31 January 2011

Blackfeet Pow Wow - American Indian Dancers

Well howdeee! We were cruising along in the forties and fifties and then Saturday night shabam! The temperature dropped down to ten and six inches of the heavenly white stuff dropped on our heads. This morning I’m registering zero on the thermometer.

It was so warm earlier in the week I loaded up the four-wheeler and went out to get a head start on cutting up the blow down. Glad I did cuz that particular activity will once again go on the back burner.

Rummaging around in my photo files I came across photographs I took at the 2010 Blackfeet Pow Wow. Somehow I have never gotten around to up loading the photos I took of the dancers. I’m amazed at the number of beautiful images I have that have never seen the light of day, so much to do so little time.

The annual Blackfeet Pow Wow is held in Browning every July. Like most reservation towns, Browning is a desolate place but for a few days in July it becomes a happy colorful place. Tribal members gather to celebrate their heritage and it is a wonderful thing to see.

I took Clementine over (my RV). There isn’t much in the way of accommodations in Browning so I just parked on the grass near the celebration pavilion. There was no charge. The feeling was; come one, come all and enjoy yourself.

If there is such a thing as past lives, and I’m not sure if there is or isn’t, I feel I must surely have been a Native American in one of mine. Every time I’m on the reservation I have a lump in my throat, tears are never far away and for no perceptible reason. The only way that I can explain the feeling is one of grieving. Watching these proud and beautiful dancers was a real emotional ride for me.

BTW, you can click on any of the images to get a much larger version.

There were two elder dancers that really caught my attention, one woman and one man. It was impossible to tell just how old they were but they certainly had been around awhile. Their costumes were impeccable and they moved to the drums with such pride, elegance and grace.

I got a kick out of the minor modern trappings like dark glasses. The faces of these people seemed like maps to the past. I can only imagine what it must be like to walk in their moccasins.

This photo I rather like for the way the sun seemed to shine only on the one, making her look like a chosen princess.

While I think these images are nice to see it was impossible to get shots that did not include astro-turf and grandstands. And, because these dances were competitions the dancers costumes had numbers that were hard to avoid. If wishes were horses I would hire a Blackfoot model, in full dress, to photograph in a more natural environment maybe even astride a horse. If I ever get that wish I’ll let you know.

This last image is of the scrap metal sculptures that grace three of the entrances to the reservation. This particular set is at the south entrance. I just think they are beautiful. More proof of my contention that there is beauty everywhere around us if we just take time to see it. The sculptures are made from rusted auto parts, bits of barbed wire and other scrap. The artist is Jay Laber, a Blackfoot.

Until next week,

©Kinsey Barnard

24 January 2011

Beartooth Highway: The Scariest Road I Ever Drove

No, it’s not “the Luge”. Although, I can tell you that lately people have been chaining up all four wheels to make the trip. I should also add the qualifier, ever drove in Clementine towing Shadow. The scariest road I ever drove in a car was the road between Silverton and Ouray in Colorado. I don't do heights at all well.

Last September Koty and I headed off south to Yellowstone National Park to see if I could find a natural gem or two to photograph. I did find one and I call it “Lily Pads”.  In addition to exploring Yellowstone, from the Gardiner entrance, I also was going to Bridger where I had an invitation to take a private tour to see the “Wild Horses of the Pryor Mountains”.

When we travel we go in our Winnebago View dubbed Clementine and tow a Ford Focus  named Shadow. Koty got to grace the vehicle with his photo because I happened to be enjoying that photo at the time. I often do that. I find a picture and it becomes my OCD photo until a new one takes its place. It probably wasn’t the wisest choice, as nine out of ten people want to know if I am a husky breeder.

Clementine and Shadow

After I had done my best with Yellowstone it was time to head on over to Bridger. Someone I had met in Bozeman had told me that I did not want to miss the Beartooth Scenic Highway because according to the late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt it is “the most beautiful drive in America”. Well, that’s good enough for me so I put it in my flight plan.

