June 2012 SD and MN

 

Here are images from my June 2012 mini-trip to southeast SD, and southwest MN.  The primary goal was the Palisades State Park in SD, as I kicked myself for missing it during my Black Hills/Badlands trip from June 2011 (it was right on the way home).

I began with 509 images, and trimmed that down to the 30 shown here; the largest page I have done to date.  So you’ve been warned…all you need to do is get out of the way (R.C. – 1996).

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

My first stop was the Rock County Courthouse in Luverne, MN.  I saw an image of this on the web and wanted to photograph it for myself.  Very colorful, and I like the classic pairing of the cannon and flowers.

 

 

 Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/2.8 and a 1/125 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Point Blank Range.  I used a wide aperture to blow out (pun intended) the background.  The cannon is actually part of a Veterans Memorial, and we will revisit this later (you will not want to miss it).

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/4.5 and a 1/50 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Now in SD, this is upstream from the heart of Devil’s Gulch, which is located on the north side of Garretson.  The shadows of the rocks with the brown water work well with the green surroundings.  We will return to Devil’s Gulch later on this page.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/10 and a 1/400 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Photographing the Palisades State Park (also in Garretson) was one of my primary objectives of this trip, with “Balancing Rock” at the top of my list for that locale.  This was my first shot of it…you’ll be seeing it multiple times.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/7.1 and a 1/20 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 55mm.

“King Rock” sticking above the trees.  The quartzite formations are along Split Rock Creek, so they are recessed from the surrounding landscape.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/7.1 and a 1/20 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 55mm.

“King Rock” (right) and “Queen Rock” (left) are two of the main attractions of the Palisades.  This was taken from a fenced observation spot, which is easily accessible.  I’d rather not have those branches in the bottom of the frame, but it was impossible to avoid them.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/10 and a 1/15 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

“King Rock” shows a hint of blue as it flanks a formation on the other side; maybe it knew it would be featured on bluelightpix.com?  What you cannot see is the work I had to do to get this shot.  I became much more of an outdoorsman than I usually am.  That is a reoccurring theme here.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/7.1 and a 1/25 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 130mm.

Some of the local flora of the park.  There was less than I expected, but I was there rather late in the year for it.  I took this near the bridge, overlooking Split Rock Creek, which created the dark background.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/20 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Palisades State Park is just over a mile long from bow to stern.  This is the southern end of it.  In case you noticed a lot of low shutter speeds here, I was using a tripod.  I wanted a wide depth of field, so that meant higher F-stop numbers and slow shutter speeds.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/25 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

I worked hard to get to this scene (ascending and descending along the trails) but it was worth it.  I recall just wanting to sit there and enjoy (which I did for a bit), but I had to keep moving.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/8 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 155mm.

“Balancing Rock” from the other side.  It sure looks different from here, doesn’t it?  In order to take this, I had to cross a thick growth of weeds.  I was concerned about poisonous varieties as I was rather itchy afterwards (I was wearing shorts, not jeans).  Turns out I was fine, but one of the weeds scratched me, and that’s what caused my itching.  Anyway, I have seen this shot taken during Winter, and that would be the best time to get it.

 

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 AT-X PRO DXII lens shot at F/11 and a 1/6 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 18mm.

“Balancing Rock”, with trees and moon accompanying.  From this angle, the rock does lean, although I adjusted many of my shots to make it appear level.  I liked the way the tilt in this image looked.  Kind of a small moon image for me, isn’t it?  Haw!  Actually, I took a 600mm image of the Quarter Moon, but elected not to show it here.  I don’t want to become type-cast, do I?

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 38mm.

This greets you as you arrive at the road that takes you to the Palisades. The park is surrounded by farm fields; one would have no idea a State Park is located there.  Taken in the morning on Day 2, I like the lighting of this image.  Nature’s green is well-interrupted by the man-made metal.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 26mm.

Getting there early on Monday morning, I pretty much had the entire place to myself….it was great!  If you wondered why I wanted to visit this place (some had not even heard of it), well, here is my reason…

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 26mm.

“King Rock” faces you in this morning Palisades scene.  I was literally set up on shoreline rocks when I took this.  My Tamrac Aerospeed 85 photo backpack performed like a total champ as I dealt with the terrain.  You see the birds?  Hmm.  I guess I didn’t have the park ALL to myself.

 

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/4.5 and a 1/30 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 22mm.

Many of the trails are lined with quartzite, like this set of stairs which leads to “Balancing Rock” (more views of it are coming up).  This gives you a feel for just how steep a drop it is…now try this without the stairs!  I used my flash to help illuminate this shot.  A lot of people do not use their flash outdoors, and that is a mistake.  It can be very helpful.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 AT-X PRO DXII lens shot at F/11 and a 1/200 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 18mm.

I had to wait some time for the sun to shine on “Balancing Rock” before I could get this shot.  When I first arrived, it was only half-illuminated.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

“Balancing Rock” isn’t very big, and you can walk right up to it, as I did here.  By the way, I used a polarizer filter with this, and many of these shots.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tokina 12-24mm F/4 AT-X PRO DXII lens shot at F/6.3 and a 1/125 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 12mm.

