Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

That’s The Way It Was Series

My camera seemed to be screaming at me… “SHOOT!! SHOOT!! SHOOT!! DON’T MUDDLE IT UP THIS TIME”!! It seems I might have a unique bond with my camera, and I have often felt like it was “talking” or at least communicating with me, but on this day it seemed to scream.

I was on a field trip with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) through Casper College. We were at the Mormon Handcart Historic Site southwest of Casper, Wyoming, visiting Martin’s Cove. The class received the VIP treatment as we were allowed to ride on “mules” with drivers who very well informed. These are 4 wheel drive carts much like golf carts with a top over the seats and the sides are open. We saw several interesting historical spots and learned much about Martin’s Cove. If you get a chance, go explore it, but that’s not what I’m writing about.

I suspect many photographers have a unique relationship with their camera, but I don’t know of any who readily admit that their camera “talks” probably because they are too embarrassed. I have named mine “Cam”, not very creative but easy for me to remember. He’s of the masculine gender. Cam and I have interesting “conversations” from time to time. He’s also one of my greatest critics, but that’s ok as I can turn him off when I don’t want to listen — he does have an on/off switch. This time it was not a conversation but a demand.

As the “mule” I was assigned was driven down the path, we saw some American Pronghorns. Wyomingites know them as Antelope or some call them Goats. I thought I’d get the standard portrait type photo, which I did. Cam’s light meter indicated a braced shot at1/50 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 should be ok. I took his word for it as I was in a hurry. Antelope tend to run off when I fool around with the settings for too long. Thus, Cam’s warning not to muddle it. The lens was at focal length 135mm. I made a few photos of this beautiful, large horned, buck who was just standing, posing, and peering at us with a questioning look, as Antelope tend to do. He probably was wondering “what are these annoying humans doing out here riding around in the rain?” Cam agreed.

Without notice the buck planted his hind legs, dug his hooves into the muddy ground, and sprinted off in front of me. That’s when Cam screamed, “SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT AND DON’T MUDDLE IT”. I was already viewing the scene through the view finder from taking the portrait pictures. Instinct or muscle memory or something seemed to kick in as I followed the buck and panned the camera with the scene unfolding in front of me, releasing the shutter button several times in the process. The buck quickly ran out of range. I whispered to Cam, “I think I did it”. (I don’t think anyone noticed that short comment to Cam.) Cameras can’t normally smile but I bet Cam did in its own way. I know I did.

The photo above is one from that short series of shots. His head, eyes, horns, and much of the upper body are in focus caused by moving the camera at the same relative speed as the antelope. His sprinting legs and hooves are blurred as is the background. The blurring gives the photo a sense of motion and action. This is what panning helps to create.

This day gave Cam and I one more fun opportunity together. I didn’t seem to ‘muddle it’.

And that’s the way it was on that cloudy, rainy day in Wonderful Wyoming.

Thank you for reading about my experience. Please go to the bottom of this post and rate it and leave a comment.

This photo can be purchased in various sizes as prints or framed at Browse through my other photos.
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Corral Excitement!!

They were racing in circles as I stood there by the corral’s gray log rails viewing them through my camera lens. The horses were kicking up dust, rushing by me, and beautiful.  I was thrilled to be at the Willow Creek Ranch at the Hole-in-the-Wall near Kaycee, Wyoming, at Adam Jahiel’s Photo Workshop photographing these splendid animals at this western ranch.  I had my dependable Canon 60D tight in my hands and up to my eye so I could view, shoot, and capture images of these magnificent animals as they ran past me.

It was a dry, awe-inspiring, sunny, September morning in 2015. I was leaning on an old log corral to steady myself. The worn rails were silver-grey and weather cracked, but sturdy. The horses were racing in circles by me kicking up fine, red dust. The morning sidelight was contouring their bodies and exaggerating the delicate, powdery particles of dirt.

I “cheated” a little and had the camera set to shoot more than one shot as I pressed the shutter release button on my camera. Some people call it the “machine gun” approach, but my old camera wasn’t shooting that many continuous pictures. It was not a machine gun.  I composed quickly and watched through the lens, then clicked as the horses ran by each round.

This was one of the most exciting and fun times I had ever had with my camera. I was actually living a dream I didn’t even know I had until it happened. I truly enjoy photographing horses, cowboys/cowgirls, dirt, dust, action, cows, more horses, sunlight, old barns and wooden rail corrals.   Sounds, action, exhilaration, and anticipation happening each moment added to the experience.

Below is my favorite photograph from that morning. I think it illustrates what I felt. I used a high ISO of 400 to help capture action a little easier. The 1/500 second shutter speed was fast enough to freeze these critters’ actions in this confined space. An f/14 aperture made for a little more depth-of-field. The lens was a Canon 18-135 set at 38mm.

All in all I felt both lucky and charmed to have captured this scene.  To this day, the sunshine, horses, cowboys and dust continue in my soul.

Thank you for reading  my experience. When I publish these blog posts, it will be erratic.  Consequently, if you would like to receive notices of when I post new blog stories/photos, please send me your e-mail address at  Your  e-mail address will be kept in strict privacy.  I do not sell or give away e-mail addresses.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

This photo can be purchased in various sizes as prints or framed at

Please go to my photographic artist web site, and browse through my other photos.

You can also view new photos as I post them on my Facebook page at   Scenic Photography By Sam Sherman. Please feel free to like and follow my page.

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Fun! Fun! Fun! Reflections and Self Portraits

The Beach Boys’ harmonious voices rang out as their song “Fun, Fun, Fun” was echoing from the public address throughout the Natrona County Fairgrounds as I entered to begin enjoying the 2015 Oil Capitol Auto Club Cruising with the Oldies Car Show. I was with the Casper Photography Association for their May field trip. Several of us began circulating with our cameras. What fun could I get into today?

A Pentax 645D with a 45-85 lens hung around my neck. A tripod was clutched in my hand ready for use. There must have been 300 shiny old cars. Some were T-Birds such as the Beach Boys envisioned when they wrote their song, the public address still blasting their beautiful clear tune. As I viewed a handsome, shiny, T-Bird and listened to the Beach Boys, I imagined it cruising to the hamburger stand, daddy’s daughter at the wheel, radio blasting, the library forgotten, to have fun, fun, fun ….

I planned to enjoy the car show’s hamburger stand, but first I began to make photographs of some of the glamorous old autos. I wandered around totally amazed at what the individual auto owners had done. But I think what amazed me most was that each auto had a perfectly bright shine even if the weather had been rainy and miserable for the past several days. I leisurely drifted about setting up the tripod and photographing several different cars.

One old vintage vehicle that caught my attention was this charming, shiny, red Dodge. It was fascinating not only as a beautifully reconstructed vintage automobile but the polish made it shine probably brighter than the day it rolled off the assembly line. The owner had done a marvelous job of preparing it to show.


Continuing my stroll between the autos, I began to notice ornate make and model emblems, fins, and fancy wheels. These lured me in for close-up photos. This Mustang wheel’s beauty just screamed at me for a closeup photograph.

