brings a rather strong reaction, so people are feeling some of what I felt live and in-person. By the way, this is not Mount Rushmore; it’s actually a formation to the left of it. Of course, as you have already figured out, this is my banner image for my site.
Mount Rushmore lit up at night is really cool; well worth seeing. I found the carved faces of these men to be quite inspirational; especially President Washington.
A look at the “Avenue of Flags” with those 4 guys looking over it. I elected a longer shutter speed and blurry flags (I like the effect) at a low ISO, versus shooting a high ISO and ending up with a bit grainier image. The way it’s positioned, you cannot center both the faces and the flags (the mid-point is between Roosevelt and Lincoln). By the way, I never did see the Minnesota flag. Oh well.
After I left Mount Rushmore and on a road just south of it, I just happened to glance up and saw this. Feeling on a roll with these gift images, I spun the U.S.S. Reagan (the name of my car) around and set up in total darkness to capture it. That was actually somewhat risky; no street lights are there for safety (and who knows what creatures were lurking…Bigfoot???). Only a few cars passed by, so that allowed me to put this in my bag. The meta-data says I took this in Manual mode…big smile!
This rounded up my first day of shooting out there, and it was all done in an evening. My trip was but a day old (with most of that spent on I-90 to get out there) and already it was a photographic success. I was very pleased!
The classic Mount Rushmore shot. This image was the main goal of my trip. A former client of mine, Janet Kale of California, had jabbed me for years to take this trip. Her and her husband (Press Kale) would travel to all these neat places, and she would send me books she picked up during their travels. Janet lost her battle with cancer and passed away in 2010. I thought about her often during my trip.
Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/250 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 18mm.
Custer State Park, which is south of the Mount Rushmore area. Although it’s not jaw-dropping like the Badlands, it’s certainly worth seeing. This particular shot, likely taken on the “Needles Highway”, is not one of my own favorites, but always gets a very positive reaction when seen. Thus, here it is.
One of the many animules at Custer State Park. I like this image a lot but wish I had used a wider F-stop and blurred the background even further.
A quick grab shot at just the right time. These are two female pronghorns; one very obviously pregnant. I hand-held this at 1/500 of a second. It’s somewhat soft, but not too bad, overall.
This was a late entry to this page and I hadn’t even processed it until April of 2012 (when this page was first created on my old web site). It strikes me as kind of (sort of) a Galen Rowell rip-off, but if you’re going to steal an idea photographically, who better to do that from than the late (and certainly great) Galen Rowell?
Question: why did the buffalo cross the road? Answer: because HE CAN! Notice he’s blocking a FULL lane? He seemed somewhat annoyed at me so I gave him a wide berth.
I cruised west into Wyoming and visited the Devils Tower National Monument on Day 3. I know it’s just a rock, but it’s really cool. I loved northeastern WY. I wrote a fun story (Ham Radio related) on that topic and you can access it at this link HERE.
Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 18-70mm F/3.5-4.5G ED lens shot at F/10 and a 1/400 of a second shutter speed. ISO 100. Focal length: 40mm.
There is a paved walkway around Devils Tower. If you want to traverse it in short order, you had better be in shape. I was lugging around a heavy camera bag and it felt like 1.3 miles of stairs! Luckily, there are plenty of rest areas. Anyway, this image gives an interesting perspective of this fascinating formation.
Nikon D70s with a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 AT-X PRO DXII lens shot at F/9.5 and a 1/350 of a second shutter speed. ISO 200. Focal length: 12mm.
This is somewhat of an unusual look at Devils Tower; from the back. Framing wise, I wish now I had left out that small tree on the left hand side. It’s too distracting. Also of note is I needed to do a lot of image processing to bring the D70s images on par with the D7000 images. I have since replaced the D70s with a Nikon D5000 for my secondary camera.
After a brief stop in Montana (just to say I was there), I drove back to South Dakota for a visit to the Badlands National Park on Day 4.
To continue with the tour, please access my page to the Badlands National Park images at this link HERE.
all images © Scott Woelm – June 2011