28 November 2010

Montana Winter at the Sanctuary

Animals are such agreeable friends they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. ~ George Eliot (Mary Evans) 1819

It isn't even December yet and this winter is already turning into a lollapalooza! This will be my ninth winter here in Montana and there has been nothing like this so early in the season. I am quite literally up to my butt in snow. My new occupation is snow removal. I have been shoveling, blowing and plowing sometimes twice a day. One thing about it, I get plenty of aerobic exercise.

For a while there we were in the single digits. Some folks down in the valley were at eighteen below. It was so cold ice was growing on the windows on the inside. Six weeks ago twenty-eighth degrees was bone chilling. Now we have moved back up into the high twenties and low thirties and it feels like spring. It really is extraordinary how quickly the human body adapts to its environment. My blood must be moving through my veins like sludge, thank goodness.

I haven’t been out much other than to do my snow removal chores. Living alone I have very strict, self-imposed rules and one of them is I don’t go trudging in the forest when it gets below 20. The reason is; should I have a mishap and not be able to get back to the house I would be a crispy critter pretty darn quick and no one would be worse for the wear.

Yesterday, seeing as how it was nearly thirty I decided to take the old camera out and slog around the ranch. My mule deer herd has return, which is always heart warming. Of course I have Koty for company but having the mulies here is kind of like having family with whom the share the hardships of winter. Each year the mule deer come from the high country to winter where it is easier to forage for food and in the spring they leave again for the high country. It’s always like a homecoming when they return. For some reason mule deer are far more serene than their cousins the whitetail which are here spring to fall.

The mule deer are fairly unperturbed by my presence. Despite their having very big ears they must be tone deaf because I usually sing to them as I wander by and they just stand and look at me as though I’m nuts. Hmmm, they might be on to something? Yesterday I was singing, “The Wicked Witch”. I have no idea why. I just like the lyrics. “Hi ho the merry oh. Sing it high sing it low” just seems perfect for wandering in the woods.

I know this property like the back of my hand but even I might be able to get lost out there now. The roads and paths have been nearly obliterated by the deep snow. The trees are so laden with snow a few have just given up and fallen down. Others have become solid white cones of snow.

My photo taking wasn’t too terribly successful, as I didn’t take my tripod along. It was snowing and lower shutter speeds were needed. But, I was having enough trouble staying upright without it. I landed on my butt or face dawn more than once on my little junket. I was soaked by the time I got back to the house.

But, the slogging was worth the effort. It is so beautiful in the forest in the snow. The silence is deafening and the pristine purity of the fresh fallen snow is sublime. I am often asked why I stay here in the winter. The fact is there is simply nowhere I would rather be. Winter has a beauty that is too wonderful to miss. And, yet, by spring I will be glad to be done with it. I think seasons really do give balance to one’s life.

As you might imagine there wasn’t a lot of color out there but I did stumble upon one spot of color where a tattered orange leaf fallen from a cottonwood tree hung on the snow-covered bough of a fir. I thought it made a nice contrasting image.

Below are just some random photos from my fall about.

Winter Snow

Fallen Tree

Gazebo in the Snow

Mule Deer in the Snow

Winter Tea Party

©Kinsey Barnard Photogaphy

24 November 2010

Internet Scams A Photographer's Story

It is a never-ending source of fascination to me the human drive to create. We humans have created some pretty awesome stuff in our brief history on this planet. What I find even more fascinating is that for every wonderful thing we have created there are those who can’t wait to find a way to use it for nefarious purposes. The Internet was created and Internet scams soon followed.

As an outdoor photographer living way outdoors in northwest Montana I am pretty dependent on the Internet to help me generate sales. The nearest town of any size is Kalispell and it’s seventy-five miles away. In winter it’s one hundred and seventy-five. The nearest city is Seattle and, well, that’s in another galaxy. Don’t feel sorry for me though. I’d eat squirrel stew if I had to in order to be able to live here.

Even though I quite literally live in the Kootenai National Forest I do have Internet service. Not only that this summer the electric co-op installed fiber optic cable (See: Fiber Optics-Rural Utilities). I’m still in disbelief.

About a month ago I was contacted, via e-mail, regarding the purchase of one of my fine art prints. There is just no way to market on the Internet without putting contact information out there for anyone to use. The e-mail said the person, a Mr. Taylor somewhere in Asia, was interested in purchasing my limited edition “Golden-eye On Walden Pond”. That particular image sells for $400.00. I replied saying payment could be made through Pay Pal. Taylor replied a cashier’s check would be sent and my address was required. I thought the whole thing seemed a little fishy but I decided to play along and provided a Post Office Box.