_IGP1149.M.S.Mustang wheel

As I maneuvered in for other closeup photos, pesky reflections from those highly polished surfaces kept getting in the way of my photography. I tried shooting from different angles to eliminate the reflections. That worked but seemed to destroy some of the compositions. Exasperated, I finally just shot a reflection of myself. It didn’t look bad when I review it in the preview window. I thought it was kinda interesting! I had just created a self portrait.

_IGP1145.M.S.Red reflection

Finding self-portrait reflections turned out to be a fun task, and I began spending more time searching for self portrait reflections.

_IGP1150.M.S.crop reflection



Lesson learned!! Just because a photographer comes for one thing, it doesn’t mean he can’t find something else special to photograph. The challenge is to look around, explore, and find the unusual. Then shoot, shoot, shoot…. or as the Beach Boys would sing, “have fun, fun, fun”.

As I left the auto show, another Beach Boys song was playing. “When I take her to the track, she really shines (Giddy up giddy up 409).” The Oil Capital Auto Club had put on a great show and many of their vintage autos really shined.

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Here are the lyrics to the two Beach Boys songs I mentioned in the article:

Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun Lyrics
Well she got her daddy’s car
And she cruised to the hamburger stand now
Seems she forgot all about the library
Like she told her old man now
And with the radio blasting
Goes cruising just as fast as she can now

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun
Till her daddy takes the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the t-bird away)

Well the girls can’t stand her
‘Cause she walks, looks, and drives like an ace now
(You walk like an ace now, you walk like an ace)
She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now
(You look like an ace now, you look like an ace)
A lotta guys try to catch her
But she leads them on a wild goose chase now
(You drive like an ace now, you drive like an ace)

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun
Till her daddy takes the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the t-bird away)

Well you knew all along
That your dad was gettin’ wise to you now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)
And since he took your set of keys
You’ve been thinking that your fun is all through now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)

But you can come along with me
‘Cause we gotta a lot of things to do now
(You shouldn’t have lied now, you shouldn’t have lied)

And we’ll have fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
And we’ll have fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
(Fun, fun now that daddy took the t-bird away)
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

By The Beach Boys

She’s real fine my 409
She’s real fine my 409
My 409

Well I saved my pennies and I saved my dimes
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
For I knew there would be a time
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
When I would buy a brand new 409
(409, 409)
Giddy up giddy up giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 40…

Nothing can catch her
Nothing can touch my 409
409 ooooo
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up oooo)
(Giddy up giddy up)

When I take her to the track she really shines
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
She always turns in the fastest times
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
My four speed dual quad posi-traction 409
(409, 409, 409, 409)

Giddy up giddy up giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 409
(Giddy up giddy up 409)
Giddy up 40…

Nothing can catch her
Nothing can touch my 409
(409 409 409 409)
Giddy up 409
(409 409 409 409)
Giddy up 409
(409 409 409 409)
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
For non-commercial use only.

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Black and White Can Be a Photographer’s Choice

Camera, lights, click the shutter, review photograph…. edit the photo….. Black and white photographs can be a final result.

I recently was on a field trip with the Casper Photography Association to Sheridan, Wyoming. Our first stop was King Ropes. Below are two color photos and their duplicates in black and white. My camera of choice that day was a Pentax 645D with a Pentax 45-85 zoom lens. The lighting was indoor, mainly dim overhead tungsten. I used a monopod to support the camera. After reviewing my results, I realized I should have used a tripod as the photos would have probably been sharper. The lighting was just too dim to keep the monopod still for a long enough time.

Photoshop was my software of choice to edit these photos but any editing software should work fine. I will not be going through each Photoshop step but will show you the first and then final photo. My purpose was to show that a person does not need to be satisfied with their first color rendition.

This is a color closeup of a saddle horn and the forks supporting it. It was a beautiful antique saddle but I failed to get the information about its history. I moved in close and used the zoom function of the lens to crop unwanted areas. I did not care for the color in this photograph after I made it. Black and white seemed a good option.


I think this photo was much better in black and white. Of course the minor adjustments I made in Photoshop added to the end result. Basically I cropped, sharpened, straightened, and then cloned in the black background.

_IGP1069.M.b&w.strait 2.S

Ropes hanging, priced to be sold, made an interesting exhibit but the color version just didn’t cut it for me. Instead of adjusting the color and trying to come up with a better image, I made it into black and white. Again, with some cropping and sharpening, but no cloning or straightening, black and white was my choice for this photo.



If you have the capability with whatever photo editing software you own (you don’t need Photoshop), try turning some of your photos into black and white. You might like the results.

Please check out some of my photography at Here you will find some black and white photographs interspersed with color photographs.

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Freedom Is The River

Freedom is The River first conceived as falling snow during eons of time building deep during the long, hard, cold Winter. The Wyoming wind blowing it into heavy drifts with only the promise of fluid motion yet to come as warmer temperatures will release the freedom that is The River.

Slowly Spring begins to arrive in the high country of Wyoming. Warm winds set in motion the slow release of The River. Snow melts and drips and falls freely forming a small streamlet flowing ever more untethered and swelling with each new droplet adding water to the newly developing river.

More rivulets join the new streamlet rushing over rocks, and boulders clear and fresh and alive with freedom. Moving ever more swiftly and gathering new strength, it grows, becoming more powerful tearing at the dirt banks along its path eroding and cutting new paths. It’s becoming a mountain stream crashing, smashing and rolling pulled by gravity ever downward. The River moves freely into its future.

Melting snow creates small streams crashing over rocks and boulders gaining strength, power and freedom.

Melting snow creates small streams crashing over rocks and boulders gaining strength, power and freedom.

Ever growing from melting mountain snow.

Freedom is The River

The River grows as creeks join with the newly formed torrent. Beavers attempt to slow The River’s freedom as they build their dams of Aspen branches, Willows, and mud. The River continues finding new paths to freedom, trickling over and around the beaver’s obstruction. Growing with each new tributary the mighty River is formed. Nothing can stop the quest of freedom for The River..

Over one hundred and fifty years ago The River, passing Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, Split Rock, and South Pass, witnessed mountain men and fur traders as they traveled to their annual summertime Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. Others would follow a few years later driving wagons pulled by stout horses or oxen. More, with a religious zeal, pulling handcarts moving west on their own trek for freedom.

Independence Rock with the Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Independence Rock with the Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Devil's Gate in the middle distance.  Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Devil’s Gate in the middle distance. Sweetwater River in the foreground.

Split Rock near South Pass.

Split Rock near South Pass.

These immigrants call The River the Sweetwater because it was the first mountain stream they tasted on their trek west. The River was sweet and savory after miles of alkali and dryness. Unfortunately these same immigrants seeking freedom would spell the doom of freedom for the American Indian who had roamed unhindered following this sweet river.

Today, The River is still mighty as its water flows toward its destiny. It is a paradise for fishermen, hunters, hikers, and photographers. One can still stand on its grassy banks and witness The River flowing unrestrained and bountiful. Freedom is The River flowing wild, unimpeded, and self ruled for eons of time to come.

