The Black Hills

The face of crazy horse, A7rii 120sec shutter, f13

The face of crazy horse, A7rii 120sec shutter, f13

A few years ago, Jeff Tapp told me about Crazy Horse Memorial, a sanctuary in the Black Hills that was at the top of his list of places to see. The facility is home to the construction of the largest sculpture in the world. The sculpture itself is a tribute to the great Lakota leader Crazy Horse who is one the most widely revered Native American Heroes.

 

On a whim, this last Sunday,  we packed up a few of our things and hopped in the car with one thing on our mind: The Black Hills. We drove over a thousand miles and finally reached the entrance to Crazy Horse Memorial to find that the entirety of the region was under a blanket of thick, unrelenting fog. The luck was not with us.

We didn't have it in our plans to stay another day as we needed to head to Wyoming that night and return back to Illinois via North Dakota the next day. We left the facility without getting a glimpse of the sacred mountain. As we drove slowly through the extremely dense fog toward Wyoming, we decided that we'd come too far to not see the memorial, and agreed to return to the Black Hills again after spending some time at Devil's Tower.

It was one of the best decisions we'd ever made. Not only were we able to see the incredible memorial, but we were also invited to take a ride up the mountain to see the face of Crazy Horse and view the incredible progress that started 68 years ago. The view from the top was not something that cannot conveyed with any number of words or images. The detail of the 87 foot tall head of Crazy Horse is remarkable, and the whole experience of Crazy Horse Memorial is unlike anything else, I can't recommend it enough.

I'll make a separate post about devils tower, but here's a sneak peak. 

The clouds finally clearing to reveal the stars 

The clouds finally clearing to reveal the stars 

Instantly Improve Your Landscape Photography

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to instantly improve your landscape photographs is to get the camera low. I mean super low. I'll give you an example:

In this photo of half-dome which I took in late October, my camera was literally an inch away from the water. Why? 

  • it makes my foreground object (in this case the leafy log) much larger and prominent in the frame
  • allows me to establish a relationship between the foreground and background
  • the motion in the water creates a powerful leading line to the mountain in the distance.
Sunset at Half Dome from The Merced  in Yosemite National Park

Milky Way Over Death Valley

A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting Death Valley National Park, and it was unlike any place I'd ever been. I understood immediately why the unbelievably warped terrain was deemed "amargosa chaos" years ago. It's truly an alien landscape. 

I was heading to the park from Las Vegas around 8 pm, hoping to photograph the Milky Way. Death Valley has very little light pollution and on a clear night it's one of the darkest places in the United States. 

I realized I had forgotten my flashlight and decided to pull into a Home Depot in Pahrump. I asked a gentleman if he could point me in the direction of the flashlights, he decided to show me where the lights were at. As we walked through the aisles we got to talking, and I showed him some of my photographs. As soon as he saw my style, he began telling me different locations around Death Valley to visit, he had an amazing amount of information! There was one place in particular where he thought I'd be able to get my Milky Way shot, at Dante's View. 

I purchased my light, said thanks, exchanged information with him, and headed straight for the place he had recommended. After driving up a mountain in unbelievable darkness, I turned off all my lights and after a few moments, I was greeted with the most stunning Milky Way scene I had ever scene.