South Dakota

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

I join the following link up parties each week: LINK-UP  COMMUNITY

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?


WHAT DOES YOUR LIFE THRU THE LENS LOOK LIKE?

New to Life Thur the Lens??? START HERE!

Please remember to link your DIRECT url to the post you are linking!!

Life Thru the Lens weekly linkup | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

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???


WHAT DOES YOUR LIFE THRU THE LENS LOOK LIKE?

New to Life Thur the Lens??? START HERE!

Life Thru the Lens weekly linkup | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Please remember to link your DIRECT url to the post you are linking. 

editing HDR photos, and creating graphic design photos

I have been working on a couple of photography projects over the last few months... HDR photography, and graphic design in photography. 

HDR Photography; What is it?

I think some feel that HDR photography as pushing the limits of contrast, saturation and clarity in editing. If HDR photography is not merely pushing your editing techniques to create the surrealistic look of a HDR photo, then what is it?

High Dynamic Range photography, in a nutshell, is the difference between the darkest dark and the lightest light captured in a photo. 

How to Create HDR Photos | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

To create HDR images you'll need....

~ A tripod, especially if you are trying to capture a cotton candy water scene. However, I did take these photos hand held, but I was wishing I had trekked my tripod, around the lake, to this point.  

~ You'll need to learn how to shoot a bracketed series of photos. (Bracketing.... taking 3 plus photos at different exposures: one underexposed, one overexpose, and one exposed correctly.) I took two shots of each of these photos. One exposed for the sky and one exposed for the rocks. However, I usually take between 3 to 9 photos for an HDR capture.

~ A Program that can merge your photos, or in other words photo-staking. I like photo merge HDR in Lightroom, and HDR Effect Pro 2 by Nik in Photoshop. {If you haven't heard Google made their Nik collection free. It is a great program that I have been using for years now. If you would like to learn how to use the Nik platform Tim Grey is now offering his Nik Collection Class free.}

How to Create HDR Photos | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

HDR Photography Tips....

~ Moving subjects are practically impossible to make HDR. Trees, plants, and moving people create ghosting in HDR images once they are merged, so a still subject is optimal. 

~ You'll want to capture a scene with a drastic range of light and dark areas. Although my captured photos did have a wide range of darks and lights, I think I just barely had enough contrast work with.  

~Shoot RAW. I always shoot RAW, especially for HDR photography because I will want as much information as possible to work with when I edit my photos.

Lately I keep getting the question.... is that an edited photo? I love Matt Klowskowski's answer to that question, "Of course it is edited!" ALL photos shot in RAW need editing, whether it be a small amount of sharpening or an overall sweep of hand edits. You can think of editing like this.... capturing a SOOC (straight out of the camera) shot is like sitting down with a bowl of your favorite ice cream. Editing is making that bowl into an ice cream sundae. 

How to Create HDR Photos | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ Practice makes perfect. My first HDR attempt wasn't perfect. I think you remember my moving water shot from a couple weeks ago. It may not have been flawless, but it was fun to try to capture the scene, and to edit it.

"The Purpose of art is washing the dust of the daily life off our soul." (Pablo Picasso) Art should be fun! If you are stretching your abilities with a new technique and it isn't fun, set it aside for a little while, and then come back to it.   

A Graphic Design Project....

A Graphic Design Project | Sylvan Lake | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

I have been working on a graphic design project for the last month, or so. My main focus was to learn how to create a photo with a painted, or watercolor look. Once I figured that out, I thought it might be fun to create a series of photos, and make them into postcards. I love the National Park posters, and decided to pattern my postcards after that look, but not copy it completely. Some of you might recognize this lake; it has become extremely popular for treasure hunters over the last few years. Sylvan lake is my favorite lake in The Black Hills, and yes this is the lake that was feature in National Treasure 2, and no there is no treasure under the lake. :-D 

What Projects are you working on.... home, hobby, personal, work?

Life Thru the Lens 13/52... buying a new camera

I bought a new camera. About a month, or so, ago a reader asked me, "What to look for in buying a new camera?"   

