Birds Of A Feather…

You know the rest of the saying!

I never ever in my life imagined I would be so “into” photographing birds.

I am NOT a “birder“.

Not all birders are bad.

Definition of birder

1: a catcher or hunter of birds especially for market
2: a person who birds

 

I have met birders.

And I do not fit into the category of a birder.   For one I am considerate of others when driving (well, hubby is).  He goes slow, as not to raise dust, he pulls over to the shoulder as far as he can without freaking me out by thinking we’re headed into the marsh,  and we will close the dang truck door if we get out so if someone does drive by, they can get past.

Okay,  now that I have gotten that out of my system, shall we continue?

I have learned things this year while roaming the Refuge.  #1, you are never ever to old to learn! It keeps the mind growing!  I had absolutely no idea that Egrets and Herons nested in trees. Why did I think they were ground nesters? Because you always see them next to the bank of water right?  Ya, not so much!  The only thing I knew was Herons are bluish-gray and Egrets are white.  I know that both are skittish as all get out, when you try to photograph them on the bank, poof, they’re in the air.  Did you know that their wingspan can be up to 5.6 feet?  Pretty cool.  Egrets also fly at 25mph.

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Egret 04

Egrets nest in colonies.  The male is the nest builder, he tries to attract the female, so he builds her a nest for their young. (Pretty presumptuous I think)  Hey, wanna come to my nest?  Thats an opening line if I’ve ever heard one!  Mr. Egret likes to get to the colony first so he can get the best spot.  However, they also nest with other birds. Herons and Cormorants and more.  At this location Mr. Heron was at the top of the tree, so I think Mr. Egret wasn’t the first this year.

The colony

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Egrets are monogamous during the season.  It is not known if they are for life or not.

So, here is the reason of why I know these things.  Google haha…  well, hubby and I were out taking pictures, (okay I was) and we saw a Heron in the top of the tree.  So I had to partake in the moment!  When I got home I noticed a little tiny Heron head peeking out of the nest.  I was hooked.  So, that said, it became our weekend ritual!  Since we head that way every Saturday anyway, we made it a point to go through the Refuge and see what we could find to shoot.

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Yep, I was totally hooked.

Back to more fun facts.  During breeding season, long feathery plumes grow from it’s back.  They are called aigrettes, which they hold up during courtship displays.  The sad thing is, they were almost pushed to extinction because people in the “olden” days, wanted the plumes.  Boo Hiss for those people. Now I know where those feathers came from on those silly looking hats!

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Both parents feed their young.  The babies climb out of the nest around 3 weeks old and begin to fly at 6-7 weeks. And when this happens, I will become sad, because shortly there after I will have an empty nest until next year.  I am already sad thinking about it.

Egret baby 01

My advice for you all is this; find a road along a marsh or a wetland.  Something with some tall trees perhaps.  And visit it often.  You never know what might show up.  I really enjoyed learning about these beauties this year!  And I totally loved capturing them in their natural state!

Heron Egret Babies 01

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Egret 01

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Walking on water copy

Enjoy the rest of your summer!  It’s gotten to the hot part of the year on our mountain in the Southern Pacific Northwest, and I am not a fan.  However, I have many fans going in my house!

Empty Nest

 

 

 

Be Nice Humans!!

Happy Shooting

Tracy Lynn

 

 

The Ones That Got Away

When we moved to the southern pacific northwest, never did I imagine I would start photographing birds.  Then, someone gave me a bird book, and I have been learning how to identify them.  How did this happen? This just wasn’t me.  Where we lived in the high desert of Southern California, there would be ravens, pigeons, sparrows, finches, and an occasional hawk.  It was cool when the hawk would land on the tree.  But it wasn’t often.  Nothing super exciting to take pictures of.  I did the hummingbirds and the house birds, but that was simply because there wasn’t anything else to shoot at. (with the camera)

Fast forward, moving where the Pacific Flyway is.  I remember researching what it was.  I didn’t know there was such a thing. I knew birds migrated.  I remember as a kid in Montana, being outside and hearing the Canada Geese before you could see them high in the sky heading for the warmer climate!

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Such great memories!

