Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I LOVE this!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lightning

This was taken last night near Spanish Fork on Arrowhead Trail. My friend Tim shot this one, and the next, aimed straight up above us, which is why you see water droplets on the lens, blurring out some of the bolts.

From Arrowhead Trail, looking at the lightning striking over Payson.
All of the following were taken Saturday night. It was an amazing storm.
I was parked out West of Payson, out Utah Ave., and just past the train tracks, aiming the camera toward Genola. Some people have mentioned that they dislike the pole in my shots. I kept it in some of the photos to give some composition and to show that this extreme weather is happening right in our backyard.

Lucky number seven?

I'm sort of fascinated by lightning photography because it is a little challenging, but also because it gives you the chance to really view a lightning strike, whereas, in real time, you have about a millisecond to see it as it happens.

If you see any of these you really like, feel free to let me know. Or, if you really don't like one for one reason or another, I welcome constructive criticism, as an aspiring photographer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Late Night Lightning Storm

I have this fascination with lightning storms and, a goal of mine is to capture some lightning, but in that oh-so-perfect shot. I have yet to nail it like i want to but, here are three pics I got at between 1:30 and 3:00AM. The first one isn't too great, but it shows you all of the many tens of branches of a lightning bolt. The light at the bottom left is just a street lamp. All of these were taken from the spit at Lincoln Beach, Utah Lake State Park, UT.
This one is a little better. It took me a while to get the camera all dialed in so it was performing about how I needed it to. At first, I had the f number too big and, apparently, the ISO too low. Maybe my camera just isn't good enough because, I've read people online shooting lightning at 100 ISO. But my sensor wasn't picking up much at 200. So, I had to bump that up to 800 for these. I have a lot to learn. There aren't many lightning-shooting experts, and I don't have any photographer friends who've shot much of it so, I'm probably on my own to get it figured out. Here's hoping for another great storm soon.
I couldn't seem to get away from the wind and the rain, in order to stay set up outside, on the ground. So, I was doing the best I could inside my car. My tripod definitely isn't the best and, it doesn't fit real well on the passenger seat where I had it. But, that was the way things went tonight. As you can see, the way I had it set up on the passenger seat, it was more than slightly off-kilter; the bottom of the frame in the 3rd pic is some distant land on the left and the surface of Utah Lake on the right. This shot could have been so much better, had I been able to set up on the ground with everything perfectly set for a nice landscape shot. Oh well; I think it's my best lightning shot to date. I won't quit trying to get that perfect shot, somewhere down the road.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Said I'd NEVER do one of these again...

The very handsome couple.

Decided to shoot my friend's small wedding ceremony yesterday, even though I had sworn never to do one again after my first go at it. But it was for a good friend and I made clear there was to be no pressure on me; I'm NOT the wedding photographer; just a guest who happened to have his camera. It was beautifully set on a bluff and overlooking a very pretty little valley. Some of you will certainly recognize the area. It was actually inside a cemetery, which seems bizarre on its face. But it's actually just a pioneer memorial and, while there are many small headstones, I don't think there are people actually buried there. Could be wrong. Anyway, it was a beautiful day, albeit hotter than blazes, and the small ceremony was perfect.

Congratulations, You Two!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Lord, beer me patience."

Speaking of beer, I haven't been down to the cemetery to drink O'Douls with my mom since the first time. I have been to her grave site a couple of more times, but just briefly. I had Jericho with me last time, which makes it tougher to really concentrate down there. But really, he makes it easier to be down there. I can kind of talk myself through things, by talking to him; telling him that this is now one of Grandma's houses and that she lives with Jesus. Am I convinced though?

I'm still having a difficult time really facing this. Maybe I'm afraid it's just too hard, or that it's going to hurt just too bad. So instead, I avoid it. I think about my mom, but very superficially, meaning, I picture her alive for a second at a time, and then I shut it all out, never wanting to come face to face with what is real. I frustrate myself, but I accept the fact that I may be just too weak right now.

