Summer Vacation Part VII – Yellow Bus Tour Day 2…

We checked out of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge, parked the PhotoFun50, and loaded our bags into the Yellow Bus.

Our first stop was the Yellowstone Heritage Center in Gardiner MT, where we got a private tour of the collections there. Pictures were not allowed, but it’s a wonderful facility. We returned to Yellowstone National Park through the Roosevelt Arch. We took a few minutes to record our visit.

These cow Elk were on the hillside near the Roosevelt Arch.

Our group picture under the Arch. I set the timer on the shutter release and ran to get into the picture. This is the back of the Arch. The morning sun had the front of the Arch in shadow.

We were headed for Old Faithful, traveling south on the west side of the Park. Our first stop was the Golden Gate.

A gorgeous view. The engineer in me was interested in the bridge.

I usually read the information signs and then move on, but the engineer in me had to save this information.

Turning around from the gorgeous view, I found Rustic Falls.

Our route took us past Roaring Mountain and Obsidian Cliff. We were approaching our lunch stop when we ran into a Bear Jam, caused by this happy camper.

This Black Bear was not bothered by the onlookers at all, and enjoyed its dandelion snack before disappearing into the trees.

We ate our lunch at a quiet spot along the Gibbon River.

We found this herd of Bison as we continued our journey.

Our next stop was the Madison Information Station, a short hike from the parking lot.

Nancy shared the story of National Park Mountain (behind her). Legend has it that the Washburn party camped nearby around 1870 and discussed the creation of a national park system. Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872.

With National Park Mountain on the left, this is the view down the Madison Valley towards Mount Haynes – spectacular!

For our next stop, Matt dropped us at a trailhead and we hiked about a mile and a half to see this!

Grand Prismatic Spring as viewed from an overlook.

Nancy took a few pictures for us.

Headed back to the Yellow Bus, we saw Rabbit Creek meeting the Firehole River.

Tired from our busy day, we arrived at Old Faithful. We had time to check into our room in the Old Faithful Snow Lodge before watching Old Faithful put on a show.

The Yellow Bus at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

I shot a video and will figure out how to pull a frame from the video.

After the geyser show, we headed to the Old Faithful Lodge for a wonderful dinner.

This is the fireplace in the dining room. The painting is gorgeous and resembles the spark screen on the hearth.

What a fantastic day! Gorgeous scenery, Bison, a Bear, Old Faithful, and great friends.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Summer Vacation Part VI – Yellow Bus Tour Day 1…

WAHOO! Our Old Times on the Grand Tour (aka Yellow Bus Tour) is finally here! We woke up in our little cabin full of excitement for the day. As we walked to the dining room for breakfast, we saw our only bear for the day – on the hillside above the cabin. But that’s okay, we had an incredible day.

Matt had the bus at the front door of the hotel, ready to hit the road.

Our route today took us back to the Lamar Valley.

First stop at a small lake to see the wildlife. The Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in fine voice.

A quick panorama with my camera that also makes phone calls. Beautiful skies all day!

The Lamar River, with some Pronghorn in the distance.

Our new friends were from Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Thailand. Most had never seen a Pronghorn before.

We stopped by the Osprey nest again. Two birds on the nest today.

Our morning in the Lamar Valley was wonderful. Our tour guide, Nancy, has worked in Yellowstone Park for several years, including a winter doing seminars in the Lamar Valley. At one stop, we saw a Golden Eagle but, sadly, the light doomed my photographic efforts. After a box lunch at a picnic area, we hit the trail for some hiking. Our route took us along the Yellowstone River.

The views were, of course, stunning. This one looking east towards the Bear Tooth Mountains.

And the wildlife did not disappoint. This Pronghorn passed by at about 50 yards. Note that even on June 4, there’s still a winter coat.

As we hiked, we started seeing holes about a foot in diameter just off the trail. Matt grabbed my arm and pointed to dirt flying about 20 yards from the trail. The dirt stopped flying and this guy backed out of the hole.

We continued our hike and reached our destination. Nancy told us something about the geology of the area – I was keeping my eye out for wildlife. We started back to the Yellow Bus. I saw the biggest Marmot I’ve ever seen standing on a rock. He had to be 3 feet tall standing. By the time I got glass on him, he had sat down.

