31 January 2010

Montana Forests Are In Distress

This week I divided my time between working on my spring marketing campaign and culling some of my diseased trees.

All over Montana the forests are dying out. My property is not escaping the carnage. There are as many theories as to why the forests are dying as there are forests and I suppose there is a little bit of truth in most of them. I believe they are dying because of man's sticking his nose into it. First they clear cut then they no cut. Both practices equally unenlightened.

I try very hard to keep on top of the diseased trees and get them culled as soon as I can. But, it's awfully tough to stay ahead of the game.

Dead Spruce

Above is what one of the dead standing spruce look like. Not a thing of beauty that's for sure. And I think you can imagine what a virtual torch it would become in a fire.

Beetle Damage

You can see in the above photo that the beetles had really demolished the core of this tree. But, bugs aren't the only thing killing the trees. There's a lichen that is taking hold and killing fir, larch, spruce and everything in its path.

No Beetles Here But, this tree was deader than a doornail.

Here's a ponderosa that bit the dust from bugs. I thought it was actually kind of an attractive still life of sorts.


I never get lonely when I'm out working in the woods. The mule deer always come to keep me company. For them that deadly lichen is a delicacy and a falling trees is like a dinner bell to them. I want to get these trees all limbed up so that I can burn the slash as soon as burn season returns. I like to get my slash burned up whilst the ground is still wet. Only two things frighten me in the forest, fire and ice.

Mule Deer

As you can see I did not spend much time with the camera this week. I really love working in the woods even in winter. I really hate working on marketing plans. It's nice to have the balance of being able to do office work and then go out and do physical work. It really helps keep me balanced. I'm one lucky puppy to be able to do all my work surrounded by nothing but beauty.

Winter Scene

Well, that's it for this week.

23 January 2010

Every Image Has a Story - Slow Down You Move Too Fast

This week we only got out to take our constitutional three or four mile hike. If we don't hike everyday, especially in winter we would blow up like a couple of balloons. In any event there wasn't much photographing going on.

For the past couple of weeks I have been immersed in a new project and when I get into something I am as a woman possessed. I have started a new blog. That's just what I need a new blog but there you have it. The title of the new blog is Every Image Has a Story.

When I decided to have an Internet presence for my limited edition photography Kinsey Barnard's Fine Art of Photography I was planning on writing the story for each photograph. Well, I have fallen down on the job badly and the majority still are without their story. It's so very easy to procrastinate.

But, one thing I have never been able to avoid is commitment. If I make one I am honor bound to honor it. I am obsessive about it. So, I think I have come up with a way to trick myself into writing down all the stories. By starting a blog I have a natural feeling of commitment to put something in there.

Then I got to thinking it could actually be something very nice for people and that was even a more motivating thought. These are very stressful times to be certain. We are skimming through life at such a prodigious rate we are not giving ourselves permission to savor life. There seems to be a collective obsession to dart from one thing to next as quickly as possible.

Nowhere is this more true than with viewing images. It's just boom, boom, boom and on to the next thing. Believe me am as guilty as anyone. But, my photographs are not meant to be glanced at they are works of art that should be looked at in order to get the maximum enjoyment.

I have a theory. That will come as no shock to people who know me. I have a "theory" for just about everything. Anyway, theory is this; A few moments contemplating beautiful image, especially something in nature, can lower your blood pressure a point or two and increase your sense of well-being. And, when that image is accompanied by a short story it becomes even more of a momentary escape.

It struck me that I could motivate myself to get those stories written and provide something very pleasant for people to experience at the same time. So stop in for a visit Every Image Has A Story . It doesn't cost anything but I think you will find it has real value. If you agree sign up for my private e-mail notification.

Whist I was writing this the lyrics to an old Simon & Garfunkel song kept playing in my head. It's from their song called "59th Street Bridge Song". The lyrics go like this "Slow down you move too fast. You gotta make the morning last." So, I say, slow down, take a deep breath and savor the good things in life. The other stuff will wait.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

17 January 2010

How To Tell a Mountain Lion track From a Wolf

Well, the big event this past week was my birthday. Egads! I turned sixty-one. It's really hard to imagine but I know it's true when I look at actors from my era and they are getting mighty long in the tooth. Every time I see favorites like Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford I now wonder will I ever see them again. Both these boys are in very good shape for their age so I'm hoping many more times. I just watched Gran Torino for the first time and what a fantastic movie.

