Well, I finally got all my photos finished from the trip, which considering the trip was a month ago, shows just how many I had to get through. I really did enjoy finishing these images though. The Kootenai River really is an amazing place and the topography of the land in that area of the state is just breathtaking. The river is controlled by Libby Dam, 17 miles upstream from the town of Libby, and regulates how much flows out from Lake Kookanusa. The Kootenai River is the third largest tributary to the Columbia River.
In the springtime, the flows are much lower than during the high runoff months of May and June, thus the river looks like this with more visible banks and pools. During the runoff months, the river swells and becomes very deep, very wide, and can be dangerous to navigate for outdoor recreation. While I was there last month on a fishing trip, we had to stop just once at the Kootenai falls, which is a natural barrier for fishing spawning, to do the whole tourist thing and see the sights. The Falls are accessible by a 1.6 mile easily manageable hike to the swinging bridge or the upper falls. Both spots are worth the trip. In the fall, the fish tend to pool up beneath the falls, and great schools of salmon, trout, and sturgeon can be seen. These were taken with the Nikon D5 and 18-35 f3.5/4.5.
My apologies for not posting much lately but I’ve rather busy since I got back from the latest Montana adventure, this one taking me all the way up north to Libby and the magnificent Kootenai River. It was one heck of a trip that I’m still processing images from and as you can see it’s unlike any river I’ve posted about before. The fishing was great and the photography was great so there will be more to come.
Spring is around the corner and these sixty degrees March days are really starting to get addictive but if you’ve lived in the Rocky Mountains for any period of time then you know not to get hooked on them. The weather can change awfully fast going into April and become very unpredictable so it’s important to get and enjoy while you can. I think that advice is good for anyone. After a long week of work, it’s good to get out for a drive with the camera and enjoy the scenery.
I’m certainly not the first to try drive-by photography but when you’re not actually driving and just looking out the window, it’s kind of a fun thing to play around with. With the Z50 it was a no-brainer rolling down the window and freezing the other passengers. Fresh snow disappears real fast in the lower elevations, so after a storm rolls through it’s a good time for a road trip.
There are a lot of interesting geothermal spots within the Yellowstone caldera and each one is usually worth the visit. I went a visited one that I had neither heard of before nor been to, a place called Big Spring. Located just minutes outside of Island Park, ID, the four-mile driving loop goes along Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and Big Springs. The Springs itself is a natural spring that is the primary source for Henry’s Fork which travels down several miles to Henry’s Lake and the Island Park Reservoir. Because it is attached to a geothermal vent it always stays above 52 degrees year-round. This not only makes it a very beautiful spot to visit in the wintertime but also a great fish spawning habitat that is closed to fishing.
Built-in 1929, the Jason Sacks cabin is among one the attractions at the Spring. Along with the cabin are the water turbine and shed. Of course, if that’s not enough, the area is filled with large rainbow trout which tourists often feed under the bridge. Since there is no fishing the trout tend to get quite large. Fun little trips like these were what kept me in Montana.
Well, I did say some, unfortunately, I was too slow to get to a good spot in time before the light was completely gone. I have always liked going out to shoot in between storms because that’s usually when the most dramatic skies appear. The other was no different. I got the camera as quickly as I could, drove out to a local spot, and photographed what was left of the light. the results, a nice evening, and a couple of quick clicks.
I do love winter in Montana. The Bridger Mountains really come to life with a good snowfall and you get to see this entirely different side to the slopes. Even better when you get on a pair of skies and go back into some remote place and see the peaks that otherwise you just don’t get to. As always I had my Z50 with me and I couldn’t help but stop at this clearing and take a quick click of the peaks as the sun came out from the clouds. Naturally, the scenario screamed for a black and white conversion because all that contrast just made the scene pop.
It is not atypical in the winter months for large chunks of ice to come floating down the river. Dams need to regulate the flow of water that is coming out of that dam. As a result of this the rising and lowering of the water height, combined with the changing of the temperature, will cause large chunks of ice to break off and float downstream. It’s a lot of fun to watch the icebergs float away and occasionally others partake too. While I was out the other day I enjoyed watching a Dipper perch on an iceberg and float away downstream before eventually flying off.
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?
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.