Now here we are,  we love to do our Saturday drives on the Refuge and Sunday drives on the side roads.  You never know what you will see.

Last week we were driving the side roads and there were hundreds of White Fronted Geese in the fields and canals.  This week, no more geese.  It’s interesting how one species leaves and another comes in.

White Fronted 02

      White Fronted Geese

The last couple weeks the White Face Ibis started coming in, and this week  by the hundreds.  A very unique bird.  They are colorful in the sunshine and have a crooked beak.   They are pretty good formation flyers too!

Ibis 01

  White Faced Ibis

As you all know, I have a great love for the eagles and hawks.  I think it’s just that they are so majestic.  We are noticing less eagles and hawks this time of year.  They are hopefully sitting on their nests!  Every now and then they can be seen sitting on the power poles, or in the fields.  Hubby will stop the truck if they are on the poles, and I will sneak out (like you can sneak up on an eagle) and then I will start photographing them, inching closer and closer.  I can shoot the same bird 20-30 times, with the chance of getting close enough to get the  detail on the beaks, talons, or feathers.  And eventually they will take flight because of the annoying red-headed lady holding up something and pointing it at them.  So I smile, thank the bird (honestly I do) and happily walk back to the truck.

But not every photo turns out.  That’s just a part of learning.  Yep, I have tried flight pictures and they aren’t pretty.  I get half of something, or the whole thing is blurry.  I am still trying to be more patient with the in flight birds.

All that said,I wanted to share with you, the get aways….  Yes they are blurry and I am not ashamed to share that with you!  It happens to all of us!  Some more than others I am sure.  Ducks 01

Ducks 02

Ducks are one of the flightiest birds I have seen.  They must still be shell shocked from hunting season.

Egret 01

Heron 01

Blue Herons and White Egrets aren’t easy either.  They can be so still, and as soon as you get up on them whoosh….  they’re gone!

Hawk 02

     Hawks are fun.  They keep me on my toes.

hawk 04

   At least the feet are in focus!

Eagle 06

   Hello Majestic Eagle

Eagle 01

    Good bye Majestic Eagle

Eagle 05

Not quite sure what this was. I think it was an eagle. but its a nice foot and wing!

eagle 03

This is by far, the stuff that bad dreams are made of!  Kind of eerie if you ask me!!!

While you are viewing these photos, you are wondering… WHY do I keep these blurry photos?  Well, of course to share with all of you!  I guess maybe someday I will go through the files and delete them.  Or Not.  What if I need that perfect get away blurry shot?  Well, it could happen!

Enjoy your day!  Go outside and enjoy spring!  Shoot some pictures, try new things and don’t be afraid of the blurry ones!  I’m not!

Happy Shooting

T Lynn

The Ends

High Dynamic Range – HDR

According to Wikipedia, “HDR is a technique used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques.  The aim is to present a similar range of luminance to be experienced through the human visual system.  

HDR images can represent a greater range of luminance levels that can be achieved using more traditional methods such as real-world scenes containing very bright, direct sunlight to extreme shade.  This is often achieved by capturing and combining several different exposures of the same subject matter.”  

In my lesser technical world,  HDR can be shot using 3 pictures on up to however many you decide.  My cameras will allow me to shoot 3 shot HDR photos.

The series is this; one at normal settings, one at a step up to capture the highlights, and one a step down to capture the shadows.  You are shooting the same photo composition 3 times.  It may sound silly, but sometimes you can get more depth, or feeling in a photo that has more shadows or detail.  IMG_5813

Normal Photo

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1 Stop down to capture the shadows

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1 Stop up to capture the light

 

Photomatix

Three shot HDR, processed using Photomatix

Aurora HDR copy

Three shot HDR, processed using Aurora HDR

Yes, you need specific software to “merge” or “layer” your images.  I use mostly a software called Photomatix.  When I first discovered it, I had a fun time learning.  Yes some of the photos were a bit over processed, but it was still fun. You can indeed take one photo (instead of 3) and run it thought the gauntlet so to speak, and make it a new image to you.  This is a photo you may have taken 10 years ago!  It’s all about learning and trying new things for your old photos, and of course your current photos.