My house herd of mule deer dropped by to wish me happy birthday. There is a herd of about twenty deer that pass through about once a day. I had a photo of the group but that dumb Lumix camera malfunctioned and I lost all the photos. Either that or I did. :) But, I did get some new mule deer shots with my Nikons. Nothing to write home about though.

Mulie Doe

Spotted one nice little buck. He won't be having those antlers for long. This is about the time of year when they start to shed them. I wish I knew where they dropped them. For all the wandering we have done we have found very few sheds.

Mulie Buck

As always, when you live in the woods, the weather was/is a major topic. We have been in the midst of a major thaw. The snow has been melting at a prodigious rate turning our world into an ice skating rink. I don't mind cold. I don't mind snow. I loathe and fear ice. It is so treacherous. One false step and you can go down for the count. I wear Kahtoolas when I hike on ice. These are not for urban walking.

The drama for the week was what looked like a mountain lion kill. We stumbled upon a place that showed a lot of blood in the snow. I had seen fresh wolf tracks but knew there were also mountain lions about. After examining the area closely, I concluded that the destruction had been the work of a mountain lion. The main sign was the tracks. Cat tracks are different than wolf tracks in two main features. First and most importantly cats have retractable claws wolves do not. So when you are looking at cat tracks you will not see the telltale toenails. The other thing is that the lion paw is more rounded than the wolf.

Scene of the Crime

You can see from the photo that quite a altercation took place with one party getting the worst of it. Not very pretty but that is the dichotomy of nature.

Mountain Lion Spoor

Interesting to me is the fact that the average wolf is smaller than the cat. The average weight 0f a wolf is 110 to 130 as apposed to the lion which is 120 to 145 pounds. Yet, the wolf has a larger footprint. The wolf front paw is approximately 4.5" x 4.0" and the lion is more on the order of 3.5" x 3.6".

Wolf Track

So, now it's Sunday. The fog is as thick as soup. Koty sez let's just hang at home and so we will. Hard to imagine January is more than half way gone. It will be spring before we know it.

Hanging Around

Cheers for this week.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

09 January 2010

Montana Winter 2010

Well, 2010 got off to a great start as far as winter is concerned. This week we got the best snow storm of the season. It's been snowing almost constantly but only showers which didn't accumulate much. But, the storm we had this past week put down about eight inches of new snow and it was glorious.

Koty never ceases to amaze me with his sense of smell. We were out hiking and suddenly Koty took off to my right leaping over a huge old log nearly pulling me off my feet. I looked over the log to see Koty digging in the snow like a fiend. About two feet down he comes up with his prize, a deer leg left from hunting season. How in the world he can smell a bone two feet under the snow is beyond me. After we got home he paraded around with his prize for half an hour.

Koty & Trophy

As always the mulies were around digging for forage and resting under the trees. You can always tell where they have been because apparently their mothers never told them to pick up their feet. They just drag them through the snow leaving trails everywhere they go.

Mule Deer Doe

Sunrises around here are not usually much to see as we live on the side of a mountain range facing west. The sunsets are to die for but the sunrises we have to go elsewhere for, usually. But this week we had a pretty nice one as far as color goes.

Winter Sunrise

Speaking of color winter is conspicuous for it's lack of it. Yet, no color is just right for the landscape. After the storm the trees were just laden with snow and it was beyond gorgeous. But, there was one little problem. The clouds were so low we were in them and at times you could not see your nose on your face.

Snow Laden

But, nothing stops me. I slogged and flopped around in the snow for several hours looking for something special. It was also only about 10 degrees. That temp eats up your batteries PDQ. Persistence always seems to be rewarded however and so I was.

Winter Light

Just the hint of color makes a winter scene come alive. For those of you that think you need to have a big expensive camera to take a good picture I'll let you in on a secret. I took the photo below with a Panasonic Lumix. Which is a little point and shoot for which I paid less than three hundred dollars. I believe the photographer makes the camera not the other way round. BTW, I think this camera is a loser and would not recommend it.

Winters' Subtlety

This is my favorite wildlife shot so far this winter. Winter Camouflage

Well, that was our week. Another beauty by any standard.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography