Monday, September 21, 2015

Photo Express train event cancelled

Unfortunately, the "Photo Express" event on the 1880 Train featured in my last post has been cancelled.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

1880 Train is featured in Black Hills "Photo Fall"

Every autumn in the Black Hills has spectacular photography opportunities, but this year's "Photo Fall" has some extra special features.

A brand new event is the South Dakota Railroad Museum's "Photo Express" featuring the 1880 Train in Hill City on Saturday, October 3.


Photographers will not only ride the historic steam train, but also have special opportunities to get off and take pictures of it chugging through Black Hills scenery. Food is included on the special "Photo Express" run as are presentations by Erica Harvey of Tripod Tours, Rick Mills of the South Dakota Railroad Museum and yours truly, Chad Coppess of South Dakota Tourism.

Seats are still available for the Photo Express, but are limited to 50, so you will want to get yours before the Sept. 21 deadline! Full details are at the SD Railroad Museum's website.

Custer State Park's annual Buffalo Roundup is Friday, September 25, with around 1,500 bison herded by cowboys and cowgirls on horseback and in trucks. It has become one of the Black Hill's biggest autumn events over its 50 year history.

Full information about the Roundup is at the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks website, and you can view more photos of past Roundups here at Dakotagraph. My best advice for photographers is arrive very early and bring a long lens.

Kicking off the evening of Friday, September 25, the Black Hills Photo Shootout will offer another full weekend of instruction, workshops and camaraderie for photographers. Most events will take place in Rapid City and the southern Black Hills, including workshops on landscapes, painting with light, Native American portraits, wildlife, pinups and more. Space is getting limited for the Shootout, so sign up now!

The Black Hills will also host a group of Nikon-camera users from across the world at the Roundup and through the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 2. The Nikonians are visiting the area for their second time and if you are a Nikon shooter, I highly recommend joining their online community for learning and travel opportunities.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting's "Picture South Dakota" contest is coming up October 1-7. Check out the chance to win with photos from statewide locations at my recent Dakotagraph post.

Along with the Black Hills area's great autumn colors, the wildlife roaming throughout Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park, iconic monuments at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, the region typically has beautiful weather this time of year. You can see why I'm calling it Black Hills "Photo Fall."

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Picture South Dakota contest is Oct 1-7

For seven days South Dakota Public Broadcasting is inviting you to photograph where you work, live, and play in South Dakota. Photograph what being South Dakotan means to you, and share the images.

A panel of distinguished judges will choose winners on four categories, and everyone will have a chance to vote for a People’s Choice winner from a selection of entries. The categories are:

Home: It’s a place. It’s a feeling. It’s where and how you live. It’s what you value, no matter where you are.

Work: A third of our life is spent earning a living. Show us how, where and why you work.

Connections: Family, neighborhoods, geography – many things connect us. Show us how you build community through culture, lifestyle, faith, and technology.

South Dakota: What makes South Dakota unique. Take a picture of an person, place or thing that says South Dakota to you.

You will have a chance to win cash prizes and have your photo appear in the 2016 Friends of SDPB Calendar.

The photo contest is open to anyone aged 18 years and older.

Photos must have been taken in South Dakota between October 1 and October 7, 2015, and must be submitted online before midnight (Central Time) on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at the SDPB website. Judging will take place and winners announced on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.

NEW THIS YEAR – an opportunity for young South Dakota photographers to enter. Any photographer in grade 12 or under may enter up to 5 photos in the Youth Photo Contest. First, Second and Third place winners will be chosen from all eligible photos submitted. Click here for Youth Photo Contest Rules.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Palisades State Park, Garretson

A discussion on Facebook last week with Spearfish photographer Chris Yushta made me realize not every photographer in the state knows every fun spot to take pictures. Palisades State Park is one of those places that maybe only the locals are familiar with. I will recycle a post about the park from 2008 here.

Palisades is one of the smaller state parks in South Dakota, but is filled with great photo opportunities.
Exit 406 off Interstate 90 at Brandon leads you north for 12 miles to Palisades State Park just south of the town of Garretson, northeast of Sioux Falls.

Split Rock Creek creates the deep gorge that is the main feature of the park. Pink quartzite walls flank both sides of the gorge. Hiking trails and vantage points on both sides of the creek offer great views from water level or high above.

Sioux Falls photographer Paul Schiller demonstrates one of the nerve-wracking positions from which to shoot. As always, please be careful when scrambling for that great photo spot.