I use two programs.  Photomatix, as stated above and Aurora HDR.  I am still learning the Aurora HDR, and I find it a bit qwerky, but I guess it’s all in the learning process.  Photomatix was my first, and I do believe it was one of the first HDR programs.  Used by many photographers,  the Aurora HDR was created by an amazing photographer Trey Ratcliff, who I learned alot from watching his Photomatix video tutorials.  I think (but don’t quote me)  Aurora HDR was first created strictly for Mac computers.

How did I get into the world of HDR?  I used to be big into digital scrapbooking, and one of the guru’s that made all kinds of neat things for that hobby, was also a photographer.  He did some awesome amazing HDR of Montana, close to where I lived in Western Montana.  I followed his processes, and bought a few books.  Then I discovered Trey and took a course of his and thats how I got hooked.

There is something in HDR that is called “Ghosting” and sometimes this gets the best of me.  If you are like me and take mostly hand held photos, there is going to be some movement.

When you take the three picture HDR, there are great chances if you are not using a tripod, you will have movement.  So when your pictures are merging they also need to line up.  So if they don’t line up properly, you get “ghost” effects on your photos, it can be pretty ugly, and no amount of adjustments, will take away the failed photo merge. I know this because I have given up on trying to merge the three photo set numerous times.

I do not claim, nor will I ever claim to be an expert on HDR photography and processing. Because once you claim you are an expert, you quit learning.  I learn something new every time I process photos.  Once I really like the outcome of the HDR process, its time to step into the studio so to speak, I will remove any unsightly power lines, or spots that are on my sensor that come through. I will also remove signs, if I find them annoying.  The bottom line digital footprint is still there, but I am merely enhancing my photo.  It’s not for everyone!  And I don’t do it to all my photos.  Most of what I post online are “SOOC”  Straight Out of the Camera.

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Normal Photo

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1 Stop Down

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1 Stop Up

Malin Theatre_01

3 Photo HDR

In this final photograph, I removed most of the power lines, removed buckets and trash, and cleaned up any other distracting objects that I felt were not beneficial to the photo. As a side note, this particular photo I entered into the local county fair in the Digital Manipulation category, and I am happy and proud to say, that it took Best of Show!  I was/am a very happy girl!

You can indeed as stated above, turn a one photo shot, into an HDR, similar photo.  I have done it many times just to give it a “pop”.

I have friends and family that don’t like the “digital manipulation” and that’s OK!  They’re entitled to like what they like.  They like the real stuff.  So do I, but sometimes a photo straight out of the camera just needs a punch of something.

School

School 03 copy

The world of HDR isn’t just for color photos either!!!!  While you process them the same, they can really make a Black and White Photo really pop as well.

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3 Photo  HDR Black and White

If you notice the signature in the above black and white, it is my husbands signature, with my camera of course.  He loves to shoot in HDR but refuses to learn the processing part.  That’s okay.  I give him credit, but the photo belongs to Tracy Lynn Hart Photography.  In case you are wondering why he was taking these,  I have a fear of all things ticks.  AND…  this was a field, in eastern Montana, with tall weeds, so I refused to go beyond the gravel road.  He was the one that took the shots for me!  Good job honey! You had a great teacher!!!

While HDR seems to be used in mostly landscape photography, I sometimes play around and use it for flowers, still life, and whatever else I think might work. If it works great, if not, there is that lovely delete key that will move the stuff to my trash can!

My advice to anyone wanting to try HDR. DO IT! You can download free trials of the programs, that is what I did in the beginning. You will need to learn your camera settings. Most DSLR’s have a custom setting where you can program it to take the 3 shots. Or however many your camera will take.  Read your manual, google it, find out how to make it work for you.

Experiment! It’s all about finding what you as a photographer like!

Alot of your cell phones now have an HDR feature, I know mine does, and I think it works okay, but it’s not what I am used to.

I spend hours in the studio, mostly when the weather is bad or early in the morning.  I would rather be outside taking photos or just being outside, instead of being cooped up inside.
It’s all a learning process and curve. I feel fortunate to have done as well as I have with my HDR processes.  I have done alot of research, watched videos, and took a course online.  I refuse to put alot of money into something that I don’t know if I will like. That is why the trial versions of the programs are a huge help!

