I’ve been away from WiFi for a number of days as I’m at our place up north. Last night, I decided to take a trip to the Vince Schute Wildlife Sanctuary (http://www.americanbear.org/) in Orr, MN. I’ve been hearing about this place that is a safe haven for wild bears. No fences, they come and go as they please, however there is food provided for them in a certain area where the viewing platform is for the public. So, I went and enjoyed myself. Saw a number of bears, fairly close….but there were lots of people and we were up on this platform above them all. It was hard to get the shots I wanted and even with my zoom lens, I still wanted to be closer. So, I looked into the photographer’s session that they offer. And decided to go back today and spend more time. 🙂 I got all day access to be down on the ground with the bears for as long as I wanted from about 7am till dark. I got there at 7am and stayed for 5 hours, which was plenty. 2,000 pictures later….I will be going through them for quite some time! 🙂 Anyway… it was AMAZING!! I was 10-15 feet away from bears and saw close to 40 different ones, including a number of cubs from this year. The bears were very used to having people walking among them as the workers at the sanctuary do it all day long. I had to have a safety session first, and of course sign a liability waiver….but it was well worth it. I got the shots I was hoping for and had an incredible experience! Here are a few of my favorites so far. All images will be available for purchase, so if you’re looking for some bear photos for your home or cabin (like we are), let me know! 🙂
Last year, I started looking for a rescue organization to get involved with to take photos of fostered dogs in need of permanent homes. I was delighted to photograph a couple of them….but am always wanting to do more. Last week, my friend, Vickie, asked me to photograph her pekingese that she has been fostering. He’s a very sweet boy, named Syndey….and is looking for a home to call his very own. I am not a “little dog” person….but I very much enjoyed this little guy! Here are some photos from our session. I’ll also include a couple other foster dogs I photographed. If you know of anyone else I can lend my services to….please let me know!
I’ve been home about a month now from my out West quest (but it seems like 6 months!). I’ve been meaning to blog more about our first two days at the ranch. I was having photo uploading issues those days so didn’t really fill you in on what all happened at the ranch. So….that’s what I’d like to do now! 🙂
We had a VERY busy two days on Monday and Tuesday and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect! (Except for a period of it being too cloudy….more on that later). No rain, no snow, great temps…..beautiful!!! Scott had everything planned out for us each day and was very much in tuned with the weather, the light, the morning fog, etc…
We started our first shoot with the wranglers moving a small herd of horses up and down a shoot or alley way. It was a good place to start as we were all so anxious and that allowed us to just settle down and not have too much going on around us in too many different directions. The next day, we shot in a narrower shoot that runs in between the corrals. That was AWESOME!!! I shot a lot of it laying on the ground in the manure with my wide angle lens shooting up at the horses as they came barreling by. Couldn’t see what I was shooting at….just had to hope and pray that I was getting something good. I loved the perspective I got with that lens down on the ground like that and plan to make a wide angle lens part of my lens bag soon. I had rented this one from West Photo in Minneapolis. It was great to be able to try it out and play with it before just buying one.
Sombrero owns about a dozen very cool longhorns. And it’s true….they have very long horns. We got to shoot the cowboys/cowgirls moving them around a bit for another session. They seemed so docile….I really wanted to go up and pet one. We settled them along a small creek and were able shoot down on them from up above. Great wide open spaces. 🙂 One of my favorite shots from this session is when the cowboys came galloping up the little trail to get back on the high ground. I got a great shot of AJ and his nice bay horse. 🙂
I was looking forward to the buck out sessions with a few of the “snuffier” horses. Moses and Dana were the 2 lucky cowboys that took turns riding for us. Normally, the buck out shoot has taken place in the round pen….but it was too muddy, so we used the shoot that we started out in on Monday. It wasn’t ideal since the horses were in a fairly narrow but long space. The shooting was a bit tricky as they were often times too close to us to shoot…but it was still fun and exciting. 🙂 I got many shots of Cal is his role was “pick up man” and was usually at a good distance from my lens.