We headed out at first light. Well, maybe not exactly first light. Since I travel by myself, and Koty refuses to pitch in, it takes a little time to batten down the hatches and get Shadow re-attached. But, it was early morning and it was a beauty. My route took us through the Lamar Valley which is awesomely beautiful and was just loaded with grazing bison. I stopped to watch and revel. A person with an imagination like mine could easily picture herself a Shoshone hunter, astride her painted pony, stalking these sacred beasts through the morning mist.

The Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Bison Grazing in the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

We exited the park at the Northeast entrance passing through Cooke City and continuing to what I can only describe as the point of no return. Just before you start the ascent to the Beartooth Corridor you are given the choice of hanging a left and heading south on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway toward Cody, Wyoming or continuing on the Beartooth Highway. There is a sign that cautions RV’s of greater than 40 feet in length to head south. Clementine is quite diminutive at 24ft. and with Shadow in tow we are just right the limit.

“The Beartooth Corridor is one of the highest and most rugged areas in the lower 48 states, with 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation. In the surrounding mountains, glaciers are found on the north flank of nearly every mountain peak over 11,500 feet high. The Road itself is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.” ~ Pilfered from Beartooth Highway.com.

Steep climbs and altitude don't bother Clementine. She is equipped with a turbo charged Mercedes diesel and can leap tall mountains is a single bound even towing Shadow. And she gets 18 mpg whilst doing it. Quite a girl that Clementine

We ventured forth toward 11,000 ft into the deep blue sky. Soon we were rapidly gaining elevation, the turns got tighter and the road got narrower. We snaked up the mountain at twenty miles per hour or less. The average speed, even for a sensible car driver wouldn’t be much faster. As far as I was concerned there were no places to turnout with my rig. Few enough even for cars. The wind buffeted Clem around like a cork in a heavy sea. We climbed and we climbed and I thought we would never reach the summit.

Finally, there was a regular turnout near the summit. I didn’t stay long. I wanted off those mountains so bad. Going down the other side was no picnic either. It was steep and narrow but at least not much wind. When I reached the valley floor I was so relieved I pulled over, got out and kissed the ground. Then I looked up at the road we had just traversed and nearly swooned! At some time in the not too distant past there had been some really nasty slides. The roadbed which had been carved out of sheer cliffs was, in many places, being held up by what looked like spit wads of concrete. If I’d known I was driving across those Band-aids I would have had a heart attack for sure!

Needless to say you will have to go elsewhere for photos of this All American Highway. I sure as heck don’t have any and I have no plans of EVER have any. At least not unless I hire a car and driver to take me.

For those of you who can’t wait to give the Beartooth a try I make this suggestion. If at all possible start from Red Lodge instead of Cooke City. I’m pretty sure the views that made this highway famous are best seen going east to west. The way I came the views were always in the rearview mirror. And do it in the morning or you’ll have the sun in your face. I’m certain you will find it an exciting and beautiful drive which ever way you go, especially if you get to be the passenger.

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

21 January 2011


It is with great pleasure that I introduced the newest addition to my limited edition landscape gallery. "Autumn Lily Pads" was taken at a no name pond in the Stillwater State Forest in Montana.

Whilst it is true that there is extreme beauty in our national parks there is also much beauty to be found in obscure places that few will ever see. This is one such image. It gives me no end of pleasure to find and reveal these treasures.

Regularly scheduled programming will resume on Monday when I will be telling the tale of "The Scariest Road I Ever Drove".

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

17 January 2011

Twitter: Why I like it

As followers at Facebook and Twitter already know, baby it’s been cold outside with lots of snow. Then, out of nowhere, a warm front moved in and a massive melt ensued. To paraphrase Forest Gump, the weather in Montana is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Over the week I have added new images to the North American Deer, Skyscapes, Lakota Sunrise galleries and one new limited edition entitled “Yellowstone Lily Pads”. I shot Lily Pads on my junket to Yellowstone last fall.

Koty Manning the Polaris Ranger

Koty Ponders the Ice

Alrighty then, on to the topic of this post.

I’ve been playing around with the social media sites Twitter and Facebook and have decided that I really like Twitter. At first I thought Twitter was terribly superficial. But, I’ve found a way to make it more fruitful and now I find the site quite productive.