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“Mosquitoes!  You old duffers don’t know mosquitoes!”  I kindly mentioned while visiting with my weekly group of old duffers.  Each of us seemed to have our own mosquito tale trying to outdo the other with Alaska mosquitoes, Oklahoma mosquitoes, Arizona mosquitoes and on and on…  What a bunch of old codgers!  They had no idea of what real mosquitoes were like.  Of course, I was just the one to set them straight.

“Now listen up.  You guys are starting to sound much like a bunch of old biddies each with the most hackneyed, stale, banal stories I’ve ever heard (Sometimes I tend to exaggerate).  My tale, I mean, account, is the total truth which I can assure you.”

“Back in the day when I was in high school and worked summers for a local rancher out of Big Piney in western Wyoming, now that was when mosquitoes were bad.  Not like the little nilly willy ones that are around today or like the ones you guys have mentioned.  We had real, giant mosquitoes”.

Bob, the ranch owner, had sent John, Cuss and myself up to the Connor Place near North Horse Creek to repair fence along the forest boundary.  It was early Spring sometime in June…. Yes…. June is Spring in the Wyoming Range.  There were still snow banks melting in the warming mountain air creating gullies of runoff along with pools, sloughs, and waterholes of that fresh mountain liquid that is the life blood of Wyoming.  Without mountain snow melt in the Spring, Wyoming would be a dried up desert.  Water fresh and cool was most abundant this time of year.  Though it sure did make for multitudes of places to bred mosquitoes and monster ones at that.

Cuss was in charge of us as he was the hired man who had worked for Bob for many years.  John and I were high school kids working Summers.  As you know, it’s hard for ranchers to hire good help.  However, did you know, it’s just as hard for ranchers to hire bad help?  So here we were, bad help, but cheap.  We just hoped Cuss packed plenty of grub and bug repellent.

We were staying in what I would call a line shack.  It might have once been a nice log cabin when it was new back in the Paleolithic era.  When we arrived, it was at least still standing.  The logs hadn’t seen paint for eons and had been bleached silver grey by sun, time and weather.  The crannies between the logs had long ago lost their mud chinking making plenty of spaces to see through and you can well imagine creating passage for critters like mosquitoes or skeeters as Cuss called them.

We hauled our bed rolls and food for the week into the old shack.  It had an ancient and dilapidated cast iron wood burning stove and a beat up kitchen table with four wobbly chairs in the front room.  Jim Bridger was probably the last one to enjoy a meal on the table when he came through the area in the mid 1800’s.  The walls were covered with burned in brands from local ranches making them a great historical study if a person was of a notion to pay close attention.  We weren’t as the skeeters wouldn’t let us stand still long enough to sneak a gaze at the brands.  The front room had one nice bunk which Cuss immediately claimed. John and I were relegated to the adjoining room.  Of course we were miles from electricity, running water, and flush toilets.

Cuss pointed to where the privy was located.  It was in worse shape than the shack.  It consisted of silver-colored grey boards leaning to one side.  A crescent moon shape had been cut in the door.  I wasn’t sure it would last past the next good push of Wyoming wind. If the wind came up, well, none of us were anxious to end up in Nebraska while in a flying privy.  In addition, we could imagine the sumptuous feast on bare bottoms the skeeters would enjoy at our expense once we were behind its closed door.

Cuss told us if we wanted running water, we’d have to run down to the spring with a bucket and run water back to the shack.  Cuss also warned us of the skeeters that hung around the spring. He told us, “don’t bring any of those really, blankety blank cuss words, BIG, expletive, more dirty words,  ones back to the shack as I don’t want to have to protect you little sh_ _ s from them”.  He continued, “we haven’t seen the big ones yet and you had better not be attracting them.  I don’t want you two  ##^&*##  acting as  ###,^^&*  skeeter bait.  There’s skeeters out their big enough to carry your lard a___s off into the forest never to be seen again”.  Both John and I stood with eyes big as plates imagining the damage that a skeeter that size could do to our tender young behinds.

I opened the door to the adjoining room where John and I would toss our bed rolls.  There were a couple of old mattresses each with a skim of dirt.  Cobb webs covered the streaked windows and mouse droppings on the window sills welcomed us to our new home for the week.  Dust darkened the wooden floor.  After brushing the caked dirt off the mattresses, John and I each threw our personal gear on a bed. I grabbed an old broom that still had some of its yellowish bristles and began sweeping and scraping the dirt while swatting skeeters.  One would think I was a musician the way my arms were flailing and thrashing about trying to keep those droning, humming, buzzing beasts from landing on me.  In the back of my mind I envisioned what a really large skeeter might do to a person.

After cleaning, fixing the bedding, and devouring sandwiches,  We crawled into our blankets trying to ignore the dust, dirt, grime, and skeeters in the room.  We each had to sleep with bedding covering our heads out of fear we’d wake up with large red welts from bites or being carried off by larger bugs. Best to hide under the covers than face that. Soon, I found myself deep in sleep while a nightmare of riding and roping …  skeeters…. romped through my tortured slumbering brain.  Eventually calming, my nightmare turned into the possibility of sitting in a large bath tub while marinating in bug repellant.

Nightmares of riding and roping skeeters were all to soon interrupted with a loud, screeching voice saying, “grab your blankety, blank (lots of cuss words)  socks, you blankety blank  lazy little blankety blanks. It’s time to get your blankety blanks out of that bedroll and get out here. Breakfast is ready and if you don’t get up, I’ll feed it to the blankety blank skeeters.  They’ll probably do more f_____g work today than you will anyway.”

Cuss was not only the ramrod of our small contingent, but also a heavy smoker, a masterful cusser, and camp cook.  He was never without a cigarette protruding from his mouth even while cooking.  He lit his first smoke before he crawled out of his bed roll which created more fog that I suppose helped protect him from skeeters.

As I crawled out of my sleeping bag, smelling the delicious cooking aromas coming from the kitchen, I noticed what appeared to be an extra large skeeter as big as a rat in the corner.  In my waking fuzziness, he seemed to wiggle his wings and stick his fisted front feet in his ears apparently trying to block out Cuss’s cussing.  He finally vanished towards the the kitchen as he apparently heard the words that Cuss was going to feed breakfast to the skeeters if we didn’t crawl out and get to breakfast.  I wasn’t sure I was awake yet or not.

John and I joined Cuss in the kitchen.  Cuss stood over a hot cast iron skillet with over easy eggs frying. Bacon sizzled next to each egg, and sliced sheep herder spuds were browning in a separate pan.  The wood burning stove radiated warmth on this cool mountain morning.  John and I huddled next to the stove and absorbed not only the heat but the delectable bouquet of fragrance from the breakfast Cuss had whipped up.

With his beat up Stetson pushed  back on his head, he elbowed us aside puffing his stubby cigarette with ashes suspended half an inch on the end while at the same time exhaling smoke through his nostrils.  I was happy the ashes didn’t fall into the eggs and pleased that there were fewer skeeters hanging around all that smoke.  As he opened the oven door we saw a pan of golden biscuits.  He used one of his grubby work gloves to pull the biscuit filled tray out and sat them on the table.

We consumed everything in site. Cuss mentioned that it appeared John and I had been competing in an eating contest. John slouched in his rickitty chair, arms hanging, fork laying on the table, head hanging as if done in from eating too much, and moaning about eating all that grub.  He had apparently conceded the contest to me as I asked if there were more taters and another biscuit and and how about more bacon?

