From the dam at the Lower Lake From the dam at the Lower Lake – Nikon D200, f22, 1/125, ISO 250, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 26mm, natural light

Montana has had a wet, cold spring and summer hasn’t yet reached the Centennial Valley where Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located. There was more water everywhere in the valley than I have seen, of the camping sites at the Lower Lake all but one were to wet to camp at. The sagebrush flats were even under water in many locations, I’m not sure how the sagebrush is surviving with such wet “feet”.

Lots of snow left on the Centennial Mountains, even for JuneLots of snow left on the Centennial Mountains, even for June – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/5000, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 95mm, natural light

There was still loads of snow on the Centennial Mountain Range so that means more water in the valley for the spring run off. I hope the lakes and streams can handle it all. Even down low near the road to the refuge there was snow close enough that you could get out and walk over to it to stick your hands in the cold white stuff.

Stormy Sky over the Lower Lake of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife RefugeStormy sky over the Lower Lake of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge – Nikon D200, f18, 1/160, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light

As a bird photographer extremely low light can be a problem thus there are times I set the big lenses down and grab my backup D200 with the 18-200mm VR lens to take images of the scenery when it get too dark to photograph birds
well. I also do that in good light so that I can capture the wild beauty of the areas that I am out in looking for birds to photograph.

Centennial Mountains with blue skies and fluffy cloudsCentennial Mountains with blue skies and fluffy clouds – Nikon D200, f16, 1/180, ISO 250, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light

There are times I grab the D200 with the 18-200mm VR just because the view I am seeing takes my breath away as the scene above did.

I know shots like these are not considered “Fine Art Photography” but I don’t really care that they aren’t taken during the “Golden Hours” or that I haven’t needed to HDR them to death, I simply love them because they touch a chord within me that reminds me of the great times I have had in the wonderfully wild places I visit. Besides, most of the time we are viewing scenery under brighter light than early morning or late evening. Fine enough art for my tastes. :-)

Evening light on the Centennial MountainsEvening light on the Centennial Mountains – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/90, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 62mm, natural light

I do attempt to take landscape photos during the “Golden Hours” but as a bird photographer I don’t want to waste the sweet light very often on scenery, I want that light in my bird images. Clearing storms can often produce delightful images any time of the day. The stormy weather was moving east when I took the photo above and the sun was beginning to set.

Stormy sky looking east from the campground at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife RefugeStormy sky looking east from the campground at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge – Nikon D200, 1/1500, ISO 250, -2.0 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light

I like moody images with stormy skies, moisture laden clouds and how certain light can play across open areas of the ground. The light here was from above me when I created this file, I bumped down the evaluation compensation to keep the sky as dark as it was at the time. That made the grasses and fence a bit darker than they actually were though I think that added to the mood in this frame.

Rainbow over Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge from the Lower Lake Rainbow over Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge from the Lower Lake – Nikon D200, three frames stitched together to create this panorama, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 2500, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 18mm, natural light

I saved this image for last in this post because even when it is stormy I know the skies will clear and that once in awhile a rainbow will appear. This rainbow lasted for over 45 minutes and it was a double rainbow for quite some time. It was awesome to see.

While at the refuge it rained, it hailed, there was thunder, lighting and at times even gale force winds but the biggest weather surprise after leaving the refuge was seeing snow falling lightly near Lima, MT… in June.

I’ll be posting bird and animal images from my trip soon.

Mia

*See more on Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, one of my Favorite Locations. Click Here