The High Slopes

While out skiing I came across this scene and it stumped me. The mountains looked amazing and the clouds rolled back enough that it created a lot of drama but the light was so bright that I couldn’t see the great photo opp. While obviously I still tried to make the photo happen it still feels lacking. If this happens to you then you have to ask yourself, is the photo worth it or is it better to just soak in the moment?


Finding the Photo in the Forest

The Rocky Mountains have a lot of great places to go take pictures and one of those areas is the dense forests that surround Gallatin Valley. Hyalite Canyon and Reservoir is a wonderful place to go for a walk or this time of year a ski. Being in a dense forest can lead to some amazing photos but the light options inside the forest can make it a challenge. Forests are a  conglomerate of highlights and shadows which create a high dynamic range to work with. It can be easy to miss the photo by taking in too much so going small and focusing on a small area can lead to a more powerful image.

Afternoon In the Snow

Photographers all know to take their cameras with them where ever they go because the moment when you don’t have one is the moment when you need one. Well, I don’t normally take my camera with me when I go skiing because let’s face it, I fall down at times which can be scary when you have a camera, but this time around Hyalite I made sure I had mine. Beautiful powder and some great light made for a fun afternoon outing.

Black and White and Snow

I’ve talked about this multiple times in the past but the fact remains the same, wintertime is one of the best times to shoot in black and white. Now I say that but I always do my conversions in post-processing just to be clear. Snow has lots of natural gradients to it and when combined with light the drama can really pop within the landscape to make for some great images. This is one of the few times I like finding an anchor to put in the landscape like a dark object to add some contrast to the overall picture.

Minimal Lighting

This time of the year we get a lot of days where the skies are blad or the skies are filled with clouds so dense the light doesn’t pop through. Some say it can be really depressing and arguably they are right, too much time looking at nothing but grey can get dull. Now and then the sun pops out and lets in just enough light to make it worthwhile. Truthfully, these nights where just enough comes through are great times to be watching the west and seeing what happens in the east.

A Different Angle

Winter is truly around the corner and with the changing of the season comes the changing of the habits of wildlife. Large ungulates like these Rocky Mountain Elk, have to conserve calories as they become harder to acquire in the cold months. Often I find males with their harems bedded down throughout the day. This particular male was enjoying a sleepy afternoon perched on top of his hillside with his ladies.

How Quickly It Changes

With one big snowstorm, our Fall season seems to be over before it even started. While the peak Fall color in the area was said to be at the end of September, beginning of October, what little color was present has quickly disappeared. Just like the light that was present this evening many years ago, what was there for a moment disappeared in a flash.

Fishing hole or Photo Op?

It’s both actually. If the fishing is good, I fish. If the photography is good, I take pictures. It all really depends on what’s happening. There are plenty of times when the bite isn’t on and bringing out the camera is the best option. Then again, there are times when the bite is so good that you just can’t stop. Winter photography I found to fit this paradigm really well as often the skies are filled with heavy grey clouds that aren’t that compelling. Sometimes, if you wait long enough those skies will open up and enough light will emerge through to make it interesting.

Snow Patterns

Well, it definitely feels like Winter skipped Fall this year, with the high winds, cold temps, and the snow falling in the valley and the mountains, this could be the start of a great snow year. Over the weekend the mountains turned a beautiful shade of white which made them look majestic. One skill I learned long ago when it comes to photographing winter landscapes is to really go into little sections of the mountains and bring out just those areas in your composition. The tree lines and the snow can be great subject matter without any other distractions.

The Ruby River Explored

I’ve heard the name for years but have never visited it. I have driven by it and through the valley but never stopped. This month I finally made the journey over to the Ruby River which is considered one of the most beautiful rivers that flow through Montana and for trout fisherman one of the hardest to fish. The Ruby River is a tributary of the Beaverhead River and flows from Beaverhead National Forest north until it merges back into the Beaverhead River at Twin Bridges. Along the way, it goes through the Tobacco Root Mountains and the Ruby Range making it beautiful to observe.

Due to the location of the river and the amount of private land that resides along either side of the river as it flows through the Ruby Valley, there is limited access to public fishing areas. Beneath the dam at Ruby Reservoir, there are several access points that allow people to get to the river. As a result of the limited access, fishing can be very tough. The biggest factor I found was the color of the water was always a glacial greenish-blue due to high mineral content. This made matching color patterns difficult. Despite these obstacles, the drive over was definitely worth it as the scenery of the river was like nothing else I have seen. Photographically the river is a treasure trove of different possibilities.

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