A Great Day

A Great Day

This post has been written in two parts over a couple of days.  I got called away from home while I was writing, then got sick.  If you’ve already read the original post, scroll down to the Part Two heading to finish the story.    I just wanted to share what a great day I had on Sunday, March 8th.  I’ve also played fast and loose with my own categories, but I’ll explain as I go along.

First off, I’m taking split toning seriously.  You will note that today’s Video of the Day is the second youtube video on split toning in Adobe Lightroom.  Today, I’m sharing Justin Odisho’s tutorial on the subject.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  


Part One (March 9th, 2020)

A (Great) Day in the Country

Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. Something that I enjoy more than any other activity. Something I definitely need to do more of. “What?” you ask. Well, I spent eight hours driving roughly 120 miles, and I took photographs. Indeed, I took 123 photos, or just about one photo per mile, although I stopped at less than a dozen spots along the way.

Before I get into specifics, let me talk a bit about my travel partner for the day. Rudolf Boukal, whose piece As the Page Turns I used as a video of the day a while back, met me in town and at eleven a.m. we set off to find old wood to photograph. In tribute to Rudi, today’s Guest Site of the Day is another youtube video, this time Rudi’s composition Mountains and Valleys.

When you watch Mountains and Valleys, you will note the beautiful photography that accompanies Rudi’s music. Rudi has a new project which I believe is to be called Days Gone By, and if my photos meet Rudi’s needs, you just might see my work on Rudi’s next youtube video. With the theme of Days Gone By in mind, we set out to find old barns, old houses, old almost any thing. And find things we did.

Stop Number 1: Mile Marker 89

First stop was at mile marker 89 on Montana Highway 200. This is just a few miles east of the town of Paradise, in a stretch of highway known as the Perma Curves. The road is narrow, twists a lot, and there is not much room to park off the highway. There is, however, a wonderful old barn sitting right next to the road. Of course we stopped and took a bunch of photos.

Stop Number 2, Mile Marker 91

Our next stop was at mile marker 91 where the railroad has a great old trestle bridge across the Flathead River. We took several photographs of the bridge, and I got a few of Rudi with the camera in front of his face. I even got a surprise pic of a flock of birds rising off the water. But my favorite shot from this location was one of many of the photos I took of the teasels growing along the river. Weavers used the plant’s seedpods to full cloth, a factoid that endears the plant to me. This then is my Flower of the Day.

At mile marker 93, we stopped to photograph an old farm house that is gradually falling apart. Unfortunately, the house sits on a bluff above the highway, and there is a locked gate and a very prominent “No Trespassing” sign that kept me from sneaking in. Turning our backs to the house, we photographed the river instead, and caught the train coming through. This is my “Classic Car of the Day” shot because the train is carrying a load of Asian cars bound for the Midwest. Just because!

I’ve run out of time for today. I’ll be back tomorrow to finish this up and make sure you have all the proper links if you care to view my photos in the various sales galleries I use.

Part Two: written March 12th, 2020.

Stop Number 3: Mile Marker 97–Another Great Stop

Directly opposite Mile Marker 97, there is a dirt road leading down to a locked gate and beyond. There are also signs noting that the land behind the gate, 17 acres in total, is for sale. I can’t say I’m interesting in buying the land, but that would have been my excuse had anyone questioned our right to be past the gate.

What is past that gate is an old homestead, complete with cabin, root cellar and well head. All are decrepit and, as a result, very photogenic. In addition, the cabin sits on a bluff overlooking the river and the railroad tracks. It’s a great place to have a camera handy. And Sunday was a great day to be there.

I usually shoot hand-held, but at Mile Marker 97, I set up my tripod and shot a seven image composite through the door of the cabin. Merging those seven bracketed exposures in Lightroom gave me an HDR (High Dynamic Range) final image that showed both the dark interior of the cabin and the light exterior through a window frame. I was so pleased with the way the image turned out, I made it my Photo of the Day on Tuesday, March 10th. Here it is:

Stop Number 4: The Perma Petroglyphs

Mile Marker 97 was as far east as we drove on Sunday. Leaving the old cabin, we turned back westward, and then crossed the Flathead River near the “town” of Perma. Once across the river, we turned onto a very bad dirt road and drove to a site sacred to the Native American People of the area. I hesitate to say too much about this site, or even how to get there. While we admired the rock formations and the petroglyphs, we met three gentlemen who identified themselves as Kootenai. They were there to document the vandalism done to the ancient paintings. Definitely unfortunate, but also definitely a part of human nature. While I deplore the scratches people have made across the face of the paintings, my mind immediately turns to Morris Bishop’s parody.

