Aaron Burnett Photography: Blog http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Aaron Burnett Photography aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Tue, 05 Jan 2016 06:45:00 GMT Tue, 05 Jan 2016 06:45:00 GMT http://aaronburnettphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u1041085566-o705407754-50.jpg Aaron Burnett Photography: Blog http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog 96 120 My Montana - Top 10 Images from 2015 http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/12/top-10-images-from-2015 Montana is an amazingly beautiful state. We have mountains, lakes, rivers and prairies, and wildlife seemingly filling all those spots. We have Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks as well as over 50 state parks all within the 150,000 square miles which is Montana. I see amazing photos from some amazing photographers of Glacier and Yellowstone Parks, but as amazing as they are, and as skilled at their craft as each photographer is, I decided years ago that I wasn't going to shoot the same images as everyone else. As an example, just Google the words 'moulton barn' which is probably the most photographed barn in the world and it lives just outside Grand Teton National Park. You will see page after page of amazing images. I don't want to be one more on the pile.

I try to bring you what I call "My Montana"; that being, what an average hard-working Montana resident sees. Places that are rarely photographed because they are not a big name, or they are so obscure no one has ever heard of them, or in some cases are just not worth a photo except for maybe a few days a year. It's the benefit of being a resident here and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I picked these top 10 images based on a couple of factors. The first being audience approval (social media) and the second being how I felt while I was taking the image. If you would like to purchase any of the images in this post, simply click on the image and it will take you directly to my galleries where you will be able to see the different products offered for that image. Be sure to read this post to the end before you do, there's a special discount at the bottom. They do make terrific Christmas gifts if I do say so myself!

Montana Landscape PhotographySunset at the Parker Homestead 1. Parker Homestead in Three Forks, Montana

At one time this was a state park but due to costs of maintaining it, the land was sold to the abutting rancher where it is now left undisturbed as there is fencing around it. After many, many stops here, I finally caught the sunset I hoped for one day. I couldn't have been more pleased.

Montana Landscape PhotographyParadise Valley, Montana 2. Paradise Valley -  Just south of Livingston, Montana.

When I first moved to Montana I lived in this area. It can be one of the most beautiful places in Montana if not the country, and it can be one of the harshest as well. Springtime was always the ultimate rebirth after months and months of snow, high winds and freezing cold.

Montana Landscape PhotographyIn Memoriam 3. In Memoriam

When I originally shot this image I had no idea why there was a bouquet sitting on the rock. Shortly thereafter I found out it was the spot where a little girl lost her life to the river and her dad had placed the bouquet there. I held on to the image for a few weeks, hesitant to post it for fear of making anyone sad. I finally did post it, with a respectful tribute. Within a few hours the image had gone viral, local news stations picked it up and more of the story made it my way from friends of the little girl's family. The little girl's mom reached out to me the same day, graciously thanking me for sharing the image and tribute and asked if she could purchase a print. I of course refused her request as I wouldn't hear of such a thing. About a week later my girlfriend and I stopped by their home and delivered a beautiful canvas print of this image to the family. Wonderful people during extremely trying times.

FishermanFisherman 4. Fisherman

I spend a lot of time around rivers. I love the moving water, the tiny slices of time that move past you never to be repeated, how the sound of the rushing water vanishes after a while of being there so you can hear a pin drop on the other side. I'm fairly certain this heron was thinking the same thing. Or maybe about a fish.

Montana Landscape PhotographyHarrison Lake I 5. Harrison Lake

This one is purely a personal favorite of mine. I had never been to this lake prior to this day, so I loaded my gear and my dogs and headed out for a sunset shoot. We had about an hour to kill before sunset and as I looked around at what is basically a barren landscape and a hole in the ground with water, the light took enough of a change where (in my opinion) the beauty of this little lake came out.

 

Montana Wildlife PhotographySunset Pronghorn 6. Pronghorn at Sunset

I had seen this guy several times but could never get close enough for a decent shot. He's easy to recognize because of his offset horns. He was so distracted by another buck that was approaching, I could finally get within shooting distance for this image as he stood in the late-season grasses at sunset.

