Monday, September 10, 2012

Bad is Bad

We are currently spending a couple of days at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Neither of us can remember ever having really been here before. I remember going to the Wall Drugstore on a trip with my family when I was really little but there was no national park at that time and I doubt that we stopped for much more than the free ice water.

We drove through the park last night in the hour just before sunset to get the best possible light and took some photographs, most of which kind of look like this…

Real life
That's interesting, the sedimentation layers show up all right, but we've been planning this trip for a while now and had seen photos of the park and they all seemed somehow more colorful, more vibrant, more like this…

Seeing is no longer believing. With a good photo editing program you can change the world. And if you were going to hang a picture of the South Dakota Badlands on your wall, which of them would you prefer? But it again brings up the question, is it "cheating"? If you are purporting to be presenting "the facts" then maybe it is. This borderlines on the kind of finagling that gets news photographers fired. And if you are producing a brochure for the National Park Service, trying to bring in the suckers…  oops, I mean citizens, it seems unfair that when they arrive, you don't really have that vibrant landscape to show them. They promised us Utah but gave us Death Valley.

Pronghorn antelope

We did see a few critters on our drive. There were a couple of bison, some pronghorns and some female bighorn sheep which were completely wild except for the radio collars around their necks.

But the most fun at Badlands National Park for us was the prairie dog towns. The main one, the Roberts prairie dog town, was 5 miles out on an unpaved road and was much more extensive than you would at first guess. If you didn't keep your distance, they would go scampering off into their various holes. But if you stayed on the road they would just sit up and bark at you. Good for 15 or 20 min. of entertainment anyway.

Conference session (with buffalo chip in background)

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