I went to my first therapy session last Thursday, which was good. So many people want to be there for me right now, and I'm so lucky to have so many good, loving and caring people in my life. The thing is, I just never have much to say. The conversations usually go like this:
Friend: "So, how are you holding up?"
Me: "Um...I'm doing OK, how are you?"
Friend: "Good. So how's your family hanging in there?"
Me: "Um...Pretty good, I guess."
Friend: "I just want you to know I'm thinking of you and am here if you need anything. Do you need anything?"
Me: "Um...thanks. I can't think of anything at the moment."

Have you ever heard anyone say to you, "Life has lost its taste, its smell, its feel?" Well, a lot of days, that's how it is. It's just very....gray. And not the good, rich color of gray that's on our walls. But a cold, empty, meaningless gray. It kind of gets me down and keeps me down, usually for 12-24 hours. When it happens, I think I can be a bit of a jerk. I am sorry if any of you have caught me on these days, and I know some of you have. Please be patient with me. Know that I so appreciate you and your friendship and your trying to help. I just sometimes have nothing to say, literally. Like I actually cannot put into words anything, because I really don't feel anything.

It was good talking to my therapist; it helped me to be able to actually tell someone that I feel nothing; that I feel just numb and like I'm avoiding the new reality of my life. It was nice to be able to let out a few of my frustrations, as well. It's hard not to feel bitter sometimes; angry at God for allowing my mom to suffer for so many years; angry at friends or family who I thought should have been here to help after Mom died; angry at doctors who were never well enough connected to their patient to ever have a shot at making things better. It's just good to...feel.

I have a hard road ahead; this became clear as the therapist (we'll call him Bob) tried to lay out some things I should expect. He said that I am numb; that I've sort of wrapped myself up in a cocoon to protect myself. He said it's normal, but that I will probably become a complete mess in another month or so. (Yeah, he actually used the word 'mess.') He suggested I cut my school load back, because he's sure I'm not going to do as well as I need to in my classes. (Not sure what to do here; I need to get my classes done.) He said that I will never feel the same again; I'll never be quite the same again. And as for my relationships, he told me to expect one group of people to come closer and overwhelm me with their love and friendship. And the other group will pull away, being now uncomfortable with the new me and with the idea of death altogether. So, I guess I can't get too mad at people; it's natural; it's bound to happen, he says.

One thing he told me, which I really liked, is that, when I do begin to fall apart, and when I sort of strip off that protective cocoon, to just let the emotions that come wash over me; that I should let them just envelope me like a wave and just...feel everything. Now, the falling apart thing doesn't sound like fun, especially that I'll be a mess for around 2 years before I begin to sort of get passed the pain. However, I'm so frustrated with the way I'm acting now; the way I'm just sort of avoiding reality and building these stupid cocoons, the prospect of really dealing with the loss of my sweet mom, and really feeling that, and beginning to maybe try talking to her, and really start living my life with some meaning again, is exciting. Ugh. Everything I'm saying sounds so weird.

I need to be patient. This is my new reality; this is the path down which I must go. I hope I can get through these next two years with some kind of grace, coming out a better, wiser, more compassionate human being; and a better husband, father, brother and son, to BOTH of my parents.

Anyway, I'm aware that so many of you are thinking of, and praying for me and my family. I am so blessed. If I seem stand offish, or curt, or just out of words for you, on a given day, I apologize. I've just nothing to say right then. But know that I think of all of you often, and know that I am lucky.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You might think I'm crazy

A picture of my mom (left) and her sister. My aunt died about 2 years ago. Mom never got over that. I'm happy at the thought that they are likely hanging out again, smiling down on their loved ones.

Well, there's a lot on my mind lately. Some of which, I talk about, some of which I don't. With my mom's death, I am really trying to handle everything in a good way, though I already know I'm not in some ways. I should be talking about everything with the people I love; instead, I mostly would rather keep it inside, and pretend that everything is fine. At the same time, I want to deal with it openly; I just wonder if that will come as time goes on.

When I wrote my talk for Mom's funeral, I had so much on my mind; so much I wanted to say. I struggled though with what would be appropriate; I wondered what words would honor my mom the best. I tried not to make it about me; it was her day. And I hope, as we talked about our love for her, that she was there, somewhere, listening with a peaceful smile on her face. There was a lot that, ultimately, I decided not to include in my talk. And while I think I made the right choice to omit that which I did, I still think about those things, so I want to write them down, so I can have them for later. And maybe I want to share some of it; hoping someone's ears might relate.

