Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter's home on the range; a photographic homage to Big Sky Country -- with tips!

A bighorn sheep nods to winter, near Nye, Montana, near the Beartooth Mine.  He was photographed on a recent visit. 



"For how can one know color in perpetual green, and what good is warmth without cold to give it sweetness...." John Steinback, "Travels with Charley."

Between snows, it's pleasant to wander the river, and maybe even catch a fish.
Beetween snows and melts, the deer are out to forage, making
them excellent material for an afternoon or morning of photos.

MONTANA IS truly a land for all seasons -- if one likes variety.
John Steinbeck loved our mountains and prairies -- and even found our cold winters  inspiring.
While his affection might have been partly bourbon induced, his sentiments have plenty of supporters. Right now, the temperature is zigging and zagging from freezing and below, to downright balmy.
Rain, snow, ice and gorgeous bursts of sun and thaw come with the territory this time of year. Thousands are reveling in it, when downhill and cross-country skiing are at their best, with the snow crisp but not icy, the welcome sun shining without melting the white.

AMONG THE virtues of wildlife viewing in the winter is the fact that the crowds of summer are vanished.  You can find parking and hiking even in the most normally crowded scenic viewing pull-offs.  There's a freedom, calm and, yes, sweetness in winter that the crowds and heat of summer sabotage.  

Bighorn sheep -- a male on the right -- enjoy a stroll in late autumn.
The male appears to be courting the female. The time was right.

Cross country skiing in the Beartooths
can make for an invigorating day.
This guy was late to hibernation -- or took a break -- to play in the snow.
He may have been unearthing something buried before to eat later.

PHOTOGRAPHERS, nature lovers and bird watchers  have long known that winter is prime time for viewing -- if one is  properly dressed.  Birds and critters -- except most bears -- are easier to see against the winter trees and rocky outcroppings often edged with white.  Animals such as rabbits and deer are spotted more readily because their coats aren't as easily hidden in winter.  Birds in the trees don't have the leaf cover of the other seasons.
     But patience is a virtue.
Keller says he always does his homework on an animal's or bird's behavior before setting out for "the photograph."
HE OFFERS these tips -- and he should know.  His work is well published and you view it here week after week. He has the essential patience for researching his photo shoots before hand.  I do  that when I prepare for an interview with an actor, musician, writer, painter or politician. Makes sense to apply the same advice to photography.
This chilly fellow at a feeder near 
our place in south-central Montana
appears to like the mix of seed.
A ranch near us is blanketed with snow for months. 
We often see the footprints of deer as we drive in or out.
"Getting to know something about the subject before I set out with my camera makes the difference between being ready and prepared to do justice to that “golden moment” and feeling utter failure and frustration.  (As when you stand not quite ready and watch your subject fly by or trot away.)"
In our safaris to Africa -- both Kenya and Tanzania -- Keller's advice was echoed by our naturalist tour guide-photographers.  In Masai Mara, a noted photographer said there is only
The promise of spring -- and the beauty of green -- kept 
Steinbeck returning to Montana, as it does us!

one certain way to get to know wildlife, even  after copious reading and research.
"You must spend time with them. Don’t just hang around for a few minutes, or pop your head out of a viewing coach.  Study the subject.  Read, of course. Then take every opportunity to be near the animal or bird, even in a preserve or zoo.
"Look at other peoples' photographs.  And if your subject isn't co-operating, try something else for a few minutes -- stand up, change position, move to the next clearing or spot. Sit quietly while the animals move around. Watch them. And wait. Your time to get a spectacular photo will come."

Riverside's Mission Inn is a wonderland
Of holiday lights and magical displays.

UP NEXT:  The Mission Inn, in Riverside, Calif., is known for its lavish holiday decorations which feature five million lights and attract visitors from all over the world.  For two decades-plus, the Inn has championed the Festival of Lights, which besides its millions of lights features over 400 animated figures. Come have a merry look at Santa and his Elves, the Nutcrackers and fairies, palm trees and religious icons, all in the finest reds and golds. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for our weekly posts.

1 comment:

  1. We spend part of each summer in your lovely Montana. Might have to buy a winter coat and visit then!