Wandering Road

Badlands Nation Park, and why I'll probably never be an astrophotographer

We visited the Badlands National Park recently.  The entire purpose was to try my hand at astrophotography. It was a bit windy the night we went out, but I was still able to capture a few shots. None of them are worth showing the public though; they all turned out a wee bit blurry because I used way too long of a shutter speed. At least I know what I did wrong. 

Badlands Selfie | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Besides the shutter speed, I learned a few things about astrophotography...

  • It is way harder than it looks
  • With my camera I need to be in place, and focused in, before the sun goes down
  • I am a great big chicken when I am standing out in the middle of no where, in the pitch black. 
Badlands by Day | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

I seriously would have had a Blair Witch Project experience if my family had not been out in the pitch-black-you-can't-see-beyond-a-foot-in-the-darkness-of-night with me.  I can totally relate to those poor kids...


Joshua Leonard:
I heard two noises coming from two separate areas of space over there. One of them could have been a deer, but the other one sounded like a cackling.

Heather Donahue:
No way!

Joshua Leonard:
Yeah, it was like a serious cackling.

~Blair Witch Project


Badlands by Dusk | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

I think I will stick to the daylight for now, and something I happen to enjoy, panoramas. 

Things you will need for beginning astrophotography....

  • A tripod
  • A remote trigger.... I have an app that will do this for me, or you can use your timer. Which is what I ended up doing because I forgot about my handy app. 
  • I used a wide-angle lens, because I was wanting a landscape shot.
  • An editing program, because no matter how great of a shot you make, astrophotography almost always needs a boost from editing. 

This is a great site if you want to explore astrophotography further.


You can see more of our visit to Badlands Nation Park at my new Instagram gallery called @wanderingroad

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Bear Butte at Sunset

The good, the random, and the fun!

Sometimes all you need is a photo....

But, then again, it is alwasy fun to create...

 "Midnight Sky" by Lisa Kerner Digital Artist

"Midnight Sky" by Lisa Kerner Digital Artist

Of course, it is so much better to see creation on display right in front on you...

And then you take that creation, and make art....

 Panoramic of Bear Butte, South Dakota

Panoramic of Bear Butte, South Dakota

An Old Wild West Town (Part 2)

THE GOOD & RANDOM.... 

Rockerville never really was an authentic wild west town, but it was an old mining town, founded in 1876 as a result of the gold rush in The Black Hills. During the 1950's and 60's, it became a tourist destination on the way to Mount Rushmore. However, eventually the town died due to the enlargement of the highway that flows towards Mount Rushmore. Rockerville literally sits between the north and south bounds lanes of the highway, and most people whiz on by never seeing the town until it is too late. 

What was left of the mining town/tourist attraction had become a sever safety hazard over the last few decades. So, while it makes me sad to see it gone, I do understand the need for it destruction. 

Instead of bulldozing it, the land owner asked the local fire department if they wanted to burn it down, using it for a training exercise. In the end, Rockerville went down with a legacy: gold town, tourists destination, ghost town, and an educational experiment.

Rockerville SD | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Rockerville SD | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

THE FUN...Tips and Tricks when taking photos of rural towns...

~Look for textures to capture. Old towns are often full of fun textures like peeling paint, shingles roves, weathered wall paper, and so on. 

~Do not be afraid to explore, but if privacy signs are posted I am all for being respectful of the landowner and staying out. 

~While exploring, watch your step. There were several places I could have put my foot through the floor if I wasn't watching where I was stepping. On a main floor that is no big deal, but on a second floor you could take a nasty fall. 

~Look for interesting artifacts that capture the essence of the place. For example, the old hitching post (a few shots down) was a fun find leftover from the mining days. 

~Try to take shots that tell a story. Shuffle your feet to find the story telling shot. 

Winter Shadow, in an Old Wild West Town (Part 1)

The good, the random and the fun, all in one....

The thing I love most about the winter is the position of the sun, and the long cast shadows it can create during the golden hour.

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

Winter is my favorite season for light. When you combine the winter sun with a cold crisp day, almost bitter, this incredible combination of the golden hour and blue hour occurs. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I feel as though I am in a dreamland. The sky is bluer, the shadows are stronger, and the golden rays warm everything they hit.

