My entire career when I’ve headed out to photograph birds or mammals with a big lens, I’ve had a second body / lens on my shoulder. It’s actually real simple, Mother Nature is always putting on a show and while I love registering them forever on the thin emulsion of my mind, I want to share them with you. Out on the marshes of Skagit Valley to photograph the “Blonde” Bald Eagle, this gorgeous scene presented itself. Without that second body / lens (in this case the Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8) I wouldn’t have the story to share. It’s not a backup, but a primary landscape kit to complement the wildlife rig on the tripod. In my kit, that’s why the second body.
It stays underground and “cooks” for ninety minutes. If you were able to put an ear to the ground, you can hear the rumblings, gurgles and bangs as the pressure slowly builds. Then with a spurt and a spat it announces its coming. Then, explosion, water and steam as Old Faithful puts on the show it has been doing for centuries. It’s simply amazing, the explosive power!
Lower Yellowstone Falls is a gorgeous and peaceful sight even though it crashes 308 feet down the canyon floor. Don’t let the fact that at the height of runoff, 63,500 gal/sec rushes over the edge influence your impression. Or that that wall of ice beside and front of it yesterday was created by that flow and is nearly half the height of the falls. It’s a calming scene that brings you tranquility, one of many such in Yellowstone, the flowing power.
You heard a tea pot blowing its top, multiple train whistles, car horns, nearly every sound you can imagine as Porcelain Basin in Yellowstone put on one heck of a show. With magma just two miles below the surface, the heat has to have a place to escape on yesterday morning Porcelain was the place! We stood on the rim as time flew past photographing the every changing landscape below. I’ve been coming here since decades and this was the first time I’d ever seen this show. Wow, Mother Nature, it has some inner power!
That shot of trees covered with snow takes a couple of weather factors, the first is water. It’s the snow with a lot of moisture content that tends to cling onto trees limbs as it falls. The wetter the better but then the key is cold. But if you have cold when the snow is falling, it’s not wet. That’s why often you’ll see the snow cling and then your won’t as once warmth hits, it drops off from its weight (pine boughs are adapted just for this). The moral of the story, you want the photo of the snow covered tress, or this case, a rock in a creek, shoot it ASAP, don’t come back to get it later. It will be gone!
In 1942, a young congressman, Lyndon B Johnson arranged for the US Army to build one of their new ammunition plants in Texas on the Louisiana border. Shortly, 8493 acre were purchased on Caddo Lake and the plant was built. During WWII, Monsanto Corp produced 393,000,000 pounds of TNT at this location! For fifty-five years, the plant built everything from incendiary devices to rocket motors. Thiokol Corp modernized the plant from making liquid rocket fuel to producing solid rocket fuel after the Korean War, the Cold War era. Then in 1987, the plant was used as part of a treaty as the site where the Pershing I & II missiles were destroyed. And now, it’s a National Wildlife Refuge … dang!
What you see above is what’s left of Production Area #1 for the production of TNT. We were there birding, looking for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (which we did find) when we literally stumbled upon Production Area #1. As you can see, the forest has reclaimed the area bringing an eerily yet beautiful landscape. It’s completely open to the public with signs that have photos to show you what the buildings once looked like (we only explored one of the many sites). A number of the blockhouses have their doors removed and a big wire in their place. Looking in with our lenses (I shot with the Z 6 / Z24-200) we say paychecks from Thiokol dated from 1984 amongst all the papers just lying there on the shelves.
The most amazing thing is it would seem taggers and souvenir hunters have not found the place. We weren’t there to shoot the haunting structural ghosts but took a few moments from our birding to give it all a gander. It’s a really cool place deserving more of my camera time and I will in the future cause it’s not what you expect at a place called Caddo Lake NWR!