When not engaged in my photography I think I have a form of ADD and Twitter is perfect for those with such a malfunction. Twitter is a very fast paced place. One communicates via things called Tweets. You are allowed only 140 characters, not words just characters, spaces and punctuation are counted. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet “Brevity is the soul of wit”. I hereby coin the phrase “Brevity is the soul of Twit”.

I don’t think it’s the place to form deep relationships. Some people have over 100,000 followers so you know that read every single Tweet, not. A large number of people are just chasing some get rich on the Internet scheme. Many I think are getting paid for every time someone clicks on a particular link. In many ways the place reminds me of a 21st Century pyramid scheme. Our current economic situation is certainly ripe for any angle that promises income pouring right out of your computer. I’ve been around for a while and most of these schemes generally only generate much income for the one selling the scheme.

As of this writing I am approaching 6,000 followers 95% of whom I follow back. I can assure you that I can’t really follow that many people nor can they me. I couldn’t do it if I sat at my computer 24/7. 6,000 sounds like a lot but at Twitter I’m only in the minor leagues. As I mentioned some Tweeters have over 100,000 followers. Many people have their accounts completely computerized. They follow, un-follow and send messages all computer-generated. If you’re one of those just trying to get clicks I think that probably works out just great being on autopilot. But, I really like to connect with people I find interesting. And the business I'm depends greatly on forming relationships. For that one must be personally proactive.

With all that said, why do I like Twitter? Ironically, I like it because I have found some of the most interesting and helpful people I’ve ever met anywhere on the web. I don’t think I would have met them any other way. I’ve have also learned valuable new things about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), found great resources for marketing my photography and promoting my blog. I've also connected with people I just find interesting and want to hang out with.

Like most things in life Twitter is a numbers game. I would guess that I actually truly connect with around 1% of my followers. How do I do it? Well, the old fashioned way. I work at it. There is no way to cheat the Tweet.  Every morning I spend an hour or so going through new followers and looking  at the bios and Tweets of those that I think I might relate too. Then I follow back and/or send a message to those that I would like to get to know. If we are in accord we usually arrange to connect on Facebook. Facebook is much better for making real connections. For one thing, at Facebook you aren’t limited to 140 characters, it’s a much more “social” media.

Twitter isn’t for everyone, I am quite sure of that. But, I quite like it and would recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. For a richer experience I recommend sending personalized DM’s (direct messages) to new followers that catch your eye and start making “lists” early on. Lists can really help you keep track of those Tweets you are most interested in following.

Here are a couple of interesting pie charts comparing Twitter and Facebook demographics. Statistically, I probably should not be even fiddling with this because the 55 plus group is the smallest user group of both media comprising only 9%. I guess us old doggies aren't swift enough? Well, I like to hang with younger people anyway so I'm doin' it!

©Kinsey Barnard Photography

15 January 2011

New Carjacking Scheme-Forewarned is Forearmed

One of my readers e-mailed this to me. I think it warrants at least a headsup. Apparently, people have already fallen victim to this scheme. Me I'm trapped in ice up on my mountain so I won't be going anywhere for awhile. But, I guarantee I'll be filing this info in the back of my mind for when I next travel.

My regular column will be posted as usual on Monday. This week I discuss my experience with Twitter.





Heads up everyone!  Please, keep this circulating . . . 

You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside.

You start the engine and shift into Reverse. 

When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space,you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window.

So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors, and jump out of your car
to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view.

When you reach the back of your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off.

They practically mow you down as they speed off in your car. 

And guess what, ladies?
I bet your purse is still in the car. 

So now the carjacker has your car, your home address,
your money, and your keys.
Your home and your whole identity are now compromised! 


If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, just drive away.

Remove the paper later.
And be thankful that you read this e-mail.

I hope you will forward this to friends and family, especially to women. 

A purse contains all kinds of personal information and identification documents, 

and you
 certainly do NOT want this to fall into the wrong hands. 

10 January 2011

Inflation vs. Deflation Debate: What's It Gonna Be?