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | life-n-reflection

Tips for capturing a long shadow:

~Timing is important. To capture a long shadow you'll have to shoot either in early morning, or later afternoon. 

~Pay attention to where the shadow is landing, and shoot at an angle off center to the shadow. You'll notice none of my shots are dead on to the shadow.

~Although I did not use one for these shots, I will often use a polarizing filter in landscape photography to deepen my shadows, and to saturate my images. You can read more about polarizing filters at Cambridge in Color

~I did shoot these images hand held, but I do highly recommend a tripod. The main reasons I did not use one on this day, was that the snow was deep, and there were quite a few people around because the town was being prepared (by the local fire department) to be burned the next day. More on that, next week, in Part 2 of the story.  

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | life-n-reflection

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Snow Beautiful, Yellowstone National Park

The Good, the fun, and the random, all in one...

We visited Yellowstone National Park, back in October, and were lucky enough to experience early winter there. During our stay, we had weather that ranged from nice fall days, to blistery winter days; it was the winter days that I loved the most. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

Snow has a way of drastically changing the landscape of the land into a fairytale panorama. We happened upon this guy as we entered the park. No worries, I didn't play buffalo wishpeerer, like so many others at Yellowstone National Park. I value my life too much to get out of my vehicle when these beasts are so close. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

The last morning we were at the park, was an amazing moment in time. The hoarfrost (I know not exactly snow, but still beautiful) had covered the land in a thin layer, and everything was all aglow. Because it was so bitterly cold, the various mudpots, geysers, and hot spring were all putting on a spectacular show for us. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

"Color is everything, black and white is more" ~Dominic Rouse

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

A Sneak Peek of Yellowstone National Park

The good...

I have a ton pf photos to edit of our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National park. It was an epic trip that left me with a list of photographic opportunities I want to pursue in the near future. A trip back is a definite must. 

For now, I'll leave you with a sneak peek of three panoramas that I took with my iPhone. I have several others that I took with my DSLR that I will share at a later date. Yellowstone and Grand Teton is a must for panorama photography. You'll really cannot capture the topography of the landscape without using panorama. 

Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up

The fun; Tips and Tricks for Panorama Photography....

~If you plan to print your panoramas think about the length. Generally, you do not want to stretch them out too long, or have them too narrow. I have found that a 3:1 ratio is a great size to print. 

~If you are sticking your panoramaS together from individual shots you'll want to shoot in portrait aspect so that your short side will not be too thin. 

~If you do not have a panorama track for your tripod, don't worry you can still shoot them by hand. I plant my right foot and pivot from left to right (in a semi-circle) never moving my right foot. It takeS a little practice but the results are fairly spot on. 

~When shooting individual pictures for your panorama always shoot with an overlap of 15% to 25%. I have found when sticking photos together that 25% tends to work out a bit better for me. 

~Before you begin to shooting, pivot while tracking with your eye to notice where you might have to adjust up or down for the curvature of the Earth. This is very similar to following the line on your phone when shooting in panorama mode. 

~I always shoot more than once just to make sure I have what I need. So, I shoot my shots left to right, overlapping each shot, and then begin again. You can always delete your photos later, but it's hard to stick them together in Lightroom or Photoshop if you do not have enough information. 

~I like to stick mine together in Lightroom using the panorama feature because I can then adjust any aspect issues in Lightroom in the Transform Panel if I have any curvature issues in my final photo. 

Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up
Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up

Life Thru the Lens 35/52... Devils Tower National Monument

Last week I gave you a sneak peek at a little adventure we went on, but I didn't tell you where it was. If you guessed Devils Tower, in Wyoming, you are correct. You'll notice no apostrophe, which is correct. 

The Random...

The Tower is not only a NP Monument, it was the first National Park Monument. The proclamation to declare it a national monument accidentally left out the apostrophe in Devil's Tower. The form was signed with no apostrophe, and the official name Devils Tower was set in history.

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The Good...

