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

Passing By Time


On a recent trip to Wyoming & South Dakota my friend and I found many old, weathered buildings and rusty relics. We even had the opportunity to explore some real ghost towns. Loving this subject matter, we couldn’t let these opportunities pass us by. We had to stop and photograph them! The following are subjects we found in the first 2 days of a 10 day trip. So, along with many landscape images there’s more of this to come … houses, barns, another ghost town and more! Following is the first set I have ready to share. Let me know if there is one that speaks to you! And, if you like this subject matter as much as I do, check out my ‘Remnants & Remains Gallery’!

Some Old West buildings stand the test of time … barely!

‘Ghost Town Duo’ © Denise Bush

A roadside cabin looks quaint dressed in rust and weathered wood, against a pine forest backdrop.

‘Along The Way’ © Denise Bush

A mere shell of its former self., an old car rusts away under the open sky.

‘All That Remains’ © Denise Bush

Parts of an old vehicle looks as it s being used as a planter.

‘Stationary Planter’ © Denise Bush

The abundance of wires here inspired the photograph and title.

‘Wired’ © Denise Bush

An old building seems to defy gravity as it leans to the left.

‘Leaning Left’ © Denise Bush

Some abandoned farm buildings are seen in the distance as a storm approaches.

‘Abandoned From Afar’ © Denise Bush

An old house looks as if it is made of matchsticks and ready to collapse.

‘Vented Relic’ © Denise Bush

This abandoned yet sturdy looking stone building sparks imagination.

‘The Vault’ © Denise Bush

An old abandoned shack displays an unusual detail for such an otherwise simple structure.

‘Diamonds In The Rough’ © Denise Bush

An interesting abandoned saloon sign reads ‘Indians allowed’ with cow skulls hanging overhead.

‘Longhorn Saloon’ © Denise Bush

The front of an old abandoned house becomes a storage place for big bales of hay.

‘Old House With Hay Bales’ © Denise Bush

I love the look of silhouettes … strong but simple. Black against a colorful sky makes a bold statement, while leaving something for the imagination at the same time. With silhouettes we are forced to see the shapes instead of getting caught up in details. This is a self-assigned theme I’ve been working on for awhile, finally collecting enough to make a set for this post. I hope you like them!

‘Dusty Drive-by’ © Denise Bush

‘Hilltop Silhouette’ © Denise Bush

‘Silhouette In Sunset Hues’ © Denise Bush

‘Sunny Silhouette’ © Denise Bush

‘Sunset Silhouette With Fence’ © Denise Bush

‘Last Look’ © Denise Bush

After a long, long, very snowy winter I’ve been out close to home searching for spring! To tell the truth, as glad as I am to see spring arrive each year, it has never been my favorite season for photography. It comes in third with autumn and winter being first and second. And if I can get up into those wildflower basins this summer, spring could lose its third place standing. Spring … it can be uncooperative and I’ve often referred to the season as a ‘big tease’! After just a sprinkling of warmer, sunny days the cold and chance of snow lingers. As they say in the mountains, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” This is especially true in spring, when conditions change quickly. Along with cloudy skies, rain, snow and strong gusts of wind, the weather has been fickle to say the least. It’s all part of what defines this season however … so what’s a landscape photographer to do but embrace it all …. as wondrous, dynamic and unpredictable as it is. Following are some landscapes I found while out searching.

‘Spring Glow’ © Denise Bush

‘Ranch View’ © Denise Bush

‘Vernal Reflection’ © Denise Bush

‘Mount Abram View’ © Denise Bush

‘Coming Home’ © Denise Bush

With so much snow this year it may be a while before the high mountains are accessible. Roads in the the National Forest and on BLM land are not maintained in the winter, in addition to several county roads. In some places residents need snowmobiles to get home. Not only is the snow incredibly deep and melting slowly, but winter avalanches and slides are making clearing the roads an even more difficult task. It’s a perfect time to head in other directions that explore more arid areas near our Ridgway home. Here are some views from the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, about an hour north. Comprised of 62,844 acres, I was amazed by the uninterrupted vastness of the scenery. Getting out in the sun and exploring this unique landscape was a fun spring outing. Here are a few of the views.

‘West Elks In View’ © Denise Bush

‘Forever View’ © Denise Bush

‘Great Wide Open’ © Denise Bush