For years now a debate has been raging within the financial community: What does the future hold raging inflation or deflation? Economists and other “experts” have been absolutely rabid about their points of view. And, for just as long I have argued it isn’t going to be an either or scenario. There will be inflation as regards the things that you need and deflation in the things you can do without.

What got me to thinking about all this was a recent effort by a financial planning firm to get my business. None other than the firm’s principal was making the pitch and was going to personally manage my account. The fellow has been on the cover of several magazines and well regarded in his industry. I was flattered. But, he bombarded me with the prevailing line of thinking that deflation is the big bugaboo. He repeatedly sited the real estate collapse to prove his point. He also lost me as a client.

So what is inflation or deflation anyway? The definition of inflation is “the overall general upward price movement of goods and services in an economy (often caused by a increase in the supply of money), usually as measured by the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. Over time, as the cost of goods and services increase, the value of a dollar is going to fall because a person won't be able to purchase as much with that dollar as he/she previously could. While the annual rate of inflation has fluctuated greatly over the last half century, ranging from nearly zero inflation to 23% inflation, the Fed actively tries to maintain a specific rate of inflation, which is usually 2-3% but can vary depending on circumstances.” I swiped this definition from Investor Words.Com. As you might imagine deflation is just the opposite.

Unless you have been living under a rock you know that Ben Bernanke, successor to the maestro Alan Greenspan, is melting the presses printing dollars to fight the dread deflation. Bernanke has been literally flooding the world with greenbacks in historic proportions. And, he’s been doing all of this for you, my fellow Americans. If you believe that heaven help you.

The Federal Reserve is nothing but a tool for the people who really run things, the big corporations and other powerful people. Corporations and the fat cats at the top are interested only in profits. It’s tough to make a buck in a deflationary climate because nobody’s buying. If nobody is buying prices just keep on falling.

But, here’s the thing, real estate is always cited as the canary in the coal mine because it effects so many businesses. If houses aren’t selling neither is all the stuff that goes with them; appliances, flat screen TV’s furniture and the list goes on ad infinitum. These associated companies, and they comprise a huge part of the economy, can’t turn a profit. That is unacceptable.

Bush, another tool, came out with the idea that every American should own a home. Why? Well, I can assure it wasn’t because he gave a fig about the people. If he had he would have never been a part of such an absurdly foolish scheme. A scheme which has subsequently led to an awful lot of pain and suffering for those that bought into the idea that they could happily move into a $500,000 home, with no down payment on a $50,000 a year income. Well, they moved in but now most must move out and the overhang of foreclosed properties is weighing heavy on prices. According to this Yahoo article it will be decades before prices return to the former highs. The joke in the mortgage broker industry was “If you can fog a mirror you can get a loan”. I’m sorry to say if you are one of the ones that fell for it, the joke was on you.

Here’s the thing; all the businesses that depend on a healthy real estate market and the homes themselves produce discretionary items. Discretionary means things you don’t actually need but want them anyway. Those things have been deflating and all the while the non-discretionary items, things you have to have, have been rising in price or inflating. Think food and energy.

Marketers have been making Herculean efforts to create the illusion that inflation is under control despite the irresponsible money-printing marathon at the Fed. But, have you been paying less at the super market? Are you paying less at the gas station? Food producers have gotten really sneaky. They charge about the same price but the amount that you get has shrunk about 20%.

Another way that inflation has been hidden is through the importation of cheap goods mostly from China. The prices seem very reasonable but most of the products are of such poor quality hardly last any time at all. Over time you are paying much more because you have to keep replacing these "cheap" items. Once upon a time, when Americans still made things, things were of great quality. I have heirloom furniture, kitchen utensils, and tools that are 50 to 100 years old and still providing me with fine service. But, the new imported junk I must buy because there is no viable alternative is lucky to make it past a year.

All of this goes a long way toward giving the illusion that inflation is fine as told by the Consumer and Producer indices. Of course these are government statistics and subject to any manner of additional manipulations.