We had a few different water set ups. Two of them involved the wranglers riding through the water….walk, trot, and canter, one at a time or two or three at a time. Johnny on his pretty black and white paint were among my favorites here. Another water shot involved bringing the herd toward us across a creek with very still water that made a great reflection. They went back and forth a number of times so we had plenty of chances to get great shots with lots of water spray and splashing. My favorite water set up involved bringing a herd of 20 or so horses through a pond type area that was about knee deep. Scott wanted sun for this session, but the clouds had a different idea. So once we got the horses out there, the wranglers had to just have them hang out and wait until the cloud cover passed. Almost an hour later (and me checking the depth of the water in my new waterproof Dublin river boots)….the sun finally peeked through and it was show time! But that didn’t go as planned. 😦 lol A couple of the horses decided to ignore the wranglers and instead lead the herd and come barreling right through the photographers!! It was rather exciting, I must say. 🙂 But the wranglers got them back in control and got them execute the planned route. These shots were some of my favorites from the week. It was such a pretty spot and all that water flying. Then you have a wrangler come galloping through the water wide open…..just awesome! So the water options on the Sombrero Ranch…..Excellent!!!
Another session brought us across the road in which we had Jerry riding, but ponying along 3 pack horses. Also, Christy, Quentin, and Terry. They were down in a ditch for a lot of this session….a cool location. Bud came too….as the “lookout”. It was hard maneuvering among all that sage brush, especially for Jerry with those pack horses, but all went well. The guys all had their antique rifles, shotguns, and pistols with them too, which added a nice touch to these photos.
The stagecoach session was fun. A team of 4 gray horses were hitched up, including Jaimie (mental note…never forget Chuck yelling again and again….JaY-me!! JaY-me!!). lol Inside joke, sorry….you had to be there. Anyway, the stagecoach cruised up and down a farm road for us with guns drawn, robbers, and out riders along also. Moses and Dana led the way, Chuck drove the team while Jerry defended with his rifle and Quentin and Terry were the bandits chasing them down. Lots of fun! But what also was fun….was the manure fight that broke out among some of the photogs. lol I will admit, I am the guilty party that started it all. Thanks Kim and Carien for joining in. 🙂 Photos exist somewhere of this event, but I have yet to see them. Boy, this is turning into a very LONG blog post….I wonder if anyone is still reading at this point. Ha!
Both days ended with amazing sunsets. Especially Monday night….we were across the road working the herd up and down a hillside (when I say “we”…of course I mean the wranglers were. I just feel like I was part of them. ) Anyway, afterwards, we had this incredible GOLDEN sunlight setting on our riders. It allowed for superb shots. Grant, on his palomino, affectionately named “Barbie”, were stunning in that light…We didn’t want it to end! The next night, we were out in the pasture with the herd of about 20-30 again….and ended up shooting silhouettes as the sun was setting on a ridge….as the wranglers moved the herd along. Then we just had the wranglers ride without the herd, twirling their ropes and galloping along. A great way to end the day! And that’s how our shooting on the farm went!
When Scott didn’t have sessions planned for us, we had time to go back to the hotel and clear our cards off or stick around the ranch and just find candid things to shoot at. Horses in the corrals, cowboys doing…well, doing cowboy things, etc…. We also got to eat lunch and dinner on the ranch which was nice to relax and get to know our new friends better. While having lunch with Compass one day, Kim and I were roped into having a special session with her and her horse involving a water trough and showing off Compass’s tattoos. 🙂 She is a riot!!
The days started before any rooster even thought about crowing and they ended late with us emptying our cards onto our computers and me falling asleep with my hands on the keyboard. I love being that kind of tired…..outside all day in the fresh air….horses, friends, my camera….awesome way to spend the week! That’s it for now… I will be writing again soon! 🙂 If you made it to the end of this….give yourself a high 5 and let me know!! lol I think you should get some sort of award!!! Thanks for reading!!
The horses made it the last 25 miles or so today and found themselves back at the ranch mid afternoon. I’m sure they are happily resting after their 2 day journey. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was travelling with them yesterday and today. Total there were about 500 head, all shapes and sizes….but certainly, I had my 12 or so favorites. 🙂
All along the route, people were waiting for the horses to pass by and were either videoing or taking photos. Especially in the town of Maybell….they basically treated it like a parade with candy for the kids and everything!
We got to cross over a few bridges which was cool. It’s amazing to watch the cowboys/girls manage the herd to keep them moving alongside the road. Most of the horses would travel in their little buddy groups the whole way. Others would get separated….but whinney and whinney until they found each other again. Once back at the ranch, there was lots of rolling going on and lots of yawning. I’m sure they will sleep good tonight! The Sombrero Ranch looks after their horses very well….I was glad to see that.