7. Worth It

I stood on the two foot wide ledge with one leg of my tripod in the water and hoped that neither me nor my gear slipped and ended up in the water. More times than not, I am alone when I go out shooting so I try not to take any unnecessary chances. I have passed on some amazing shots because of that mindset, but it's probably worth it in the long run.

Dream OnDream On 8. Dream On

I can never get enough of photographing the Bighorn Sheep. This guy, obviously exhausted from the rut, just couldn't keep his eyes open. He napped through some snow squalls, me making all sorts of noise, and other bighorns walking by him as he dozed. After about 20 minutes or so, he got up, stretched and started grazing.

 

Montana Ghost Town PhotographyAbandoned in Pony, Montana 9. Abandoned in Pony, Montana

Montana has lots and lots of ghost towns. I would venture a guess that most of them were former communities brought on by the discovery of gold during the gold rush years. As the gold was depleted, the towns were abandoned. Pony, Montana is one such town.

Montana Landscape PhotographyAbandoned Farm Equipment 10. Abandoned Farm Equipment

I'm a sucker for sunsets, for the symbolic end of the day, for that time where things slow way down and the noise of the day vanishes. Throw in some abandoned equipment and the opportunity is irresistable to me.

I hope you enjoyed the top 10 for this year, and if you've read this far and wish to buy any image in my galleries, here's a thank you of a 20% discount on your entire order. Just select whatever products you are interested in and at checkout use the code 'TOP10' to get 20% off your entire order. This offer expires at midnight (Mountain Time) December 14th.

You can see all my work right here.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Missouri River MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography abandoned deserted montana mountains photography sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/12/top-10-images-from-2015 Tue, 08 Dec 2015 06:54:10 GMT
Aftermath http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/aftermath AftermathAftermath The day was filled with one snow squall after another with about two minutes of clear skies and sunshine before the next squall moved in. The squalls didn't leave much snow behind but was more of a reminder of things to come over the next few months or so.

This was my first time out shooting with a red filter which makes blues (like the sky) almost black and really helps bring out the detail in a black and white image.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography montana mountains snow snow squall http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/aftermath Sat, 28 Nov 2015 01:03:21 GMT
Deserted http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/deserted Montana Landscape PhotographyAbandoned Farm Equipment Montana is loaded with abandoned things. Homes, equipment, cars, trucks... you name it. If you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, there's not much you can do with old farming gear other than letting the elements eventually reclaim it.

The early homesteaders that took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 faced a pretty harsh environment. Some stayed and flourished, some just packed up and left everything behind. The gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s built towns in the middle of nowhere that at one time were bustling communities. As the gold dried up, the towns were deserted. Many of those towns or remnants of them, still stand today.

Unlike major metropolitan areas that systematically get torn down and rebuilt, thus hiding the history to all but the historians, Montana is like an open book. One where the stories are right out in the open for you to read.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography deserted montana sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/deserted Sun, 15 Nov 2015 15:23:53 GMT
Abandoned in Pony http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/abandoned-in-pony Montana Ghost Town PhotographyAbandoned in Pony, Montana

Pony, Montana is a tiny little town in southwest Montana. It is a former prosperous gold mining town which boasted nearly 5000 residents in the late 1800s. It is almost a ghost town today save for its 150 or so residents. Many fine homes and buildings sit abandoned as well as a ramshackle assortment of failed businesses in the center of town and less than spectacular housing on the edges that have been long abandoned.

Although I have seen it referenced as a 'ghost town', I really don't see it that way. There are some beautiful homes, a few thriving businesses and people call the town home. The ghost towns I have visited in Montana usually have less than 1 resident.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography abandoned ghost town montana pony http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/11/abandoned-in-pony Fri, 06 Nov 2015 05:33:28 GMT
Harrison Lake at Sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/10/harrison-lake-at-sunset Montana Landscape PhotographyHarrison Lake III About an hour later than Monday's image, I walked to the narrow end of Harrison Lake in hopes that the setting sun would give me a burst of color before dark. Because it was rather flat and overcast I wasn't holding out much hope.

