Friday the 13th and Good Luck!!

Friday the 13th is supposed to be a bad luck day. I am not superstitious to any great degree so I decided I’d try and make it a lucky Friday the 13th photographic day. It had snowed a inch or so during the night. I suspected there might be more snow on Casper Mountain, and I might find something interesting to photograph. I made the short drive up there with camera ready.

I drove the twists and turns of the Mountain road while listening to the oldies station on the radio and keeping time to the songs by tapping my fingers on the steering wheel. It was another beautiful afternoon with fresh snow covering the pines, and I was feeling lucky. There wasn’t as much snow as I had hoped but still wanted to discover some new photographic sights. I had in mind going to one of my favorite places on the mountain at Tyler’s corner where there are stands of Quaking Aspen that are picturesque any time of the year. I had visions of the Quakies extending from snow cover stretching high into a dark blue Wyoming sky showing off their whitish bark and bare branches. Quaking Aspen is my favorite tree, and it’s delightful to photograph any time of the year. I suspected I could photograph them in some sort of scenic pose.

When I left Casper, the clouds had begun to break away, but I could see they had not totally moved off Casper Mountain. I hoped they would lift more by the time I arrived at Tyler’s Corner. Once there, the sun was playing hide and seek. More hide than anything. There were no shadows on the Quakies. I waited for a break in the clouds so the sun could peek through and make the snow sparkle and create shadows on the clumps of Quakies. It just didn’t happen. Had the bad luck of Friday the 13th been tossed at me by the fickle fates of the cloud gods? The sun never broke through, but I wasn’t going to give up and let bad luck win.

From out of my past came words to mind I had taught my students. Move in close, crop out, simplify. I don’t know how many times I had told my photography students those words. I think it was time I used them myself. I began to observe more closely what was there. Not just the big picture but I inspected more closely some of the less obvious conditions in the Quaky patch. What had I missed at other times I’d been here when I was photographing large scenic areas? My eyes scanned through the trees. Move in close, crop, simplify. There! Just on the edge, some initials carved in a tree. I had seen them many times in the past and ignored them. Now they stuck out and peeked my curiosity. I moved in close with my zoom lens and focused. Not a bad composition so I clicked the shutter. There was another not far away. Zoom, focus, click.

IMGP2332_3_4_tonemapped copy. Cropped


Who had carved these letters? How long had they been there? I had no idea but the letters had healed over and darkened, indicating they had been there for many years. Who was KR? Who was KIP? Here’s a mystery not to be solved by me, but they did create a lucky photographic opportunity. I zoomed in, simplified and cropped out.

Examining the area more, I found an old bird house. Its gray, weathered wood showed that it had been there a long time. The bottom was falling out, and I could see the old nest in the crack at its underside. If the bottom didn’t finish its descent to the ground sometime during the Winter, it would still be able to be a home for a bird family next Spring. Once again I simplified and cropped out.


The snow the previous night must have been a wetter snow than what we see later in the Winter. The Quakie trunk had been blasted by the wind and snow was pasted to the tree. Here was another interesting photo opportunity. There was no need to picture the entire tree. The snow plastered trunk was what I found interesting. Move in, crop out, simplify.


None of these pictures will ever be hung on someone’s wall as a work of art, but it was an outdoor experience that is more than photography. Photography is just a good reason to get out into the Wyoming mountains and experience a lifestyle that has entertained me for years. Friday the 13th was not a bad luck day. When a person is in the Wyoming mountains with their camera, bad luck is not allowed. Plus when we crop out and simplify, sometimes we end up with some not to bad pictures.

Please go to and view some photographs of mine that you might actually want to put on your walls.

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