As we approached the area where we had seen the Badger, Nancy suddenly stopped because on the trial just a few yards away – there he was. He ran away, but then returned. I was kneeling down shooting when he started our way. About 20 feet away and closing, he disappeared from view. Note the fresh dirt in the foreground. We gave him a wide berth.

All the while, we heard the Prairie Dogs chirping loudly. Warning each other of the danger nearby.

At one of our stops, a modern bus parked by our Yellow Bus. I like our bus much better!

Still basking in the glow of the wonderful day, we headed to the dining room for dinner. Our dinner was delayed, however, as one of the locals was enjoying their evening meal. A Ranger was nearby, ensuring that the locals were not disturbed the the visitors.

What a glorious day! One more night at Mammoth Hot Springs and then off to other areas of the Park.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part V – Yellowstone!

We chose to enter Yellowstone through the northeast entrance, from Silver Gate MT. We drove over the Chief Joseph and Bear Tooth Highways (see Part IV) again. Boy, was that tough to do.

The road from the northeast entrance into the Park parallels Soda Butte Creek, past the Yellowstone Association Institute to the Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is famous for the Bison herds and other wildlife. The Lamar Valley is wider than the Madison Valley near the west entrance, with grander vistas. And the Bison were very photogenic!

My Bison wildlife panorama.

Obviously, these Bison were crossing the Lamar River. There were several babies (more appropriately called calves, I’m sure) with this herd.

Watching the calves was very entertaining. They run and play just like happy children should.

As we continued our drive across the northeast portion of the Park, we encountered lots of wildlife. We saw a Wolf, but from too great a distance for pictures.

The Pronghorn were still shedding their winter coats.

This Osprey was nesting on Lava Creek, I think.

We saw some Bear in the distance in the Lamar Valley, but this one was napping in the trees within camera range.

A final Bison shot with my ‘camera that also makes phone calls’ just a few minutes away from Mammoth Hot Springs.

We arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs shortly after noon. We scouted the area, visited the Visitor’s Center, and found the hotel and some lunch.

The Elk are plentiful in and around Mammoth Hot Springs. As it was calving season, the Cows were very sensitive to people.

Happy to be out of the car but too early to check into the hotel, we explored Mammoth Hot Springs. The mineral springs are a marvel.

A shot of the Lower Terrace with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II, a compact point and shoot camera that I always carry.

I walked the path to this spot above the Lower Terrace, looking back towards historic Fort Yellowstone.

Of course, my lovely bride and sometimes model also enjoyed the walk to the Terrace. Even though we arrived on June 3, temperatures were cool for most of the week.

After our walk up the hill to the springs, we were able to check into the hotel. We met our tour guide and the other members of the Old Times on the Grand Tour (aka the Yellow Bus Tour) that evening. Nancy, our tour guide, reviewed the itinerary and provided other information. Our group included visitors from Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Thailand. We became good friends with them over the next week. Our accommodations in Mammoth Hot Springs were a ‘cabin’ – half of a duplex a nice walk away from the main hotel. Clean and comfortable, but no TV or internet. Pretty good shower, tho’. In the other side of the duplex were Stephanie and Carol, new friends also on the tour.

This is Cabin A26 with my favorite model relaxing on the porch.

The end of a very exciting day, but the beginning of a marvelous adventure! Stay tuned and enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part IV – On Top of the World!

After a very successful wildlife picture day, we headed into the high country for some gorgeous scenery. Traveling northwest from Cody on the Chief Joseph Highway, we were headed for Bear Tooth Pass. The views were stunning and the light cooperated nicely.

This area is known as the Sunlight Basin, for obvious reasons.

The view from Bear Tooth Pass, elevation 10,947 feet. The road had just opened the day before we were there (June 1), and then closed again a week later (June 8) by a late spring snow.

Sometimes, one must let the images speak for themselves. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part III!

Drive south from Cody WY on the South Fork Road (along the South Fork of the Shoshone River) to see some gorgeous country and the opportunity for wildlife pictures.