Another inflationary by product is the debasement of the currency. Here’s a real life anecdote on that subject. When I moved to northern Montana in 2002 I frequently shopped in British Columbia. At the time I got $1.40 Canadian for every $1.00 US. It was very nice. Goods were expensive in Canada until I factored in my 40% currency discount. I used to tell people to enjoy it whilst it lasted because the Loonie is going to parity with the U.S. dollar. I was openly laughed at. I don’t really mind. I’m used to it. I was universally laughed at ten years ago when I said gold would go to $1,500/oz. As I write this article a U.S. dollar won’t even get you one Canadian Dollar and gold recently hit $1,425.

Back in 2002 Montana plates were everywhere, not anymore. Canada has become incredibly expensive for Americans. Montana plates are seldom seen. Now you see huge numbers of Canadian plates in Montana. Northern Montana has become like a third world country where well to do Canadians come to throw their weight and money around. Most merchants welcome them. And rightly so for without them we would be in far worse shape than we are.

So, back to the inflation deflation-debate: I say it isn’t either or. I say it’s both. But, the important distinction is that the things that are inflating you can’t do without whilst it’s the things that you can do without which are deflating. To my simple, backwoods mind that makes inflation a much more serious concern. And all this money printing is going to come back to haunt us.

As an outdoor photographer who lives and works with nature I have a very healthy respect for natural cycles. Nothing on earth is as powerful or certain (besides death and taxes of course). Man, in his arrogance, can attempt to circumvent the cycles to meet his own greedy purposes but in the end all he will do is make things worse. Nature eventually holds sway and forces the cycle to go where it was meant to go with far more onerous consequences than if the cycle had been left alone to follow its natural course.

We are a long way from being out of the woods. I am just ever so grateful I know how to live in them.

©Kinsey Barnard

PS: This week I added my blog to the Facebook blog network. If you use Facebook you can follow this blog using follow box to the right.

03 January 2011

The Broken Healthcare System: Who's responsible?

I think we the people have to take some of the responsibility for the mess the healthcare system is in. These days we overload the system by going to the doctor for every little thing and prefer to hand off responsibility for our health to doctors and pharmaceutical companies instead using a little self-discipline and common sense.

When I was growing up, that would be in the fifties, a person didn’t go to the doctor all that much. In fact, if you were raised on a ranch like I was you hardly ever went unless something was too broke to fix yourself.  Epson salts, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda seemed to take care of most things.

Another lucky break for me was that my grandmother introduced me to Gaylord Hauser when I was either nine or ten. I’m certain of the time frame because my grandmother died in 1960 when I was eleven from lung cancer at the age of 74. Hauser was a pioneer of the concept that there was a direct relationship between diet and health. For many years he was considered a charlatan and a kook. Today he would be considered a guru. I would be surprised if any of my readers have heard of him.

When I was a teenager I purchased his last book called “Gaylord Hauser’s Treasury of Secrets” published in 1963. I made Hauser’s thinking a big part of my own and I believe it has paid major dividends in my life. I checked and Hauser’s books are still in print and available at Amazon.com.

I sure wish my grandma had lived longer. I’m certain there was much more that I could have learned. But, I’m grateful for all that I got. Notice, back when I was a kid young people respected their elders and listened to what they had to say. Well, some of us did.  I’ve always been a square peg in a round hole world.

According to Web MD a whopping 63% of Americans are either overweight or obese. I hope you find that number as staggering as I do. This statistic is as a result of overindulging in fattening foods whilst lounging in the Lazy-Boy and under-indulging in healthy foods and exercise. It’s a vicious cycle. You eat junk because you feel unhappy or depressed. You feel unhappy and depressed because you eat junk and sit on your butt. And, round and round we go. My goodness, 63% of us are on that merry-go-round and it isn’t very merry.

I feel there is just too much emphasis on care and not enough on health. If people would spend more time finding ways to live a healthier lifestyle they wouldn’t be so worked up about the healthcare system and the healthcare system wouldn’t be so overburdened. But, everyone with something to sell panders to our baser instincts and the something for nothing mentality.