It would take much of the morning to repair the fence only because John and I would have to walk a section of fence which consisted of a steep, rock strewn, sagebrush-covered hill. There was no way to drive a truck to it.  I noticed that Cuss’s section was on flat, grassy, bottom land, and he could drive to it.  As he drove away he waved and then snickered to us, “being the f______g ramrod and cook has its advantages.  Enjoy your  blankety blank  morning”.  A cigarette protruded from his mouth and smoke filled the interior of the old beat up Chevy cab but he was not swatting skeeters like we were.

Heading up the hill, John packed the fencing bar and a post.  I carried a shovel, wire stretchers, and another wooden post. We each had a pocket filled with wire staples and a canteen of cold spring water. Fencing pliers dangled from John’s belt.

Up the hill we started with a spring in our young steps.  Legs pumping hard. With each step that hill seemed to propagate more hill and build into a mountain.  The higher we climbed the further the top was from us. Our fencing equipment seemed to grow in weight.  Mosquitoes, deer flies, and horseflies buzzed about our heads and sometimes landed on bare skin. They sunk their proboscis into exposed flesh extracting all kinds of our body fluids.  We’d drop our equipment, slap at those pesky critters, utter some new words we’d picked up from Cuss, gather our tools and move on until the next time we were attacked.

We became so perturbed at all the biting bugs, we put our coats on, pulled up the hoods, stretched our sleeves to our gloves in order to protect us as much as we could.  We decided it was better to die of heat stroke instead of bug bites.  Cramming our straw hats on top of our hooded heads we continued our ordeal.

Being 16 and often including girls in our conversations, I suspect if any young ladies met us now they would run off in hysterical fits or maybe fear us as if we were some new bred of Sasquatch; either of which they would not want to be associated with.

Reaching the fence after what seemed like a decade, we set about tightening barbed wire with the stretchers, pounding stables, adding a post where an old one had broken off and doing whatever needed done so the fence would stop cattle from wondering into areas they weren’t supposed to.  All the while we waved arms, slapped at skeeters, deer flies, and horse flies.  Their only intent was to sap our blood.

Finally reaching the corner where we finished our work, we threw down our tools, plopped onto the hard ground, and found shade under a sagebrush as we each gasped from effort and heat.

As we lay there sipping cool water from our canteens, recuperating from our long trek and long, hard, hot work, we tended to dose off.  Startled from our short nap, we discerned a very loud buzzing.  It sounded like two B-52 bombers instead of two gigantic, overgrown  skeeters larger than an elk.  As we laid there breathing hard, we thought we overheard this conversation.  “These two look like tasty morsels. Shall we peal and eat them here, or take them back into the trees and enjoy our feast in the shade?”   The second buzzing B-52 said, “naw, let’s devour them here, if we pack them back into the trees, the big boys will take them away from us.”

John and I gave each other a ‘what the heck’ look, quickly jumped up, grabbed the fencing tools and bolted.  It didn’t take us long as we were both hell-bent for leather scurrying down the newly repaired fence line, dodging sagebrush, rocks and any flying critters which might have us in their sights.

I was a faster runner so I beat John to the truck but he wasn’t far behind. We jumped in and rolled the windows up.  Cuss looked at us as if we were a couple of dunderheads.  He threw his cigarette into the dirt, stomped on and pulverized it with his work scarred Tony Lamas, and headed to the truck cussing at us and taking long strides we didn’t know he had.   All the while pulling out another smoke, lighting it, not missing a step.  I think the smoke we saw coming from Cuss this time was not only from a cigarette.

“Can any of you old duffers beat those skeeters?”  I asked my old codger friends.  They answered me with loud defeated silence.

No photos this time but feel free to look my photographs over at

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Convergence in Meeteetsee

Didja ever  hear of the idea that each of us is a product of convergence?  Patrick F. McManus first introduced me to that term in one of his stories.  And of course I believe as gospel everything old Pat has ever written.  I’m sure he’d never stretch the truth or tell a lie.  Consequently let me tell you how convergence was the cause of me meeting the love of my life…. Chili cheese breakfast burritos.

According to McManus, convergence is a scientific fact. All important circumstances in one’s life happens by convergence. For instance, I am here in Casper because as I was completing my teaching degree at U.W. back during what must have been the time of Butch Cassidy, someone else here in Casper was completing a history teaching job.  The Casper person was preparing to move on to greener pastures. I was hoping to move on to any kind of pasture.  If he hadn’t moved on, there wouldn’t have been a pasture here in Casper for me to move to …. Consequently, convergence!!  Here I am.  If any other decisions had been made by either of us or the school district, I would have not ended in Casper.  Some of my future students might have cheered that, but they would be stuck with me anyway.

So what does convergence have to do with breakfast burritos? Bunches!  The universe seemed to conspire to bring me and a chili cheese breakfast burrito together.  I have finally been able to put this conspiracy theory together and can prove it.

I was enjoying a pleasant photography club trip to Kirwin, the old deserted gold mining ghost town high up in the Shoshone National Forest out of Meeteetsee, Wyoming. The weather was great.  The air smelled of pine and decayed buildings.  The old town was amazing, and I felt right at home.  Club photographers were wandering all over seemingly always getting in front of my camera just as I clicked the shutter.  But I was discrete.  As much as club members kept stepping into my camera’s field of vision,  I didn’t get a single picture of someone’s rear end.  Guess the members weren’t interested in derriere portraits.



Meanwhile, 30 miles down in the cowboy town of Meeteetsee, at the Silver Spur Bar and Grill, Maybel was preparing for tourists and locals who would soon be enjoying meals in her restaurant.  She was a short, scrawny, but plucky, older lady with white hair tied up in a bun on top of her head. She was well past middle age, but one knew not to mess with her as she’d probably be the first to slap you silly if you crossed her.  She was like Granny on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ but not as pretty.   Her apron was one of those that cooks wear, and it was probably white when it was new 30 years ago.  A cigarette hung from her lips, acrid smoke drifted up out of her nostrils almost hiding the no smoking sign.

In her kitchen Maybel kinda perked her head up as if getting a message from the universe and thought she ought to make sure she had plenty of her cast of burrito characters: flour tortillas, browned breakfast sausage, potatoes, cheese, eggs, chives, salsa, beans, plenty of beans, and chili. Plus whatever else she might want to throw in. She smiled as she thought of her huge Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito that she served any time of the day.  She prided herself that very few customers could ever finish her masterpiece as it was so humongous.  Maybe today would be the day someone actually would buy one and finish it.  Noooo, that won’t happen…. But, well, she did have this funny feeling.  Maybe that was just the way her cigarette smoke tickled her nose.

Back up on the mountain at Kirwin, we were completing our photography, loading the cars and heading down with thoughts of dinner on our minds.  This club didn’t travel on wheels; it traveled on its stomach, and I was no exception.  Breakfast is my favorite meal and any time of the day is breakfast for me.  Eggs, bacon, potatoes, gravy, salsa.  It’s all good especially heaped on a large plate with side boards.