Try something different! Be brave! Step out of that box!!!

Most of all, Enjoy!

Be Happy!

 

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Abandoned Homestead in Eastern Montana along Highway 200

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Abandoned Homestead in Eastern Montana along Highway 200

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Historic Hotel Meade, Bannack Montana

 

Happy Shooting!

Tracy Lynn

 

12 Months 12 Photos

Season’s Greetings to you all!  I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and I wish the best for you in the coming year!

The 12th month of 2017 is nearing its end.  So hard to believe another year has gone.

What were your favorite parts of 2017?  Did you accomplish all that you set out to?  As for me, I don’t make resolutions.  Mainly because I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so to speak.  I don’t want to tell everyone my resolutions and then come February 1st I get asked about my resolutions.  I don’t need that stress! (ha) So I merely make a mental list of things I would like to accomplish in the new year.  Some I do, some I don’t.

One thing I do though, is take more pictures than the previous year.  Not sure my computer is happy with that.  Guess that is why there are two external hard drives attached plus a reliable back up system.  I am trying to teach myself that it’s okay to delete a photo that didn’t work!  It’s not an easy task!  Baby steps I guess!

I decided this month to share with you 12 months of  iPhone pictures.  I almost always have my phone with me, because you just never know when you might need it.  Besides, what if I saw someone famous and no one would believe me if I wasn’t able to get a picture right?   Doubtful there would be anyone famous where I live, but hey, one can dream!

01 Jan                                             This is January.  January wasn’t very nice.

January brought about one heck of a snow storm. I think we had more than one good storm, but this one was volumes.  We even got a snow day from work.  For which I was thankful.  I don’t remember when I last experienced the joy of a heavy snow fall like this. I am thinking 1982 or 83 in Eastern Montana.  Either way, once the skies cleared, and we were able to make paths outside, it was beautiful to photograph!  May as well turn it into a photographic event!

02 Feb                                            Something new for me to learn in February

With the first experience of seeing the bald eagles up close this year, hubby and I decided it was time for that new lens.  I was ecstatic!  I still am!  But it’s been a learning curve.  It is an amazing lens.  One that only lets you shoot manual focus if you put the doubler on it.  I learned two important things.  I need to practice patience, and I needed an eye exam.  I am still working on the patience! There are still things to learn and I need to sit down and read about the lens and let it teach me.  I’ll get back to you on that!  I am learning little things.  I know that between my lens and my camera it weighs over 10 pounds and walking over a mile hurts my arms!  And I am learning the tripod is my new best friend.

03 Mar copy                                                       A hope for spring in March!

I did’t know there was such a thing as miniature daffodils, but there is. Either that, or my soil is bad enough that they decide to stay small.  March brought about hopes of spring and warmer days.  The new beginnings after a long cold winter.  Flowers, birds, deer, bugs, all those things you love about spring.  Searching for warmer days and nights!

 

04 Apr copy

April kind of reminded us that March was only kidding.  We had various snow storms through out April.  Winter just did not want to go away.  It actually started to get a little old.  However on the plus side, some of the spring flowers looked quite nice with snow capped buds.  But by the end of April, we were out of the snow zone.

 

05-May-copy

May brought about new hopes of a nice calm spring, green grass and new planters. One thing I love to do is get my hands dirty with flowers and plants.  I have learned that things don’t bloom as early on the mountain as they do on the lower lands.  The first year we moved up here, I was reminded that it still freezes at the end of April and those pretty geraniums you bought for the back deck? Ya, they would die… I should have really remembered that from growing up in Western Montana. But I didn’t.  And now I think it’s more fun to plant the seeds than it is to buy the flowers. Unless of course, it’s a basket full of petunias!  Our spring lasted maybe 3 weeks before the heat of summer began to creep in and steal the season!

06 Jun copy

Hello June, hello summer.  Hello summer skies.  June was beautiful.  The thunderstorms, the rainbows, the beautiful clouds.  Time to plan the rest of the summer.  Plan a vacation, go fishing, take a road trip.  Of which we did one of those.  We planned our vacation.  Most of my cloud scenes were again, taken while driving to and from work.  I really need to take the good camera with me more often.  Guess I would also need to leave for work earlier and plan to get home later!  There are just so many cool things to shoot most days. From calves to birds to clouds!  The sky is literally the limit!