Though we're not sure, we think it's possible that Mom said goodbye to the world on the night of the 11th, rather than the morning of the 12th. This doesn't really matter, does it? But what I'm about to share gives some perspective on why it matters to me. When I came home on the night of the 11th, as I walked toward the apartment, I heard a raven calling. I looked up, and there on the light post near my van, was a raven. It was calling, though I obviously don't know what it was trying to communicate. The reason this is odd is that I hadn't remembered seeing ravens around downtown, and I LOVE ravens, for various reasons, so it definitely caught my attention this night. After thinking, "Hmm...that's different," I continued on my way upstairs, forgetting about the black raven on the light.

The next morning, the 12th, as I headed out the door to my van for work, that same raven was still there, still calling. And I thought it bizarre, but also enjoyed seeing him. Well, after a couple of hours at work, I got the news of my mom's passing and left the job site to come home. The rest of it, most of you already know.

I know you're asking yourself, "Is he going to somehow tie all of this together so it makes any sense?" Yes, I am. If you know me, you know I love wild things, the animals, the mountains. You know I especially love Alaska and wolves. Well, in my studies of wolves for over a decade now, I've become fond of ravens. You see, ravens and wolves are part of what is termed a "symbiotic relationship," meaning they count on each other for survival, to put it simply. Ravens are scavengers and they follow the wolves, knowing they'll eventually get to pick the leftovers off of old elk, moose or bison carcasses. Biologists now believe the wolves are following the ravens as well. Ravens have been observed calling to the wolves and telling them where to find prey. So they work together. To some people, this is no big deal. To me, it's all the more fascinating.

Anyway, while living in Alaska, I learned about Northwestern Native folklore and symbolism. I loved the tribal paintings of ravens and I would often pick up books and browse the native lore about ravens. So here is where I'll tie it together. In much of that native legend and lore, Raven has several roles. One of the most important is that he is a creator. But one of the darker legends is that he is a messenger of death. Was it coincidence that the raven was in our parking lot? I don't know; maybe. But maybe not. That he was there, calling while I was walking by, and the only one around, on the night of the 11th and the morning of the 12th is strange at the very least. Personally, the symbolism isn't lost on me.

I decided not to include that in my talk. I figured the meaning would be lost on about everyone. I think Mom might have gotten it, if I had explained it to her. She wasn't superstitious; she was "a little sticious." But it really probably was best to keep the raven bit out of the funeral and just throw it somewhere into the great abyss of my blog. So there you go. Think I'm crazy? That's OK. I probably am.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I need a tool store for this...

I'm trying to figure out what it is I'm thinking. My dear mother passed away just over 2 weeks ago. What's more; she is gone because she chose to go. So, now we're left to deal with that. It has been anything but easy. I consider myself to be emotionally strong; able to handle all kinds of difficult situations. However, I'm coming to grips with the fact that I just don't have the tools to deal with this one. I guess I need to find a good tool store.

Today was an OK day, meaning, I didn't cry. I'm not very happy, but I managed one or two half-smiles, I think. And I worked a full day, though I doubt it was as productive as it could have been. Yesterday, however, was one of my worst days yet, following the my mother's passing. How does it feel? It seems impossible to describe; I've not before gone through some of the emotions I'm now experiencing. I feel completely lost. I'm feeling things, but I don't know what to do with those feelings, which also makes me just numb. I'm in a fog, knowing not which way is up, or which way is down. There is a constant sadness that my mom is dead. (And can I just say I HATE hearing myself say the words "my mom is dead?") I definitely feel that a big piece of me is totally gone. There is now an emptiness in my heart. Not empty, entirely; I still have many things I love, thank God. But the emptiness or hollowness is palpable, most of the time.

...Days later...

