Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vacation in Sioux Falls and the Badlands

My trip started in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My sister lives there and it was time I paid her a visit. The falls run through downtown Sioux Falls. We walked around Falls Park for a while. It was cloudy and a little chilly (well, for this Florida girl it felt chilly.)

The next morning we got up early to drive across the state to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. We had to stop at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (rest stop, Yea! bathrooms) in Chamberlain. It sits over a bluff looking down on the Missouri River. It was cloudy and cold. We didn't walk around too long here.

We make it several hours later to the entrance of the  Badlands National Park. Yes, the sun came out for us. It warmed up to a little over 70 degrees. It was a perfect day for the Badlands. The first thing you pull into is a boardwalk that goes out over a large portion of the mountains.

After driving down a hill, we stopped at the only lodge in the park and had lunch,

We continued on through the park stopping to get out and walk around at all of the viewpoints. There were beautiful yellow wildlflowers everywhere.

The sections near the end of the park had the prettiest color.

I spent 5 days roadtripping around South Dakota with my sister. It is a beautiful state. One regret was that I was too late for the sunflowers. We passed hundreds of miles of sunflower fields that were almost dead. But the nice thing about going in September is all of those summer tourists are gone. Nothing was crowded. The weather was perfect and stayed warm most of the trip.  More on wild animals in the park, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park later.

Photo things I learned after my trip:

1)Don't go to cool landscape parks without a wide angle lens. I should have at least rented one. My regular 18mm - 105mm lens did not do the scenery justice. 

2)Should I have taken a polarized lens filter? I have one I bought to take to the beach but only used it a few times. I felt like it made the shots less sharp.  I wonder if it would have cut out some of the haze that's in the 3rd and 4th picture. When I was editing, I couldn't seem to get rid of the haze where the sky meets the land in most of the pictures. Any suggestions?

3)Take my newly bought monopod with it's new ballhead. I bought it weeks before my trip to use in the parks when I'm hiking instead of lugging around my heavy tripod. I should have at least stuck it in my suitcase. It would have helped when it got rainy and cloudy and I was loosing sharpness.

4)Spend more time reading up on landscape photography, which isn't something I had been doing in the past (landscape photography that is, not reading). I should have studied up on how to pull out the colors and what settings I needed to be at more closely.

5)Slow down. I was always in a hurry because I wanted to see so much and fit too much in the trip. There was so much to see in the Black Hills.

These are just some of the things that came to my mind as I was editing and reading up on landscape photography. Now I'll know for future trips.


  1. your photos are still really beautiful, though. such a harsh but magnificent terrain. :)

  2. (and how fun to spend time with your sister!)

  3. Great pictures and good lessons!
    Thanks, marion

  4. what breathtaking views!
    SO lovely shots!
    great lessons, too.
    thanks for sharing.

    visiting via CC.

  5. I almost didn't recognize your post i'm so used to seeing your beautiful birds. I enjoy starting my day with them. When I went west last summer I used an 81a filter a lot to warm things up. I did not use a polarizing filter. I just have a panasonic lumix point and shoot . I seen to remember using aperture priority freqently and definately a tripod. a Great book for out there: Photographing the Southwest, Laurent Martres.

  6. sounds like an amazing trip....beautiful views!!