I didn’t hear anything more for a couple of weeks and had pretty much forgotten about it. Then I got an e-mail that said the check was in the mail. I thought “fine”. Then another week passed and I got a message saying the check would soon arrive but there had been a mistake. The check was being sent to me by an “associate” here in the states that had accidentally made the check out in the total amount of a debt, which was greater than the price of the print. No amount was given.

Now my eyebrows are making a very wide arch. But, I’ve done business in Asia and sometimes transactions are conducted in convoluted ways. Finally, the check arrives. It was all I could do not to laugh. Keep in mind I have a background in banking so I may have a little extra knowledge. Here is a copy of the actual check.

What was wrong with the check? Let me name the ways. First, the envelope in which the check arrived had no return address or postmark. Who in their right mind would send a cashier’s check without a return address? Next, the check was made out in the amount of $2,940. Keeping in mind the cost of the print was $400 plus shipping and handling this Taylor person wanted me to send him the print and $2,500! Next there was the check itself. The payee, that would be me, and the amount were handwritten. Cashier’s checks are always typed, unlike money orders. The check had no date. But best of all, the check had been placed inside a blank piece of paper upon which was the ink from the check itself! Talk about hot off the press!

It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would fall for this scam but I am certain people do or they wouldn’t be going on. Most everyone knows that you don’t ship or exchange goods before the check has cleared your bank so I don’t know how this was supposed to work. But, it never hurts to be reminded.

My story is pretty comical but I’m sure there are many that are not funny at all. So, the moral of this story be very careful when doing business on the Internet. It's a jungle out there. Most of us have a good sense of honesty and fair play. And, sadly, that’s exactly what these scamsters were banking on.


©Kinsey Barnard

22 November 2010

Early Winter, Best Wood Stove & Favorite Jasper Photos

Well, I have always heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I believe I have a well paved road. I said in my last post that I would have my Jasper National Park gallery finished in a couple of days. That was wishful thinking. I'm not even half way finished!

Winter has arrived a little early and I haven't been able to resist going out and slogging around in the foot plus of snow we already have on the ground. This will be my ninth winter here in northwest Montana and this is the most snow we've had this early in that time. I've been plowing and shoveling everyday for a week! I'm thinking this is going to be quite the winter in terms of snow fall. But, it's mighty beautiful!

The temps have been down in the teens but Koty and I stay nice and toasty burning all those blow down trees we've worked so hard to clean up. If you are ever in the market for a wood stove I highly recommend the Country Wood Stoves .  I wasn't aware until I got the link that Lennox has bought out Country. Hopefully that won't make any difference.

I heat my entire house all winter with just the wood stove. That's made more impressive when you know that we've been known to get to thirty below. I don't think you'll find a more efficient. Take it from someone who uses it for more than just a lovely room decoration. They are very nice looking too.

So back to Jasper. I love Jasper. Banff and Lake Louise are gorgeous but I really like Jasper. It's further up the road toward Edmonton but it's worth the drive. Because it's a little further afield there don't seem to be as many people around but lots of wild life and trails to hike until you can't go on.

So without further ado here are a few of my favorites so far.

You can see all the images uploaded so far at the Jasper National Park Gallery

Don't forget about the holiday sale going on. Just enter the coupon code KOTY BEAR CARES 2010 for a 15% discount on your purchase.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

19 November 2010

Quantitative Easing "QE" Explained.

I realize this is once again off the subject of photography. But, I think everyone needs to watch and listen to this video if you are in any doubt as to what exactly Quantitative Easing is and what it means to our country and future lifestyle.

As many of you know I am a former investment banker and not entirely out to lunch when it comes to economics and finance. We are in some serious trouble people. As hard and awful as it may be to believe, this economic downturn is far from over. Unless I miss my guess we haven't even seen the worst of it. I know it's no fun to look at truth when the truth is ugly but there is no other way to prepare yourself. They say the truth will set you free. It will also knock you flat if you try to deny it either by will or ignorance. Please watch this video. It explains QE in layman's terms.

Meanwhile, here at the ranch it's snowing and in the twenties. They say that we will get into negative territory by Monday. I am toiling away on a new gallery of Jasper National Park. Many of the images have never been made public before. I hope to get it finished in the next few days. Here's one of my favorites so far.

Don't forget the holiday sale going on at my Outdoor Photography site. Just enter this code: KOTY BEAR CARES 2010 in the coupon code box for a full 15% discount.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

15 November 2010

Holiday Sale!