Just after the sun dropped behind the Tobacco Root Mountains I was rewarded with this view. On a first trip to a location I don't think I could have asked for anything more.

For any of you photographer types, this is a composite of five images, each one taken at different exposures to capture the details in the shadows as well as balancing out the brightness of the setting sun. The human eye can adjust to this range of light and darkness, but a camera's sensor for the most part tends to either make the shadows too dark or blow out the light parts rendering a not-so-good image. You can also use various filters to achieve a similar image in one frame, but I chose to do the composite for this one.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Harrison Lake MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography lake montana sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/10/harrison-lake-at-sunset Wed, 21 Oct 2015 04:24:16 GMT
Harrison Montana http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/10/harrison-montana Harrison Lake IHarrison Lake IHarrison Lake

About 45 miles southwest of my home is a little town called Harrison. Harrison has a population of about 175 people. Like I said, it is a little town.

As you enter the town there is one sign with an arrow pointing left to Harrison Lake. I have seen the sign many times before but usually I am on my way somewhere else so never got the chance to see the lake itself. I made a point of going there specifically last week around sunset (big surprise, a sunset!).

The lake is filled by runoff from the eastern slopes of the Tobacco Root mountains. It seems to be popular with fisherman and recreational boaters. Fortunately, the lake was pretty much empty except for a few people. At first glance, it's not an attractive lake. There's no trees to speak of, the sun rises and sets at the narrowest ends, no big rocks, just sort of desolate. I wasn't going home empty-handed though.

With my gear on my back I walked quite a bit of the lake and first stopped and set up at the widest point of the lake. The light was flat so I spent some time just looking for the right composition. This was my first image. The Tobacco Root mountains are in the background. If you look closely you can see some cattle grazing and a person in a small boat at the shore in the center. I really like this image for the earth tones and the great reflection.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Harrison Lake MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography lake montana http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/10/harrison-montana Mon, 19 Oct 2015 05:08:18 GMT
Roots http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/roots Montana Landscape PhotographyRoots I have a soft spot for the Missouri River. It actually starts here in Montana and travels 2300 miles or so before it ends in St. Louis, Missouri. It doesn't get near the coverage of the other famous rivers here, the Yellowstone, the Madison, the Big Hole and many, many others. It did play a huge part in settling Montana in the late 1800s as ships brought goods, people and livestock up and down the river long before the trains were brought in.

I've seen quite a bit of this river. It supports an amazing amount of wildlife, assorted vegetation and trees, and lots of recreation. But for the most part, it stays quiet all your 'round. And that's okay with me.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Missouri River MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography montana photography sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/roots Tue, 29 Sep 2015 04:53:32 GMT
Between the Deadfall http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/between-the-deadfall Montana Landscape PhotographyBetween the Deadfall When I first moved to Montana I lived about 1/2 mile from the Yellowstone River. In 2013 I moved to a new location about 1/2 mile from the Missouri River, which by the way, is formed here in Montana before it starts it's 2300 mile journey to St. Louis. 

I am a huge fan of moving water, both as a fly fisherman and a photographer. The river is constantly changing the banks that confine it, the flow may change, the flora and fauna that rely on it change constantly. No two days are exactly alike along a river.

At some point the river claimed these two trees and for now they lie together on the shore while the river is at it's lowest point. I climbed between them and looked out at the moving water that had brought them here.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Missouri River MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography montana photography river sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/between-the-deadfall Thu, 24 Sep 2015 04:55:51 GMT
Parker Homestead at Sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/parker-homestead-at-sunset Montana Landscape PhotographySunset at the Parker Homestead

I chase sunsets. Some photographers chase sunrises, some do both. It's an all or nothing venture, and you never really know what is going to happen until it does or doesn't present a brief moment for a photograph.