As we drove down the mountain enjoying the scenery, our club president informed us she had made reservations at the Silver Spur Bar and Grill.  Being a connoisseur of food, my stomach began to wander with thoughts of amazing delicacies already simmering on the grill just waiting for my taste buds.  Or maybe that was just the road dust drifting into the truck cab.

More Kirwin

More Kirwin

Meanwhile Maybel had heated her grill, dropped dollops of butter on it and briefly watched them simmer before throwing on burgers, bacon, eggs and other luscious, scrumptious, lip-smacking, high cholesterol, artery clogging sustenance as can be imagined. Her customers never lacked for potential heart attack material.   As these bits of nourishment smoldered, she began to imagine her favorite creation…. Her large, super duper Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito.  Today might be her day and some unsuspecting customer’s day.  She began to arrange the necessary ingredients with a mysterious smile on her face.

The club members parked their vehicles outside the Silver Spur Bar and Grill.  I stepped out of the truck onto the ancient dirty brown board walk.  Took my hat off and wacked it against my trousers creating a small dust devil which swirled at my knees. As the powdered dirt billowed away, I envisioned outlaws and cattle barons as they tied their horses to the hitching rails.  Each sweating horse dipped its head and slurped dark cool water from the trough.

I put my hat back on and stepped into the Silver Spur and was immediately immersed into the decor of the bar. Mounted heads of local wildlife hung from the walls.  Boots and cowboy hats were suspended from the ceiling.  Posted in prominent places were red neck sayings.  The modern west in all its glory revealed itself to me.  That included the smell of cigarette smoke, grease, beer, and cowboys with manure on their boots.  Ah yes, small town Wyoming.  What a great place to satisfy my growing appetite plus enjoy the local culture of politically spirited ranchers discussing their government grazing rights as I read the anti-Obama signs hanging next to calendars portraying scantly clad ladies. Wyoming, like no place on earth!

As I scrutinized the menu I was seduced by this item: “Large Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito.  Served all day.  So large no one can finish it. $15.99”. Mysteriously, the word ‘convergence‘ thundered silently through my head but not for long as this was a challenge I could not pass up.

I looked up into the old, bald waiter’s cold, blue eyes, noticed the deep wrinkles of his face as he smacked his thin lips holding a chew of tobacco between his gums and cheek. A little drop of tobacco juice started to drip off his lower lip, but before it did, he nonchalantly licked it off and asked, “whatcha want, fella?”

I pointed, “I want that”.  A smirk appeared on his lined face as he shook his head in approval or was that superciliousness as he hollered out, “Maybel, we got a live one here.  Get your extra large tortilla out of the barn.”   He asked, “do you want the chili with extra beans?”  My answer was, “of course.”  He walked off snickering, shaking his head and concealing a wicked smile.  A chill ran up my back.

When the old waiter placed my order with Maybel, she perked her head up again much like she had earlier in the day.  Smiling, she wiped her hands on her grungy, once white apron and walked out the door towards the barn to gather the ingredients she had already previously set aside in anticipation of such a momentous occasion.

Maybel’s wonderful Chili Cheese Breakfast Burrito was ready in a jiffy as if she’d been preparing it all day. The blob of a cheese-covered burrito spilled over the plate and even slopped over the side boards.  I wondered if Maybel had used a winch truck to load it on the plate. That giant tortilla was filled with several scrambled eggs, salsa, beans, onions, chunks of fried potatoes, cheese and avocado. It  was oozy and gooey all covered with scoops of red chili with extra beans all topped with sour cream.  A very delectable meal and all for me.  It was beautiful and smelled fantastic.  I fell in love once again.

Devouring this delectable creation was not a problem for me.  I did keep my knife handy in case someone tried to sneak a bite.  I warned them that if they tried for a taste, they’d pull back a bloody stump.  All I heard were things like, “my gawd!”, “what a pit”, “he must have a hollow leg”, “what a glutton”, “how can anyone put that much away?”, “incredible”, “how does he do it?”, “look at all those beans”.  I enjoyed each and every cholesterol shattering bite and just knew everyone was jealous.  It was an amazing meal.

After I had devoured every crumb, morsel, and sloppy drop of grease, Maybel strolled over, leaned in, dropped ashes from her cigarette on the table, and gave me a giant hug and mumbled congratulations in my ear. She seemed extremely pleased that I enjoyed her creation.  I told her she was the best cook. I woulda’ kissed her on the cheek, but that would have meant fighting through her cigarette.

After scrapping the plate clean and licking my lips, I began wondering what they had for dessert.  I closed my eyes and just sat and revisited my meeting with Maybel and recalled McManus and convergence while waiting on a large piece of chocolate cake with ice cream dessert.  The Chile Cheese Breakfast Burrito was no longer an item on my plate, but the memory lingered on.

Speaking of lingering, the beans were abundant and extra flavorful.  I would dream of my fantastic meal with extra chili and beans all the way back to Casper.

Which reminded me, “Oh, by the way, guys, (burping), who said they were going to ride with me back to Casper?”  No one raised their hands. Loud, deafening silence was all I heard.  They must have been still been in shock at the piece of artwork that had decorated my plate and weren’t thinking of riding home yet.

Disclaimer: Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Some persons appearing in this story might be figments of the writer’s imagination.

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Phobias and More

I think I might have had a phobia or two or three; maybe I still do.  At times I seemed to have had irrational fears of doing something stupid.  Problem is that fear often comes true.  I appear to have a long history of doing stupid things.  My newest phobia concerned pulling my new/used Aliner camper to the Big Horn Mountains for a camping trip. What bad things lurked out there that would make my first trip a disaster?  It was too late now to worry.  I was on my way, camper in tow, attached to my Chevy Traverse. Whether I would end up proving my neurosis or not was yet to be discovered.

On this first trip I was driving alone except for my fears, phobias, and neurosis riding in the back seat ready to jump me at any moment.  Fortunately, interstate highway 25 heading north to Buffalo is an easy drive.  As I drove, I sang along with 50’s music on the radio.  My singing does hurt my ears but it also keeps the flies that are trapped in the car annoyed and buzzing about. I like to antagonize them before I shoo them out the window. I would not be alone once I arrived at Meadowlark as I was meeting members of the Casper Photography Association for our July photo field trip.

I could see in the rear view mirror, the white camper, with bubble shaped windows, all tucked into its folded travel position following me politely. That’s good!  If it was passing me, I’d be in trouble.  I do recall a similar situation I witnessed in Casper several years ago, but I was not directly involved.  Remembering this incident helped one of my phobias attempt to arise from the back seat.

Aliner camper trail parked at Meadowlark Lake in the Big Horn National Forest.

Aliner camper trail parked at Meadowlark Lake in the Big Horn National Forest.

With this particular circumstance, I was following an old, sliver, beat up pickup pulling a battered, faded green, utility trailer with lawn mowing equipment and piles of green grass in its bed. Hand painted on the tailgate in white was “Have mower, Will Travel” and a phone number.  They were headed east on 12th street laughing and visiting with each other and traveling a little faster than maybe they should have been.

