Adventures, Musings, yellowstone national park

Capturing Wonderland

The Yellowstone Park Foundation is having their 2nd Annual “Capturing Wonderland” photo contest and I thought I’d toss my hat into the ring. I only have a rinky-dink camera so I don’t achieve high quality photos but I thought even if I didn’t win, they may be able to use and enjoy my photos at some point. They have two categories–landscapes and wildlife–and I submitted something for both. I have great photos of bison and common landmarks, which I’m sure everyone has, so I tried to offer something they may not have seen many photos of before. Here are my entries (click on each pic to enjoy it in full size–especially if you want to see the otter’s adorable squishy lil face!):

Here's an otter contemplating a dip in the Yellowstone River.
Here’s an otter contemplating a dip in the Yellowstone River.
Yellowstone River
Where the River Meets the Sky. This is a view of the Fishing Bridge from the Howard Eaton Trail.

I haven’t a clue how to use Photoshop so I’m sure they could be a million times better. In fact, the landscape pic is too dark but I kinda dig it that way because the trees create a negative space where the sky and the glass-like water becomes the main focus. The only manipulation they’ve seen is the standard contrast/brightness/saturation you can use from the Microsoft photo gallery. I haven’t really bothered to learn Photoshop because I’m a true believer in the idea that what makes a good photo is the subject matter and being in the right place at the right time to capture it at its best.

In this day and age, there are many types of photography and it drives me nuts when they’re judged same way. I see it as boiling down to two vastly different approaches: There are photographers who patiently wait for magic to happen and there are photographers who make magic happen through creative editing. (Most are probably a mix of both at this point, however, I’m predominantly a waiter.) I’m not saying either is better or worse, I’m just saying they are very different approaches. Both are time-consuming and require talent, but one is more about having camera skills and the other is more about having computer skills. That’s basically why it drives me nuts when both are viewed as being the same. One should be considered fine art photography and the other should be considered fine art photo design. However, in this digital age, techniques have bled together making its difficult to determine where one begins and ends. Shew… got that off my chest. Okay, I’m stepping down off my soap box now.

Looking through all my photos was just what I needed to get me into the mood to travel back out to the wild west. Truthfully, a large part of me dreads it every year because I’m not a fan of driving for days on end. However, this year I left myself plenty of time to hike, camp and explore so hopefully it won’t be as painful.


Where is my mind?

Today I engaged in some soap photography (aka soapy porn) for my Etsy shop and I couldn’t help but chuckle at how humorously absurd I am sometimes. Here I am, freshly moved into my new apartment, the neighbors don’t know who the heck I am and I’m on my porch wearing Mrs. Roper’s muumuu (I prefer moo-moo); a knit shawl complete with a large bejeweled medallion; dancing around to Sinatra, the Beach Boys and Ray Charles; and over-enthusiastically taking photos of soap, of all things, like Austin Powers. Yeah, baby! Yes! Yes! No! No! People must think I’ve completely lost it. Which makes me wonder, was Chuck Palahniuk thinking of me when he created Tyler Durden’s character in Fight Club? I mean we are eerily similar and growing more so by the day. We are both snazzy dressers, soap makers and off our rockers.  Just pondering the likeness…soap 016 soap 017 soap 018



I’m grump-diddly-dumpcious

DSCF1527I’m in a dreadful mood today so to spare you from the dark place I’m in, I’ll share with you some photos that I took a few weeks ago of our romp around the property. We were looking for migrating amphibians but at that moment we were a little premature. That would not be the case anymore since just yesterday I saw some adult red-spotted newts swimming around a vernal pool and some large egg masses. They’ve been busy these past few weeks! Most of the vernal pools are already dry which doesn’t bode well for the spring and summer months. Perhaps it’s good that they got a little bit of a head start on breeding. Anyway, enjoy the pics and I will try to adjust my attitude before my next post. Strangely enough, the photos are kind of dark and dreary, just like how I’m feeling. There’s no intended connection there, but irony always has a way of creeping in.





My visit to the Museum of the Earth


Yesterday I had the chance to return to my old stomping ground to visit the Museum of the Earth’s staff and volunteers (I miss them all immensely) and to see their new exhibit, Whales: From the Depths of the National Geographic Collection. If you have the chance, I strongly recommend visiting the museum to view this awe-inspiring exhibit. It will take your breath away. In my slideshow you will see just a small sampling of the photos on display but your really need to be there to get the true experience. Over the exhibit gallery hangs the skeleton of a 44 foot-long North Atlantic Right Whale which beached off the New Jersey coast a few years ago. Her death was due to being caught in fishing line–an unfortunate way to go for any animal but it’s especially tragic considering there are only around 300 of these whales left in the world. Paired with the photos are the haunting melodies of whale songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustic Research Program, facts on whale evolution (Did you know that the whales closest living relatives are hippos? Now you do.), kids coloring activities, and action steps you can take to help whales. You will walk away feeling overwhelmed by the idea that you are sharing this planet with such majestically beautiful creatures. The exhibit is up until June 4th so you have some time still to plan your visit to the museum

I also made sure to photograph and include the spectacular artistry of staff member, Maija Cantori. The queen a paper-mache herself created Senorita Anita the Ammonita (the ammonite) and Barnacle Betty (the adorable North Atlantic Right Whale), the painting of the North Atlantic Right Whale with her calf AND some of the kids coloring sheets for the Whales exhibit. Such a talent! I’ve never seen someone do such an amazing job with paper-mache, especially on such a grand scale. This is another great example of how art and science go together like hand in glove. Just as an aside: if you ever get a chance to meet Maija, make sure to ask her when she’s starting her pinata business.




Below, you will see (in no particular order) a glacier garden, the Hyde Park mastodon (found not too far from where I’m living now), a Dunkleosteus (an armor-plated fish about the size of a school bus), early amphibians creeping their way onto land, a lobed-fined fish, casts of swimming reptiles (like Nessie), the largest intact sea scorpion fossil, sea scorpion art depicting a larger sea scorpion man-handling a smaller one, a glorious slab of fairly sizable trilobites (Who doesn’t love trilobites?), a cast of a T-Rex skull, and coelophysis art through the ages (I actually spelled coelophysis correctly the first go around! Wow!)



Our visit to Olana

DSCF1730Here are photos from my visit to Olana, home of the famous Hudson River School painter, Frederic Edwin Church. It’s only a half hour drive from my house and in the off-season it’s free to roam around their 250 acres. The architecture is gorgeous and so is the view of the river. My housemate, Cassie and I took a quick trip out there to practice our landscape drawing skills (she doesn’t need any practice but I sure do). After failing to draw the house, I ended up sketching a fun little underwater carnival scene with a hammerhead as a lion, a shark balancing a ball on its nose, a mermaid as a sexy sideshow act and a mustached whale as the master of ceremonies. All this this action was happening beneath a serene lake with swans unknowingly swimming on the surface. Not sure what inspired such a quirky sketch. Cassie did a beautiful sketch of the house. Her work is amazing! I can’t wait to see what she unveils for her local art show in August. Among the photos of the house are a few of a very friendly chipmunk. Can chipmunks have rabies? This creature was extremely laid-back about us photographing it. It seemed to enjoy being the center of attention. If we are reincarnated, as some believe, I have a feeling we shared a few moments with Frederic Church’s chipmunked self. I couldn’t help but chuckle thinking about the ornate underground Olana that he may have created for himself.