Barns & Buttes


I’m still going through images from a June road trip to South Dakota and Wyoming. The goal was photography and it surely provided a lot of material for this blog! If you scroll down (after clicking on Denise Bush’s Photo Blog above) you’ll see some of the other posts. Amazing scenery kept my camera busy, filling one card after another! Now working on images from the end of the trip, the fall foliage I’ve shot during the past couple of weeks will have to wait a bit longer. The first image here presented a predicament … should I create a post about barns or buttes? My solution, as you see from the title was to combine the two. If you have a favorite in this set I’d love to know… just click on ‘comments’ at the end!

First light illuminates a photogenic gable barn near Bear Butte in South Dakota.

‘First Light On Barn & Butte’ © Denise Bush
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A pink stripe hovers above Bear Butte at sunset as if to accent days end.

‘Streak Above Bear Butte’ © Denise Bush

An intense rain storm rolls over the countryside near Bear Butte.

‘Bear Butte Storm’ © Denise Bush
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An old farmhouse and barn make one wonder what it was like in its prime.

‘From Days Gone By’ © Denise Bush
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An ominous storm cloud appears above Devils Tower to create a dramatic Wyoming scene.

‘Right Before The Storm’ © Denise Bush

Devil’s Tower in Crook County, Wyoming is an awe-inspiring sight!

‘Devil’s Tower & Clouds’ © Denise Bush

The sight of Devil’s Tower is even more dramatic against a sunset sky.

‘Close Encounter At Sunset’ © Denise Bush
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A famous and preserved barn in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, lights up at days end as long shadows from trees creep closer.

‘Approaching Shadows’ © Denise Bush
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High & Wild!


One of my photo goals this summer was to expand my portfolio to include more wildflower landscapes. I have better experience with flowers close-up, using a 100mm macro lens. It was time to focus more intently on wildflowers in the beautiful Colorado landscape.

I’ve written a little about this subject before, explaining how challenging I find it. Most of the wildflowers are up high, in the mountain basins. This of course, requires getting there … by hiking steep trails at high elevations or jeeping on sketchy roads. I’ve tried setting out in the morning and hiking while carrying a tripod, camera and water. By the time I got to where I was going it was high noon and the light was too contrasty … not to mention how tired I felt! Monsoons accompanied by lightning often roll in on summer afternoons and to be safe it’s wise to head back down the mountain soon after you get there! This year jeeping was the way to go but there are still other challenges to deal with. Finding the right patch of blooms can be difficult … especially when trying to line them up with a background to make a nice composition, and without distractions. Once found I also need to be mindful of the ever-present wind, setting a shutter speed fast enough while still allowing plenty of depth in focus. For images with flowers very close I’ve used a tripod and focus-stacked … combining images with the focus on the foreground, middle and background, and then manually blending them using layers and masks in Photoshop.

The collection starts with a surprise wildflower field near Telluride at about 9,000 ft. Record snow this year created a display like never seen before. But the snow also delayed the wildflowers higher up as well as the opening of many jeep roads. I heard a rumor that this field was radioactive … an explanation for the bountiful bloom! With a lot of mining history in the area … who knows? (June 24)

Wildflowers are abundant along the highway near Telluride, Colorado.

‘Wildflower Hill’ © Denise Bush
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A wildflower hill poses beside an glowing orange ridge at the end of a beautiful day!

‘Wildflowers Beside Glowing Ridge’ © Denise Bush
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Mother Nature has provided us with a beautiful color combination including purples, reds and oranges, among the green grass and blue sky!

‘Mother Nature’s Colors’ © Denise Bush

Another 9,000 ft. surprise was a familiar lupine field that just exploded with blooms this year. Here the fence kept me from getting very close. I visited on a few different occasions but was happiest with the combination of clouds, flowers and mountains. (July 1-20)

A fence creates a boundry protecting a beautiful field of lupine.

‘Fenced Lupine’ © Denise Bush
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A rare white lupine cluster stands out in a filed of purple!

‘A Splash Of White’ © Denise Bush

A brilliant lupine field shows off its color under a cloudy sky.