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota

I kind of love/hate that question because I never really know what to say. Investing in a camera is objective, but it really should be subjective as well. I can tell you what specs to look for, but they might not be what you actually need to capture the pictures you are wanting, or the camera you need for your lifestyle. 

Art Alley, Rapid City, South Dakota

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A CAMERA... 

1. Consider your lifestyle, and do some research. Are you always on the run, or do you have a more relaxed life? Are you documenting everyday home life, or are you a street photographer? Do you love macro pictures shot in the daytime, or are you a night time star gazer? Sure the lenses you choose to capture all these moments are important, but let's be honest, the camera is important as well. You might want a smaller camera verses a larger camera, so that you can easily fit it into your purse or your backpack. If you are looking at shooting sports you might want an optical viewfinder verses an electronic viewfinder that has a continual refresh rate.  And, some cameras preform better in low light than others. For instance the new Nikon D5, with an expandable ISO range of 3 million (you read that right), is suppose to obliterate any night time photography competitors. 

2. What is your budget? Because while the Nikon D5 is an awesome camera with 153 AF points, and 12 fps, at 20.8 megapixels... okay I'll stop before I have a photography geek meltdown.... it is also $6,496! Yikes! Oh man, that baby would be coming home to momma, if I had the money to splurge on it. Most of us have a splurge value, or we save until we can purchase what we want. Either way, you should have a realistic budget to stay within because you will more than likely need to purchase accessories to go with your camera, unless this is a body only upgrade. 

3. Do you really want, or need, a DSLR camera? Gasp! Did I really just ask that question? You bet I did. DSLR cameras are the epitome of cameras; I have not meet anyone, who is at all interested in photography, who does not salivate at the click of the shutter release, the bulk of the lens, and the girth of the body of a DSLR. However, point-and-shoot cameras have come a long way over the last few years. Take, for instance, the Sony RX 100 III with a zoom lens 20-70mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent, and ISO range of 160-12800, and the ability to shoot in RAW. Now those specs make a great little camera. 

4. Once you have done some research and narrowed down the field, decided your budget, and whether or not you really need a DSLR camera go to the store and hold some cameras. When I purchased my first DSLR camera I really thought I wanted a Canon. I had narrowed down the exact model I wanted and was giddy with excitement to bring it home, until I held it in my hand. It just did not feel right in my hand. And, when I played around with the Canon menu verses the menu of a Nikon I gravitated towards the Nikon. This is where subjectiveness comes into play. Sure we can do all the objective research we want, but in the long run it might come down to... do you like the way the camera feels in your hand and do you like workings of the interface?

"Did you ever have to make up your mind? 

Pick up on and leave the other behind.

It's not often easy, and not often kind

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did you ever have to finally decide?

To say yes to one and let the other one ride..."

~ Lovin Spoonful, Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind

My new camera is a Fuji Xt1, and I LOVE it. It has met, and exceeded, all the specs I was looking for in a new system.

~ I wanted a compact DSLR system, so that I would no longer be lugging around so much weight when we hike. 

~ I wanted a system that was water and dust resistance, and that would preform in extreme weather. (My current camera does not like the cold)

~ I wanted a mirrorless camera because they produce amazing landscape photos. 

~ I wanted a system that I could invest in without bleeding me dry.



WHAT DOES YOUR LIFE THROUGH THE LENS LOOK LIKE?

1. Share your life through the lens past, or present.

2. Grab my button and/or link back to this page, so others can find our community.

3.  Visit at least one person and create a community with them through encouraging comments.

The RULES:

~All forms of photography accepted… keep it family friendly please.

~Anyone with any photography skill can participate… we are all learning and growing.

~Any camera you take pictures with is acceptable… the best camera is the one in your hand.

~The link-up will open at 8:00 A.M. Mountain Time. 

 


{Disclosure: All links in this post are affiliate links. Although I have not used the Nikon D5 or the Sony RX 100 III, I can recommend them based on my Nikon experience and on the recommendation of a close friend who is a Sony enthusiast. After using and owning the Fuji XT1, I can highly recommend it. If you click through on these links I might make a small commission of of your purchase from Amazon Associate Affiliate Program. I will not receive any profit from Nikon, Sony or Fuji.}