My lovely bride and I headed out with her brother the day after our visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum. Our mission was to find Deer and Elk, and maybe some Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. We completed our mission in spades. My lovely bride is a wonderful wildlife spotter – proven time and again – and she was invaluable on this trip. She spotted this cow Elk in a valley off the side of the road. The Elk were birthing their young, and the females usually go off alone. This one was getting ready.

Further down the road, she spied a bunch of Big Horns in some brush. Even with her directions, I needed a few moments to spot them.

The fields were full of Elk.

We saw lots of Deer with the Elk, but the real bonanza came down the road. We found a herd of Big Horns in a field. I love this picture of a Ram.

I have developed a habit of taking pictures of a subject and then turning around to see what is behind me. I spied a lone Ram up the hill just doing Big Horn stuff, but he captured my attention. I recorded his movement as he worked his way down the slope towards us.

He kept his eye on us as he approached, but didn’t seem too concerned.

He finally crossed the road about 50 feet away, and obliged me with a nice profile.

Happy with my images from South Fork Road, I was just enjoying the scenery as we approached Powell. I had seen a few Pheasant in fields as we drove, but found this handsome fella’ close enough to stop.

The Pheasant breeding season was nearing its end, so the males were in full color. We saw another in the growth of another field…well, sort of saw him.

A wonderful day with family, and a wonderful day of shooting. Critters that I don’t normally get to see and record!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part II…

After our wonderful experience in Twin Falls, we ventured north to Yellowstone National Park. As we traveled, we saw in the distance the west side of the Grand Tetons. We entered Yellowstone through the west entrance and experienced our first ‘Bison Jam’ a couple miles in. A herd was crossing the Madison River and we were at the head of the line. I was unprepared, but was able to grab a couple shots. Here’s one of a youngster just out of the river.

As we continued into the Park, we were awed by the beautiful scenery and by the shear number of Bison. We stopped several times to marvel at where we were. At one stop, I watched a Bison in a river in the distance. I grabbed a few shots from far away and, as I was shooting, he came out of the water and started walking across the meadow. I moved down the slope to the meadow and continued shooting. He crossed a second stream and started walking in our direction. I grabbed a few more shots and hustled up the slope.

By the time I got back in the truck, my lovely bride was taking pictures of him where I had been standing just a few moments before. He walked parallel to us for a bit and we moved on. We were due at Susan’s brother’s house for dinner, so the rest of the drive through the Park was uneventful.

The next day, we headed into Cody and a trip to the Buffalo Bill Museum.

It’s been 40 years since I was in Cody and it did not disappoint. The portion of the Museum formerly known as the Winchester Collection was being remodeled, so we weren’t able to see much of those displays. The rest of the Museum, however, was incredible. We really enjoyed the several hours we spent there.

We had a bite of lunch in the Museum and then caught the Raptor Show. They had a Red Tailed Hawk and a Screech Owl on display. Neither was allowed to fly, but I had brought the big camera in and I got a few pictures. Here’s the Screech Owl – a real cutie!

We encourage you to visit Cody and see the Buffalo Bill Museum. The gun collection is opening this month.

Until next time – enjoy! PHOTOROGR

Things to come…part 1!

Or, how I spent my summer vacation…part 1! The drive there!

In my last post, I showed images of the Yellow Bus we rode in around Yellowstone National Park and introduced our trip. In this post, I start sharing our trip with you. Enjoy!

We spent our first night in Twin Falls ID. We went to Jaker’s for dinner – great place, by the way – and our server asked if we had ever seen Shoshone Falls. Since this was our first time in Twin Falls, we obviously said no. He happily gave us directions and sent us on our way.

Simply put – FABULOUS! And we hit it at a perfect time for photography. If you’re going through Twin Falls, make time to go! You will not be disappointed.

This is an iPhone shot, specifically, a panorama. Then processed in Photoshop with a Nik filter. It’s amazing what that little camera (that makes phone calls, too) can do!

 

I let the pictures speak for themselves. Lots of fun in the digital darkroom with these.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Preview of things to come…

Last January, I discussed my photo goals for the coming year. My goals are simple – shoot more, share more! It’s been a while since I posted, so I haven’t been meeting my second goal. In my defense, however, I have been exceeding my first goal. My lovely bride and I took a vacation to visit family in Wyoming and then we spent a week in Yellowstone National Park on a yellow bus tour, more formally known as Old Times on the Grand Tour.