‘Lupine Under Clouds’ © Denise Bush

A field of Lupine makes an early July sunset even more beautiful, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘Lupine At Sundown’ © Denise Bush

A first for me was seeing Monument Plants in bloom. This grouping was near Silverton but they were just about everywhere throughout the area. They get as tall 8 feet and flower just once in their lifetime of 20 to 80 years before dying. Other names include; Elkweed, Deer Ears, Green Gentian and Showy Frasera.

The flower stalk of this plant with many names erupts from a very large basal rosette of leaves, reaching heights of up to 8 feet. It flowers just once in its lifetime of 20 to 80 years and then dies.

‘Blooming Monument Plant’ © Denise Bush

Now it’s up to the higher alpine basins … 11,300 to 12,600 … give or take! As I’ve mentioned, the roads can be sketchy and every year there are casualties. There are many jeep roads I will not attempt alone. Once there, the slopes are steep and rocky so making your way to a good vantage point is often a careful balancing act. Here I found King’s Crowns, Columbine, Bluebells, Larkspur, Elephant Heads … Pink, White & Orange Paintbrush … and more! (August 2-6)

King’s Crowns and other wildflowers are found along a summer slope in Ouray County Colorado.

‘King’s Crowns On High’ © Denise Bush

A high mountain road leads to a beautiful display of wildflowers.

‘Columbine Trail’ © Denise Bush

A close-up look at Columbine, shows more, dotting the green landscape.

‘Columbine Close-up’ © Denise Bush

A road, high is a mountain basin outside of Silverton Colorado, displays beautiful pink paintbrush and other wildflowers.

‘Wildflower Pass’ © Denise Bush

I continued to like cloudy or partially cloudy skies for these scenes. Full on sun was much too contrasty. There is something about the pretty, delicate flowers along with the brooding clouds that appeals to me. (August 11-29)

Some bluebells sit peacefully under cloudy skies beside a fast-moving mountain stream.

‘Bluebells Beside The River’ © Denise Bush
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Cloudy skies loom over a high mountain wildflower basin near Ouray, Colorado.

‘Wildflower Assortment Under Looming Clouds’ © Denise Bush

Some wildflowers decorate a ledge offering a good view of a waterfall below.

‘Waterfall Overlook’ © Denise Bush

Columbine grows among boulders, high up, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘Columbine & Boulders’ © Denise Bush

Indian Paintbrush graces a gentle slope leading to a mountain lake, high in the mountains of Colorado

‘Indian Paintbrush View’ © Denise Bush

Paintbrush cheers up rocky terrain on a Colorado slope at first light.

‘Slopeside Beauties’ © Denise Bush

Columbine blooms on a rocky slope in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Colorado.

‘On The Wild Side’ © Denise Bush
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Pink Painbrush wildflowers create a beautiful nature scen high in the mountains of Colorado.

‘Peaks & Pink Paintbrush’ © Denise Bush

This is a longer than usual post. Now it’s time to take a short break and get ready for fall foliage in the landscape! I hope you enjoyed looking at these summer scenes!

Finding a piece of history along the way is always a thrill for me. A ghost town with tales of hard times and murder was no exception. Fascinated, I went into over-drive … exploring, composing and shooting. Vehicles left behind and posed among the June grass, grabbed a lot of my attention. Here are some, once mobile favorites from two sessions at this location.

Three Ford Falcons line up together … all belonging to the same club!

‘Falcon Club’ © Denise Bush
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This abandoned car looks like the kind gangsters and bank robbers used back in the day. As a matter of fact, that’s an abandoned bank in the background!

‘Getaway Car’ © Denise Bush

Looks like this truck has been stripped clean, leaving just a shell of its former self.

‘Stripped’ © Denise Bush

An old truck is at home in its abandoned surroundings.

‘Parked Out Front’ © Denise Bush

A small tractor style lawn mower sits among tall grass in this ghost town scene.