Ozymandias, Two Versions

In 1818, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote “Ozymandias,” a poem about an ancient statue crumbling into dust. Over a century later, American academic Morris Bishop (1893-1973) rewrote Shelley’s poem. Literally. He kept all but the last three lines of Shelley’s sonnet, replacing those with his own. Here, side by side, are Shelley’s original and Bishop’s parody

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Also the names of Emory P. Gray,

Mr. and Mrs. Dukes, and Oscar Baer,

Of 17 West 4th Street, Oyster Bay.

I fear it is human nature to deface things, especially those we do not understand, such as ancient Native American petroglyphs. Even the Kootenai scholars we met agreed that no one really knows what their forefathers had in mind with the rock paintings.

Stop Number 5: The Perma Remount Station

Back in 2005, the Billings Gazette had this to say about the Perma Remount Station.

The Forest Service used to winter horses near the small community of Perma. Up through 1962, the range would support between 2,500 and 3,500 horses and mules. It was shut down in 1962, and the number of stock animals used by the Forest Service has been dropping since then.

Billings Gazette, December 23rd, 2005

In my experience, the Station resembles most a ghost ranch: a barn, several sheds and cabins, but all falling apart and abandonned. It’s a great place to hang out with a camera. I’ve even used it as a location for portrait work. Rudi and I spent quite some time photographing the various buildings, fences and gates, before returning to the highway and heading north across the Camas Prairie.

Stop Number 6:  The Little Bitterroot River Valley

Montana Secondary Highway 382 connects Montana 28 and Montana 200, running north/south from just south of Hot Springs to Perma. We drove the opposite direction, climbing from the river up onto a plateau known as the Camas Prairie. Note that due to the importance of the Camas root to Native American life, Camas Prairies exist in Oregon, Washington, Idaho as well as Montana. In Montana, Camas Prarie is a largely depopulated farming area that once supported seven schools. Today, the single school remaining is used as a community center. The few children are bussed to Hot Springs.

Roughly two-thirds of the way to Hot Springs, Rudi and I turned off 382 and headed into the eastern hills on Big Gulch Road. The road is a narrow, dirt road that climbs over the hills and then drops down into the valley of the Little Bitterroot River. I took this route because I remembered a wooden structure sitting out in the middle of nowhere. The photo I took is the opening photo of this essay, one I have titled Polehenge. It was my photo of the day for Monday, March 9th, 2020.

Beside the pole structure, we stopped long enough for me to photograph a lone tree on a barren hillside, with storm clouds rising behind it, and also to capture a cloud that was set off from all the rest of the dark clouds by a ring of bright light. With the title of this photograph, I ask the question, “Is that cloud holy”? I mean, it sure looks like it has a halo.

Stops Number 7 and 8: Approaching Hot Springs

The day was fast progressing, but it didn’t feel at all long to me. Heading north and west on the back roads of Sanders and Lake Counties, we stopped at one point to photograph a couple of old barn-like structures sitting out in the field at some distance from the road. At this point, I got out my 70-300mm lens to attempt a better view of the more distant barn. I’m not happy with the way those photos turned out.

Eventually we reached Montana Highway 28, and continued north until we got to the turn off for the town of Lonepine. From Lonepine, we took West Road back toward Hot Springs, and stopped on a cross road to capture one last farm shed. Both of us were hungry at this point, having had coffee for breakfast, and no lunch whatsoever. At 5 p.m., I pulled into the parking lot at the Second Home Restaurant outside of Hot Springs, and we fed our bellies. I had a taco salad, always a favorite at the Second Home. Rudi ordered a Chicken Fried Steak which he enjoyed so much he raved about it to a friend who called while we were eating. By the time we finished supper, we were both ready to head home. We were a half hour away from Rudi’s car, and forty-five minutes from my home. It was, as I have said repeatedly, a great day!

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