They bounced over a dip in the road and I watched amazed as that darn dilapidated trailer popped right off the ball and became a detached independent vehicle traveling by itself apparently with a mind of its own.  It skedaddled to the left bouncing and speeding up as it headed north, green grass blowing out.  I’m sure that little trailer was thinking, “what fun.  I’m free. Wheee”.  It didn’t seem to have a care in the world as it galloped on it’s way.  The old pickup proceeded straight, the occupants still laughing and visiting unaware of their newly sovereign trailer.  That trailer merrily danced over the curb and spotted a small, beautiful, cream-colored boat innocently parked on the owner’s driveway.  The detached trailer made a beeline for that boat.  Its tongue, like a spear, bayoneted the watercraft flying right into the side coming to a stop only after all the trailer’s tongue had disappeared deep into the cream-colored hull of the boat.  Eventually, the driver of the pickup gave a double take, his cap flying off, as he finally noticed his trailer ram into the boat.  The pickup came to a screeching halt. I swerved to miss them.  No one was hurt so I kept on driving thanking my lucky stars it wasn’t my trailer or boat.

The vision of that trailer impaled in the boat was haunting me now as I traveled with my camper trailer following close behind me. I kept checking the rear view mirrors in case the camper had desires to travel independently.  I had made sure I had locked the ball hitch into place and fastened the safety cables.  If the trailer did mysteriously pop off, those cables would at least keep the trailer from scurrying into the other lane or the bar ditch.  Needless to say, I was relieved it didn’t go visiting during this drive.

Another fear was that the camper would get a flat tire, and I’d never know about it.  This fear (phobia?) also comes from my past.  As a teenager working for a rancher during “haying” out of Big Piney, Wyoming, I was given the simple task of driving an orange Allis-Charmer tractor sweep to some hay fields at the Johnson Place near Cottonwood Creek many miles to the north from the home place on South Piney Creek.

The first time I ever saw a sweep I thought it must be a manufacturing mistake. I walked around it with deep concern.  I had seen enough tractors to know that the smaller wheels go in front and the large ones were in the back.  This monstrosity was reversed. It must be the result of someone’s nightmare.  It was a freak. The large tires are in the front and the smaller steering tires were in the back.  Attached to the front just beyond the large tires was a rack of four steel teeth probably five feet long and each tooth about four inches in diameter.  It was designed to push wind-rowed loose hay in front of it with that horrendous rack of steel teeth. The seat sat in front of the engine instead of behind it as it would in a normal tractor.  The steering wheel sat even further in front and just behind the sweep head. How was I to drive such a mutant?

I wasn’t going to admit my fear to anyone.  All I needed to do was take the sweep and drive along some dirt roads I was familiar with and safely get the sweep into the hay fields of the Johnson Place. Any idiot could do that.   As a teenager, I was not about to admit I had reservations about driving such a thing.  I was full of fake confidence and swagger.  I’d told Bob, the rancher, I’d just pretend I was driving backwards but be going forward. He looked at me dubiously.  My stomach did flip flops.  Would Bob let me drive?  He didn’t have anyone else available for the drive. I was the bottom of the barrel and got elected as driver.

I was having a good old time driving, singing merrily, harmonizing with the sound of the engine serving as music.  Road dust trailed behind me creating a long rooster tail of reddish-colored dirt which swirled into the air making a cloud following above and behind me.  The tractor bounced and wobbled along with me steering.  I was living one of my boyhood dreams.  I was working on a ranch in Wyoming, sometimes being a cowboy, sometimes milking cows, sometimes fencing and now working the hay fields and driving a tractor even if  this tractor looked funny.  Not bad for a boy not long removed from Louisiana.   How much better could it get?  Fake confidence exuding from me more and more.

Not a care in world; waving at vehicles as they met me on the rutted, dirt road; minding my own business; never realizing or thinking about…. tires….. I was only 16 and rather new to driving. I never thought during the entire trip to turn my head and examine the steering tires. So, it was to my utter amazement when I arrived at my destination that I had been driving on a flat tire. The small left rear tire was flat ,and I hadn’t noticed it.  Fortunately only the bottom was flat.  Bob didn’t seem to think that was good enough and was somewhat upset to say the least.  I’m not sure how long I’d been driving on the flat.  The tire was ruined, but since the wheel was good enough, it didn’t need replaced.

Bob talked about firing me, but realized I was still the bottom of barrel as far as hands went, so he kept me on.  He screamed and cussed at me  for while.  He even wondered if my brain was a quart low.  I could tell he wasn’t an experienced cusser.  He wasn’t nearly as good at cussing as Everette. One could tell Everette was an experienced cusser.  Everette cussed fluently.  I knew that because earlier in the Summer back at the home ranch, John and an unnamed co-conspirator attempted to tip the out house over.  We never accomplished it.  How was anyone to know Everette was in it.  John and the unnamed co-conspirator didn’t see why he was using such eloquent cuss words.  After all, he climbed out of the out house and was hardly wet or messy.  That old cowboy sure could cuss, but that’s another story.

That tire deal was another example of my paranoia and stupidity that haunted me from my illustrious past as I pulled the camper ever northward on I25 finally arriving safe and secure.

It was fantastic trip with no flats and no runaway trailers.  The camper was very comfortable for the two nights I stayed there.  The photo club members were great friends and I enjoyed their company. We all managed to take some good photos.  It was a fun trip.  My phobias did not cause any problems.  What was I ever worried about?  Success!!  But wait, what is that lurking in the back seat???


This picture can not be taken while staying at the Holiday Inn, but can be if one stays at the campground on the hill above Meadowlark Lake.

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Lunacy At It’s Finest

People at times suspect I’m struck with bouts of lunacy.  Occasionally they might be correct.  On some of those occasions I was with the Casper Photography Association.  When that occurred I knew I was not alone with bouts of lunacy. Maybe this could be called mass lunacy. In our defense we were simply doing what photographers do, and it might have seemed to others that lunacy periodically prevailed.

If lunacy included dragging myself out of a warm bed long before sunrise while it was still totally black outside, stars bright and the air smelling damp from the night, then count me guilty but not repentant.  Include me as crazy for driving awful distances while sipping hot coffee from a mug, hearing mostly silence except for the quiet rumble of the car engine and the sleepy talk of other camera club members in the car who were participating in this madness, but excited none the less.  Following blindly the other car also loaded with nutty photographers, I had no idea of where we were going but we were on a Utah highway outside of Moab.  We were climbing towards some distant high buttes and bluffs in Canyonlands National Park.  Way off in the east a slight lightening of the sky was just barely noticeable if one looked closely.  I knew morning was arriving sometime.  Maybe that would shine some light on this wacky trip.  Fruitcake or not,  I did have a name as to where this loony club was going this early morning, “Mesa Arch”.

Arriving at the parking lot, there were a number of vehicles already parked.  I kinda figured some of their drivers must be napping waiting for sunrise.  With the trail barely visible, no one would be unhinged enough to be out hiking at this early time of the morning except nutcases like us.

