Tag Archives: Nature

Into the Badlands

The Badlands of South Dakota…

From the moment I saw them I was in awe! Don’t let the name fool you…the Badlands are far from bad.  The peaks and gullies, ancient rock formations and bands of color are mesmerizing and beautiful. Particularly in the golden hour of early morning and late afternoon, when soft low light throws shadows and brings the landscape to life.  During those hours the true beauty of the Park reveals itself.

 

Sunrise Panorama, Badlands National Park, SD.

Our trip was in early September and surprisingly the number of tourists and traffic was pretty low.  One morning I was up well before sunrise and in the park and to my delight barely saw any other people.  I felt like I had the Badlands all to myself, but for the distant howls of a pack of coyotes.

Just before sunrise along the loop road.
Just before sunrise along the loop road.

 

Sunset at Pinnacles Overlook

 

 

 

 

 

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It was a short trip, just 3 days.  A good start to many more treks to South Dakota and into the Badlands.  

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Along Boreas Pass

Boreas Pass, elevation 11,481 ft (3,499 m), is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States. The pass is located on the continental divide, at the crest of the Front Range along the border between Park (south) and Summit counties. The correct pronunciation of the pass name is (Bore-ays).

The pass was formerly known as Breckenridge Pass in the 1860s, when it served as an early route for thousands of prospectors during the Colorado Gold Rush who crossed from South Park to look for gold in the valley of the Blue around Breckenridge.

 

DSC_7431_HDR by .
“Along Boreas Pass”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunflowers

Contemporary sunflowers trace their ancestry to plants found at archaeological sites dating from 3,000 BC. While they grew abundantly on the Great Plains, sunflowers were first purposely cultivated by Native Americans in the Southwest or Mississippi River valley area as a source of medicine, fiber, seeds, and oil.

When the European settlers arrived, they immediately recognized the value of sunflowers and sent seeds back to Europe. There they found a place in English cottage gardens and even Van Gogh’s paintings. However, it was in Russia that the sunflower became a major agricultural crop. They provided a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking church dietary laws. Early in the 20th Century, Russian growers spearheaded the breeding and selection for disease resistance and high oil content. In the 1960s, the U.S. began sustained commercial production of oil seed cultivars to produce vegetable oil.

Long beloved as part of the rural landscape, sunflowers have been embraced by gardeners as an ornamental plant relatively recently. Responding to this interest, breeders in Germany, Japan and the U.S. have developed types particularly suitable for home gardens.  -from Burpee.com

 

Summer Sunflowers

 

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The Amazing Angel Oak

The Angel Oak, named after its previous owners, Justis and Martha Angel, is a live oak tree that grows on Johns Island, just a short drive from Charleston, South Carolina.  It is estimated to be at least 400 and possibly up to 1400 years old. Local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree. Whether you believe that or not, the fact that this tree was standing at the time of both the Revolutionary and the Civil war is just plain cool.  It was heavily damaged during Hurricane Hugo but is still growing…so maybe there are some angels watching over her.

Equipment Used : Nikon D610 w/Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED VR Lens, Tripod w/ remote shutter release.

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The Tree in the Middle of the Road

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Not far from where I grew up in southwest Iowa, stands a 100 foot tall cottonwood tree.  You might be asking yourself, what is so special about a 100 foot tall tree?  Well read on and I shall explain. The story goes, that a surveyor, marking the line between Audubon and Cass counties in Iowa, had only a cottonwood sprout on hand to mark the location that the lines intersected.  Keep in mind the year was 1850, so apparently official marking sticks were in short supply. The sprout subsequently took root and grew into what is now a very large cottonwood tree.  Now what is unique about this story is not that a cottonwood tree grew from a sprout pushed into the soil 164 years ago.  It is that the location that these two lines made is now the intersection of two roads, and you guessed it, that big cottonwood tree stands smack dab in the middle of the intersection. The infamous tree in the middle of the road!

This tree was the thing of legends and mysteries to us young and impressionable kids back in the good old days.  It is quite an eerie site to see the top of this massive tree emerge above the road ahead of you, especially at night.  To top the hill and see a tree where one should not or has never seen one before is a bit disconcerting at midnight out in the country on a dark dirt road.  I’m sure many a spooky tale has been told going to or  from this spot.  It might have been a source of great trepidation for us, had it not on those occasions, been for our liquid courage.  I suppose over the years since then, we have not been the only teenagers to make the journey out to see this imposing landmark.  If you ever find yourself traveling on I-80 in Southwest Iowa, it is worth your time to pay a visit to the tree in the middle of the road. I think you will be glad you did.

I made this shot just a few minutes before sunrise recently.

 

DSC_8510_1_2 by Christopher L. Nelson.

 

“Morning Gold” – Back-lit grass

I made these back-lit images not long ago in the early morning as the sun was rising low in the sky, when the grass and other vegetation was covered in dew. Using a shallow DOF, many of the tiny droplets of dew are out of focus resulting in a nice “Bokeh”.  The golden sunlight adds warmth to the shot.  Love me some back-lighting.  Hope you enjoy!
DSC_7256 by CHRISTOPHER L.NELSON. DSC_7258 by CHRISTOPHER L.NELSON. DSC_7255 by CHRISTOPHER L.NELSON. DSC_7252 by CHRISTOPHER L.NELSON.

Sunflowers

Not long ago after seeing some pretty cool pics of sunflowers, I was wishing I had a some near by to give it a try for myself.  I guess my wish came true because a few days later I came upon a huge field full of them.   Here are a few of the images I shot that day.  Each are 3 shot HDRi combined in HDR Efex Pro 2.  Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend! DSC_7663_HDR by . DSC_7687_HDR by . DSC_7693_HDR by .