Posts tagged ‘playing’

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado—July 6, 2016

To be honest, at first I was not thrilled about making the side journey to see this national park…but we’d bought the “National Parks Passport” book and so I thought why not get another stamp in our passport. It would also be good to get the kids out of the car for a bit.
But Holy Cow! This place is impressive! Massive dunes tower above the flat valley floor with a backdrop of Rocky Mountain peaks (Sangre de Cristo Range)…a strange sight. Photography-wise, I loved the shapes and silhouettes of the stark landscape and I took many photos (and for the most part kept the sand grains out of my equipment).
The geology of how these dunes came to be is quite complicated and a bit unknown, so I’m not going to try and explain it (not that I understand it anyway) so you’ll have to Google it for yourself. What is fascinating, is that the shape and size of the major dune field has not changed much at all in 140 years! (See historic & modern photo below). North America’s largest dunes cover about 38 square miles and reach heights of 750 feet from the valley floor.
The kids could have cared less about the geology, and they just wanted to play in the giant sand box, along with about 100 other visitors (200?). They had a blast, as you can see from the photos below.

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4269Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4267Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

dunes Great Sand Dunes 1873-2011Amazingly, the shape and size of the major dunes has not changed significantly in the last 140 years! (from the National Park Service website).

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4403Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4309Birk Stensaas at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4308Bjorn Stensaas at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4305Bjorn Stensaas at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4295Bjorn and Birk Stensaas at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4288Bjorn and Birk Stensaas at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4259Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado IMG_4252Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Yellowstone May 2014—Bears, Bears, Bears! (Grizzly, Cinnamon, Black)

Over our 3 1/2 days in Yellowstone, Ryan and I had 23 bear encounters.This is far more than we’ve ever had during our many fall trips. The reason is likely that all bears hibernate and when they wake in spring, they are very hungry so they must roam in search of food. Grizzlies are especially fond of winter-killed Bison and will seek out the “tenderized” meat. Another reason is that both Black and Grizzly sows may have COYs with them. A COY is a “cub of the year”…a baby bear born this winter. Cubs stay with mom for two years.

Male Grizzlies can be awake as early as February but most females with cubs hibernate until later in the spring, emerging from mid March to mid May. We only saw two Grizzly sows with cub/s. Both with second year cubs.

Grizzly and sage Narrows Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_7944Male Grizzly in sagebrush. Grizzlies don’t do much…Often they are just nose-down searching or eating food. So anytime one even lifts its head, the shutters start clicking. I like the backlighting creating a rim light effect. The green of sage contrasts nicely with the brown fur. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens and 1.4x teleconverter; f8 at 1/400, ISO 200; tripod]

Ranger and Grizzly Narrows Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8002“Bear Jams” were common and rangers did their best to keep tourists and photographers back 100 yards from the animals. Their goal is to not let humans alter any wild animal’s behavior in the park.

Black Bear sow with three cubs Rainy Lake Tower Junction Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8396Triplets! Cute and cuddly Black Bears coming to drink with mama at Rainy Lake near Tower Junction. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/2500, ISO 320; tripod]

Black Bear cub B&W Rainy Lake Tower Junction Yellowstone National Park WYIMG_8339The cubs were wrestling and goofing around like all youngsters should do, but when mom gave the signal, they scampered up the biggest pine around. Safety in the tree tops. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/2500, ISO 320; tripod]

Black Bear sow with three cubs Rainy Lake Tower Junction Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8395 [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/2500, ISO 320; tripod]

Black Bear sow with three cubs Rainy Lake Tower Junction Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_8382 [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/2500, ISO 320; tripod]

Grizzly bear butt foot Fishing Bridge Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_9141Grizzly Bear butt and giant paw near Fishing Bridge. You don’t always need to include the whole animal in your shots! [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/500, ISO 400; braced on window of car]

Grizzly silhouette Mary's Bay Yellowstone Lake Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_9054 - Version 2I got a bit creative here as the sow and cub Grizzly were really moving. We followed behind them as they hustled along this hillside then climbed this very steep incline. The second-year cub was already up and over the top while mom was huffing and puffing. I like how you can see the steam of her breath backlit. I converted to sepia as there was no real color in the image anyway.

Black Bear cinnamon phase near Norris Yellowstone National Park WY IMG_6905“Cinnamon” bears are just a color phase/ morph of the Black Bear. Here is a smaller Cinnamon between Mammoth and Norris. [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f6.3 at 1/1000, ISO 400; tripod]

Grizzly shaddow B&W Narrows Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park WYIMG_8031 Grizzly shadow [Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/2000, ISO 200; tripod]