the black hills

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

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 30/52... The Great Race

"The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other, he understood, but to be with each other." ~Christopher McDougall

When The Thinker and I met the one thing we had in common was classic cars. He had one, and I love them, so we were a match made in heaven. I am a gal who loves to wander down the car part aisle smelling the mixture of rubber meets oil. I thoroughly enjoy wasting a day away ogling classic cars at car shows. I dream of restoring a 1963 split window Corvette. So, when I found out The Great Race was coming to town of course I was going to go.  

The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photograph
The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photograph
The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photograph
The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photograph
The Great Race | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photograph

Tips for seeing The Great Race, if it comes to your town....

~ Make sure to have spare batteries for your camera. Mine died almost immediately, so I had to resort to using my phone. 

~ Be prepared to stay for a while; all the competitors in The Great Race trickle in over a few hours. 

~ Embrace the people, because there will be a ton of them checking out all the classic cars. 

~ Chat with the competitors, and find out some interesting facts. They are all extremely friendly. 

~ Be sure to take the time to really enjoy viewing the cars. While pictures are fun, the real experience is lingering among all the beauty.

WHAT FUN HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO LATELY???


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Life Thru the Lens 24/52... Crazy Horse Volksmarch

Our goal since moving back to The Black Hills was to hike more often. While there was hiking in MO, there was not much hiking that was easily accessible to us. It is nice to be back in an area where we can literally walk out our door and find a trail. There is nothing like the smell of warm pine needles while the wind rustles through the tree tops, and the birds call to one another. 

A couple weeks ago we decided to drive to the southern hills to participate in the Crazy Horse Volksmarch. The last time we participated in the Volksmarch I was full blown pregnant with our first born. This time we told Blue Eyes she has to hike on her own... no free rides. :-)

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Spring 2016 | Lisa Kerner| Simply Living Photography
Crazy Horse Volksmarch Spring 2016 | Lisa Kerner| Simply Living Photography
Crazy Horse Volksmarch Spring 2016 | Lisa Kerner| Simply Living Photography

It was such a stunning view I had to at least try my hand at a panorama. There is normally a Volksmarch in the fall as well, and I hope this year is no different. The fall colors will make for a fabulous view. 

Crazy Horse Volksmarch Spring 2016 | Lisa Kerner| Simply Living Photography

A few Facts About Crazy Horse Memorial....

  • June 3rd, 1948 was the first blast on the hill.
  • Crazy Horse was a Lakota Warrior. There is a controversy over whether the family of Crazy Horse authorized the building of this memorial. 
  • Crazy Horse led The Battle of the Little Big Horn, or Custer's Last Stand.
  • The Crazy Horse Memorial is run by a non-profit organization accepting no government (state or federal) funding. So, your entrance fee is actually a donation to the building of the memorial.
  • The memorial is being built on Thunderhead Mountain, a sacred site. 
  • When/if completed the memorial will be the worlds largest mountain sculpture. 
  • You can only hike to the arm during the spring and fall Volksmarches. 

WHAT FUN PLACES HAVE YOU BEEN EXPLORING???


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Life Thru the Lens 20/52.... Custer State Park, S.D. and Wind Cave National Park

The Random....

Did you know that the buffalo is now the national mammal of the United States? This statues is not to be confused with the national emblem, and national animal, of the U.S. the bald eagle. Oh course, it comes with no additional species protection, but.... stop me now before I digress into a conversation about how it is NEVER a good idea to try to pet a bison. Or, take a selfie with one.

The Good....

I captured these beauties in Custer State Park, one of our favorite places to visit in The Black Hills. 

Do you want to learn about travel photography? Try CreativeLive's   Travel Photography Toolkit . (Affiliate Link... see police page from more information.)

Do you want to learn about travel photography? Try CreativeLive's  Travel Photography Toolkit. (Affiliate Link... see police page from more information.)

Tips for taking photos of wildlife....

