I love coming to South Dakota in the winter. Besides being quiet and peaceful, the light is amazing. Recently, I had the chance to shoot up at Sylvan Lake, at the old Meeker Ranch near Custer, and at Bear Butte. The light was soft and cool, and the snow on the ground sparkled.
Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park
In the Shadow of Bear Butte
The Meeker Ranch, Custer SD
Barn at the Meeker Ranch
In Dr. Watson Parker's book "Black Hills Ghost Towns", this image of an un-named church appeared. Sitting on the edge of a Badlands chasm, I thought I'd located it last year when I photographed St. Joseph's Mission, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Mom and I went back this spring to see if the angles from the old shot matched. They don't. We then spent a couple of lovely hours driving around the Badlands, detoured by a road closure on the two-lane between Scenic and the White River Ranger station. We drove miles out of our way, over Red Shirt Table all the way to Kyle and back to Rapid City.
We went back a few days later, and tried to access another possible mission that I've only found on the 7.5 minute USGS quads. Five miles down a single track farm road on top of Bouquet Table, we were turned back again by high water over Cain Creek. This year has been especially wet in Western South Dakota. Lots of hail, thunderstorms, rain. The resulting muck in the Badlands clay is not a pretty sight when you're stuck in it, so we turned around. On the way back, the clouds broke, and I got this wonderful shot looking northward toward the Badlands.
We did have a lovely outing in the Badlands. I got my Senior Interagency Access Pass for all the National Parks -- an amazing value for $10, BTW! You can get 'em at any National Park entrance station, or by mail order for an extra $10. And we spoke to a ranger at the visitor center, who confirmed my guess that St. Barbara's is likely the church in the 1958 photograph. Google satellite imagery is unclear as to whether the church is still standing. It appears as if it may have burned down.
I'm going to give it another shot this August, and see if I can find the church from the south, unless the river crossings have dried up. (Not likely). It will be a good adventure, nonetheless.
Free shipping on small and medium prints has ended as of August 5, 2015. Thanks to everyone who ordered prints and took advantage of the offer!
In between shows, I spent several days in the Vicksburg, Mississippi area. My main objective was to revisit the town of Rodney, once a booming town south of Vicksburg. The town has a long history before the Civil War, but now only a few residents remain. While I was there, wandering the dusty streets, the sound of someone mowing a lawn drifted through the town. Two churches remain: the Baptist church, which is deserted, and the Presbyterian church, which is in much better condition. I'll post a few more images next week, but this shot from the Baptist church speaks to my soul.
Look for some great artists at this year's tenth anniversary Woodlands Waterway Art Festival, in The Woodlands, Texas. I'm lucky to be one of the invited artists again this year, and I always look forward to festival, the people and the wonderful venue along the Waterway. You can find me in booth 225, round the middle of the pathway near Town Center Park. I'll be showing some brand new work as well as some of the old favorites.