Tag Archives: stanley

Sawtooth Lake Color Panorama

Sawtooth Lake

Sawtooth Lake (click image to see larger)

Been processing a few more photos from the Sawtooth Lake hike. This photo was actually from my second hike to the lake that week, when my Dad and I went up. I would really like to spend the night up there next year and do some predawn work around the lake; consider it added to the list.

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Sometimes they’re just sitting in the road

Sometimes they're just sitting in the road

Hawk on a dirt road at sunset

Some of the crazy places I’ve been, crazy things I’ve done… for photography.

I’m not a big fan of “Zoo Shots” but hate people calling it wildlife photography. Spending time at the Zoo is a great way to spend a day and take some pictures in a no pressure environment. I’ve been meaning to go to the Zoo here in Boise for some time. But what I hate is seeing a photo by a wildlife photog and thinking, wow, how in the world… Then learning that it was on a ranch where the photog had paid several hundred dollars for a few hours of guaranteed time shooting this animal. And what I hate more is I didn’t come up with the idea to pin in a bunch of animals, call it a game ranch and let photogs come in by the van load to pay me to see them. I don’t have a problem with the shots themselves, I’ve seen some good photos from zoos and game ranches, but it’s not WILDlife. My problem is when a wildlife photographer fails to mention that he paid money to photograph the animal in a controlled environment.

I used to live next to the Smokeys, now live near Yellowstone & The Tetons and enjoy going up to Glacier. I love shooting wildlife in the National Parks but still don’t get the same excitement photographing an animal in a park as I do out in the sticks. It still takes skill and persistence to get good photos and see the best wildlife in a national park (unless we’re talking Mountain Goats at Glacier). I don’t know, maybe it’s all the other people, more likely just the large majority of people who go to a big box retail store buy an expensive camera, go to Yellowstone take a few pictures and call themselves a photographer. Continue reading »

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Vacation 2009: Stanley

I'm Back: aka self portrait at Goat Falls

Self Portrait of me standing under Goat Falls

I’m not sure a photographer ever gets a real vacation.  If we do… this “vacation” was the closest I’ve come to a “real vacation” in a long time. Being half photographer half computer guy, I didn’t do any computer work while I was gone, so at least that half of me had a real vacation. Don’t get me wrong, it was a vacation, there were days where I could have fit the photos I took on one roll of 35mm. Other days were centered around photography and filled my largest memory card. My camera was never more than a few feet from me, ending up with over 1500 photos. Joy and I met my parents in the Stanley, Idaho basin for a week camping trip. Well, it was supposed to be a week, but we got there a few days early and left a day later clocking in at 10 nights in camp. The morning we left we were pulling out of camp and we both decided that it had been a good trip, but we were ready to go home; that is, for me, what made it a great vacation. I was actually ready to go home. We had an amazing trip though, I hiked thirty two miles of trails in the Sawtooth Wilderness plus a bit of bushwhacking here and there for large rocks and waterfalls. Hiking destinations in the Sawtooth wilderness included the breathtaking Sawtooth Lake and Goat Falls a spectacular (cold) 300 foot waterfall. (pictured).

In addition to hiking in the sawtooth wilderness, I also spent time in my old stomping grounds of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness; Dad and I caught a bunch of fish on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. I also took everyone up to the headwaters of the Salmon River where puppy could jump across the river.

I got most of my photo todo list done. There was one shot that I really wanted to get but the stars weren’t in alignment. Or rather the moon wasn’t. Many of you have seen some of my star trail photography. I scouted the place for my next major star trail photo, but the moon wasn’t cooperating within the time frame I had. I’ll be running the night sky simulator to find a couple days and times when I can travel back up to Stanley to take this three hour photo. The window is very tight and the weather will have to be perfect, and I have two months to take the picture or wait another year. hmmm.

The above photo was a self portrait of me at goat falls. I love waterfalls! nothing I’d rather photograph….   The perspective doesn’t do it justice as this was setup for the self port; Goat Falls is an amazing place, this torrent of water makes a 300′ fall from the top of the photo to my feet then continues on an amazing cascade down to the valley below.

This was the last of my hiking destinations in the sawtooth wilderness. One leg of the tripod was on a rock, the other two in a pool of water. Joy would have taken the photo except she was on a rock a couple hundred feet down the hill reading a book to the dog. Shortly before we got married her and I were climbing on a waterfall in Lemhi County near the Salmon River. She fell 90% of the way down it (30-40 feet). I thought she was seriously injured. We were ten minutes from radio coverage. An hour drive to the nearest paved road; another half hour to the clinic. Or lifeflight an hour to a real hospital. She wasn’t as badly injured as I thought, so we ended up not taking the helicopter ride that day, instead we bandaged her up, gave her some pain medication and made it back to town in record time to have my mom (a nurse) check her out. Nothing broken, major bruising, serious pain for a few days and some scars left, but we laugh at it now. Oh, but she’s banned from waterfalls.

