September 22nd, 2012
Day 2 of our trip. The badlands are always cool, and there's always something to shoot there, but this was my third (Chris' 5th or so) trip up there this year. We had already driven a solid 7 hours to get here, so we figured, what's a couple more? So instead of shooting the Badlands again, we decided (per the suggestion of Mike Hollingshead) to make the drive north and west to Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Brett stayed in Wall to shoot the Badlands while Chris and I left before lunch. Mike wasn't far behind (odd being ahead of the speed demon for once lol).
The day before, Chris mentioned some waterfalls that he had heard of near Spearfish, SD. Chris and I stop for lunch at Subway in Spearfish, SD as Mike goes on ahead to find the falls. The route to the falls turns out to be waaaay more photogenic than expected, as Mike warned us on the phone. We keep the location of the falls in the GPS, but our attention quickly shifted elsewhere.
US-14 Scenic Highway southwest of Spearfish, SD. The number of roadside pull-offs they had built in should have been our first clue as to how popular (busy) this place would be.
Turns out Spearfish Canyon is pretty dang epic. A short 10-yard hike to the left of that pull-off and you run into this scene.
Just some stupidly cliche landscape photographer type of stuff. Blue sky, granite peaks, and a flowing stream.
Walk about a hundred yards down the road, and you run into another cool scene. Giant chunk of granite sitting in the stream.
Would have been interesting to be there when this thing came tumbling down the mountain.
Even the underbrush was photogenic.
Drive a hundred yards down the road, stop, shoot. Repeat. We never did catch up to Mike, who tried to find the falls and had already turned back (turns out he didn't get to the main falls... maybe next trip).
Note the amount of cars there other than our own. Pretty crazy busy for a random weekend before fall colors had even peaked.
You'd think harsh afternoon lighting would be terrible for shooting landscapes, but it was actually pretty cool. The canyon angles are so sheer that the top of the trees were in full afternoon sunlight, but the ground below them was completely shadowed.
Turn the corner and we really start to get into the canyon with fall colors ops. You don't even have to do a bunch of driving to get to all these different scenes. This is pretty much a corner-by-corner account of the drive. Doing my best not to share every single image I took there. If I did, this account would be miles long.
Tourists shooting fall colors around the bend. Such a gorgeous hillside!
We meet up with Mike again and get off the road to hike a bit. Tried to find a cool spot along the stream with fall colors, but the brush ended up getting too dense.
Not what we were expecting, but I'll take it!
Now we're getting to the main area that actually looks down Spearfish Canyon. Had to do a panorama to document the full grandeur of the scene!
Shooting a REAL landscape? What is this blasphemy?!
Rocky outcrop on the left side of the canyon.
We finally make some progress on the road and get past the visitor center. However, we soon realized that if we wanted to make Devil's Tower by sunset, we had to turn around and get back to interstate soon. Would have loved to spend more time there, but I'm glad we turned around where we did. It allowed me to shoot one of my favorite scenes of the trip!
Spearfish Canyon, SD... must return to shoot this in winter!
As we passed the visitor center on the way back, we noticed they had signs pointing to Spearfish Falls. We get out of the car and see that the trail isn't even a mile long, so we go for it. Glad we did, because the falls at the end of the trail were incredible!
Never had the opportunity to shoot waterfall motion blur before. Glad I finally got to!
We head back up the trail and get ready to drive up to Devil's Tower. Before getting in the car though, I had to get one more shot of the canyon walls.
Next stop, Devil's Tower! Continue to Page 3