I spent a day and a half downloading files from my cameras when we got home, and have been slowly working my way through them, turning the RAW files into images. Emphasis on the SLOWLY!

As a preview, here’s a few images of our Yellow Bus – a 1937 White body with upgraded drive line and brake systems for dependability and safety. They chose a Ford drive line. Smart people!

Stay tuned. We had a wonderful adventure! Yellow Bus is a great way to see the Park!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

We started our 5 day adventure at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Matt, our driver, is at the back of the bus.

Our first stop was a pond with some waterfowl and Yellow Headed Blackbirds. I experimented with the panorama feature on my mobile phone.

In the distance, one can make out some Pronghorn in the distance. Day 1 was touring the Lamar Valley.

…suddenly, the screen went totally black…

…and the mouse and keyboard didn’t work. I had been editing some butterfly images (see below) and going from that wonderful creative process into problem resolution mode was difficult. I tried every set of keystrokes and other tricks that I have learned over many years of using a personal computer. I finally turned the machine off and tried to restart it, to no avail. I called the Geek Squad, my technology support team, and told them what happened. I described to the Agent the computer’s behavior over the past few months and what it was doing in the moments before the crash. I related my efforts to revive my machine but when I told the Agent the message I had on my screen when I tried to turn it on again, I simply heard a big sigh followed by those fateful words – sounds like a hard drive crash. At least she wasn’t suppressing a laugh.

Oh my! I disconnected everything and headed to Best Buy to visit the Geek Squad in person. Agent Trevor put my machine on the test bench, plugged it in and tried to make it work. Nothing. Agent Trevor disconnected everything and took it into the back room. Minutes passed. Agent Nate came out, mopped his brow, and told me that it just wouldn’t turn on for them either. We discussed my options. I bought a new hard drive and Agent Nate went to work.

After a few days, I got an email that my computer was ready. I was off to Best Buy. When I got there, Agent Nate showed me that the new hard drive was working. When I tried to get into my photo drive, however, nothing happened. My machine went back into the workshop with Agent Nate. After a while he came out and said that everything was dead again. We discussed my options now. The more we talked, the more I realized that my 4 and a half year old computer would not be revived.

Our discussion turned to a new computer. I decided on a new HP with an i5 processor and a great video card. I added a couple internal hard drives to facilitate my photo editing workflow, left everything with the Geeks to install the new hard drives and recover what they could from the old computer, and headed home.

On the way home, I reflected on the past couple days. First, that I had fortunately completed my monthly backup the week before the crash. I might lose the butterfly image edits, but nothing else. The RAW butterfly images were still on the SD card in the camera and I could re-edit the couple pictures I had worked on. Then the sticker shock associated with a new computer hit, quickly replaced by the excitement of having a better system that would accomplish tasks more efficiently with data storage that was better technology than the old.

In the next few days, I got out and took some pictures. I hiked up to the Kings Canyon Waterfall west of Carson City, got some shots of the steam powered locomotives at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, drove up Ebbetts Pass to see how far it was open, and recorded some of the flowers in our back yard. Without the computer, the mages sat in the cameras calling to me – we want to be edited! I had to ignore them, but it was difficult.

As time went by without a computer, I thought about when we bought our first computer in 1982 – an Apple IIe. My lovely bride was a junior high teacher and Apple had wisely put their systems into classrooms, then offered teachers a discount for buying a computer for home use. It only made sense to have the same computer at home as she had at school. As I recall, we paid more for that IIe than I did for my new machine. Of course, in 1982 dollars that was a lot of money. I gotta tell you, though, that that Apple was awesome. It had a huge (12″, I think) monitor with pixelated text. The keyboard was built into the computer case. Data storage was accomplished using bulky drives wired to the back of the computer case, and we had a case of 5-1/4 Inch floppy disks next to the computer.

