Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cattle Ranch Sleigh

Much of the ranch work in the Bear Lake Valley is still done with horse-drawn equipment.

I visited the Hulme Ranch to photograph cows being fed from horse-drawn sleighs.  Chad Hulme drove one of the two sleighs.

The sleighs are used in winter to travel over snow and ice.

A farm dog, Mollie, watches Chad bring in his sleigh for a load of hay bales.

It was a gorgeous morning with no wind and temperatures in the twenties. Perfect for photography.

Jon Peterson drove the second sleigh.

I hitched a ride and was amazed at how well the horses were trained.  Jon could tie the reins to the post in the foreground and control the horses with verbal commands.  Photography was fairly difficult because of the lack of room on the sleigh and a rough ride on the frozen ground.
The big hay bales are sliced into slabs 6 or 8 inches thick by the baler before they are tied into blocks.  When the sleigh gets to the cows the twine is cut and slabs of hay are pushed off to form a long line of feed.

Mollie loves being with John on the sleigh and keeps a really close eye on the cows.  My thanks go to Jim Parker for inviting me on this shoot, Chad Hulme for letting me photograph work on his ranch, and Jon Peterson for putting up with us photographers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fire Dance in the Snow

Linda and I watched a Tongan fire dance in the snow last night.

A large number of people crowded the beautiful home of Dr.Charles and Elaine Merrell to have dinner and watch Elder Fotu demonstrate a dance typical of his culture in Tonga.

Elder Fotu is a Mormon missionary assigned to Montpelier, Idaho and the surrounding area.  The Merrell's invited community members of various faiths and backgrounds for a wonderful evening of friendship.

1/8 second, f4.5, ISO 400 

Elaine Merrell had showed us some beautiful photos she had taken of a fire dance, so we were eager to see Elder Fotu perform.

He was certainly not used to the cold of our mountain city, but was a good sport and thrilled us all with a spectacular show.  He was standing in a snow bank, there were light snow flurries, and the temperature was in the 20's. We didn't have much time for photos because the dance lasted just a few minutes.  It took a tremendous amount of energy and was very tiring for the performer.

His remarkable performance included fire eating.

1/45 second, f4.5, ISO 1600

                 1/30 second, f5.6, ISO 1600

I tried several techniques in the short time we had for photos, and was glad I brought a flashlight so I could change camera settings.  Flash lit up snowflakes and they looked like bright spots in images.  I like the yellow glow from the fire better than the white light of the flash and have not included any flash images in this post.  ISO settings higher than 1600 improved detail in his face but produced more noise than I liked.  Next time I will try a slower shutter speed to produce a more abstract blur of fire.

Linda and I want to thank Elder Fotu for introducing us to one part of his culture.  We enjoyed meeting him. We also thank the Merrell's for a wonderful, unique evening.