I went out Saturday at about 4:00 PM in the hopes of finding some nice snow-capped mountains that would reflect the setting sun. I drove two hours west, the clouds thickened, the potential for a colorful sunset diminished. I stopped to photograph some deer, convinced myself it was just nice to get out and at least see that, and headed home.

Passing by this homestead which I have photographed several times, I decided to stop as there were some breaks in the clouds. I took a few hand-held shots about 15 minutes before this image but it wasn't looking promising but decided to wait it out a bit and set up my gear just in case. 

The sun dropped below the horizon and I waited and paced back and forth along the barbed wire fence. And as if there was a big switch somewhere, the next time I looked I was presented with this shot. I was grinning the rest of the way home.

I don't know many things about sunsets, but I have learned to wait until you can't see anything in front of you before you pack it up for the day.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography abandoned homestead montana photography sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/parker-homestead-at-sunset Mon, 21 Sep 2015 03:41:52 GMT
Finally http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/finally

 

After a very dry summer we have had a few welcome days of cloudy weather with a fair amount of rain this week. The trails have been muddy, the dogs have been damp for 72 hours at least, and the nighttime temperatures have been perfect for sleeping.

I stood on my front porch at sunset last evening just as the clouds were beginning to break. For a brief moment I could see the first snow-capped peak of the season ahead of me catching the last light of the day.

My favorite time of the year is rapidly approaching. The summer heat is over, the insects go away, rattlesnakes stay underground, and my two arctic breed dogs can once again breathe easy and run all over Montana. We've got about the next seven months of pure heaven ahead of us!

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography montana mountains photography snow sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/finally Fri, 18 Sep 2015 04:04:32 GMT
Another Ugly Sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/another-ugly-sunset Montana Landscape Photography  I went out early evening yesterday and scouted out a new spot along the Missouri River that I hadn't been to before. The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. The Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri.

This image was taken less than 1/8th of a mile where the Madison and Jefferson Rivers combine to form the Missouri River. The Gallatin river joins it about 1 mile further southeast from where I was.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) Missouri River MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography montana sunset http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/another-ugly-sunset Fri, 11 Sep 2015 05:25:05 GMT
Rodeo Days http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/rodeo-days Montana rodeo photography

Yesterday I shot my last rodeo for the year, and as always, I am in awe of the cowboys and cowgirls that participate in the events.

Roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding or bronc riding, never let anyone tell you that these folks are not athletes. The livestock like this bull has been bred to be the best bull it can be in the ring. The power and agility of these huge beasts is amazing as well.

In this event, the rider needs to stay on the bull for eight seconds in order to obtain a score. I would bet this would be the longest eight seconds of my life. Not that I could even last two :)

The gentleman on the left in the white shirt is a bullfighter. Their job is to keep the rider safe once he is off the bull, This usually entails stepping between the rider who is often on the ground, and an awfully angry bull. The riders rely heavily on the bullfighters for there is always that moment where the rider, especially if thrown off the bull, is vulnerable to getting hurt.

Enjoy the ride!

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) MontanaMoment aaron burnett photography bull bull riding montana rodeo http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2015/9/rodeo-days Tue, 08 Sep 2015 04:53:26 GMT
Losing Your Memories http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/7/losing-memories Montana Ghost Town PhotographyAbandoned Grain Elevator

When my father passed almost 25 years ago, some of the keepsakes he had was a photo album and thousands of color slides that he shot over many decades. He was a good photographer but because he had to raise a family, photographed a lot of boring, cookie-cutter events that he would sell to the local paper if he was lucky. He also shot weddings and bar-mitzvahs. Those all saw the scrap heap without ever being viewed. What was left was friends, family and memories.