We subscribed to an Apple magazine to help learn how to use a computer. The magazine contained programs for exciting things to do on your computer. I spent many hours typing in the code so I could have a digital fire on the monitor. Since keyboarding was a little different than typing, Apple included programs to teach us how to use a keyboard. Our oldest son, who was just a year old when we bought the computer, loved to use the cursor control program. There were two themes – a gnome and a bunny – each traveling in a two dimensional maze. The gnome was looking for gold and the bunny for carrots. When the gnome or bunny ran into a wall or ceiling (controlled by our son), the gnome or bunny would face you and stomp his foot. It was very entertaining to a one year old.

We used this computer for many years. While I was finishing my college degree, we added a second drive so I could move data without having to change floppy disks. We were really in heaven when I got a copy of AppleWorks, an integrated software with a word processor and spreadsheet. I wrote most of my college papers using the AppleWorks word processor. I had to take a technical writing class, so I took it in a summer session. The instructor required that all papers be written, graded, then rewritten as needed. Since I was married to an English teacher, I would write my papers on the Apple computer, have my lovely bride review them, and then print them (on our very impressive dot matrix printer). One day, I got a paper from the instructor with the only comment that I needed a comma in a sentence. Using AppleWorks, I inserted the comma and printed the paper. My lovely bride disagreed with the instructor and I agreed with my bride (of course), but I turned in the corrected paper anyway. At the end of the semester (when I had my A), I admitted to the instructor that I was married to an English teacher but I never mentioned the disagreement over the comma.

This rather long trip down memory lane shows just how much technology has grown and overtaken our lives. When I think of how simple that Apple IIe was to use, but how limited in what it would do compared to the computers of today. The same applies to telephones, automobiles and, of course, photography. I shoot digital cameras – no film at all. My cameras are simply a computer attached to a lens with a shutter that controls light hitting a sensor. My phone is a data management device that takes pictures and makes phone calls.

I was surprised at how distraught I was over not having access to a computer to edit my images. I determined that my creative process only begins when I compose in camera and release the shutter, and without the digital darkroom the process is not completed. I have also determined that I’m okay with that. Long ago, I figured out that the digital darkroom was critical to my photographic process. Many photographers like to do everything in camera and minimize their computer time but I prefer to have the camera record the light and then make my images happen on the computer. Personal preference rules – all processes are valid.

With that in mind, I need to wrap this up and get back to work configuring my new computer to my digital darkroom workflow. I’m amazed at the number of little things that I do, but have been reminded when I’ve tried to use them and they’re not there. In good news, however, the new computer makes quick work of editing. Where I waited several minutes for the old computer to move between PhotoShop and the various filters that I use, the new computer takes seconds. It’s wonderful.

The biggest lesson here is that good data storage protocols – including regular backup – are critical. And not just for your images, take care of your critical documents, too!

As for those butterflies, Agent Nate was able to recover all the images from the hard drive on my old computer and put them on my new computer’s drives, so all I had to do was re-install my editing software and apply some filters. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

New Stuff and a Little Fun!

My journey into photography has always been about trying new techniques and processes – all with an eye towards having fun. This week I had the opportunity to try something new…to me anyway. I accompanied the tour group from The Chateau at Gardnerville, where my Dad lives, at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. While they took their tour and listened to the tour guide, I made a few images around the Museum.

On a side note, I encourage everyone to make time to visit the Railroad Museum on May 10, the anniversary of the Golden Spike at Promontory UT. They are doing very fun stuff and have several new exhibits in the Museum.

Back to the blog…so, I tried something new. I took a group picture in front of one of the locomotives. In order to describe how I feel about the results, I will use a phrase from my car show days – it’s a 10 footer! (In car show parlance, a 10 footer is a car that looks great from 10 feet away but not so great if you get closer.) Here’s one of the group shots – just don’t look too close!

Check out the map on the floor…the route of the railroad when it was completed 150 years ago!

In good news, however, I always learn from my experiences and will do better in the future.

For the fun stuff…my lovely bride accompanied me on a brief excursion into the Pinenut Mountains this afternoon. Our objective was desert flowers (since I came up empty on my last run) and we found some beauties. The highlight of the day, though, was a Horned Lark who sat on the side of the road as we drove by…then waited as I backed up to get his picture…then, as I raised my camera, flew to the bush you see in the images below…where it posed for me! How fun is that?

Nice profile…

…and then a quick look to make sure I was getting the pictures…

New stuff and a little fun! Enjoy – PHOTOROGR