After climbing yet another set of rocks (not that easy to do with a heavy backpack on, and carrying a tripod), I used my Tokina “Soupcan Stan” lens to capture this.  I wanted a vista view, but was in rather close, so thus a 12mm focal length.  Camera’s can fool you; the rocks in the lower right are what I was standing on (rather close to the drop-off; what I call “photo-courage”).

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/4 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

After finishing at the Palisades, I returned to Devil’s Gulch.  In the upper part of the photo you can see the bridge that crosses where Jesse James allegedly jumped to avoid getting caught.  In fact, “Jesse James Day” took place the day before I arrived.  It’s rather doubtful that he cleared that distance, but who cares?

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/2.8 and a 1/400 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 400.  Focal length: 34mm.

Water crashes up against the moss-covered rock.  I increased my ISO to 400 and shot my aperture wide open to get this.  Please note I’m at 34mm.  How did I manage to get this close?

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/3.2 and a 1/40 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Because I just didn’t return to Devil’s Gulch; I went in it!  When I arrived, no one was there, so I decided to take some liberties.  This looks perhaps more daring than it really was, but had others been around, I likely couldn’t have done this.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/2 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

I am really happy with how this turned out, because I shot it handheld!  I used a variable ND filter and stopped down my lens to get the blurred/creamy effect of the water, which lead to a 1/2 of a second exposure.  I took this from the bridge, but it was impossible to use my tripod because of the high guardrails.  So I braced my camera on the bridge (in portrait position; not easy) and used my self-timer to avoid shutter button shake.  It took several tries to get a good shot.  Oh, some advice; make SURE to use your camera strap here, just in case you lose grip of your camera.  I was EXTRA careful to make sure my strap was securely around my neck.  If my camera was going into the drink, so was I.

 

I loved the Palisades State Park, and very much enjoyed Devil’s Gulch.  Neither were the Black Hills or Badlands, but who cares?  I mentioned multiple times dealing with the terrain, and I did that for a reason.  If you want to get shots like these, you may want to be in reasonable shape.  That does NOT mean you have to climb rocks to enjoy these areas; not at all.  However, most of the quality photographic views require some work, and “photo courage” (which is similar to “liquid courage”, but don’t mix them, as that could be fatal).  I used all of my lenses during this visit, so I’m glad I had them, but carrying all that gear (even with the outstanding Tamrac Aerospeed 85) made hiking the trails challenging.

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/50 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Back into MN at Luverne, here is a closer look at the Veterans Memorial I mentioned earlier.  I saw a bronze statue on a bench on the left side, but didn’t think much of it….that is, until I got closer…

 

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/8 and a 1/50 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 31mm.

…and saw the detail of the statue.  After I understood what it meant, it hit me like a sledgehammer.  Look at this old soldier; he’s still here, but his buddies are not.  However, he doesn’t forget them, or their sacrifices to maintain our freedom.  Also note the bricks; they are etched with the names of Veterans who have passed.  I found this to be a very powerful memorial, and I highly suggest it to anyone passing through southwest MN.  To learn more about it, point your web browser to:

http://rockcountyveteransmemorial.com/index.html

 

 

Nikon D7000 with a Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD lens shot at F/5.6 and a 1/640 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 300mm.

The Bird of Bridge 6315.  Northbound on Highway 75, I stopped for some cattle shots on the Buffalo Ridge.  Those didn’t turn out so great.  I also saw this, and it turned out better.

 

 

 Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/9 and a 1/6 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 31mm.

My next stop was The Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, MN.  Although very deep in Native American historical significance, it didn’t offer a lot of photo opportunities.  However, Winnewissa Falls was really cool, and gave me this.

 

 

 

 Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/14 and a 1/2 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 23mm.

Both this shot, and the previous, were taken under difficult conditions.  The biggest issue was the lighting; the sun was in a rotten position.  I used my variable ND filter and did what I could.  Another issue was the spray from the waterfall, which is not exactly camera-friendly.  I tried some shots of freezing the waterfall but they didn’t turn out as well.  Everyone who passed this seemed to enjoy it.  I know I did.

 

 

 Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/6.3 and a 1/100 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 17mm.

Although not quite like the Palisades State Park, the Pipestone National Monument offers up some quartzite of its own.

 

 

 Nikon D7000 with a Nikkor 17-55mm F/2.8G ED lens shot at F/10 and a 1/100 of a second shutter speed.  ISO 100.  Focal length: 24mm.

At least 2 couples asked me (the “pro” photographer) what “The Oracle” was.  Each time I responded “well, I know it was part of the song ‘2112’ by Rush”, so I wasn’t much help.

 

Wow…did you really make it this far?  I tried to cut this down to fewer images, but just couldn’t pull that off.  Oh well, I’m glad that you stopped by and hope you enjoyed my mini-trip.

Now get back to work.

 

Me?

 

I’m on vacation.

 

all images © Scott Woelm – June 2012