I once tortured my wife and made her sit through a viewing of the slides. I had set up the screen, turned on my dad's old projector and loaded them up. In all honesty, there wasn't enough wine in the house, or maybe the whole city, to get through all of them. But there were these shining moments within the 1000s of fairly mundane slides. Family long since passed, friends, and memories of some sort of event, be it a road trip or just a trip to get ice cream in our old jalopy Ford station wagon.

I paw through the photo album occasionally, probably when I am missing him, and the photos never fail to bring forth some sort of response or emotion from me. All black and white, almost all of them before I came along. It's a time machine of sorts.

In the last 12 months I shot over 10,000 photos. I know people that shoot many more than that as well. They're in digital format obviously because except for the occasional film enthusiast, everyone shoots in digital now. There's a lot of warmth, feeling, and even charm to shooting film, but just like CDs replacing vinyl, digital photography has replaced film for all practical matters.

So what are we going to hand down to our children and grandchildren? Our nieces and nephews?

Most people are one hard-drive or smart phone failure away from losing every photo they have ever taken. History being wiped out in an instant, never to be recovered. 

I have a photo of my dad from 1930. He was five years old. It's really frayed, the paper yellowed, but it's him from 84 years ago. How many five year-olds that have their picture taken today will be able to leave that for their children in 84 years? I would bet that number would be in the 1/100ths of 1% at best.

I have no solution for our short-term hold on history. Maybe take a CD down to your local Walmart once a month and get cheap prints made or do like I, and many photographers do and not only vault your photos but back them up locally as well as to an offsite backup company?

It'll be a shame when the decades are erased by technology.

 

 

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) aaron burnett photography film history memories montana photography http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/7/losing-memories Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:34:57 GMT
You Can't Go Home Again http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/6/you-cant Montana Landscape PhotographyDevil's Canyon II A couple of months ago I spent quite a bit of time going through my work from three and four years ago. Some of the images I was still quite happy with, but others I see where I could have done better. Sometimes it was composition, or lighting, or post-processing, other times it was the subject or the circumstance, or as hard as it is to admit, my technical ability that wasn't quite right. This forced me to pare down my galleries and be more honest with myself as to what images I want on someone's wall as an example of my work. I think this type of introspection is a good thing in general.

Of the wildlife images that I felt I could have done better, I can only look forward to my next encounter. There's no do overs with wildlife. Of my landscape work, many will never be even close to repeatable unless I figure out how to manipulate weather and the seasons, but I did realize I could at least go back to the same location and make another attempt.

This is Devil Canyon in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on the Montana/Wyoming border. The first time I was at this spot the month was September, close to sundown and I took what I thought was a real nice image of the canyon. I still like the image and left it in my gallery, but when the opportunity came to re-shoot the canyon, I had to try it again. Only this time it was in early May.

Instead of sparkling blue-green water of the Shoshone, it was brown from the winter runoff. Instead of waiting for the "Golden Hour" before and after sundown, it was early afternoon. But I wasn't leaving without some images, good or bad.

The last time I was at this spot, I took the image hand-held in relatively low light. I picked the best of the shots from that day and processed it until I was satisfied, and like I said, I still like the image. But this time I set my gear up on a tripod, used a remote shutter to minimize any chance of camera shake and fired off about 50 frames while changing focal length, exposure, and focal points. I already knew how I was going to put this image together to get the end result I wanted.

In post-processing I picked five images that varied only by exposure and focal point and blended them together to give you the image you see above. The five images revealed what the shadows were hiding on the left side of the canyon walls and allowed the background to be almost as sharp as the foreground giving a lot of depth to the canyon.

Do I wish I had done this technique the first time I was here? Sure, at least the tripod part. Will I look back at this image in X years and roll my eyes at all the technical stuff that could have been better? I may.

But for now, I'm thrilled with the opportunity to retrace my steps once in a while and see if I can outdo myself.

 

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) aaron burnett photography montana http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/6/you-cant Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:16:25 GMT
Stolen http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/2/stolen

Late Wednesday afternoon I noticed something on a utility pole that I couldn't make out as I drove by. I turned around and could see that it was an eagle that had met it's demise. I didn't have a camera with me and couldn't quite make out what I was looking at. I assumed that another eagle had attacked it over food or territory. A sad event.

