Monday, April 27, 2015

All aboard the Photo Express!

Now this is going to be fun! The folks at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum and the 1880 Train in Hill City have put together a Photo Express ride especially for those of us who like taking pictures of historic trains.

The Photo Express experience begins at 7 am on Saturday, October 3 with a mini photo workshop and breakfast. The ride on the historic 1880 Train includes two stops where photographers can depart the train and photograph the steam engine as it chugs through magnificent Black Hills scenery.

After the ride and lunch, presentations by Chris Laskowski of C. Vision Productions, Erica Harvey of Tripod Tours and yours truly, Chad Coppess of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, will be held at the Hill City High School.

This unique offering is a first for the Black Hills area. I think we can expect a good turnout with this capping off a great week of photography opportunities - the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup on Friday, September 25, the Black Hills Photo Shootout Sept. 25-27, and prime time for fall colors in the Hills leading up to the Photo Express.

For more information and to register, contact the South Dakota State Railroad Museum.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Capitol Lake geyser

Pierre, South Dakota has (or had) it's own amazing 25-foot water fountain in the center of town.

The short-lived great Capitol Lake geyser of April 10, 2015 lasted a few hours, if that. I noticed it just before sundown and made this picture. As I drove away, repair crews were arriving to fix the broken water pipe. It was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nikonians headed for the Hills

Nikonians, a worldwide group of dedicated Nikon photographers, will be holding their 15th Annual Nikonians Photography Adventure Trip (ANPAT) in the Black Hills and Badlands this fall.

The guided group tour/workshop will be September 26-October 3. Membership in the Nikonians organization is required, along with the ANPAT fee.

I hosted the Nikonians group in the Black Hills back in 2005. I can tell you they are a passionate bunch and will be coming from all over the globe.

For more information on this year's ANPAT, follow this link the Nikonians website.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Meet the man who has photographed Mount Rushmore for eight decades

Rapid City photographer Bill Groethe has been around long enough to shoot Mount Rushmore when it was being carved. Time Magazine just reported on his life's work there. Read the full story at -

Meet the man who has photographed Mount Rushmore for eight decades

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rod Planck bringing annual workshop to South Dakota

Well-known nature photographer Rod Planck will again be offering an eight-day workshop in South Dakota's Badlands and Black Hills this fall.

I ran into Rod's group in Wind Cave National Park last year and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting great photos. Check out his workshop at this link.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Custer State Park/Wind Cave National Park a potent wildlife combo

Wildlife and landscape photographers just can't go wrong with the back-to-back combination of Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park in southwestern South Dakota. When you get a beautifully frosty couple days to go with everything else, it is heaven.

Lona Haas, Keith Hemmelman and I had a great time wandering the backroads throughout both parks over the Valentines Day/Presidents Day weekend.

A week earlier my wife Lisa and I were privileged to this incredible sunset over Lame Johnny Road in the southeastern corner of Custer State Park.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Blogger - Jay Grammond

Jay Grammond is a Minnesota photographer who's annual trip to the Black Hills Photo Shootout helps him find many photo subjects in out-of-the-way places.

How many times have you found yourself needing to drive across a state, like South Dakota for example. You’re cruising along down the interstate, your camera gear is in the back seat, ready to be put into action, and you see something that looks like it would make a really great image – but – you start to talk yourself out of pulling off the next exit and getting the shot.  You know, you need to be somewhere by a certain time; you have passengers and you think they may get bored; maybe you’ll stop and get the shot the next time you come through the area. Does that scenario sound familiar?

Maybe the next time you make that journey, you should allow some extra time and only take the “backroads” to get to your destination. That is what I did as a self-assignment over the past couple of years while on my annual pilgrimage to the Black Hills Photo Shootout. I decided that I would take County and State Highways and stop in as many small towns as I could along the way there and back. Every little town has something unique in it that is worthy of having someone stop and make images, you just have to be willing to slow down and explore. If you do, I think you’ll be happy with the results. Here are some of the images that I created in small towns across the northeastern quarter of the state:

I’m fascinated by train graffiti and so when I saw some cars sitting still in Redfield and parked in such a way that I could shoot images from the street, well I had to stop and make some images. 

Outside of Aberdeen, I went in search of a farmer that had stopped by my Art In The Park booth the previous summer and had invited me out to shoot old automobiles out in their shelter belt. I couldn’t pass that up. 

Back on my route and heading east, I come across a cemetery, I love to walk cemeteries and see what kind of stories they tell. I think that this marker was something special. This cemetery was really interesting and even contained a WWI Veteran who was part of a Balloon Division. 

Another small town was hanging on by a thread…the city playground park was overgrown with weeds; the sidewalks were nearly covered in grass; there was an old school gas station now used as a regular garage; there was an ancient water tower – lots of great subject matter. But it was the Town Hall Outhouse set against a cornfield that really caught my eye. 

Sometimes you see a gravel road and decide that you just need to drive down the road and see what it holds. I took one and found this beautiful old home. Just think of what this farm yard must have been like in its prime. 

I had heard about this place called the Cathedral of the Prairie a couple years ago and knew I was in the vicinity. Many of you know, it is out on the prairie….what a magnificent place! (Hoven is home to the Cathedral on the Prairie...Dakotagraph) 

I am a bit of a Civil War buff and couldn’t believe it when I came to a town called Gettysburg. They had a lot of interesting architecture in town and a real nice museum. I found out that there was a cemetery outside of town that contained several grave sites of the Civil War veterans that founded the town after the war.

I had been searching for the past year or two specifically for veterans of the 1 Minnesota Vol INF because of a recent trip I made to Gettysburg, PA. The First Minnesota played crucial roles in the Battle of Gettysburg which were key in preserving the Union. Anyway, I came across this grave marker in Gettysburg, SD – I was thrilled to discover that I actually had one commemorative flag left in my truck, a flag that had actually been in Gettysburg, PA with us when we re-dedicated monuments and marked graves. 

Out by the Missouri River, I came across these horses all standing next to each other. They were surrounded by hundreds of acres of open land and there they were at the top of this hill standing together like a goal-line defense. 

This sunset was out near Spearfish. The Shootout had ended and I had planned to stay overnight in Spearfish so that I could go out and explore the area and create images rather than starting to head back to Minnesota as soon as the last workshop ended, as I usually do. I was driving gravel roads with no idea where I was and ended up right in this location at sunset. It was truly magical and I couldn’t believe all the random turns and roads that got me to this spot at this time. 

On my way home I went through this little town and needed to stop for a stretch break, and anyway, there was a courthouse along the road that had some war memorials which I am also into getting images of. When I went back to my car and looked across the street I saw this scene, I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing! (This is Woonsocket...Dakotagraph) 

I urge each of you to go out and explore the back roads and small towns and see what you can find. Great subjects are out there just waiting for you to discover them! If you’d like to see more of my images and blog posts go to “Adventures In Photography” on WordPress Thank you to Dakotagraph for allowing me to be a guest blogger. 

Thank you Jay! You can also see more of Jay's work at 

If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger leave a comment here or on the Dakotagraph page at Facebook.