No longer driving on autopilot, I staggered out of the car. The other club members had already begun the trek up the narrow trail.  Strapped around my head was a lamp which really didn’t shine brightly enough as the battery was dying.  My dim beam matched my dim brain this early in the morning.  The light didn’t really brighten the trail causing me to stumble over unseen rocks, holes, and other camouflaged obstacles reaching out to trip me.  I continued to scurry along bumping my toes and knees as I stepped around large boulders and Juniper branches which scratched my arms as they stretched out to grab me.

Tasting the dust kicked up by other club members, I scrambled along that half hidden trail as best I could, using my dim lamp. Silence was in the air as it was still too early for even the birds to sing or crickets to chirp.  They were smart enough to still be in bed. Packing a camera and monopod, I hurried along the trail trying to arrive in one piece. I wasn’t concerned about finding my way back, so I didn’t need to drop bread crumbs as the trail was well used and marked.

Slowly the sky began to lighten and show only a hint of pinkness.  The air started to lose the  pale bluish lavender hue of predawn. The trail was becoming more visible and easier to follow. A few birds were starting their morning song.  I could travel faster now.  I visualized just the right place to catch the first rays of the rising sun breaking through the frame of that rocky arch which been there for thousands and maybe millions of years.  Of course, I am in an awful rush as the arch just might disappear before I arrive and then I would miss the picture.

I smelled the brown powder of dirt hanging in the air as others ahead of me stomped along the trail. I figured that dust must be from one or two of the other club members just ahead of me.  How could anyone else beat us to this lonely outpost of rock?  We should arrive early enough to find a great spot even if a few others rolled in a little earlier than we did. My normal big smile grew larger with thoughts of a photo masterpiece.

Almost there.  Hey!! Hold on!  Did I see lights ahead of us?  Maybe one or two beat us there, but I was sure we were one of the earliest arrivals.  Just one more bend in the trail.  Rounding it, I spied what was supposed to be our “semi-private” arch to photograph.   There must have been twenty people already lined up in front of Mesa Arch elbow to elbow, tripods covering the entire front side of the arch. How could that many crazies beat us here?  What a bunch of lunatics!!  This isn’t the way I had visualized my photo opportunity.  Could I squirm into a spot between all those people?  My smile dimmed tremendously.

Photo by Lolena Shambaugh

Maybe I should run down there and roll myself into them like a human bowling ball and knock them all over. Might even get a strike! Then I’d have my pick of spots in front of the arch.  I doubted that would do any good, though, as they’d just jump back up and hog more space and punch me out.  Besides I could see the Utah papers, “Casper photographer arrested for being a human bowling ball. 20 other photographers pound him.”

Instead, I casually strolled to the arch, elbowed my way in where I spotted a slight opening at the left end of the mass of tripods behind each of which was a person.  To my left was a large bush with some sort of thorns which tore into my hands as I squirmed into the horizontal line of other nutcases.  On my right was a gentleman with his Nikon on a Manford tripod.  He politely allowed me to cuddle up next to the bush as he acknowledged my presence with an engaging smile and a warm hello with an accent I was familiar with but couldn’t place.  Maybe British or Australian.  I wasn’t sure.

I was most intrigued by a gentleman on down to my right.  His clothes were tattered.  He hadn’t shaved in days or more. On his head sat a ragged hunter orange hat with warm fuzzy flaps.  My son called the one I once owned, my Elmer Fudd hat.  The old guy’s tripod must have weighed 10 pounds and was a relic of the 80’s.    As we arrived, he swore with more crude words than I knew the meaning, “(Expletives deleted), where did all these (more expletives deleted) people come from?”  He echoed my thoughts, but I was too shy to actually say those kind of words out loud. I immediately noticed he used an old Pentax k-1000 which was the type I used At East Jr. High when I taught photography in the 90’s. He made an impression on me not by just his demeanor, but  by that Pentax.  Wish I would have met him years ago.  However, once I was lined up ready to do some photography, he pretty much ignored all of us and just mumbled unintelligent things under his breath.  He was great fun!!  Wish he was from Casper.  He’d have made a great addition to the photo club.

Using a monopod I could carefully keep my arms within my body space as to not invade any one else’s area including the thorny bush on my left.  The monopod has one leg, not three. I didn’t have to spread out. Tripods with their three legs meant using more space and taking more time to set up. Some type of support was necessary as a longer exposure in the dim light of dawn was necessary.  I was in a hurry so my monopod went up quickly.  I could then get to what this lunatic came for….. Mesa Arch pictures. I hurriedly set up ready to click and jealously began to strategize my composition of the arch.  I was ready to shoot.  I didn’t want the others who arrived earlier than I did to take all the pictures and leave me without any to take.

The sky slowly became lighter.  The photographers began to speculate as to exactly where the sun would rise in the eastern distance.  The man with the engaging smile, friendly demeanor, and accent next to me on the right pulled out his black iPhone and punched the buttons for the Helios app.  As I glanced over his shoulder, I saw that it showed the exact positions the sun would be in at any particular time during the day including sunrise. I hadn’t known there was an app for that.  I mentally told myself I should check that out after I went home.

Before the sun actually came up the photographers were busily clicking their shutters in hopes of getting the red glow which so famously adorns this particular arch, and, yes, I began to notice and shoot, too.  I had no idea of which f/stop and shutter combination to use.  I was crazy enough to use the auto exposure and, of course, my pictures came up dark on the digital screen. Typical photo for me.

I began to hear murmurs as some of the folks began mentioning how they had their cameras set. Listening to their advice, especially the old guy in the Elmer Fudd hat, I changed to manual exposure and made the necessary adjustments. Then I merrily clicked away.  I heard the sweetest sound you could imagine…. the sound of the camera shutter….  The digital screen now began to register much better exposures.  It pays to listen to the mumblings of a fellow loony using a Pentax.

Mesa Arch at sunrise with the famous red glow

As the sun began to rise over the distant mountains,  I continued to click, redirect the composition, and click again. I zoomed, used wide angle and whatever re-framing I desired to obtain what I hoped would be an award winner.  Finally, there was too much sunlight. The red glow on the arch was more difficult to photograph. Most photographers slowly began to pack up and walk back down the trail.  Some diehards remained.  Most of our group were leaving, so I followed them down the now well-lighted trail making re-acquaintance with the same rocks and shrubs that attacked me on the way up.  This time I could avoid most of them.

My thoughts were still on the magnificent arch I had spent the early morning hiking to and photographing.  It was pretty cool.  I know now I wasn’t early enough to get the best photo spot.  The old adage of the early bird gets the worm had new meaning.  Even though I had not arrived earlier,  I still felt that this had been a case of lunacy at it’s finest.

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A Deer Experience

I’m reminded of the story of the bank robber, Willie Sutton in the 1920’s and 30’s. When asked why he robbed banks, as he was usually caught and spent half his adult life in prison, supposedly  said, “because that’s where the money is.” He also said that he robbed banks because he enjoyed it.  He loved it. He was more alive when he was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in his life.  Likewise, I drive this short road at the base of Casper Mountain because that’s were the Mule Deer are.  I enjoy photographing them, and I feel very alive at photography moments.  I’m hopeful for pictures of large bucks just waiting to be on the cover of Field Stream magazine portrayed as Superman type bucks.