‘Where The Grass Grows’ © Denise Bush

Two Visits


A town that once was called for two visits … one afternoon and one morning. I was drawn to a little weathered house sitting below some beautiful rolling hills, so I photographed it in changing light and from different angles. There were fences and ‘no trespassing’ signs that I did not want to violate so getting up close was not an option. What I find interesting and want to point out in this set are the skies and how they changed during my two, three hour (or so) visits. It was a fun location with other scenes to follow soon. Do you have a favorite here? … I’d love to know!

‘Below A Hill’ © Denise Bush
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‘House & Hills’ © Denise Bush

‘The Loner’ © Denise Bush

‘Little Lonesome’ © Denise Bush



Mountain lakes have a special place in my heart. I’ve heard that ‘water’ is one of the most photographed subjects. When you think about all the ocean, lake, pond, river, stream and waterfall subjects it is probably so. But lakeside is by far my favorite … a place I like to be, and a place I like to photograph. A stop at Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota did not disappoint. Rock formations surrounding the lake created a unique and peaceful scene, especially at sunrise and sunset.

The clouds are the first to wake at Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

‘Glorious Morning’ © Denise Bush

A Canada Goose, awake before sunrise is enjoying a peaceful morning swim before the tourists come.

‘Morning Swim’ © Denise Bush
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As the sunrises it illuminates more of Sylvan Lake’s beautful rock formations.

‘Sylvan Lake Lighting’ © Denise Bush

Sunset on Sylvan Lake in South Dakota’s Black Hills region.

‘Sylvan Lake Sunset’ © Denise Bush

The waterfalls pictured here are from Spearfish Canyon, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On this spring day clouds provided diffused light, eliminating harsh contrast and helping me achieve the silky water affect. Located close to one another, it was easy to get to all three falls in one afternoon. I found the vantage points to be quite limited … choosing not to jump a fence, get wet or roll down a steep ravine. The lack of choices made the shoots even quicker and that was good because the clouds were starting to clear, putting an end to ideal conditions. I tried a few of the different compositions available and after processing them decided I like the following, centered compositions best, especially as a set. I converted them to B&W to make them a little different and lessen some distractions. By doing so I think more attention is given to the main subjects.

A short hike takes you to a beautiful view of Spearfish Falls in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

‘Spearfish Falls’ © Denise Bush
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Water falls into a babbling cascade at Roughlock Falls in the Black Hillsof South Dakota.

‘Roughlock Falls’ © Denise Bush

A recent 10-day trip took a friend and I to South Dakota, Wyoming, and back to Colorado again. Our first stop was The Badlands National Park. We were glad to see it wasn’t too crowded … as National Parks often are. The scenery is beautiful but also challenged me. I was reminded of how it is when you take a photography trip in unfamiliar territory. The landscape is large and foregrounds are often barren. We were lucky to have spring green grass leading up to the formations. I found interesting skies important in my approach and got lucky enough on a few occasions.

Last light falls upon the Badlands looking to the east.

‘Badlands Twilight’ © Denise Bush

The South Dakota sun rises over a Badlands landscape in spring.

‘Badlands Sunrise’ © Denise Bush

A beautiful spring morning in The Badlands National Park depicts how green it can be in the spring

‘Badlands Morning’ © Denise Bush

‘Green Valley’ © Denise Bush

A close-up of one of the yellow mounds in Badlands National Park.

‘Yellow Mounds Close-up’  © Denise Bush

The sun strikes a formation in the Badlands accentuating its jagged contours.

‘Badlands Sidelight’ © Denise Bush

Formations in The Badlands National Park can be smooth and display a variety of colors as seen in this view including some of the ‘Yellow Mounds’.

‘Undulations’ © Denise Bush

The spring green vegetation contrasts with the rough and barren Badlands of South Dakota

‘Spring Contrasts’ © Denise Bush

Grass in the foreground matches the warm colors of a Badlands formation.

‘Solo Peak’ © Denise Bush

Sunset lights up the sky before The Badlands retire for the night.

‘Goodnight Badlands’ © Denise Bush

A closer look at a colorful sunset in The Badlands shows the texture of the rugged rocks against a warm sky.

‘Sunset Close-up’ © Denise Bush