07 Jul copy                                                               My Montana Sky!

July brought us home.  Vacation from here to South Dakota and back.  Time to see family and friends.  Hubby and I hadn’t been on a vacation since 2013.  It was time.  We did a lot of miles in a short time and realized we didn’t give ourselves enough time to decompress after each travel day.  We were going all the time.  We were able to see a few things we wanted, but mostly we were just on the go to our next destination.  There were still many pictures taken.  Not all were out of the front windshield like the above one was!

 

08 Aug copy

August brought about the hint that fall wasn’t  far behind.  I had some amazing sunrises on the way to work.  I wasn’t even late!  We enjoyed what summer has to bring us on the mountain.  Long evenings on the deck, BBQ’s in the front yard,  watching the baby deer run around.  And enjoying those seeds I planted that bloomed into pretty summer flowers!

09 Sep copy

September was a busy Monarch Butterfly time at work.   We had a late start to our season this year, by about a full month. The weather wasn’t cooperating at all this spring.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a lot of butterfly pictures with the big camera.  Mainly because I was at work and we were moving caterpillars, and chrysalis, and observing our butterfly season.  I do love this majestic Monarch.  And we are doing our little part to help them along.  Incidentally this is a male Monarch.  And if I remember right, the day this was taken, was his birthday.

10 Oct copy

October brought us fall, the end of our butterfly season at work, and our first snow.  At work we were able to enjoy nice fall day walks.  The days were warm enough you didn’t need  a sweater.  The deer were abundant and the way they were always bunched up you would think they really did know something we didn’t.  Like snow was on the way.   Walking at work is always a plus anyway, and the phone is most always with me.  These deer were enjoying the shade of the warm day. They didn’t want to move along to fast either!  So we slowed down and enjoyed them.

11 Nov copy

November brought us more snow and cold weather, and awesome sunsets and sunrises.  I will admit, I was later than normal getting home a few days.  This stretch of road I travel is a straight 7 miles of agriculture fields.  Potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, and I don’t know what else they plant.  But after the harvest, the fields are flooded and the migrating water fowl start enjoying the seeds and water.  This was one of the last fields that hadn’t iced over yet.  Tundra Swan, Canada Geese and lots of ducks I couldn’t identify were taking in the last rays of Gods light!  The skies were changing so fast I couldn’t keep up.  I did safely pull over the truck to take the pictures.  If you call stopping in the middle of the road safe.  I made sure no one was around.  Remember I don’t live in a city!  Traffic is sparse on this road!

12 Dec copy

December is always a busy month for most.  The hustle and bustle of the holidays, getting together with family and friends, and a shopping day with a friend.

Last year I had done a few craft fairs and sold mostly ornaments, centerpieces and my photo coasters.  This year I focused on my photography.  I was pleased with the success.  I met many wonderful people and heard a lot of encouraging words about my work.  I was happy.  I am still happy.  I have a great cheering section. My husband and my co-worker, who did the craft fair as well.  Between the two of them I branched out.  The greeting cards were a good fit.  My coasters sold faster than I thought, and we’ve come up with some ideas for next year.  I can’t wait to get started.  But first I must clean up all my messes from the garage so the husband can have his work bench back.  I hear rumblings.

My thoughts about next year for you.  Take pictures.  And at the end of each month, pick your favorites.  Print them out or put them in a special folder on your computer or tablet.  At the end of the year you will have a wonderful re-cap of your year.  There are so many affordable sources for photo books and memory type books that you could print a nice book out for yourself!  Of all those favorite photos, pick 12 and make a calendar for the next year!!!

Enjoy every day.  Capture it on your camera.  Don’t be upset that every picture doesn’t turn out.  And delete the bad ones!  (A note to myself)

There is something to take a picture of every day.  I would love to do a photo challenge but I am not sure I would post every day. (Just being honest)  Step out of the box!  Learn something new!

Do what makes you Happy!!

Blessings to you all in the coming new year!

