Not only could wild horses not drag me away from my camera, as the tired cliche' goes, but in this case they were the object of my photography passion. These are some of the wild horses inhabiting the South Unit of the ever-popular Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
While the loop road through the park is still closed, some of the horses stray close enough to the open roads to be worth the short hike to chase them. In this case they didn't really do anything spectacular. It was neat to get up close to them, though. I've hiked a long ways out into the middle of the park in the summer while chasing these beasts, but never in the crusty snow. Before this past weekend, that is. Thankfully they weren't far away. It was COLD! Trudging through crusted ice and snow in the Badlands' already uneven terrain is one heck of a workout as well.
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I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Every single dark blotch in the snow of the picture above is a pheasant or two. Not only was this eye-catching, it wasn't exactly an anomaly; I encountered field after field like this on Saturday. The phenomenon surfaced on our way south of Lefor and continued all the way south and east until we approached Glen Ullin from the south. In fact, we took one through the grille of my friend's car just north of Elgin. The sides of the roads were lined with hungry pheasants as well as one who lost their encounter with traffic.
This is good news for any hunters who worried about the heavy snowfall preventing the pheasants from getting to their food. Apparently they're still doing quite alright.
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I took a 400+ mile photography road trip around western North Dakota with a friend on Saturday. You'll see the fruits of the trip, trust me. But this photo put a fantastic exclamation point on the journey. We got some dramatic shots hiking the wintry Badlands, including wild horses and bison, but for some reason I knew right away that this was my favorite. I was in the passenger side of the vehicle on our way north out of Elgin, so I didn't see this. My friend Ken is the one who glanced westward as he drove, spotting this geometrically pleasing array of jet contrails. That's the mark of a good photographer: having the eye to spot each photo opportunity. Wait until you see some of the other crazy stuff we spotted!
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Okay, it's steam and not smoke...and there isn't any fire in the sky. This time of year a clear river channel and a blast of cold air can combine for a pretty neat scene! The other day there was steam rising from the river, from some of the storm drains, and from various smokestacks.
This is some of the steam rising from one of the Heskett power plant stacks. It reminded me that images of ominous evil stacks belching forth black plumes of pollution are merely a tool of the environmentalists' propaganda. Those are an anachronism, really. The industry continues to make great strides not only in extracting the most energy from the coal they burn, but from extracting as many pollutants as they can before they're expelled into the air. Much of that innovation takes place right here in North Dakota's famed "energy corridor."
What you see rising from power plants these days is steam, not smoke. That's a really common misconception. That's also why you rarely see emissions from a power plant on a warm day. A friend of mine told me the other day that since the two power generating units at Heskett are slightly different, sometimes you'll see steam from one and not the other because of the temperature difference of the two. I'm told I may be doing some more power plant work in the near future, so I look forward to another close look at the process!
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A short while ago, I got the opportunity I'd been craving for a long time: to be in the Great Hall of the state capitol building. At night. With my camera. Alone. Obviously photos of such a rare opportunity need to be shared; therefore, here are a few.
This is the view from the end of the hallway to the Judicial Wing. It's too bad those revolving doors on the left aren't in service daily. I've been able to go through them, but I was much younger then. I don't know if they're ever unlocked now.
This is the entry of the hallway of the legislative wing. The House of Representatives meets on the left, the Senate on the right. Those little nooks in the wood of the hallway contain benches where one can hang out after an exciting day of legislating.
Here's another view of the hallway with the aforementioned benches. The warmth of the wood is really nice, a contrast with the marble and brass of the main hall.
This is the view from the west end of the legislative hall, looking east toward the Great Hall in the background.
We have a really neat capitol building. I'm grateful to have been able to poke around in it from time to time over the years. I've been up on the roof, frequent the observation deck, and seen a few other very interesting nooks and crannies, so to speak. Those were all during the daylight hours. To be able to photograph it at night was certainly a treat, one I won't soon forget. I have other, cooler photos as well, with some funky angles and that sort of thing. Perhaps I'll share those later. I can't let 'em all out at once!
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