Thursday morning on my way into town, with a camera and telephoto lens, I stopped once again. I immediately realized the poor guy had been electrocuted while he was having his rabbit dinner which he was still clutching in one talon.

One of my friends suggested I call Montana Fish and Wildlife and let them know what I found. I didn't think they would be interested at all seeing the eagle wasn't tagged, but much to my surprise they put me through to a biologist, Claire Gowen, who was very interested. I sent Claire the photo and gave her other information on the location and other details. Claire was very familiar with the area, she even knew there was a mated pair of bald eagles in the area and she was concerned this may be one of them.

Claire told me she would call the power company as it is their responsibility to remove it as well as either upgrade the pole so the birds can't get electrocuted or to add a deterrent so they can't land on it. She also told me that a game warden will be present to take possession of the eagle once they brought it down.

Ms. Gown called me back in a short while to confirm that all the gears are in motion and the proper authorities will all do their job as she had explained. Shortly thereafter the biologist from the power company called me back to thank me and assure me that they will remedy the situation with the poles being dangerous as well as tell me that a crew has been dispatched already. He also seemed very sincere and concerned for the safety.

The game warden met them there, and as it turns out, because the eagle didn't need to have a necropsy performed, the warden was going to bring it to one of the local Native American tribes. The Native Americans still use many parts of the eagle in their customs and they are the only people allowed to legally possess an eagle. So, at least parts of the eagle will live on.

On a personal note, there are many times where just like a newspaper photographer out on beat, I take photos of things that make me sad, or situations I don't agree with, and I have to remind myself that the job of a photographer is to simply document without prejudice.

 

 

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) aaron burnett photography bald eagle eagle montana http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2014/2/stolen Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:40:01 GMT
2013 Year in Review http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/12/2013-year-review For me personally, 2013 was a year of some pretty big changes. One of the biggest events was purchasing a house with 10 acres of good old rocky Montana soil beneath my feet. My long term goal will be to convert at least a small part of it to a more sustainable lifestyle. Raise some vegetables and a few animals to supplement the normal grocery store habit. Of course, my life needs to slow down a little bit before then, but I have time.

 

The huge plus side of buying the house has been that it has forced me to explore new areas of Montana that previously I had only driven through on my way to somewhere else. This aspect has been very rewarding, maybe more for my soul than my photography, but I let other people decide that.

 

This past year was also a huge learning year for me. I took fewer photographs (only about 10,000) than the previous few years, listened carefully to other photographer's advice, read tons of articles and blogs pertaining to photography and constructively critiqued myself without beating myself up. All in all, I'm happy with the results.

 

When I was deciding what photos to represent the year, I chose ones that meant something a bit more than just a photograph to me rather than choosing by sales or number of likes or comments. I love going out and capturing the world around me, but the ones that really stand out to me have a little something extra attached to them. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have enjoyed capturing the tiny slice of time.

Montana Landscape PhotographyWaiting for the Magic Hour There is a state park about 15 miles from my house. It doesn't get a lot of visitors. So few in fact that the state wanted to close it down for lack of interest and waste of dollars. At the last minute it was given a reprieve. Except for peak tourist months, it is rare to run into more than one or two other people. Perhaps the "Beware of Rattlesnakes" signs don't help it's popularity. But for the dogs and I, especially in the winter months, it's a beautiful place to take a deep breath and feel like you are on top of the world.

 

Great Horned Owl with OwletGreat Horned Owl with Owlet Finding an owl to photograph had always eluded me. This past April I discovered this Great Horned Owl and her two owlets and made almost daily trips back to the nest area to watch them grow and eventually leave the nest. There were many days that I watched them for hours and never took a photograph. This, for me, was a huge treat.