Well, it’s that time of year again when sugarplums dance in our heads, hard to believe. Here at the ranch we’ve already got snow on the ground and the temps are getting down there. According to the Weather Channel we will be dipping into the teens this week. Two weeks more to run on the hunting season and then we’ll be back to peace and serenity.

I wrote a couple of articles back about PHOTOSHELTER turns out that another very nice thing that site allows me to do is have a sale. I thought for my first effort I would have a holiday sale especially for my blog readers.

I know many of you many of you enjoy looking at my photography. I know because I can track this kind of information on GOOGLE ANALYTICS and it’s very gratifying to see.

Here’s a chance to own your favorites at 15% off the regular price! In addition to prints and prints on canvas you can also purchase note cards and mouse pads of all my images including limited editions. The note cards and mouse pads make great stocking stuffers and office party gifts!

I’ll walk you through the purchase process in case you haven’t tried it yet. Go to my Outdoor Photography Site. Choose an image and click on it to enlarge, this is one of my personal favorites . Click on the green buy button. The prints pricing page comes up by default. If you are interested in the note cards or mouse pads click on the “Products” tab. Once you have added your choices to your shopping cart proceed to check out. When you get to the “Review & Submit” page a pink banner will tell you to scroll to the bottom so you can fill in the code box. Simply type in “KOTY BEAR CARES 2010” and 15% will automatically be deducted from your purchase.

The sale starts today and will run through December 15th.

If you have any problems or need any help please contact me. You will find a “Contact” button at the top of every page.

Go to Kinsey Barnard's Outdoor Photography  and use the code bellow.

The code is:  KOTY BEAR CARES 2010

Happy Holidays from Koty!

Speaking of my little darling here is a little slideshow of some of his images for your enjoyment.

Lakota Sunrise-Siberian Husky - Images by Kinsey Barnard

©Kinsey Barnard

11 November 2010

Guns and Gold

This morning I'm doing something a little different. One of my subscribers e-mailed me the video that you see below. It's a very good little primer on why one would want to own gold and what a financial and economic pickle this once great country has gotten itself into. It saddens me greatly.

When I was a kid back in the sixties and seventies I was fortunate that I was able to travel abroad. In those days everywhere you went people begged for dollars. American dollars were as good as gold. Not anymore. Today people are more likely to spit on them. Once upon a time we were a can do, self reliant bunch But, today our entitlement and something for nothing attitudes have bankrupted us and the rest of the world knows it.

The conversation is a little like listening to a couple of droids but I recommend you watch this video.

A number of people have had difficulty subscribing to this blog. I have a private subscribers list that I send notification out to each time I post to the blog. If you would like to be added to this list please contact me.

©Kinsey Barnard

09 November 2010

Bannack State Park - Montana

Montana is known as the “Treasure State” and surely one of its treasures is Bannack State Park near Dillon. Bannack was Montana's first territorial capital and the site of the territory's first major gold strike in 1862.

During its heyday, Bannack was terrorized by renegade Sheriff Henry Plummer, whose desperadoes murdered 102 individuals and robbed countless others. Plummer was quite a guy and for it he ended up on the wrong end of a rope. What I found interesting about old Henry is that he came first to California from Maine in 1852 by way of a ship. In those days to avoid the hardship of months bouncing across the plains in a Conestoga and running the risk of getting your ears pierced by an arrow, those who could afford it, took a ship to the isthmus of Panama. Once unloaded at the isthmus passengers rode burro over to the Pacific side and caught a ship north. It just so happens that the Barnard clan did precisely the same thing at the same time. I am left wondering if they might have had a Henry Plummer as a traveling companion?

Bannack's law-abiding citizenry rebelled against those atrocities, however. Formation of the "Vigilantes" spelled an end to Plummer's forays. Twenty-eight of his murderous gang, including Plummer himself, was hanged. Some on a gallows previously built by the outlaw sheriff.

The "Toughest Town in the West" then faded as new strikes lured its one-time population of over 3,000 away. Today a quiet ghost town 25 miles southwest of Dillon, Bannack slumbers alongside Grasshopper Creek, once the source of millions of dollars in precious dust.

Bannack was placed under the protection of Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in 1954 and is now in the state park system. There are some fifty to sixty old buildings you can wander through and around. What I think makes it so special is that it is part of the parks system and not privately owned. Nevada City, not far to the east is privately owned and it has kind of a theme park, carnival feel to it. I’m not criticizing Nevada City the assets can’t be preserved without funding. It’s just that at Bannack you really get to feel the ghosts of this slice of Montana history.

