Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brittany & James Sneak Peak!

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, I had the privilege to photograph James and Brittany's outdoor wedding ceremony at the Chapel of the Hills in Rapid City. The day was absolutely beautiful, and it couldn't have been a more perfect day for an outdoor fall ceremony! Here is a sneak peak at just a few of my favorite images from a terrific day!

Congratulations to Brittany and James, and thank you both and your wonderful families for allowing me to share your special day!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Colors in Spearfish Canyon

The upper view of Roughlock Falls

Since I have some engagement shoots coming up this week, my husband and I decided to take a drive down Spearfish Canyon this weekend and scope out some locations while checking out the beautiful fall colors. If anyone is waiting for the leaves to turn, now is the time, as they will soon be gone as the cool fall nights set upon us!

Preparing for winter!

Iron Creek

These images and many others can be seen at The Beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota

If you would like to have your family or senior portraits taken at any of these beautiful locations, call me at 605-641-2335, or email at for details!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall in Yellowstone National Park

This past week, I decided to take a few days and go visit some friends who have been working in Yellowstone National Park. Pat and Cindy Bonish of Every Miles a Memory have been job sharing a position for the Yellowstone Association working at the bookstore at the West Thumb, and having a blast photographing the park during the days when they aren't working...sounds like a photographer's dream! Last Wednesday, I packed up my truck with my tent, two sleeping bags rated for way below zero, as I knew it was getting COLD in the park at night, and, of course, my cameras and lenses, and off I went to enjoy some fall colors and rutting season in the Park!

I wasn't disappointed as I began my drive heading over the Big Horn Mountains on US Hwy. 16 from Buffalo to Tensleep, also known as the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, which I consider one of the prettiest drives in Wyoming. Of course, growing up in Story, Wyoming, I am a little prejudice!

Fall colors just past Powder River Pass

Since I have been to the park numerous times, this was mainly a trip to explore some backcountry and see some of the less explored areas of the park. When I arrived to the park, we took a short hike to the Natural Land Bridge that is near Fishing Bridge to look for a Great Grey Owl that Cindy had seen earlier, but we weren't lucky enough to find it again. We then retired to camp to plan our hike for the next day. We were planning on driving into the Bechler area, which is in the southwest corner of the park, and hiking to Union Falls, the second highest, and possibly the least visited waterfall in the park. To reach the trailhead for this waterfall, you have to drive out of the park to the Flagg Ranch, and then follow Grassy Lake Road towards the Idaho border for about 10 miles, before parking right before the border at the trailhead. The map said it was then about 6.5 miles to the waterfall...okay, sounded good! We were going to leave at about 4AM the next morning, and Cindy promised to have the coffee ready! I headed off to my tent and listened to the bugling elk serenade me to sleep!

Sunset over Yellowstone Lake

The next morning, September 18, we all piled in the truck in the pitch dark and headed off to the Bechler Region, also known as "Cascade Corners" due to the numerous waterfalls and cascades that are located in this area. This area receives almost 80" of annual precipitation, and is almost inaccessible prior to August due to the high water and the number of stream crossings that are required. When we arrived at the trailhead, it was still fairly dark, and with temperatures in the lower 30s, we had to bundle up, but we were prepared and anxious to be on our way!

Pat and Cindy photographing Cascade Creek as the steam rises up in to the cold air

Cascade Creek early in the morning

I am going to save everyone the details of our hike, but what started out as 6.5 miles on the map, turned into 7.2 on the trail sign, AFTER we had already been on the trail for over an hour! AND we had started out on the wrong trail, so we had been boondocking for about an additional mile or so trying to locate the trail! Oh, and did I mention that this is the most heavily saturated bear area in the park? So it was fairly important that we make it back to the truck before dark!!! All in all, it ended up that we did 18 miles in and out over extremely rough terrain, and ALMOST made it back before dark. We probably would have made it, but I hurt my foot at about Mile #10, and had to hobble for the last 8 miles, and even 3,000 mg of Extra Strength Tylenol didn't do much for the pain. Was it worth it? After a continuous climb for about the last half-mile up to the waterfall, I was starting to wonder, especially when the trail turned and went away from the sound of the water, but then when you come around a corner and see this view, the agony of the hike vanishes, and you forget how far you have to go back to the truck!

The view at the top ~ Union Falls

We did have to take a 1.5 mile detour just below the falls and take a swim in some absolutely incredible hot springs that someone had told Pat about. I would've loved to spend an hour there, but unfortunately we only had about 10 minutes, as we knew darkness was on its way, and we had a LONG ways to go back to the truck!

Soaking in the hot springs!

If you would like to read two detailed and humorous (and very different!) accounts of the hike, as well as read more information about the area, check out Pat's Blog at Pat's Blog and Cindy's blog at Cindy's Blog.

The next day, we ventured back into the same area, but this time driving further, as none of us were quite up to another hike! This time we drove into Idaho and circled back into the park, heading to Cave Falls and the Bechler River. Since we had drove the entire Grassy Lake Road in the dark the previous day, we were hoping to see some moose today, as it looked like prime moose habitat.
Stream on Grassy Lake Road

We weren't disappointed, as heading home we saw a couple of cars stopped on the side of the road watching something in the trees. We grabbed our cameras and jumped out of the truck, and sure enough...there were our moose!

