It Only Takes One Image


It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed in photography when it comes to the need of having lots of photos. The more time you spend in the business the more you realize that you need images for so many little things and it sucks when you just don’t have them. So what do you do? You go out in the field and take a chance to see if you can find that image to fill those gaps in your files and often time you come up short. That’s the reality of this game. But that’s when you have to tell yourself, “I only need one good image.” One image that makes you smile.

I was at the eighth annual memorial day parade here in Bozeman and went there with no expectations, just a camera in hand. I’ve photographed it in the past with some results but nothing wow and again I didn’t get a wow shot. But I found one that made me smile. This little kid was waving at everyone that went by and everyone kept waving at him. It was just kinda cute and kinda fun.

That’s what you gotta do though. Keep going out, keep looking for that one shot and come back with one that makes you think it was all worthwhile.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film


History Repeats Itself

Photography is a great way to see how the world changes around us as time moves forward. You take a photo, wait a few years and then go back to that same spot and see the difference. I hiked up this trail many years ago just outside Bozeman and it looked the same then as it does now, just a few more buildings down below. While I went with a different camera and lens, D5 and 18-35, history repeated itself and there wasn’t much to shoot, but plenty to enjoy.

Chasing the Light

It’s an interesting feeling chasing the light. It’s a mixture of anxiety as you try to find that subject that captivates the day and then when you find it there’s a sigh of relief and a feeling of satisfaction that the hunt wasn’t wasted. Then of course there are the chases that end in nothing, you go home empty handed. How do you conquer those days?

The only way to come back with something is to keep pushing forward. You push and push until you find something, even if that means driving around until the light is gone. With the warm temperatures finally coming through the valley, bird activity has picked up, especially with raptors. While out looking for a subject, which ended up in a goose egg, I saw this one shot. The day was almost over and the light almost gone but there was enough left for one shot with the D5 and 70-200 VRII. Chasing the light sometimes means doing exactly that.

One Quick Spring Storm

I love Spring weather in the Rockies. Bozeman has always been a great place for landscape photography since we usually get some great clouds moving through. Yesterday was one of those days where I really wasn’t sure if anything was going to happen since nothing did all day. It wasn’t until about 5pm that the thunder started. One quick 90 min rain shower later and it was done but the clouds stuck around for a little while to play with.


I drove over to my buddies ranch which is one of my favorite places to go for the Spring weather because I can get a 360 degree clean view of the Gallatin Valley, while able to see the mountains in all directions. It’s good to have friends. These were just a couple of quick clicks with the D4 and 24-70, focusing on the great green fields and contrast in the clouds.

Why You Have to Visit Old Haunts

Exploration is one of the greatest parts of being a photographer. It’s the main reason I became a photographer. Driving around Montana has always been a great joy, even when it’s going back to the same places I have been before.


A couple of years back I found a new canyon to drive into and while there wasn’t lots of opportunities there was this little shack. It was fall at the time and as it shows, the shack was surrounded by Cottonwoods. It was a little gem that remains one of my favorite fall landscape images from Montana.


When you find those little gems you have to write them down, that way you can go back again. Well I went back up that canyon to see what Winter would hold in store for that same shack. It was a very different scene and while it was not as interesting as in the previous Fall, it still was good to see the shack standing, and with those great Cottonwoods behind it. The point is you have to get out and explore and find those gems. Then once you find them write it down and find time to go back.

The Trees Tell the Story

As I talked about last week in a post about snow covered trees creating some of the best abstract patterns, while I was out this past weekend I found a clump of Cottonwoods backed by some Pine Trees that looked just amazing. This time of year we see a lot of bare trees which tends to lead to a lot of shots of snags silhouetted against a sunset. We’ve all seen it and probably half of us have already done that. But what about something better?


Going with my same combo, D4 and 24-70 AF-S f2.8 but the 70-200 VRII it would also be good here, by isolating just the Cottonwood trunks and branches against the shadows of the Pine Trees, those bare branches become rather pretty. Sometimes it isn’t about the shape of the tree and its branches but the color of the wood. With just a hint of light hitting the tops, the grove comes alive for just that brief moment.

Going back to the old haunts

Over the years I have gone to some of the same locations over and over again in hopes of improving on the images I already have. Once you know of a good shooting spot, it’s good practice to go back there and challenge yourself to come up with something new or to improve. Well this spot I have gone to many times in all seasons. If you live in Bozeman and have fished the Gallatin River then you know where this is. I keep going here one to fish and two to shoot. It’s just a spot with great a great foreground and great trees but the hitch is always the sky.


If you ever have heard my Dad talk about landscape photography then you’ve probably heard about the importance of clouds. I keep looking for that great sky that is going to be over this part of the river and thereby being reflected in the water. The problem is those clouds have to be over the south, over the Gallatin Mountains to be precise. And usually by sunset either there is no color left or the clouds have moved. I lucked out this time with a little bit of light and a little bit of cloud cover. Shot with the D4 and 24-70 AF-S, it’s a vast improvement over the last image I took here but there is still room for improvement.

The Symbol of the West

Some might argue that the real west is represented with the men and women that settled it and those generations that carry on that tradition today. I would tend to agree with them but I don’t know enough cowgirls to go out shooting with at the last minute when the clouds appear. Another project to work on. I always found that the old structures, the ghost towns, mills, mining camps and especially barns say a lot about history. The shear fact that they have survived the test of time for so many decades amazes me. That’s probably why I actually go searching for them and make mental notes whenever I find one I like. This particular one is a favorite!


This barn stands on the northwest corner of town surrounded by other buildings, so yes I did do some post work to bring out the majesty of this old building. Oddly enough though it does rest in a bowl so the land curves around it like that. Barns are great to photograph because there are so many ways you can light them! You can add a person, highlight a detail in the door, window or wood, focus on just one section, light paint them or even make them black and white. Rustic buildings are great black and white subjects because of all the contrast that comes out in the wood when converted. Using a D3 and 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, I kept it simple last night using the natural fading light on the front, contrasted against the shadow of the back. Considering it was a bald sky morning, I was happy to see those puffs float in to break up the sky.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Gotta find a Subject for the foreground!

After I got done hiking in Hyalite, it wasn’t quite sunset yet but was getting close to that time. The clouds over the reservoir weren’t that special so I headed out of the canyon and to my surprise the clouds over the rest of the valley were great. I started heading south towards an area where I knew some old buildings were to put with the clouds. No matter where I went though I couldn’t get the angle quite right. I found this one building gated off and thought, “better at least get one shot.”

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 24-70 AF-S f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Enjoying the Fall Color in Hyalite Canyon

Lately we have been having a lot of storms come through Bozeman and have gotten a decent amount of moisture out of them, but they have also left with some boring skies. This past weekend we had a great weekend of beautiful skies and some warmer temps. It actually started to feel like Fall again and not Winter. I took advantage of the nice weather by heading up to one of my favorite haunts, Hyalite Canyon. A rather common place with Bozemanites but a very scenic one. It’s one of those canyons that is great just to drive through. This one lone Cottonwood stood out to me as I was driving by in the afternoon light. Real simple process with just a vignette to bring the eye back to the subject. It’s nice when it’s simple.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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