Well, I'm just sort of going through the motions, still. I definitely need help getting through this; not so much for the immediate present, but for the hard times that will inevitably come in the future. I went up to my school on Friday, to see about getting some grief counseling. (Or any counseling; whatever they recommend for a son who lost their mother to suicide.) They had to schedule my first appointment for a week later so, I'll see the therapist this coming Thursday. I'm looking forward to it; I just feel like I need some direction in dealing with this and I am incapable of figuring it out myself.
You know, I had become accustomed to being at my parents' home, but not actually seeing or visiting with my mother. Often, in the past few years, she'd stay in her room, lying in bed, or being fast asleep during the middle of the day. This is causing me, what I view is more trouble now. I don't think I'm dealing with what is reality. I mean, I saw my mom's body that day. I saw the medical examiner take her away. I saw her lying in a casket, in which she was to be buried. I spoke at her funeral and I carried her casket to her final resting place. Yet, I haven't accepted that she's actually dead. The fact that she isn't just lying in her room, asleep, has not yet become my reality. To me, when I'm out visiting with Dad, or just driving by, Mom is probably just in her room, having a bad day, or a sick day, or just tired and asleep. But that's not the case, is it? Oh, I cried some good tears on that day, and the following days. My emotions were raw, as they should be. But now, that it actually counts, and now that it's really real, it's not real at all. And if that is how I feel, how can I ever really mourn the loss of my mom? How can I heal my broken heart? How can I deal with the fact that she left us because she wanted to leave this cruel world, which included me? This is definitely going to require the help of a/some professional(s).

I worry about the rest of the family, that they may not get the help they need for this traumatic experience and loss. I worry about my dad, who found Mom that day. He's on the road plenty with work. In a way, keeping busy is helpful. On the other hand, the more he has his mind preoccupied, the more he may begin to think, "Ah, I've got this; I don't need any help; I'll be OK." I am very much pro-therapy. I really tried to stress to my dad and siblings NOT to play tough guy with this; this will not simply disappear. It needs to be dealt with in a healthy way, and with help from the experts.

Oh, what a long road lies ahead.


Not a horrible day. One thing which keeps become more and more clear; If you think you know who your friends are, and that you know who cares about you, wait until something tragic happens when you need them; you'll definitely realize who your friends are, and who your friends aren't, and never were. OK, maybe that's the last time I'll mention this. Maybe.

Today, we hung out at my dad's house, while he visited with a woman who is hooking him up with a grave marker. My little sister and brother were there, too. I definitely like hanging out with them. It's comforting to have us all there, together. My dad and sister had placed a solar powered, lighted flower at Mom's grave earlier. Tonight, Jericho and I stopped down there to see it. I struggle to get in touch with my true feelings. I keep feeling like I need to talk to my mom, but can't bring myself to do it. Maybe I'm afraid of what I'll say; maybe I'm afraid to feel her presence; that it won't be her, physically. That will make it all pretty real, won't it? I probably wouldn't have stopped if Jericho hadn't been with me. It's comforting to have him there with me. Instead of trying to talk with Mom, or to feel her presence, I avoided it altogether by talking with Jericho and telling him how that flower is Grandma; that this is one of her houses now; that she lives with Jesus.

I miss my mom. I'm in pain about it tonight. I guess that's a good thing.

I belong to a club that no one should ever try to belong to. I guess though, it's a positive thing to know I'm not alone; other people have survived this so I should be able to as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Men greive differently...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Utah Wild Horses Shoot

I loved this shoot sooo much. Can't wait to do it again! Big thanks to my good friend, Preston, for taking me out there and showing me how it's done. (And for use of his amazing lens again.)
I really loved this white horse. It was the first one I saw, and it's just very wild and primitive looking, with it's long, stringy white mane.
I didn't notice anything amiss while we were shooting. It wasn't until I downloaded the photos to my hard drive that I noticed something surprising about this palomino. Can you see it?
This gray stallion was the boss. He was stirring the others up and sort of herding them around. A very tough looking horse.
Wild horses being....wild. I was so glad to see the landscape out there so colorful. I've been out there a half dozen times and it's always very brown and dead looking. With the long Winter and very mild Spring, there's lots of greens on the ground, making these pics all the more sweet.
This guy was sort of a buckskin, I guess. A very powerful looking horse. He was impressive in every way, from his long, stringy mane and tail, to his wildly colored coat, to his very muscular appearance.
We were hoping for a lot more action from these horses than we got; perhaps the heat made them a bit more docile than usual. It was 91 degrees at 5 o'clock. Every once in awhile, though, a couple of them would pick at each other until one of them would explode a bit; nothing long-lasting; just a very wild-sounding winnie, and a kick or two.
There is something very freeing, being out in the desert, and seeing horses, living in very wild, often harsh conditions. I was raised with horses and my family has always had 4 or 5 around. But being out there last night, I have a sense that this is the life meant for the toughest, hardiest of beasts. And for them, they'd prefer it no other way than to be free of reins, free of saddle and rider, free of any fence or gate. I can't wait to get back out there. I will dream about it until then.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Mormons