Palisades is beautiful in any season, but especially in spring and fall. Shooting early and/or late in the day is productive almost anywhere, but the deep gorge here makes it a little less critical. The sun does not reach down to the water until later in the morning, and rises up the canyon walls fairly quickly in late afternoon.

As you might expect, serious rock climbers love Palisades. They can be included in photos to go with the spectacular scenery. Throughout the warm seasons you can expect to find climbers on just about any visit.

For more info on the park visit Palisades State Park.

Split Rock Creek also flows through the town of Garretson, cutting similar rock walls at Devil's Gulch. Legend has it that outlaw Jesse James escaped a pursuing posse by jumping his horse over the gorge in the city park. The Dells of the Big Sioux River near the town of Dell Rapids can also be found a few miles northwest of Garretson.

Friday, August 14, 2015

75th Sturgis Rally huge no matter how you look at it

It is close to a full week since most of the bikes rolled back home after the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Official attendance figures haven't been released yet, but numbers like 600,000 to over 1 million are floating around the rumor mill. Not bad for a town of 6,600 full-time residents. I don't know what will be determined, but I will say from my observation it was likely the biggest rally ever. That would make it by far the largest tourism event ever held in South Dakota, which probably isn't a surprise to a lot of folks.

I spent three days photographing bikes and bikers in Badlands National Park, the full length of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway including Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway, Sturgis proper and South Dakota's newest city - the Buffalo Chip. In some places the traffic seemed about average for Bike Week and in some it seemed overwhelmingly crazy.

Badlands National Park is one of the scenic drives that draws this kind of crowd to western South Dakota for a week of riding.

Bikers are familiar with the super-scenic byways in the Black Hills. Winding pigtail bridges, tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore and granite spires make for beautiful rides.

Downtown Sturgis is the epicenter of the Rally. Combination bike show and the biggest craziest flea market and food festival you've ever seen, Main Street is the place to be at least once during the weeklong festivities.

Capping off my 75th Rally experience was a world-record motorcycle jump by Massachusetts daredevil Doug Danger. Wearing a replica of Knievel's leather suit and riding one of Evel Knievel's actual 1970's Harley-Davidsons, Danger sped through the center of the Buffalo Chip amphitheater and soared over 22 cars to a successful landing. Knievel had crashed while attempting this same amount of cars on a Harley XR-750 and so had jumper Bubba Blackwell. Despite a crosswind and the bike wanting to go a bit sideways just before landing, Danger pulled off the stunt with apparent ease.

For the Knievel fan in me, this was a pretty big thrill to witness in person.

That's Doug hugging his wife afterwards above. She had to be a bit relieved.

My favorite photo from the Rally is this one - Doug Danger sitting on Evel Knievel's bike contemplating the "Shadow of a Legend" as he prepares to jump. Doug has promised to sign a print for me and it will have a treasured spot on the stunt hall of fame wall in my basement.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Black Hills Photo Shootout 2015 registration open

Registration is now open for this year's Black Hills Photo Shootout, Sept. 24-27! There are some new and exciting workshop sessions and a great keynote speaker in Jennifer Wu.

Register and check out all the details here - The Black Hills Photo Shootout.

I will be leading sessions on Cowboys of the Old West at the historic Meeker Ranch and Iconic Landscapes on the Needles Highway. A session that has been requested in the past is in the lineup, with Mike Wolforth teaching Native American Ceremonial Dances and Portraits. There are several other new offerings for workshops as well.

If you are interested in night sky photography, you probably already know of Jennifer Wu. She will be doing a special night sky presentation that is included in Shootout registration on Thursday night, Sept. 24 at Black Hills State University in Spearfish. Her keynote presentation on Friday night will be about Nature's Elusive Beauty. Learn more about Jennifer at her website -

With all of this, the 50th Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup on Friday morning, portfolio reviews, socialization opportunities and the autumn colors in the Black Hills and Badlands, you won't want to miss this year's Shootout!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sioux Avenue Cruise Night underway

As I type this, cars of all types are motoring up and down Pierre's main drag in the third annual Sioux Avenue Cruise Night and Hot Rod Hangout. Each year gets better as this event continues to grow in size and fun.

There aren't many rules to the cruise. Any year and type of car is welcome, but it mainly brings out the hot rodders, classic collectors, tuner builders and customizers. It is a fun night of automotive artistry.