Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stormy Skies

This thunderstorm brought wind, rain and small hail to the Hermosa, SD area in late June.

I've always been fascinated with thunderstorms. I like the light show, I like the sound of rolling thunder and I like the smell of rain. This post is dedicated to my best storm shots of June and July of 2011 in South Dakota. Click on an image for a larger file to view and enjoy!

This is the same storm above but as it appeared roughly an hour later as it approached the western edge of the Badlands.

The next two shots are also the same storm. The sun was setting as it passed through the badlands and the light was eerie and incredible. It was strange as usually when the sun sets the colors go from yellow to orange to pinks and purples, but because of the low light shining through the rain and storm clouds, it happened the opposite way this time. It was reddish, pink early then turned to yellows and oranges as the storm continued east.

On July 4th, my brother took me to this rather photogenic unused barn on his ranch near Selby, SD. There were storms building in the area as the sun set making for dramatic skies.

I like this simple shot of green fields, cattle on the hills and rain clouds in the sky.

As we shot off our fireworks, the lightning show in the distance provided a natural light show as well. It was a really good and memorable 4th this year. Thanks to my brother's family for putting up with me.
The last couple evenings have seen storms roll through the Sioux Falls area. The three shots below are the results of me trying to capture them. The first two shots were taken south of Hartford not to far from the Wall Lake junction and the last photo is I-90 just a couple miles from the northwest edge of Sioux Falls.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scenes from West River

I was driving a back road west of the Slim Buttes in Northwestern South Dakota late in the day and I couldn't figure out why this owl was flying a few fence posts ahead of me then stopping and waiting for me to drive up to it. Owls are usually very shy and avoid people. Because the road was washed out I had to turn around and drive back and it wasn't until then that I discovered there was a young fledgling owl just learning to fly along the side of the road. I'm glad I didn't drive over it and I'm glad I had the chance to photograph it's parent as well!

Below are some more random scenes from a very green and lovely Western South Dakota this year. All the snowmelt and rain that has caused so many issues along the river systems has also filled up dams and made the grass grow for the ranchers. Plus it makes for some real nice scenery. As always click on an image for a larger file to view and thanks for checking in.

The Moreau River breaks. All the water has accelerated the erosion of the hillsides.
One of the castle formations at Slim Buttes.
A Western Wallflower with Thunder Butte in the distance.
Blue skies and green grass. A South Dakota rancher's dream.
I believe this is white milkwort flowering but I may be wrong.
Yellow Goatsbeard before it goes into it's gigantic dandelion mode.
Three horses near the Moreau River.
I'm not sure what kind of bird this little guy was but he was about to feast on grasshopper.
Prairie windmill west of the Slim Buttes.
The Moreau with pretty high water for the 3rd of July.
A hayfield in river valley. It is a good year for making hay!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hidden Beauty

I wanted to post some of my latest macro shots for you. I really love that lens. Being able to get in and close to the little things is a real eye opener... There is real and definite beauty in the tiny and hidden things. These first three shots were taken on an extremely dewy morning at Lake Isabel. The low sunlight interacting with the droplets was really quite magical. I was soaked by the time I was done, but it was well worth it! As always, click on an image for a larger file to view and thanks for stopping by!

A shot was taken in on one of the hillside trails of the Big Sioux recreation area near Brandon. I believe the flower is called Arnica.

This orange moth was also taken at the Big Sioux Rec. Area. I was surprised the critter let me get as close as he did, but it was a cool evening and that means insects, bugs and the like are a lot less active. So it really is a good time to photograph them if you can find them.

So this may not be a very "pretty" picture, but it is fascinating to me nonetheless. I was out in the Moreau River hills in mid June looking for blooming cactus and just happened to notice this dung beetle being attacked by red-headed thatching ants on a rock face. All of the beetle's legs had an ant attached and they were pulling the legs taught. The beetle could not move. I wanted to stay and see the drama unfold, but the foraging ants quickly found me and were soon up to my knee. I quickly vacated the area.

Two photos of some prairie roses in bloom in the ditch of Cherry Creek road near the Cheyenne River in west-central SD.

Globe Mallow.

I believe this is called "blue-eyed grass." It was taken in the Slim Buttes area of northwestern SD.

I did find prickly pear cactus in bloom on the Cheyenne River Hills near the Foster Bay area. I was amazed by the color variety. One cactus had three different blossoms on it. Below you can see a few of the color variations as well as what lies inside the blossom.