NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hanging Around Custer and Hill City, May 2011

While visiting the Custer area in 2011 we stayed in Custer at the Big Pine Campground.  This was our second stay there, and we're pretty satisfied with the place.  We like to stay at the very back of the campground for the privacy, and we saw deer in the pines through our rear window every morning and evening.  I'd rather stay at the Bismark Lake Campground which is part of the Black Hills National Forest and right outside Custer State Park, but at 37 feet we're just too big to be getting around in there, plus I think $19 a night is a bit steep for no facilities, you have to use a private outside waste station nearby for a fee, no electric, no showers or flush toilets, nothing! Beautiful little campground though, and so convenient to CSP.  It would be an excellent place to workamp and when we trade down to a 30 footer and go full time it's going on my wish list!

Besides being engrossed with the wildlife at Custer State Park we took the time to go into Hill City and walk around this time.  If you're into shops, they've got them! I'm not much of a shopper on vacation, but I did enjoy this sculpture of "Iron Star"  by John Lopez on the sidewalk. Apparently Hill City has a Sculpture in the Hills show and sale and this piece was such a hit in 2009 that the Arts Council purchased it and installed it downtown probably not long before we saw it. Now I'm thinking if we go back this way again we should time it for the sculpture show...

Even the guys like art like this
Rare sighting of me in background!
Great details hidden in this sculpture.

To see a gallery of John's work go here, it's worth the visit. I know I'm making a list of places to see more of his work, just like I did for Peter Toth.

Hill City is also where you can hop aboard the 1880 Train and take a ride to Keystone and back. My mom and dad took the trip while we got ahead of them in our truck and waited down the track to see them pass by.  It was pretty neat listening to the whistle coming down the track and we heard it long before we saw it.

I'm betting there's more to discover in Hill City.  Anybody have any tips they want to share?

And while we're talking about tips, how about photo editing tips?  I bought Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 a year ago, also bought the manual online, and find the manual and the online tutorials so overwhelmingly complicated that I have yet to edit a single photo.  I tried to edit the one with the face hidden in the sculpture due to a large sun flare spot in the image and after MORE THAN AN HOUR going back and forth between the internet and the manual I gave up and just cropped it in closer.  The program is so needlessly complicated that I couldn't even figure out how to save or dump any changes I made, much less remove the sun spot.  I got a layer open, but couldn't figure out how to adjust the color of the sunspot even with directions.  Anyone willing to give me an in-person workshop? I'm willing to drive...up to a point!  So frustrating to spend all the money on software and not be able to figure out how to use it!  So, as usual, all my photos are straight-out-of-the-camera except for basic cropping or light exposure adjustment.  Not too shabby, I know, but I've been shooting in RAW for the last 3 years and would love to be able to rework some images someday - Grrrr!!

On top of all that I have an annoying spot popping up toward the top of all my recent photos no matter which lens I use...thinking I have to send the camera in for a cleaning of its interior workings, seeing as how it was dropped in the creek, the sand, off boulders, etc.  Also thinking maybe it's time for a better camera, which will probably make for some better images but still won't fix my Photoshop problem! Why haven't I been to a Kenosha Photography Club meeting yet?  I'm thinking maybe it's time to network and get some guidance, don't you?


  1. Shooting RAW with lots of interchangeable lenses.... I stopped taking RAW many years ago. (Long story why.) That didn't stop the proliferation of photos accumulating on the hard drive. Seems I just shot a lot of high quality JPGs. Finally sold the dSLR camera and lenses on Craigslist in Tucson and bought a Canon SX40. Has all the features and capabilities and a wide angle and 40x digital zoom. Add to that the digital zoom and life is easy. No camera case with multiple lenses and the risk of getting dirt inside the body every time changing a lens. Since I no longer enlarge my photo taking for wall hanging, there is little reason for that dSLR. All my photos appear on the internet. No way to tell whether that photo -- at the same resolution and size -- on the internet was taken with a point and shoot or a large format camera with a 20MB sensor.

    Too bad you aren't near Tucson, there is a camera repair place that I used several times to clean dSLRs of those annoying little specs (and haze) on the sensors.

    1. for thought, Lloyd, most definitely! Only reason I have the DSLR and all the lenses anymore is for wildlife shooting. I'll have to look into the SX40 and see what it's all about. I've been very dissatisfied with indoor shots with my DSLR and didn't like the inexpensive point and shoot I picked up for outdoor shots. But, can one camera do most everything well???

    2. I would take the SX40 hiking, but it is just a bit too bulky. I carry a Canon SX230 for hiking. For other exploring activities where I play the tourist, the SX40 is the selected camera. With image stabilization, burst mode and an effective max 840mm, it also does a pretty good job for wild life and birds.

  2. Ahhh......your post is like a trip back home for me! I've spent a lot of time in Hill City and Custer State Park. I've camped at Bismark Lake too. Next time you're in Hill City, be sure and eat at the Alpine Inn. Wonderful food! It's my parents favorite place. And I like to visit the Jon Crane art gallery. I have some of his paintings hanging in my home. A little bit of South Dakota here in Oregon. But of course one of the best things to do in Hill City is ride the 1880 train! I grew up riding it and discovered you're never too old!

    I know the basics of Photoshop Elements. If you're ever in Oregon, I could help you out.....

    1. We did eat at the Alpine Inn! I meant to mention it, got distracted by the sculpture. ;) And if I'm ever in Oregon, I'll certainly take you up on your offer!

  3. I'm going to send this post to a friend who's going up that way this summer.

    Can't help with PSE ... I started using Adobe Lightroom when it first came out and haven't looked back since. I shoot RAW exclusively and seldom feel the need to process my photos in anything other than LR, unless I want to make a collage or something ... in which case I use the free Picasa software.

    I like LR over PSE ... because I don't have to worry about layers or any of that stuff (which took too much time; and I never got the hand of it). And if I mess up ... well LR changes are non-destructive and I can start over. Using the sliders is a no-brainer once you get the hang of it ... just go in order from top to bottom, skipping what you don't need to touch up.

    It's pricey to start with ... but I think it's worth it ... and there's reasonable video training available.

  4. I down loaded Picasa3 for my photo editing. I use it all the time.
    We'll be camp hosting in Custer State Park this summer. We're looking forward to exploring the area.

    1. I remember seeing that on your blog. I'm considering a solo hiking trip out that way if I end up with too much time on my hands this summer. If I get out there I'll look you guys up!