~ The best view of Devils Tower is from the backhand side accessible on a dirt road off to the left when heading up to the visitor center. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ There are four main hikes in the area Tower Trail, Red Beds, Joyner Ridge, and Valley View. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ You'll notice colored pieces of cloth tied to the trees around Devils Tower because it is a sacred Lakota sight.  

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

We really lucked out as we were exploring the nearby trail to decide if we wanted to come back and hike it, a storm rolled in. Matt Kloskowski said, "if there is something interesting in the sky, take the picture." He further went on to explain that those landscape shots that stop you in your tracks almost always have a great sky, not just an interesting subject. 

I began to ask myself why I loved a particular landscape shot, and found out that Matt was right, it always had a terrific sky. So, when this storm rolled in I knew I had to stay and try to capture the clouds. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Tips for visiting Devils Tower...

~ Devils Tower is a nice little day-trip from Rapid City. Or, you can catch it on the way to (or from) Yellowstone. 

~ Your National Park Pass works here, hurray. 

~ Devils Tower is open year round. Except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. We especially love it covered in a new blanket of snow.

~ Be sure to hike around the base of it; It is intriguing to see how the formation looks from each side. The base hike is paved all the way around to make it accessible for everyone.

~ We went left on the hike, which I advise because it saves the best for last.

~ Be on the look out for animals while you trek around the base of the Tower; we saw a momma deer and her twins on our hike.

~ While hiking, look up. Devils Tower is a popular mountain climbing spot and most days you can see several climbers on the surface of the Tower. We chatted with a couple hikers on the path. They advised to come early if you want to see them, because they usually descend the mountain before the surface gets too hot. 

~ Visit the visitors center and get those National Park Passports stamped, but also take a look around. I thought they had a rather nice gift shop.  

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR PARK THIS YEAR??? YOU DO KNOW IT IS THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, IN THE U.S., THIS YEAR. 


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Life Thru the Lens 35/52... a Sneak Peek; A Guessing Game

A few weeks ago we headed west for the day.... can you guess where it was?

Sneak Peak | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The good...

I am more than a little obsessed with sun flares. And, these reflection shots of me. It's the closest I'll get to a selfie. 

Sneak Peek 4 | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Sneak Peek 2 | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The random...

The powers that be want to rename the place we visited.

Recently, in the Black Hills, there was a renaming of a popular hiking destination. You might of heard of it in the news... Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak. There are a few reasons I am against actions like these. First, it's a frivolous waste of money. If our state agrees to the name change, then everything would have to be altered: signs, maps, online social media, and tourist brochures, to name a few. Second, this name changed could lead to several name changes in our state, which leads to even more spending of money. Third and most importantly, we have a history in our country. Our history includes the good, the bad, and the down right ugly. To sweep the ugly under the carpet does absolutely no good for the generations that are up coming. If we forget where we have been, we are bound to repeat our mistakes. 

Sneak Peak 5 | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Snake Peek 3 | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Sneak Peek 6 | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The fun... 

I'll give you a few hints about where we went, but you'll have to come back next week to see if you are right. Until then, leave a comment on where you think we went. 

1. It is a National Park Monument in the U.S.

2. It was the shooting location for a popular 70's movie.

3. It's a popular destination for mountain climbers.

4. It's more than four football fields in height, yet the base is only one mile in circumference. 

5. It's in another state, but is still located in The Black Hills. 

SO, WHAT IS YOUR GUESS??? WHERE DID WE GO?


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Life Thru the Lens 31/52.... The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

{Side note... I am finally all caught up on visiting your blogs... can I just say, you are ALL amazing. Make sure you visit one another, there is tons of FABULOUS stuff going on around the world.}

The Good....

This year is the Centennial celebration of The National Park Service in the U.S. We have a goal to visit all of the continental national parks, and most of the national parks in Hawaii and Alaska. I am not a huge fan of the thought of riding in a bush plane, but mind might conquer matter to see the majestic sights in northern Alaska. 

We began our national park journey back in the spring of 2013 with a visit to Glacier National Park. That experience was beyond any words that I might string together adequately enough to capture the beauty of the park. Next, we visited Smoky Mountain National Park late in the summer of 2013; I have not shared that experience, but it was fabulous. 