  • A zoom lens is a must so that you can keep a safe distance from the animals, both for your protection and theirs.
  • A camera bean bag is a terrific aid in keeping your camera steady when you are capturing wildlife through an open window of a car. (You can see the one I use in the sidebar.)
  • Always use common sense, if the animals seem agitated move on from your location.
  • Never, never, never approach wildlife!!! With all the events taking place in Yellowstone and in our local area, what seems like common sense must be reiterated... these are wild animals they will defend themselves if they feel threatened. No shot is ever worth the loss of your life.
  • Wait for it. Take your time and just simple watch the animals for a while. A good shot never happens right away. We waited for this big guy to gradually make his way towards us before I got the shot I wanted. 
Want to learn new techniques for outdoor photography? Try CreativeLive's  Unique Outdoor Photography Techniques . (Affiliate Link... see police page from more information.)

Want to learn new techniques for outdoor photography? Try CreativeLive's Unique Outdoor Photography Techniques. (Affiliate Link... see police page from more information.)

The Fun....

We head down to the southern Black Hills quite often, and on rainy day in the early spring we went buffalo baby hunting. Unfortunately, we were a bit early, which was a bummer, but we did happen to come upon these fluffy bison in Wind Cave National Park. We might, or might not have, sat there for about 30 minutes watching these guys. We were quite amused, we have never seen buffalo with such shaggy hair on their heads. 

Winde Cave National Park | Life Thur the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Since we did not find the treasure I was hunting for, I thought I might as well try my hand at taking photos specifically for a panorama. This shot is made up of 13 shots total and then stitched together in Photoshop. I am pretty happy since it was my first try at a stitched panorama. But, there is always room to improve...

1. I should have taken my shots in portrait view so that the short side of my photo would have been bigger pixel wise. My overall shot ended up being 13047 by 3165. Not bad, but I would have to upsize on the short side to print this, because (very basically speaking) I could print a 43 by 12 picture. I'd want it to be bigger than 12 inches on the short side. 

2. I forgot my tripod, or I should say I just didn't bring it. I was not planning on shooting a pano on this particular day.

3. It was sprinkling which made for a really pretty sky, but I needed an umbrella to protect the lens from water. My camera is waterproof, but keeping sprinkles off the lens is always a challenge without an umbrella. 

WHAT ADVENTURES HAVE YOU TAKEN LATELY????


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Life Thur the Lens 19/52... Wildflowers of The Black Hills

The Fun...

The warm breeze graces the land and the snow melts as the last tulip withers away. And, just like that, spring has sprung and the wildflowers spread across the forest floor. 

Wildflowers in the Black Hills | Life Thru the Lens link up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Wildflowers in the Black Hills | Life Thru the Lens link up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Wildflowers in the Black Hills | Life Thru the Lens link up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Wildflowers in the Black Hills | Life Thru the Lens link up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Wildflowers in the Black Hills | Life Thru the Lens link up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
The Earth Laughs | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The Good.... A Hike FULL of Gratitude....

  • the scent of warm pine needles in the air
  • the rustling of the trees as they sway in the wind
  • mocking birds singing back and forth to one another
  • squirrels scampering through the forest
  • the smell of rain as a thunderstorm rolls in
  • tom turkeys strutting in all their glory
  • a forest floor covered in wildflowers

 

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?


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Life Thru the Lens 18/52... Spring in The Black Hills; looking for color

It is not always easy to find color in spring when you are still packed in snow. Our world began to spring forth with unseasonably warmer weather and then the jet stream shifted and brought back winter to our doorstep.  

 

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” 
― Ernest Hemingway
Looking For Color in Spring | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

With the new snow came the grumbling of hearts. The people of The Midwest are ready for warmer weather and sun clad days. I do not blame them, to have the sun wash your soul with happiness is a good thing. But for me, I reveal in the snow laden days, and the contrast of the earth against the white blanket of snow; it brings me comfort. 

Hello Spring... The Good, The Random, and The Fun all in one. 

Hello Spring... The Good, The Random, and The Fun all in one. 

What brings you comfort???


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