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.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Got a favorite autumn spot?

Okay Dakotagraph readers, I need your help. I know it is the height of summer, but I need some autumn ideas. I'm looking for recommendations for great places to shoot autumn colors this fall in Eastern South Dakota.

I already know and have photographed the traditional East River hot-spots of Sica Hollow, Palisades State Park and Newton Hills. If you know of a beautiful autumn location that should be featured in South Dakota Tourism photos, please reply here or on Facebook. Thank you!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Getting the shot in high places

Those who know me well know I'm not that fond of high places. Sometimes though you just have to go where the photos are. In the last few weeks I have flown in a helicopter and hiked to some steep spots to "get the shot." Here are just a couple examples.

It takes special permission to get to the high spots on Mount Rushmore. Security is very tight around the Shrine of Democracy, so this kind of access is one of the treasures of my job with the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Scott Howard and I documented maintenance work last week on a crack sensor placed on Abraham Lincoln's nose. I'm guessing this is the last time I will be in this sort of proximity to the famous faces.

Even though we had more safety gear strapped to us than probably necessary and a well-trained escort, I reached a spot below the faces that was as far as I was comfortable climbing to. Scott was braver than me and did ascend far enough to be touching Teddy Roosevelt's chin. Good for him! I'll live without that distinction on my resume.

Following longtime travel associate Mike Gussiaas up the steep, slick rock and flowing water trail to Community Caves in Spearfish Canyon is another feet I may not attempt again soon. I made it, but not without a lot of stopping to catch my breath and looking for the next stable footing position.

The caves themselves are spectacular and feel a bit exotic for South Dakota. I've seen some pretty incredible pictures from here in the winter when the waterfall is frozen over the mouth of the caves.

I would give directions to this, but I'm afraid I didn't keep track of exactly where in the canyon we parked and began the hike with a wade across Spearfish Creek. Perhaps someone will comment with directions on the Dakotagraph page at Facebook. EDIT - Thanks to Mistie Ainsworth-Caldwell for these directions - Heading south on 14A from Spearfish, travel 2.6 miles. You will pass a large parking lot and a smaller pull-off on the right side of the road. Park at the long pull-off on the right at the 2.6 mile mark. From there cross the road to the creek side. Follow the beaten path down to the creek, cross it and find the path up to the caves from there.

I will add that if you are headed to Community Caves, you will want shoes with good tread and your feet will get wet!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Always looking for new angles

When I'm photographing a place I've been before I'm always looking for new angles. This window reflection was a fun way to combine Wild Bill Hickok and the columns on the historic Franklin Hotel in Deadwood in one shot.

Monday, June 1, 2015

It's baby bird time in central South Dakota!

It has taken a month of careful watching and waiting to capture this fun video. Mother robin first built a nest outside our kitchen window and left one egg in it before deciding our back deck would be a better spot for a nest. We've been watching four eggs for over a week now, and today we have babies!

A GoPro camera run by remote control caught the first moments of one of the hatchlings' life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Bandit Run

In the spirit of "you never know what you'll run across in South Dakota" I bring you this Throwback Thursday post of when I discovered the 2013 Bandit Run was at Mount Rushmore at the same time I was.

The Bandit Run is an annual gathering of fans of the movie "Smokey and the Bandit" and enthusiasts of Pontiac Trans Am cars. A different route is designated every year for the Run and we were lucky to have Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills be part of it in 2013. More info at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Drones are a hot topic

I am fielding more and more questions about drone photography and where it is or isn't legal. While I haven't used one myself, I understand the excitement about the potential for photography from a height previously unobtainable to most of us.

Parks and Recreation Magazine recently published a very good article about the use of drones in parks and other public spaces. If you have a drone or are considering purchasing one, I recommend reading this article and as much research as you can to keep yourself out of trouble.

Common sense will go a long way to keeping drone use safe and fun for everyone.