These two were so funny, as they were both fairly young, neither one knew quite what they were doing, and they were chasing each other all over the place! They provided some great entertainment until it became too dark to take pictures, and then we called it a day and headed to camp!

The next day, Pat and Cindy both had to work, so I decided to play tourist and drive around the park for a while, as my foot hurt too bad to do much walking. I headed out before sunrise and just hit some of my favorite wildlife areas around the park.

Okay everybody, line up by size, and let's go stop some traffic!

Sunrise on Firehole Lake Drive

I saw just about everything today including coyotes, bighorn sheep, black bear (no grizzly, darn it!), elk, buffalo (in!), bald eagle, and osprey. Still didn't get wolves though. I thought I saw some wolves in Hayden Valley and I pulled over, jumped out and grabbed the binoculars. A big group of people were watching them, all excited because there were two wolves down on the river. But as soon as I got my binoculars on them, I could see very clearly they were just two coyotes...darn it! I didn't spoil anyone's excitement though, just took a couple of shots and left. Especially after earlier when I had a lady arguing with me that a cow elk was actually a "moosey", because elk don't stand in water, only mooseys do that! Okay.....isn't Yellowstone great for laughs?!

"Wolves" in Hayden Valley ~ littlest wolves I have ever seen!

As I headed back to camp, it was spitting snow, the wind was blowing about 40 mph, and I watched the temperature steadily drop. I knew it was going to be COLD tonight! I visited with Pat and Cindy a bit and headed to bed, after staking my tent back up, as it seems I hadn't prepared well for the strong winds! I was glad I had double bagged tonight, as I had quite a cocoon built and was extremely comfortable once I crawled in, but getting up in the morning wasn't going to be fun! I fell asleep listening to the elk singing their songs with the coyotes backing them up, and once sleep, I didn't stir the entire night!

When I woke up this morning, there was ice on the outside of my tent, and the thermometer read 22 degrees ~ BRRRR! But it was an absolutely beautiful morning! This is quite possibly my favorite time of the year. The cold, crisp morning, the sky was full of stars, and the elk were bugling like crazy. I probably laid in my sleeping bag with the tent flap open just staring at the stars and listening to the elk for half an hour before I convinced myself that I had to crawl out of my cozy nest! I had decided that I probably better head home today, as I wasn't sure how long it was going to take me to get home (I have a tendency to get sidetracked!), and Pat and Cindy had some more company arriving the next day. So I gritted my teeth, crawled out of my bag, and began my day!

I packed up my tent, said my goodbyes to Pat and Cindy, who have become great friends since I first invited them to stay in my driveway during the Sturgis Rally, and promised we would meet again down the road (possibly sooner than we think if we decide to drive the White Rim Trail in Utah in the near future)! Hoping to find some of the bull elk who had been serenading me nightly, I got one last cup of coffee and headed out of Grant Village.

I was in luck! Just as I was pulling onto the main road to head south towards the Tetons, a bull elk walked right across the road in front of the truck. I pulled over and decided to watch him a bit and see what would transpire. It wasn't long before he found a sparring partner!

I watched them for awhile until they got bored with each other and started grazing, and then I headed on my way out of the park. It was a beautiful day for driving, but NOT a beautiful day for pictures, as there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I LIKE CLOUDS!!!

The construction between Yellowstone National Park and the Tetons was horrible, and then I turned headed toward Dubois and it went from horrible to even worse. I absolutely love the drive over Togwotee Pass, and I had planned on spending most of the day going over this mountain. As it turns out, I spent the entire drive behind a pilot car...and I WAS NOT HAPPY! We were going about 5 MPH, and there was a pilot car in front and one in back, so no stopping for photos. By the time I made it over the pass and through the construction, and I stopped for lunch at a pullover, I decided I had been on the road enough, I was just going to head home. I knew I had loads of work backed up, so I was ready to call it a vacation and get back to work!

The view above Dubois, Wyoming

The entire gallery from my Yellowstone trip can be viewed at Thompson Photography ~ Yellowstone Gallery Thank you for visiting my blog, and I hope you enjoyed sharing my travels!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meredith & Preston Sneak Peak!

Friday afternoon my husband and I took a drive through the Black Hills to a beautiful family cabin to take some family portraits. Although there were a few threatening black clouds, and it was cool and a bit windy, the rain held off until we were pulling out of the driveway to head back home! This shoot was a great experience for me, as it was my first time photographing a baby only a few weeks old, and add to that a 3-year-old that doesn't like made it quite a challenge! However, it was a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed, and I had no idea how fun it would be to photograph children!

A huge THANK YOU to Jami for referring your sister-in-law and her wonderful family to Thompson Photography for their family portraits!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spearfish Spartans vs Rapid City Stevens

Friday night at Lyle Hare Stadium in Spearfish, the Spearfish Spartans hosted Rapid City Stevens Raiders for some varsity football action. In spite of the cool, rainy night, an impressive crowd was on hand to show their support for the two teams as the Spartans lost to the Raiders, 6 - 33.

Below are some highlights of the game, and the entire gallery can be seen at Thompson Photography .

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001 ~ Never Forget

We shall never forget
We shall keep this day,
We shall keep the events and the tears
In our minds, our memory and our hearts
and take them with us as we carry on.