I went out for a last dinner with my group of friends. It’s something magical how an experience like this can create such strong friendships in such a short amount of time. We learned a lot together, had great adventures, and certainly had a lot of laughs!
Today was an exciting day! We started out where the Sombrero horses pasture for the fall/winter….about 50-60 miles from the ranch. They had to be rounded up as they were out in a VERY large space…and were herded into a holding yard. I took a number of photos there, waiting for the riders to get ready. It was fun just watching horse behavior….rolling, whinnying, ears pinning, chasing, looking for buddies, coming up to me for a scratch, etc…I took a lot of photos here. The riders’ horses were trucked out here by semi for. Once the guests from the ranch and the wranglers were ready, the gates were opened and out came the herd!
What a spectacle it was!! The idea is to keep wranglers in the front and sides to keep the horse boxed in as they head down the road. But almost immediately, a group broke loose and took off ahead through the wranglers! Eventually, the wranglers caught up and were able to stop them…waiting for the rest of the group. After that, it was just a whole lot of horses to watch and photograph. 🙂 There were between 500-600 on the drive. We stopped a few times along the way to let the horses rest and regroup. Eventually our route led us onto the blacktop road which meant cars coming and going….and they did, but not many.
Once we got to the place where they are pastured for the night, they went down to the creek right away, and then started to relax and eat. Tomorrow, the horses will all make it to the Sombrero Ranch where they will start the process of getting them ready for a busy summer of trail rides and for many, fall packing during hunting season.
I’m falling asleep now so I will share some photos and check in again tomorrow!
It’s been another long day so I will try to get this done quickly and get to bed for yet, another long day tomorrow. 🙂
This morning started at the Sombrero Ranch again with a wild horse training demo and speech from Steve Mantle and his son Nick, for Sombrero’s guests. The Sombrero got in about 40 guests this past Wednesday. They’ve leaned how to ride and handle their horses and have had a couple shorter trail rides. Today was a chance to give them a bit longer ride as they prepare for the horse drive that they will ride on starting tomorrow and also going all day on Sunday.
Three of us photographers, myself, Kim, and Adrianne, signed up to ride with to the steak fry lunch while the other photogs rode out to that location in trucks. The ride was great….it took about 4 hours to get there, but we took the direct route back to the ranch and made it in 1 hour. I was fortunate enough to ride the boss man’s (head wrangler) sorrel gelding and what a nice horse he was! We saw some stunning views while out there and had a relaxing ride on our horses. Along the ride we also some some mule deer, lots of jack rabbits, an eagle’s nest with 2 eggs in it, and even a rattlesnake that we almost walked right over the top of! And boy, was he rattling!!
Lunch was a welcome point in the day….steak on the grill with potatoes, beans, dinner rolls and brownies. We were starving by the time we got there and very thirsty! Once we ate, we mounted back up and headed back to the ranch making it just in time just as some rain started to fall.
Tomorrow we will spend the day in the backs of pick up trucks photographing the start of the horse drive….about 700 horses will be making their way back to the ranch. I can’t wait to see this whole thing go down! 🙂 Stay tuned! Goodnight!
A fun night in Craig! We were busy editing and processing photos all day to print for the wranglers and also to share in the slideshow that happened tonight. All the wranglers from the ranch…. and many townies came to the hotel we are at to view our hard work for the past couple days. It was a thrill to see the happiness our photos brought them! We each printed photos of all the cowboys/cowgirls that we worked with this past Monday and Tuesday so they’d have keepsakes from our time here. In addition, we submitted photos of our work to be displayed in a slideshow for all of the people who came to share in the fun.
It was really cool as we each got announced as our photos began in the line up. Although we shot side by side each other this week, we all still have our own styles and have a different eye in which we chose to focus on different things when we were shooting.
Since I finally managed to get through some photos and get them print ready, I have more to share with you. So here is a little sneak peak. 🙂
I’m excited for tomorrow as I get to ride finally! We will be listening to a guy to trains wild horses give a presentation at the ranch and then myself and 2 other photogs will mount up and ride the trail to the steak fry that we will have for lunch. The other photogs will get trucked to the location. I’m HOPING for good weather!! Then the main event begins Saturday morning….The Great American Horse Drive!! http://www.sombrero.com/adventures/horse-drive/ That will be all day Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how many horses will be on the drive this year, but it will be in the 100’s for sure.