This year, we are planning a fall trip toYellowstone NP and to The Grand Tetons. We have been trying to visit these parks for over 15 years now. We had a trip all planned out but our sick baby boy Dreamer, and an emergancy room cancelled that trip. 

We are extremely excited about our fall trip, but of the most exciting thing about moving back to South Dakota is that several National Parks and sights are right out our backdoor. 

The Fun... Badlands National Park....

Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Badlands National Park | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The Random...

Tips for visiting The Badlands:

~ The Badlands NP does accept park passes... otherwise it is $15.00 per vehicle, or $30.00 annually. 

~ If you visit during the summer time, be sure to bring plenty of water for hydration as the shade is limited and the heat plentiful. 

~ There are a ton of little hikes at each pull over all ranging in a half-mile, to a mile-and-a-half. Take the time to explore off-the-road to experience The Badlands intimately. We are planning a fall trip to hike every trail in the area. 

~ There are accommodations within the park... the Forever Resort, the Cedar Pass and camping as well. 

~ The Badlands vegetation is high desert foliage perfect for rattle snakes to hide in so...

Badlands National ParK | Life Through the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ You cannot visit The Badlands without a stop at Wall Drug. From either direction, once you hit the boarder of South Dakota, you will begin to see the signs. "Where the heck is Wall Drug?" Or, "Only (fill in the blank) miles to Wall Drug." Wall Drug is a drugstore that is famous the world over, and so much more.

(Once you see the signs you will begin to see them everywhere. We have seen the signs from Montana to the Middle East, and every where in between.)

 Polebridge Mercantile, Montana 

Polebridge Mercantile, Montana 

 

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR NATIONAL PARK? IF SO, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ONE?


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Life Thur the Lens 28/52.... Hiking Bear Butte, South Dakota

I have a fear of heights.

 Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota

Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota

I read somewhere where all fears originate in one thing, death. So realistically, I have a fear of death by falling. It's a fear that bubbles up deep within my stomach. One that has only left me paralyzed in one situation, otherwise I have been able to conquer my fear of heights. Although, it is no easy feat, it's a constant battle of mind over matter.

 Let's Begin....

Let's Begin....

 About a quarter of the way up....

About a quarter of the way up....

 About half-way up, taking a photo break....

About half-way up, taking a photo break....

 A view of The Great Plains...

A view of The Great Plains...

 We started way down in that parking lot....

We started way down in that parking lot....

We hiked Bear Butte a few weeks ago. It has an elevation gain of 1036, which is not much of an elevation gain when compared to some of the hikes we have done in Europe. However, combine the teeny tiny trial in places, with gusting wind, and navigating loose schist rock... I'm not going to lie, I was scared. You know, the kind of illogical fear that makes you picture your sudden plunge to death as you slip off the face of the Butte from a powerful gust of wind. Ummm hmmm, I mentally envisioned that scenario a few times. 

 There was a ton of color on the hike between the memorial flags and the wildflowers....

There was a ton of color on the hike between the memorial flags and the wildflowers....

 About three-quarters of the way up, on the backside of the Butte where the trail tapers off and the wind picks up....

About three-quarters of the way up, on the backside of the Butte where the trail tapers off and the wind picks up....

 Never too frightened to skip a photo opportunity of a flower....

Never too frightened to skip a photo opportunity of a flower....

Often, I cannot enjoy a good view because of the overwhelming emotion that suspends reality for me. But, this time I took the views in with triumph and awe. 

Life Thru the Lens | A Little Randomness | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Tips for hiking Bear Butte...

~Take lots of water, especially on hot days since the majority of the hike is in the open. And, wear sunscreen. 

~Wear sturdy shoes as the elevation gain is not gradual and the majority of the trail is covered with schist rock.

~Be respectful that Bear Butte is a sacred spiritual ground for the Sioux Nation.

~Hiking poles came in handy on the descent, and I would recommend them. 

~The views are spectacular so bring a camera. 

~Watch your hat on the top!! And, enjoy the view; you can see four states on a clear day. 

WHAT FEARS HAVE YOU CONQUERED LATELY???


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