SoloSolo

I try to be very spare in my use of black-and-white photos. It is too easy to become gimmicky, trying to be too hip or trendy. This was one of those moments that as I was composing this image, I did so with having it in black-and-white as the final product. For me, all the elements had lined up perfectly before I even got there. All I had to do was point the camera.

 

Montana Wildlife PhotographySpringtime Grizzly Taken in Springtime, this was my first Grizzly outside of Yellowstone Park that I was close enough to photograph without it looking like a black dot on the landscape, but not too close that I needed to remove myself in a hurry. I hadn't been looking for bears that day, and considered this a gift.


Montana rodeo photographySometimes you're the matador...
As I have said many a time, I'm an east coast boy just trying to make his way in Montana. Rodeos were as foreign to me as being stranded in outer Mongolia would be. The first summer I was here my friends took me to one, and I was hooked. These guys and gals that participate do things to their bodies constantly that I couldn't have done once in my prime. And unlike a 9-to-5 job where you get a paycheck for just showing up, these folks don't make a penny unless they place. For someone like me who defines time in 1/2500th of a second intervals, rodeos are the most action-packed event I could imagine, This steer wrestler didn't take a check home that day.

 

Love is in the AirLove is in the Air Bighorn Sheep. By far my favorite of the ungulates to photograph. In late fall they come down from the mountains to find a mate and do the deed. Although you need to keep your distance, they are very accommodating for photographers as a rule. The adults are way too distracted to care about you, plus I am pretty sure they realize they can flatten the average human without much trouble. The lambs are ridiculously cute and equally curious. Many times I have had to back away as a lamb will approach me to check me out. The last thing I want is mommma coming over to stomp my lights out!

 


This is a very recent image. This image was a direct result of many of the things I learned from other people this year. A lesson to remind me not to let my ego or preconceptions get in my way. On a personal note, I couldn't have been more thrilled with the way this photo turned out.

 

Montana Wildlife PhotographyWhite-tail fawn sticking his tongue out The day that I captured this little fawn I was trying to find a back way into a tiny deserted town which unbeknownst to me had been recently purchased and fenced off from the public. My attempt to access the town was a failure but coming face to face with this creature wiped any feeling of failure away.

 

 

 

Montana Landscape PhotographyCold Steel

Another relatively recent image. Along the Missouri river about 35 miles west of Bozeman, the tracks go from two (one in each direction) to just the one track. The trains run slowly through this area as they are waiting for signals and switches and other train stuff. I discovered this stretch quite accidentally and planned to return when the weather had finally cleared about a week later. The day the sun finally came out it was -25˙F (-31˙C). and crystal clear. When I got to this spot and saw how perfectly the tracks were lit and reflecting the blue sky, I was giddy. I sat down between the two rails (I forgot my tripod) to steady the camera the best I could, and took about 15 frames over the course of the next half hour as the light changed ever so slightly with each passing minute. It took me the rest of the day to warm back up.

 

This was another of the big events for me this year. My adult dog, Noodles, has been with me for the last seven years. She is the best dog I have ever owned. Perpetually young at heart and full of energy, I had decided to get her a companion. Levon joined us in September after being on a waiting list for nearly a year. He's shaping up to be a fine boy as well. Now in the mornings I watch them both run, chase, play and wrestle each other for a couple of hours before their breakfast. It does my heart good to see Noodles having the type of fun a human just can't contribute.

 

I hope you enjoyed my 2013 review. Thank you so much for all your support.

 

May 2014 bring you much happiness.

 

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) aaron burnett photography bear bighorn bighorn sheep black and white buffalo jump state park fawn great horned owl grizzly grizzly bear landscape missouri river montana nature owl owlet photography river rodeo samoyed samoyed puppy sheep sunrise sunset wildlife http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/12/2013-year-review Mon, 30 Dec 2013 04:29:44 GMT
Seeing the shot http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/7/seeing-shot

Not to open up the debate of whether an image is "legit" or not based on the photographer's use of Photoshop (or whatever editing software), I wanted to talk a bit about the image that I had posted Monday on my Facebook page.