This is a brief overview of the 2012 presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Jr. I'm curious to know--and I still don't--why Utah Mormons favor Mitt Romney over Huntsman so overwhelmingly. Sort of gives me secondary embarrassment. (By the way, I make no secret that I'm supporting Huntsman in 2012.)

Jon Huntsman, Jr.

"One of the Governor's first priorities after taking office was to meet with Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to discuss the removal of the radioactive mill tailings. The tailings pose a leaching threat to the Colorado River, and possible contamination to water users downstream."


Climate change: Huntsman backed a program by Western states to limit greenhouse gases considered responsible for climate change through a cap-and-trade plan. While he is a progressive on environmental issues, he opposes the Cap and Trade Bill, based on the premise that the economy can't take it. (USA Today)

Civil unions: Huntsman backs civil unions for gay couples, calling it a fairness issue...Huntsman told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that he believed in "traditional marriage" but that supporting civil unions was a "fairness issue." (USA Today)

Wilderness Issues: On wilderness issues, such as the roadless rule, he seems to walk right down the middle, where he wants wilderness preserved, but wants all potential stakeholders involved in the process. (On this, I'm likely to disagree, since often the only stakeholders that matter are the ones who have the most money.) But I give him credit for taking a moderate approach, rather than a pro-energy approach above all. (Just today, the UT legislature met with the BLM to talk about future approaches to land management and wilderness designation; unfortunately, I think it's headed for WAY less federal input and more immediate local input. On many issues, I think the decisions should be left up to the most local government. But, The Grand Staircase, for instance, is not just Southern Utah's land; it belongs to everyone.) Mostly, my bias be exposed, I'm worried for the few beautiful places left; that they're all too often eyed by the all-mighty dollar and the all-mighty oil/gas industry. Come on, Huntsman! Be a champion on this issue!

Crossing political lines: Well, most obviously, Huntsman, Jr. accepted the position as Ambassador to China, under Pres. Obama...that's enough proof for me that he puts service above party. Also, of late, he's made several public slams about the Republicans in Washington. Prove me wrong if I am but, I haven't heard Romney do the same, ever.

Abortion: Huntsman, Jr. is pro-life and signed into a law a parental consent requirement for pregnant teens to obtain an abortion. He also answered in an ABC interview that he would support a Right to Life Amendment, meaning, making abortion illegal, except in the cases of rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother. He and his wife have both biological and adopted children. I'm respectful of a pro-life stance, as long as it doesn't entirely take away a woman's ultimate right to choose.

Immigration: He focused a lot on immigration, due to pressure from Utahns. He pressured the Western Governors' Association to work on immigration reforms. As far as I can tell, he was for a pathway to citizenship for all who wanted it, meaning a green card as a right to work, a work visa as a pathway toward citizenship. As with nearly everything, he approaches the issues with sensibility; he's very cerebral about things, always wanting to ignore emotion and rhetoric...and party.

Gun ownership: Recently said in an ABC interview that he would NOT veto an assault weapons ban. (Actually, this was a gaffe; he called the interviewer back soon and said he'd misunderstood the way the question was phrased and said he WOULD veto an assault weapons ban and pointed to his record on 2nd Amendment rights in Utah). Utah has THE most lax rules and laws as it pertains to gun ownership and gun rights.

Personal: Married, father of at least 6 kids (2006 bio), Member of the LDS Church though maybe not what Utah Mormons would consider "orthodox." Grandfather was a Mormon apostle, father is a Seventy. Dropped out of high school, later to obtain his GED. Served Mormon Mission in Taiwan. Graduated from U of Penn in Business.