If you like crowds and historical hoopla you should visit during Bannack Days which is held the third weekend in July. There’s food, music and costuming that I’m sure many of you would enjoy. Being the loner that I am I prefer to wandering the town when no one is around. With an active imagination such as I have I can hear the piano playing and bawdy laughter coming out of Skinner’s Saloon. I can hear the clop of horse’s hooves as wagons and riders come into town. For the little girl who’s idol growing up was Annie Oakley Bannack is a thrilling ride in a time machine.

Bannack State Park is located in the southwestern area of Montana aka Gold Country in the Montana Travel Planner. Take I-15 south of Dillon to exit #59 (Highway 278 exit.) Drive west on Highway 278 for 18 miles. Turn south onto the Bannack Road and travel four miles. Park entrance road will be on the left hand side.

Below is a slideshow of some of the images that I have captured at Bannack. You can click on any image to see a larger view. Enjoy the show.

Bannack State Park & Ghost Town - Images by Kinsey Barnard

Sell Art Online

©Kinsey Barnard

03 November 2010

Photo Shelter Review-Landscape Slideshow

I have been toiling away uploading photos to my new home at Photoshelter.

I wish I had stumbled on this out fit years ago. It is by far and away the most professional photography site I have found. Their strategy is all about promoting the photographer and not themselves. The tools that they provide are exceptional and the opportunities for learning about internet marketing through videos and webinars are never ending. You can actually pick up the phone and talk to a live and very helpful human being. Honestly, I cannot say enough positive things about the site or the people. If you're a serious photographer I highly recommend you check out Photoshelter

The process of moving over to Photoshelter is a daunting one to say the least. I thought you might enjoy a slideshow of the photos I have loaded so far into my Mountain & Forest Landscape gallery. There's pretty nice stuff in there if I do say so myself. At the very least it may provide a few relaxing moments.

Mountain & Forest Landscapes - Images by Kinsey Barnard

You can find the actual gallery here 

A number of people have had difficulty subscribing to this blog. I have a private subscribers list that I send notification out to each time I post to the blog. If you would like to be added to this list please e-mail me at kinsey_barnard@yahoo.com

©Kinsey Barnard

01 November 2010

Clayton Lake Flathead National Forest Montana

I was just saying the other day in my article on Jardine, Montana how Koty and I spend not so much time in US national parks because of the dog rules. How we spend more time photographing outside of them than in. And, how this is really a blessing in disguise because we end up exploring and photographing places that not so many people get to see.

Clayton Lake is another one of those places right next to a national park, in this instance Glacier that has every bit the beauty as its neighbor. Clayton located in The Flathead National Forest  and is considered part of the Jewell Basin complex.

To get to the trailhead from Hungry Horse and Hwy 2 you’ll travel south along the Westside road of Hungry Horse Reservoir passing over Hungry Horse Dam to the end of the pavement (16 miles) and continue until reaching the Wheeler Creek road (FS #1633). Turn right and drive to the trailhead. The trail is rated as moderate but it’s not all that long so I rate it as easy. It’s only 2.3 miles to the lake.

Like most lake trails there is a bit of a grade but no steep drop offs and about half way up the view east toward the Great Bear Great Bear Wilderness is nothing short of spectacular. In the distance the Flathead Range rises up in your face. You can’t help but be awestruck by the incredible beauty of this panoramic view.

As you can probably tell from the photos Koty and I made our pilgrimage in the fall and I can’t image a better time of year. The fall colors were bursting out all over. Although we didn’t see any bears be forewarned the trail is loaded with bear berries and they didn’t get that name for nothing.

Speaking of bears I have some thoughts on that subject, what a surprise. I always carry a .375 revolver but my first line of defense is bear spray. They always say don’t hike alone. Well I’d do darned little hiking if I didn’t. The trick is to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep an eye out for fresh sign like scat. Be especially alert going around corners and hiking through thickets. Most problems occur when bears are surprised. They also say don’t hike with your dog because it my go off, encounter a bear and bring it back to you. I don’t ever go hiking without Koty but he is always on a leash. If you hike with your dog I recommend you do the same when hiking in bear country.

Considering the short distance of the trail I don’t think you can beat the beauty effort ratio. The lake is not particularly large but mountains surround it and for my money it is awesomely beautiful. There is a trail that goes around the lake but we didn’t make it because it gets pretty thick and bush whacking isn’t one of my favorite things to do. I did get some pretty fine images of the lake.

Clayton Lake in the fall is a definite candidate for your “to do” list. In the fall, in addition to experiencing the awesome colors you will most likely have the whole place to yourself as we did. I’d categorize it as a definite picnic place.

And, of course, last but not least the gorgeous Lakota Sunrise at Clayton Lake.

©Kinsey Barnard