Shooting Expeditions

Badlands of South Dakota

  • February 24, 2015

I spent a few days in Badlands National Park in south Dakota in mid-February.  It is an easily accessible area just south of I-90 in central South Dakota, and offers some truly unique and inspiring views of eroding land.  One does not need to venture on long hikes to see the beauty, as the highway through the park has parking areas, with overlooks.  As the peaks and valleys are too steep to climb, most of the viewing is very close to the road, with maybe a hike of 50 yards or so.  There are long hiking trails, but I did not have time to venture on those, so I do not know what they offer as far as scenery.

The weather did not cooperate very well, and I had very little light to work with–about four hours of sun on my second day, and about five hours on my third day–and I never had sun in the morning, which is where I needed it for many of the spots I found.  I did manage to choose some locations that worked in the late afternoon and evening, which is when I had nice light those two days.  I spent my time under the overcast skies scouting views, and following a small herd of Big Horn Sheep.  The diffused light of overcast skies can work well for wildlife.

Most of my images were taken by venturing where I could from the overlooks, or just pulling over to the side of the road and hiking as far into the bluffs as I could.  My only long hike was on the lower plains, as I wanted some images from the ground, looking up at the formations.  It seemed the sun was coming out as I started, but it never did, so I didn’t really get any great images from the hike, but it was fun as I worked my way partially up the bluffs.

Getting amazing images from the Badlands of South Dakota is more about being there at the right time and getting good light than about long hikes to hard to find places.  I hope to get back there in the summer, when the morning and evening sun should be in a position to make truly dramatic views.

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