Happy Shooting

T Lynnb916768ded54f754f422869425ee65ee

The View From Above

The last month and a half, our skies have been filled with smoke from too many forest fires.  The smoke on some days was so thick you couldn’t see down the road.  While it made for some unique sunrises and sunsets, and a few good pictures, it was sad.

The last couple weeks we’ve been feeling “fall” in the air.  This past week it was really starting to feel like fall with the change of the weather, our first freeze warnings, and a little bit of rain.

The blessing in the change of the seasons was in the higher country in the form of snow.  In my home state of Montana, they have lost over 1 million acres of beautiful forest land to forest fires.  I will not get into my opinion of why, because this is a happy blog.  They said the only thing that could help Montana put out the fires was snow.  Glorious snow.  We also got the snow in Oregon and rain in Washington state to help with the fires.

At work this past week, the clouds were just beautiful.  And we all know how I love clouds!  I thought it was a good thing I didn’t have my camera at work because I would want to be outside capturing the beauty.  So I waited.

Friday morning (my day off) the Hubby and I went into town for breakfast and it was awesome to see white puffy clouds and clear blue skies. No smoke on the horizon.  We did some shopping and while we were in the stores, we came out and our puffy white clouds were gone and our skies were filled with white and gray clouds.   I think they were calling to me.  So we drove home to grab the cameras and go above it all.

To the top of a mountain called “Hamaker”

“1958-1979 A Cold War Air Force Radar Station was first established in Keno, Klamath County Oregon.  Named Keno Air Station”

To me, the above sentence is merely a “golf ball” on the top of Hamaker that we can see from our house.  But, there is history up on that mountain top.

Hamaker 11

 

Keno Air Force Station.  Established in 1958 and became operational in September 1958, manned by the 827th AC&W Squadron.  The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission.  The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force Interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft.  Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using vice commands via ground-to-air radio.

I could go on about the logistics and big words I didn’t understand in the article, but it is pretty interesting.  You can find more information here:

http://www.fortwiki.com/Keno_Air_force_Station

My story is this… It was a beautiful day in the Basin and the clouds were abundant and we were going to the top of that mounting to get some fresh air and beautiful views, and hopefully some pictures too.

It’s about and 8.5 mile drive to the top which is about 6500 feet. Don’t quote me on that, I was looking at the GPS on my phone.

We had been up here before when we first moved to the area.  I know it gets a lot of snow.  Hubby decided one day in March, to go on an adventure and travel to the top.  I am extremely glad I wasn’t with him. The last mile or so isn’t maintained.  It’s bad enough without the snow.

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He made it back slowly to tell about it!

Once on top of Hamaker, you can look to the northwest and see Mt. McLoughlin, which you can also see from Medford on the other side of the Cascades.

Hamaker 06                                      Mt McLoughlin with a fresh blanket of snow!

You look out to the north, you see the Klamath Basin, farmland, Klamath Lake, Klamath River, and points beyond.  I truly love it up here.  Except it was 43 degrees and a light breeze.  Once the breeze quit, it was quite nice!

Hamaker 01

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There is one thing for sure, that you can’t deny.  It is beautiful here every season.  (except fire season)

My advice is this;

If it’s the beginning of fall where you are, put on that hoodie or flannel shirt, pack the camera, maybe a picnic lunch, and go find your view from the top!  You won’t be sorry.  If it’s not feeling like fall, wait a couple weeks!  It might skip fall and go right into winter.  I say this because it almost always gets really cold or snows before Halloween!

Enjoy fall.  Enjoy the Pumpkin Spice everything.  Enjoy life.

Just a girl and her suitcase 01_01

Happy Shooting

Tracy Lynn

 

Signs

“Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs

Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind

Do This! Don’t Do that! Can’t you read the signs”

Thank you Five Man Electric Band, 1971

My husband and I were just on vacation.  Traveling from the Southern Pacific Northwest of Oregon to the lands of South Dakota and back.  3950 miles in all.  This also included side trips and perhaps one or two U-turns.  I wasn’t driving nor was I navigating.  Had I been navigating, there would have been no U-turns.

I love traveling with my husband.  We talk a lot and I take a kazillion pictures through the bug smeared windshield and the side windows and sometimes we even stop to get a good picture!  He’s really good at stopping for me though.  This year was just as fun as those in the past. Although we spent more time driving this year than at our actual destinations.

