©Bert Gildart: From across the campground the man with Minnesota tags who had just pulled into his site called out with a statement, then a question.
“Hey,” he said, apparently referring to the pink liquid in our glasses. “They don’t allow this is Minnesota. Watch it now!”
Flabbergasted, we simply remained silent, which apparently didn’t satisfy the white-haired man. Reaching into his cooler, he brought over several pops, apparently to replace what he thought was wine in our glasses with something more in keeping with his own religious dictates.
“Wouldn’t you prefer this instead?”
“No thanks,” we said. “But would you care for some of what we’re drinking?”
In the past couple of years of travel, Janie and I have learned that you meet all types of people on the road, and that in many cases, they have no compunctions about imposing their beliefs. Yesterday, it may have been the heat, for out here on the Great Plains the temperatures have been hovering close to 100.
Or maybe it’s something else. Perhaps it’s because he was lonely and knew of no other way to interact. The RV life is great, but it sure makes it better when you have someone to share both the highs and the lows.
For the past couple of days, Janie and I have been working hard trying to capture both the spectacle of the Badlands and the beauty of the wildlife that occupies these incredible formations. Certainly one of the most impressive species in the Badlands is the bison, but photographing them against the light-colored Badlands would have been a challenge with film. But the digital age has changed that-but only if you understand PhotoShop, and know what you can do with the different digital formats.
Certainly you can shoot high-res jpgs, for with this format you can bring the highlights and the dark areas together providing they are separated by no more than a stop or two.
But in this exceedingly contrast-y scene there was more than a one-stop separation, so I shot Raw. Then, loading the image with Adobe Browser in Photoshop CS3, I easily added detail to both the dark areas and to the very light-colored Badlands. Film would have washed out one or the other, depending on which you area you exposed for. So, too, would an image shot as a jpg.
I wanted a good photo of a bison in the Badlands to help illustrate some thoughts I’ve been having recently about one of the worst chapters in American history: the forced eviction of the Lakota Sioux from land granted to them by treaty. Part of this eviction was accomplished by the slaughter of the bison in this very area. The government wanted the Sioux to cease their nomadic ways, and thought to bring about that transformation by converting these people into farmers. In that way the nearby Blackhills would be available to white settlers who wanted to mine for gold.
Today, bison once again roam the Badlands, but they are closely managed to prevent them from proliferating and soon overgrazing their allotted land. Here in the Badlands, it’s mating season for these lords of the plains, and this huge and lonely bull was looking for a mate.
FOURTH OF JULY
Last night we watched a Fourth of July Fireworks display out the back window of our Airstream. The good folks in Hardin, Montana, put on quite a show and how lucky are those of us who have someone with whom to share such spectacles. Alone, there might have been the tendency to elevate a person from the sin of drinking wine, which I must admit we were doing when the man attempted to replace our drink of the moment with cans of pop.