Basin Exploration


Colorful Badlands in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming Canon Eos5d mkII, EF24-105F4 IS @ 24mm, Polarizing Filter, 1/30th @ F16

My home outside of Cody Wyoming is located on the western edge of the Bighorn Basin, a large intermountain basin 100 miles long and 50-60 miles wide and is nearly surrounded by mountains.  The basin trends from the southeast to the northwest terminating in Southern Montana.  On the western edge of the basin rise the rugged Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains which form the eastern border of Yellowstone National Park.  Some of the largest remaining wilderness area in the lower 48 can be found in these rugged mountains.  On the eastern edge of the basin the lofty Bighorn Mountains dominate the horizon.  The northeast portion of the basin is   guarded by the Pryor Mountains and the southern edge of the basin is ringed by the Bridger and Owl Creek Mountains.  The majority of land in the basin is public administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the State of Wyoming.  This gives a nature photography unlimited opportunities to explore and discover exciting new areas to photograph.

"Unknown Badlands and Cayon" Canon Eos5DmkII, EF16-35mm F2.8L @ 16mm, 1/50th @ F16

There has been very little serious photography done in the basin and I ‘ve been working for the past 7 years on exploring remote areas and finding some new and fresh locations.  Google Earth has been very helpful in helping me locate potential locations.   I found this interesting area in the above image that way.  This is a remote area that was not easily reached and required good navigational skills and a rugged 4WD vehicle and some hiking to get there.  I could imagine this location yielding some great images with more dramatic lighting.  The area reminds me a bit of the Painted Hills in Oregon.  In the next image I isolated a portion of the area with a longer focal length lens.

"Parinted Hills" Canon Eos5DmkII, EF24-105mm F4 IS @ 95mm, 1/8th @ F16

Not far from this area I had located a rugged canyon with google earth that looked like it would be worth a visit.  After some more trial and error navigating I found my way to it and was amazed at the variety of very colorful rock formations (pinnacles, hoodoo’s, etc) I found.  The canyon was quite narrow and 100-150′ deep.  Stabilized red sand dunes ringed the canyons east side.

"Unnamed Box Canyon" Canon Eos5dmkII, EF24-105mm F4IS @ 24mm, polarizer, 1/50th @ F16

I did some hiking trying to find a safe way down into the canyon but ran out of time.  I felt I needed to get out of there before dark to find my way back to the road.   I had my 125 lb Great Dane “Shelby” along with me and she was acting very nervous.  I soon found out why when I found 2 sets of mountain lion tracks in the sand.  That made for an interesting walk back to the car.  I would very much like to return to this site soon for more exploration.  I think it has some great photographic potential.

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