We traveled through the barren lands of Eastern Oregon, took windy roads in and out of Idaho and Montana, and we took highways that I even wonder why they were on the map and who put them on the map!

But small towns are great. If it weren’t for these highways we’d have not seen the sights that we did.  At one time I am sure these small highways were major thoroughfares!  But now they seem off the beaten path.  Kind of reminds me of the movie Cars, where the new highway was built and the little towns slowly diminished.  Kind of like the old Route 66.  Something I would love to travel one day.

Small towns are proud.  We were traveling  on the 3rd and 4th of July.  The towns were abundant with patriotic colors and the flying of Old Glory down main street.

As we went through these towns that were off the major interstates, I decided to find a common theme to shoot.  I originally started out shooting water towers, but not all towns have them, and some of them were to hard to read. So I stuck with signs. All kinds of signs, from Diners, to Theaters and Motels and Bars.  They were old school.

 

Backroads Diner

Bllue Fox Theatre

They were colorful and then they were literally embedded into the buildings.

Baker MT

I wonder what happens to this building if they decide to close the Lake Theatre.  I guess it’s still a cool old building built in 1918 in Baker Montana.

I kind of wonder though, why the Busy Bee Cafe and Dining room has a horse on it.  Wouldn’t it make more sense  to have a bee?  Or was that to hard to find? Did someone have this horse in their garage just waiting for a place to put it?

Busy Bee Cafe Montana                           Perhaps the Busy Bee Cafe could sell it to the Mustang Motel.

Mustang Motel Montana

Speaking of Motels…

Roys Motel MT

I did not notice until looking at this picture that the answer to “do you have a vacancy” was either Yep or Nope.  Now, how confusing is this to a foreign traveler that only recognizes Vacancy or No Vacancy.  Well, they are in the “Wild West” of Montana, so maybe they do understand.  If you look at the bottom of the sign you can see the faint Yep and Nope.   Good Humor Roys’ Motel!

bbq bar and grillI am hungry, but now I am so confused.  BBQ is one way and Bar & Grill another.  Isn’t BBQ a grill?  And which way am I really supposed to go?

UPstairs MT

I do however, know that I need to go Upstairs to the Steakhouse and Bar in this town.  I really liked the ornate old fashioned look of this sign.

Central Hotel in Oregon

Central Hotel, somewhere in Central Oregon, is pretty old fashioned as well.  I am wondering if it was supposed to be an old telephone receiver, or just a cool way to get Central on the sign.  You can also have Chinese food and play the Oregon Lottery while staying here.

Signs are everywhere.  One of my most unfavorite signs of the trip.  “Road Construction Ahead”  We hit a lot of it.  I totally understand the roads need to be maintained in the summer because of harsh winters.  We went through some construction that literally was dirt and mud.  No road anywhere.  It was a twisty canyon that seemed to have some slides during the winter that may have wiped out the roads.  Once we made it back to asphalt and the pilot car started leading the other side of the road, I noticed there was a bicyclist preparing to make the trek through the construction.  Good Luck Dude!  I know how skinny bike tires like mud.  And there wasn’t a road so I have no idea how successful he was.  Maybe some nice person with room in their truck, helped him through the construction.

I attempted to capture the green signs as you entered a town, you know the one that says the name and the population.  But they came up to soon most times.  So I stuck with all the different kinds of signs that drew in your attention.

Most creative sign goes to the Pioneer R staurant.

pioneer

Not to be outdone by the Pioneer Cafe, where I can get some  Good Homestyle Cookin’ and Pure water for my coffee and tea.   Okay….

Pioneer Cafe Montana

 

Everyone knows that bars have unique signs.  We were traveling in the daytime, so you can’t tell how lit up the signs would be at night.  Guess we need to use our imagination. Some bars are straight and to the point.

Plevna MT Bar                                 I think the patrons are probably more lit than the sign.

A few unique bar signs in old towns.

Two Dot Bar Sign

Two Dot is an actual town in Montana.  It has one road in and out.  And a park and a convenience store.  I had always heard of  Two Dot, but never knew where it was, until we were off the beaten path!