Mitt Romney

The former Massachusetts governor has stood on each side of the cap-and-trade issue; he has gone from staunch advocate for taking on global warming to a climate change skeptic. He does think humans do contribute to climate change, to some unknown extent, but he seems always to fall to the side of let's not legislate anything based on it, especially if it might slow the economy. (I'm no fan of total deregulation; I believe Romney will undo any and all regulation of oil/gas drilling, as well as the banks.) He once claimed he was a lifelong hunter, then said anyone who called him a hunter had “mischaracterized” him. He supports clean energy, just not in the form of wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod. (Eco-Nomics)

Gay Marriage/Civil Unions: First and foremost, he's still willing, if pushed by his party, to repeal the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which kills him on this issue, in my opinion. Welcome to 2011 America, Mitt. (

Mitt Romney's gay rights flip-flop: When running for senate in 1994, Mitt Romney wrote a letter promising a gay Republican group he would be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Kennedy. Romney was trying to get an endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans. The letter said, " we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent." Romney has recently made it clear that he opposes gay marriage and he is trying to position himself as the most conservative candidate for U.S. president, opposing most rights for gays and lesbians.

Abortion Rights:

In October 2002, campaigning for governorship of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he would “preserve and protect” a woman’s right to choose. He now describes himself as opposing abortion. His political positions as governor were pro-choice, although he vetoed different legislation that would have "expanded abortion rights." He's since said if a bill came across his desk as president, to ban all abortions, he'd gladly sign it.
Again, I have respect for the pro-life position, except when it attempts to infringe upon the woman's ultimate freedom to choose. (And tough to tell, really, where Romney stands; seems always to depend on who his audience is.)

Immigration: He had been somewhat compassionate on immigration, not wanting to keep illegal children from receiving aid, such as in-state tuition. He then, in 2007, took a hard-line approach and said no aid, no amnesty, no work for illegals. They'll all have to go home at some point. As well, he authorized MA's police force to arrest illegal immigrants. ( Again, sort of depends on his audience.

Guns: Said during his governor campaign that he " NOT inline with the NRA." In 2006, while still governor, he joined the NRA.

Taxes: Raised over $500M in taxes and fees; fees on marriage licenses and impact fees for building homes, and raised taxes on businesses.

Health care: Created universal healthcare, including a health insurance mandate in MA, after which Obamacare has greatly been modeled. Now, he's really, REALLY against Obamacare.

Personal: 5 kids, married, graduate of BYU and Harvard Biz and Law Schools. Mormon missionary in France. Helped make the '02 SLC Olympics financially successful.

During the most recent Republican debate 2011, Romney's big campaign platform seemed to be " Obama sucks." Nothing really offered from the man himself.

So, what is it, Utah Mormons? What is up with the love affair of Mitt Romney, especially to the point of overwhelming preference over Gov. Huntsman? I don't get it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2 million acres of AMAZING