Early February is a great time to be on this “road to somewhere” (see previous story).  There were several inches of fresh bluish-tinged snow from the day before. The tint came from clouds casting their color. I knew I would need to overexpose by a stop or two or fix the photos in Photoshop if I expected the snow to appear white like most think it should look.  I wish I had a dollar for every bluish-tinged snow picture I have taken before I learned this  little lesson.  I could probably buy myself a new lens.

The pavement was a dark grey almost black asphalt with a white dashed line dividing it and a yellow no passing line on my side. The snowplow had been by and shoved snow high along the periphery of the road.  The cold, wet stuff was mounded deep enough that I didn’t want to drive into it for fear I’d find myself stuck. After all, I wasn’t driving a snowmobile. even though I sometimes drove like that’s what I had.

Sometimes my brain digresses and wanders off imagining “what if’s”.  Right now a “what if” crossed my mind of pulling into a pile of snow so I’d be out of the roadway. What if I found myself high centered and the SUV’s wheels spinning and going nowhere?  I think this was actually a vision from past times of really being stuck in the snow. As in the past I remembered digging myself out and being cold and miserable doing that.  If I found myself stuck, I  had a short, red handled shovel which I carried to dig out…. Ummmm, my shovel is still in the back of the SUV where I stored it, isn’t it? I don’t recall seeing it for some time. I tell myself,  “stay out of that fresh plowed snow. You don’t want to crawl around digging through that frigid, wet stuff.”  I pull off where the plow had pushed the snow a little further back.

It was probably in the 30’s, warmish for this time of year, which caused the plowed part of the road to be mostly clear with patches of slushy ice and steam rising from it.  At least it wasn’t 20 below and the tires hadn’t frozen square this morning.  I felt a slight breeze and there was some chill but not cold enough to freeze snot to my upper lip from my runny nose.  I mention this slight breeze with trepidation because we Wyomingites know that if you say out loud that the wind isn’t blowing badly, it hears you and starts roaring. If you’ve ever felt the bite of Wyoming’s hurricane like, bone-chilling, Arctic wind, you’ll understand why we don’t speak of it when it’s not blowing.  No reason to tempt a torrid, hypothermic, cyclonic, speedy gale to come up and ruin the day.

Winter had been progressing for several months in this high plains area of central Wyoming, and it still had a few months to go.   The vegetation was bare.  Dead looking scrubs clustered together in bunches against the snow. They were waiting for a distant Spring but now each created their own wind chiseled drift.  The snows had come. The wind had blown. Snow drifts had been sculpted.  They really can be beautiful if a person isn’t trudging through them on foot.  They were especially pretty today.  Each little drift piled deeply next to dried stalks of last Summer’s grass, other bare brush, and fence posts or trees.  Each drift’s tail stringing  away and becoming narrower. The light dancing off every undulating drift showing different contours and colors.

Deer were standing and feeding in the snow off in the distance finding what shrubs and burnished gold grasses protruded.  I could see a lighter sky towards town but still mostly cloud covered with just a hint of blue trying to appear.  A reddish splash of color was appearing on the snow covered distant hills as the sun was moving lower and some rays of light were barely peeping through.

Not far from the edge of the pavement where I had pulled over, I checked out a couple of Mule Deer. I could see why they were called Mule Deer with those giant muley ears which constantly moved independently. They had a dark V-shaped mark extending from between the eyes upward and laterally which is more conspicuous in males. Their white muzzles accenting their dark mostly black, shiny noses. I jumped out of my vehicle as my camera, hanging from its strap around my neck, banged against my chest. Fortunately, my heavy coat protected me from camera bruises. I began taking my usual not so good pictures but still visualizing magazine covers portraying Superman bucks.

Not so much a great photo but fun anyway.

Suddenly a dog spooked the deer from up above.  Several bucks, many with  large pointy antlers, started quickly streaming down out of a copse of dark green pines where they had been leisurely keeping out of site and spending their time.   There were more large bucks than I had ever seen before at one time.  Surprisingly, as I rarely get lucky with picture opportunities, many of the bucks came my way,  one following the other, their super-sized antlers silhouetted against the snow, each with all four legs hitting the ground together. They bounced and lifted themselves high as they churned through the icy white stuff in my direction.

My thought was, “hey, this is me. Nothing this neat happens to me. Better take advantage of it, but, then again, this is me, so I’ll probably mess it up”.

Those bucks continued flying down the hill, hooves whipping and throwing white snow as they glided my way. Their muscular legs propelled them at incredible speed. Maybe they weren’t traveling as fast as a speeding bullet but their powerful legs, like a locomotive, would not be stopped.  They leaped over a log rail fence that wasn’t as tall as a building but was as least as tall as they were.  Some would squat bending their hind legs down and launch up and over the fence in one giant Superman leap.  I had the the camera on continuous shoot and just let it fire.  Some bucks I caught in flight over the fence, most I did not.

Preparing to launch!

Launched!  Able to leap tall fences in a single bound.

After crossing the rail fence, some milled around seemingly ready to settle down.   Some bucks even used their hoofs to paw the snow in search of a morsel of food. The air was distinctly scented with the odor of deer as the breeze carried that smell to my olfactory nerves. This was only the calm before the storm.

Settling down but still aware.

The dogs from further up the hill by the red-roofed barn began running around the singular human in the corral. They were in a frenzy and barked and played.  The bucks, with extremely acute hearing, quickly raised their mighty antlered heads to determine the direction of the playing pups.

Those magnificent deer, faster than a speeding bullet, were off a second time and raced toward the road and the barbed wire fence. Would that string of steel barbs stop them? No! They leaped and flew over the jagged strands with ease in continuous motion as if the three strings of wire weren’t there, more graceful than Superman running hurdles. Pure beauty of flying and none of them needed a cape as they soared.  A site to behold.

I had no time to focus and shoot each individual. Fortunately, my camera was still set on the continuous shutter setter. Watching and anticipating the area they were going to jump, I prefocused and used auto exposure.  As the first buck came into my viewfinder, I released the shutter button and held it down enjoying not only the bucks but the beautiful sound of the camera  shutter firing.   I missed a lot those critters as so many were vaulting the fence.   I did manage to bumble and stumble my way to a few good pictures but only because the camera kept shooting as long as I held the shutter release.  This day I really appreciated camera technology.


I kept shooting until the grand animals had all leaped the fences bordering each side of the road and had run off into the distant pines at the base of Casper Mountain, their white rumps with black, tipped tails waving at me as they disappeared from site leaving only tracks and a faint musky scent.

I stood transfixed in total awe at what I had witnessed. My breath showing as a white fog tasting like clean, clear, ice as the temperature had begun to drop.  Never in a million years did I expect to witness such a parade of bucks.  But I did!!  Willie Sutton might have been right about banks being where the money is.  I was right about where the deer are. To say I felt exuberant and excited was belittling those words.  Photography in central Wyoming is alive and well.  Probably none of the pictures from today will appear on Field and Stream magazine but all to remain in my and my computer’s memory.

Superman be jealous of these bucks running as fast as a speeding camera, being more powerful like a locomotive, able to leap tall fences at a single bound.

Please visit my web site at for these and other wildlife photographs.  Please skip back through the other galleries also.

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