Bison Bar MT                                               Every western town needs a Bison Bar

Buffs Bar Montana                              I wonder who Buff was. Maybe I don’t want to know.

Cannonball North Dakota                                 Three Cheers for the Saloon.  What pray tell is an Off Sale?

Iron Horse Saloon Montana                      This Iron Horse Saloon is in a railroad town in Eastern Montana.

Seven Devils                  To me the Seven Devils Saloon looks like a fake movie set.  I bet you can get a good charred steak!

Montana Bar                             You can pretty much tell, what state we are in with this sign.

Montana Motel Montana                                                                     Go Spartans!

Hotels, and Motels, and Inns.  I know there is a difference. But they all have the same things right?

Red Rock Inn MT

Parma Inn

Sagebrush MT                                 Not sure where the Sagebrush fits in on this one.

Sahara Motel                               Yay, they have in room coffee and obviously electricity!

The Plaza Miles City MT                                  I bet in its time this Plaza sign could be seen for miles!

In almost every old town, there is a theatre. Those signs always catch our eye!

Bllue Fox Theatre

Even if they’re painted on the side of a building.  Why not use the space you have on an old building for advertising. Whoever came up with that idea way back when, was pretty smart!

Sign on Building Montana

Selway Bar

You can’t get away from signs.  I like the old signs.  Classic old hotel signs.  Not your new franchise signs.  Everyone knows what McDonalds is without even seeing a sign.

Two LadiesThis sign hurt my eyes. If it wasn’t early morning, I wouldn’t have known what it said.

Riggins Motel             And the correct Font would be nice.  I wasn’t sure if it was Riggins or Piggins.

Give me a simple to understand sign.  One that doesn’t require a degree to figure out what you really want me to know.

The Griddle    I know for a fact I can get Good Cookin’ at The Griddle and I bet some great Flap Jacks!

Cattlemens              And without spelling it out, I bet I can get a good steak at the Cattlemen’s.

Granite MTN    I can get a Pepsi at Granite MTN cafe.  I think they didn’t want to pay to spell MTN out.

Lariat Bar Roxy Theatre Montana                After the movie at the Roxy I can head to the Lariat Bar for a night cap.

Riverdance LodgeYou can just hear the Celtic music at this Lodge.  All the river dancing going on after hours!  I imagine the River Dance Lodge was here before the craze.

Say When                              Very unique Nevada.  At least it doesn’t “Say Uncle”

There are simple signs as well that let you know exactly what you can get.

Snack Stop                             You can’t however, get chips here. According to the sign.

Muffys mT                              You can probably get your chips here if it’s convenient.

 

There are some signs you must read and you must follow the instructions.

I honestly hate seeing this sign.

Rattlesnakes

And it is something that you really need to pay attention too.  This was at a rest stop in South Eastern Montana.  While I was reading the sign, and mother was having her children run up and down the side of a grassy hill. Most likely not thinking about the fact there might be rattlesnakes.  She was probably trying to get them to get rid of some energy.  I just shudder at that thought.

Toro

Please, Please Please, watch out for Toro in Nevada.  You never know where he may be.  Good Job Nevada!  Most other states have cows. You have Toro!   Ole’

You have to have a sign to tell you where you are as well!

Welcome to SD

I know I am in South Dakota and I can see the presidents at Mt Rushmore!  Good Job South Dakota! Way to represent your state!

Welcome to ND

Welcome to Idaho

Dear North Dakota and Idaho, you need to step up your game.  I am not excited by your welcome!

My favorite sign of the trip?  Thats easy to guess

Welcome to Mt

Montana has many different signs.  They’re all cool, or perhaps I just think that because I am home.

It was another wonderful trip to put in the books.

When you are out and about, take a look at your town.  I have seen faded writing on the brick buildings in Klamath Falls, that indicate there was a hopping down town district.  And look for the dates on the old brick buildings!  You will be amazed what might be in your little town!

The best sign of the trip, really wasn’t a sign. It was the sound of our dogs barking as we pulled our truck into the driveway after a long trip.  Those dogs were saying Welcome Home!

Enjoy the rest of your summer!!!  Go outside and shoot some signs!!!

Make wonderful memories!

Happy Shooting

Tracy Lynn