Badlands, Good Advice

We’re heading out west before long to visit our daughter and her family in South Dakota. She keeps telling us “tell me what you want to do” and so I’m telling her: I want to visit the Badlands.

But where, when and how? Of course, I’d like to see it under dramatic lighting from a prime vantage point at the end of a five mile hike and come back with prize-winning pictures. But I’d also like to fly like a bird and win the lottery.

Not gonna happen. We just won’t have time to do much more than a quick auto-tour on the main roads. So who knows the lay of that land from all angles? Probably the photographers who shoot it every day.

So I emailed a couple, and got some good advice from Kevin at Living Wilderness, and from Johnny at Dakota Skies Photography. And now I have an idea of where to be when for the possibility of some “improved snapshots” (even without my damaged favorite lens along.)

My daughter had met Johnny some while back, and knowing of my interest in landscape photography, she has kept up with him as they both live in the same part of the state. I’ll hope to visit his studio briefly while we’re out there. Do stop by his diverse online galleries and admire.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Oh man, I am envious! Badlands is great; I wish I was going. Maybe there’ll be baby bison –it seems like it might be that time of year. Will you be driving through Custer, too?