When I was looking at the moon and sky along with the hills in the frame, I knew right away that color was not the way to go long before I pressed the shutter. I shoot in RAW format which doesn't allow you to take a photo in black and white, but most digital cameras will allow you to shoot both RAW and JPEG at the same time, so the RAW image has all the color information and the JPEG comes out in black and white. Pretty spiffy, I think.

I used the black and white JPEG as a guideline or model for how I wanted the finished product to look. A RAW file allows you to do infinitely more adjustments to the image than possible with a JPEG. The bottom image is how it came straight from the camera while the top image was the post-production version that I posted. As you can see, I evened out the light in the sky, brought a lot of definition out in the moon, and sharpened up the hills a bit while still retaining some light in the foreground of the hills. I also removed the house and cars on bricks in the bottom middle. I didn't really see those until I got the image on my computer!

So, here's a case where a color image was pretty heavily edited to make a monochrome image the way I envisioned it before I took the photo. Knowing how you would like to see the finished product turn out before you take the image and having it turn out like you envisioned is pretty cool. Some people look down their noses at such editing. 

Another style of editing I (and many, many photographers) do to my work is to accurately reflect exactly what I saw at the moment of the shot. A camera can only accurately capture what you see up to a certain point and the image will need some help to look as close as possible to what you saw.

Those are primarily the two reasons I edit my photos (aside from cropping and other basic stuff) and I'm very much okay with those reasons and the results. No amount of editing will turn a crap photo into a good photo. In the above case, I think the editing took a not bad photo with lots of potential and turned it into a passable work at least. I'm always learning and looking for ways to improve my skills.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/7/seeing-shot Tue, 23 Jul 2013 23:10:00 GMT
f/8 and be there http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/7/f8-and-be-there

The story goes that a famous photographer was once asked how he caught so many amazing images. The answer of "f/8 and be there" has been attributed to several different photographers, but the important thing is the message; It is more important to be on the scene than it is to worry about all the technical details.

I've mentioned before that I consider myself a photographer of opportunity. It's rare that I set out to capture something in particular, wait any amount of time, and then get the shot. I don't have the attention span nor patience for that most of the time. I hope to "be there" more often than not.

For me, this shot represents a probable once in a lifetime shot. As I was walking home past sundown a thunderstorm had moved in, soaking both me and the dog. I've gotten pretty good at keeping my camera dry when I am ill prepared fortunately. As the storm moved by, one last bit of light was reflected from the west and this rainbow appeared for maybe 10 seconds.

Horrible conditions for photography. Almost no light, very slow shutter and high ISO. Hence the graininess in the image. I doubt I will ever have the chance for a 'do over' of anything even close to this. But I was 'there'.

Being out there is the challenge that I bet all photographers face. Those lucky enough to make their livelihood from photography can only be in one place at a time. Those like me that still have to work a nine-to-five job struggle to get some free time with the camera after work and on weekends, which coincides with when people, dogs, and chores also demand your attention as well.

Probably for me the hardest part to accept is when being there doesn't work out. Nothing photo-worthy to shoot. I recently spent a day in the mountains, no dog to distract me, no phone service. Although it was a pretty area, it wasn't a "I want to capture this to keep forever" type of location. Even the wildlife stayed home that day. A day off from work with no gain other than fresh air.

But that makes shots like the one above that much sweeter.

The weather for the last week or so has been unbearable as a heatwave has gripped the western US. You just know it's going to be a scorcher when the temperature went from 57˙ to 81˙ in under an hour the other morning. I have to admit to hiding indoors during this relentless heat. I'm pretty sure my dog will melt in another day or so, so she is none to eager to venture out during the day either. Doesn't make for many new photographs though.

ps. Google fooled me with their wording and I accidentally wiped out the photos on the previous posts.

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aaron@aaronburnettphotography.com (Aaron Burnett Photography) http://aaronburnettphotography.com/blog/2013/7/f8-and-be-there Tue, 02 Jul 2013 22:31:00 GMT