One of the biggest challenges that all of us photographers face is keeping occupied when not working on a specific project. Searching for material to work with, challenges to overcome and new images to capture is an ongoing pursuit that requires lots of time. For myself, it was the challenge of getting out while attending college classes. Now currently and for the last few months I have been on a leave from school taking a year off; however, this task of constantly practicing and shooting as much as possible has been made even harder while in Mammoth.
The presence of the blog and the need to fill that blog with new content has made it easier and harder to achieve such goals. It’s easier because it puts a pressure on oneself to get out shooting, but on the flip side it’s hard finding new content all the time. While in school in Bozeman the best solution came from weekend day excursions to Yellowstone’s north entrance. Driving the roads back and forth was a great way to find material. From landscapes to wildlife, the odds of finding something worthwhile to photograph are endless. This was the benefit of living close enough to a National Park to visit.
Yellowstone is an hour and a half from Bozeman to either the west or north entrance, but sometimes even that is too long to travel. National Parks and State Parks are great areas to find critters to photograph. For us wildlife photographers it’s great but not always does one find time to travel long distances to get said parks. One of my favorite places to go is over near Missoula a place called Lee Metcalf State Park.
It’s a great little marsh area that has numerous species and great scenery. The down side is that it’s over three hours away which means one day there is spent with six hours of driving.
The next best thing after parks, as far as I’m concerned, is looking for odd places nearby that repetitively change with every visit and I can think of two perfect examples.
When I first went to Montana the two common “themes” I had in mind were old buildings and rustic cars.
Now old buildings are easy to find, they are quite common but finding a multitude of them in one place is difficult. Thankfully my Dad recommended that I check out a place called Nevada City, a “ghost town” theme park. Several Years ago a very rich man decided he wanted to preserve the old buildings of Montana by bringing them all to one location where he turned it into a tourist spot. It became a very cool place with over a dozen different buildings including a barbershop, a feed and grain, a hotel and a railroad station with lots of cars. The amount of images there were endless.
The other spot I often traverse is right in my own backyard. Right outside Bozeman along the highway, is a junkyard filled with old cars varying in years, brands, and styles. I went there a multitude of times looking for different things to photograph. This last trip two very unique rather odd items appeared. A very small rusty tricycle and a Rolls Royce. I know weird right!
The tricycle was a tiny little thing hardly even noticeable but very cool. The Rolls Royce was even better, an actual Rolls Royce in Montana, how freaky is that. I mean of all places to find one in a junkyard. It was flat and rusty but hey it’s still a Rolls Royce! Neither one posed for great photographs but still just seeing them was really cool. It’s amazing the things that we find when driving around the country and the best part about junkyards is they are constantly changing.
Simple places that yielded great results and all of it was found just by driving around and searching online. That’s all it takes. Around Mammoth there are lots of great places from the mountains to the deserts there is always something to find. In fact ome of the best places are found just at our local fishing holes.
The places where Dad and I go fly fishing in summer, we go shooting whenever we need to get out of the office.
The Lakes Basin and June Lake Loop are two of our favorite spots especially this past fall when the color came in. Sunset at the Lakes Basin, which consists of six drive to lakes, can be magnificent. Out at the end of the road where the forest turns into a hiking trail is a spot with low water, high beaches and open sky. The opportunities are great, always something new to find. Over at June Lake is a narrow road that goes around the lakes through the canyon and out to the highway. Along the stretch is nothing but great fall color in the Aspen Trees, the boats in the lake and the people you meet while walking their dogs. Couldn’t ask for much more.
Lots of little areas are waiting to be explored if only one spends the time to find them. Many of the best areas to shoot are right in one’s backyard and that’s what’s so great about going out and exploring is finding those spots. The hardest part in this whole process is finding the time, but to truly get better at photography practice is needed and the best way is to explore. The best places are waiting around the corner, down the street, or over the bridge. If nothing else, no other reason to find new places, just getting out of the office for a couple hours makes any trip worthwhile.