In general pharmaceutical companies don’t give a fig about your health. They are in it for the money. Why do you think they bombard you with advertisements urging you to have your doctor prescribe some drug? And, despite a litany of horrendous side effects that should dissuade any thinking person, people are lining up to get them. People they aren’t kidding. They divulge that stuff because it really happens and they want to cover their butts. It’s utter lunacy. I suppose some doctors may feel like they are in a box. If a patient asks for a drug and is denied, what happens if the person has a negative experience with whatever it was the drug was for, lawsuit no doubt. I wonder how many prescriptions are written in self-defense? Now, along with the drug ads we see attorney ads asking for people to join lawsuits over these same drugs because the things they were warned about have happened. Wow, what a surprise. Who would have thought? How much do you think all that adds to the healthcare bill?

All my life I heard about the “joys” of menopause and it was just a given that when you reached a certain age you would go to the doctor and get your Premarin. I assumed I would too. But, I got lucky. In 1985 a friend recommended a book called “What You Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause” by Dr. John R. Lee. I bought the book and read it. It made a whole lot of sense to me. I went the natural route and sailed through menopause as though it never happened. I can’t say those who took the pharmaceutical route had the same experience. In fact I believe many had a lot of trouble with estrogen therapy.

My point for telling you all this is that you need to consider taking responsibility for your own health. Doctors don’t want to see you cut down on office visits. Drug companies don’t want you to discover natural, low cost remedies. They both need lots of sick people in order to make their businesses turn a handsome profit. Do you really want to be a tool? Is it really all that much fun spending your life in the doctor’s office, or worse, the hospital?

I’m no fan of the medical establishment, drug companies or health insurance companies. But, I really think we need to take some responsibility for the state of the healthcare system. I know we all want to believe that we can lead lives of sedentary gluttony and just take a pill to make it all better but that just isn’t going to happen. You have to make sensible lifestyle choices. You have to use a little self-discipline and your noggin. My father forever used to say to me “For heaven’s sake. Try using your head for something besides a hat rack”. I’ve been working on maximizing my health most of my adult life and, at sixty-two, I can honestly say I am in the best shape of my life.

I didn’t even know the healthcare system was broken until it was in the headlines so much you couldn’t avoid it. I didn’t know because I seldom use it. I’ve never been in a hospital except to visit someone else. I take no prescription drugs. I have no arthritis or other diseases associated with my age group. I truly believe that avoidance of the medical establishment has added greatly to my lifetime of good health.

For me it’s all about quality not quantity of life. I have already lived such an extraordinary life each additional day is just icing on the cake. But, for as long as I am on this mortal plane I want to be enjoying it to the max. The only way I know how to do that is to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise. I love cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream and too many other not “healthy” foods to mention. I eat them all but in moderation. The trick isn’t what you do but how much of it. My mantra is all things in moderation. I’m not skinny. I’ve been a size twelve all my life, except for a period when I was a depressed, suicidal teenager. At that time I was a size fourteen headed for sixteen. I never sought help for my depression. Never took drugs for it. I did once take out a revolver, load it and consider very seriously using it. But, the very act shocked me so badly I put the gun away and never thought about doing it again.

I can hear it now “Yeah, easy for you to say you probably have great genes”. Actually, I don’t. My family is riddled with cancer on both sides and on my father’s side there has been quite a lot of mental disease in the form of manic depression and more than one suicide. But, I don’t dwell on it and do my best to live a sensible lifestyle, so far so good.  I could be crazier than a loon but living out here in the middle of nowhere, who would know? I’m certainly not depressed.

The bottom line is, not only are we smothering the healthcare system we’re dying to do it! Wouldn’t it be better to not be so dependent upon the system, leave it for the unfortunate people who really need it? With 63% of the population overweight or obese you can’t tell me people aren’t using the system as a crutch for an unwillingness to take responsibility for their own health.  Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on your health as opposed to needing care?

So, next time you let yourself get all worked up over the headlines about a broken healthcare system ask yourself if you are part of the solution or part of the problem. If you’re part of the problem get crackin’. When you’re healthy you’re happy.

Mark Twain said it best, “Nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits”.

Next week I'm going to weigh on on the deflation vs. inflation debate. Listen to the "experts" at your peril.

©Kinsey Barnard

PS: I added two new galleries to my photoshelter website this week SEA OTTERS and BIG HORN SHEEP