OK; yes, I'm aware that this train has NOTHING to do with Yellowstone, but we did see it on our trip home. As we made our way toward Echo, UT from Evanston, WY, we passed this train. Brynn had to shoot the pic from our moving car so we couldn't capture the whole thing. But this train was a mile long and each and every flat bed (the whole train) had these tanks on them. It was so crazy to see a mile of these tanks just going down the train tracks. I have no idea where they were going but, ARE WE PLANNING ANOTHER WAR?!?!
OK, this was also on the way home, through Randolph, UT. A few trees at the tiny post office were full of maybe 20 vultures. I've taken pictures of these birds before, in other places, but I couldn't resist. Pretty cool creatures, if you ask me. Nature's garbage disposals for any and every carcass.
This is Lewis Lake, and is actually in Grand Teton National Park, south of Yellowstone; the two are connected. I was actually surprised that the entire lake was still covered with ice in mid-June. But it made me happy; I'm not nearly ready for the Summer heat. This lake is at 8000 feet above sea level, so I guess it's not all that unusual for it to be frozen.
These were the last animals I shot in YNP. They're sandhill cranes. I have seen them and shot them before, here in Utah, but I had never seen a sandhill chick. Come to think of it, I haven't seen the babies of very many birds at all, especially the wild ones. This is an excellent time of year to visit YNP if you're into babies. Most of the animals have them now.
Just a landscape. I am sort of sad that I didn't take more time to shoot landscapes, as there are many, many incredible opportunities for them in Yellowstone. I need a second camera so I can keep one set up for super telephotos of wildlife, and the other for landscapes. This shot is OK, but I passed up some amazing shots out of pure laziness and sort of a one-track mind for wildlife. But I think you still get the idea that YNP is a very special, very beautiful place. 2 million acres of intact ecosystem. I wish places like this were more valuable to people. Instead, the special places are usually considered "waste land" and prime locations for drilling rigs or coal mines and the like.
This momma badger is out hunting for ground squirrels. I watched her leave her den and disappear down a squirrels den for about 5 minutes. She came up with nothing, unfortunately, but went on hunting. I thought I'd hang out by her den to see if she'd return with food for her babies, but I was pressed for time and had to leave before that happened.
Here's momma with her two babies. Aren't they cute? They were really fun to see and to watch as they played with each other, practice fighting like a lot of other baby animals. We used to see a lot of them around here, but it's been over ten years since I've seen any. The farmers have killed them off; guess they didn't like them threatening their chickens. Even I killed one once, in order to keep it from killing a small puppy chained up in someone's yard. I wish I hadn't have now. But I'm pretty sure that puppy would have been badger food if I hadn't.
This is one of three grizzlies I saw while in YNP this time. The first one was too far out to bother with the camera. The second one, which was in this same area, was still pretty far out; I have pictures that aren't worth posting. This guy was awesome and ended up walking right by me and another photographer. He passed by us at about 20 yards and then went into the river, swam across, and this is him getting out the other side.
This is him again; doesn't he have a cute butt?
Here he gave us a little smile for the camera before going on. I was ecstatic to get pictures like these. I've definitely had less successful trips than this one before. Thanks for showing up, Mr. Bear!
These are river otters. I was lucky enough to shoot some two Winters ago in YNP. At that time, the river they were in was mostly frozen. But they'd go in what little open water there was and come up with fish after every dive, it seemed. There were 3 this time, though I only managed to get two in the shot. When I saw them, I was too close for the lens I had on. I waited just long enough to get this shot, which isn't great. Then, they dove in and went upstream to fish, only poking their heads up a couple of times. Wish I could have done better with them. Oh well, I'm so driven to get back up there. In another life, I'll be a wildlife photographer ;)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I could love it here...

Well, we made it to Yellowstone yesterday afternoon. Brynn suggested the trip about a week ago, to my surprise. I LOVE Yellowstone and would like to make it a bi or tri-annual trip. But, with our busy schedules, once a year is better than nothing. I fell in love with Montana way back in high school, when me and four friends moved up to the town of Red Lodge, after our junior year of high school. We were only there for that Summer, but it was long enough to bond with the place. There's a feeling of freedom and wildness here, not unlike the feeling I get in Alaska. I think, once I'm done with school, we'll be looking for work in Alaska and Montana and I'll be in Heaven in either place. This first photo is a coyote. She was hunting by herself along a little pond.
These mountains are very "Montana" to me. I love the mountains in this place and in Wyoming, which are tall and often look like huge grassy meadows reaching to the sky. I took this photo along the trail to Hellroaring Creek.
I've seen more bison here than ever before. They're everywhere; doing very well, I'd say. This was along the NE Entrance Road, just a bit east of Lamar Valley.
The bison calves are so cute, and they're everywhere. I'm sure some will fall prey to wolves and bears. For the most part though, elk seem to be the main course for predators. I watched 2 wolves, early this morning, run right through a group of bison calves. That I could see, they left them alone. Unfortunately, the wolves were an easy 1/2 to 3/4 mile or so from me; no chance for a photo, even with an nice 400mm lens. There's still hope, as we're here until tomorrow. I plan on checking out the Slough Creek area for the pack of wolves there. Rumor has it, one member has been seen at fairly close range.
Mid-June looks pretty great in Yellowstone Nat'l Park.