Anyways, we got an daylight early start for this hike but it was still amazingly hot. So I was happy to pull the waterproof cover over the camera backpack and spend some time getting soaked.

It’s back to the real world now. I have 1500 more photos in my queue to go through and post process. I have a todo list a mile long from the next trip and I’m further behind everything I was behind on before we left. It was an amazing trip; I’m glad to be home.

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Coming Soon to Stanley


One of the most popular photo vantage points in Idaho. Sawtooth Mountains from Stanley, Idaho.

Stanley, Idaho is one of my favorite places on earth. If there were a college there that my wife could teach at, I’d live there. Course, it’d ruin the whole point of Stanley. It’s a little town in the middle of no where, close to a few major tourist destinations. It does get it’s fair share of tourist but the town winters about 50 people along with one hotel, a few cabins, one pizzeria, one restaurant, one gas station, one stop sign. I much prefer Stanley during the winter because you don’t have to put up with tourists and I love cold weather. We spend several days there every November for our anniversary we see maybe ten or twenty people a day that don’t live there. Last year we didn’t see any on two of the days. I spend a lot of time in the mountains surrounding Stanley, not as much as I wish I did, but quite a bit.

Luckily, Stanley is half way between where I live and my favorite place on earth. Which also happens to be half way between here and where my parents live. For the last several years we’ve spent a week camping together in the summer. We did Glacier a couple summers, last year we did Bear Valley (no, not the bear valley everyone in Boise knows about). This year, we will each drive two hours, meeting half way and spend the week camped near Stanley.  This is supposed to be a vacation and I guess it will be more of a vacation than the week in June I spent on the edge of the wilderness at bear camp with my Dad, Grandpa and a few other guys. But this will be a vacation but with quite a photo checklist. Much of the checklist depends on the weather. Last year my wife and I were there for Labor day and it snowed on us in the valley. There aren’t any fires, so visibility should be good so long as it doesn’t rain all week. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but this summer has been very, very wet in central Idaho.

This photo is one of the two most popular photo spots in central Idaho. Normally, I hate taking pictures from popular spots or angles. Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been headed up to my parents hours drove right by this and thought. Wow, if so many people didn’t take photos from right there, that would be a cool shot. That’s part of the reason I hate photography in National Parks. You get more than one photographer shooting a subject and I’ll keep walking. It could be a bald eagle standing on a moose’s antler while it was swimming in an alpine lake with northern lights in the sky. Three photogs have lenses on it, I’ll keep walking. Well, coming back from bear camp it was such a pretty day and I happened to still have my wide angle on my camera with a CP and a ND Grad filter on it. So I stopped. I hated every second of standing on the side of the road taking the picture. But I stopped. Some pictures I post have stories of cold, hot, rain, dust, snow, miles of hiking, hurricane force winds, hours of boredom waiting, blood, sweat, broken stuff… This one, involves just as much pain. Standing on the side of the road.

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When I really needed it

So I mentioned elsewhere on the site we had an adventure filled trip back from Salmon on Saturday night. I just finished sending an email saying thanks to KE7KQB a ham radio operator in Oregon. The email explains what happend and how Ham Radio really came though (for me this time). So… I’ll just post the email and let it explain. 


Just wanted to say a big thanks for you help the other night/morning…   My wife (KD7VKY) and I were driving back from Salmon, ID to Boise, had been visiting my parents for Christmas. We’ve driven those roads millions of times in all sorts of weather and on several occasions have had to stop and help other people who broke down or got stuck. That night the roads weren’t especially bad, Banner summit had a foot of snow in the road since it has been plowed and an icy base under that, I was surprised the road was open from the number of avalanches we saw, none really big, but a lot of them. By the time we got down to lowman and turned onto the banks-lowman road, the road was a lot better and were out of the avalanches (so we thought). 

About half way between Lowman and Garden Valley we went around a curve and there was a small avalanche on the right side of the road. I moved to the left but not far enough apparently (the stereotypical it happened so fast I’m not 100% sure what happened applies here) the next thing I know is we’d been turned and sent over to the ditch on the right side of the road. Both right wheels were off in the ditch and while I was still had momentum I tried to pull back out of the ditch, but it didn’t work. To make maters worse, there had been another avalanche into the ditch and we nosed right into it. When I got out I found the hood of my Ford Ranger was buried in snow, both right side tires were off in the ditch and the road under the left two tires was solid ice. 

It was around 10:15pm when this happened. We always call my parents when get to cell service back in Boise, they would have been expecting our call no later than midnight. At this point I figured we’d dig out and still make it to a phone in Garden Valley to call them so they wouldn’t be worried or call the police.
I was fairly confident I could get out of it, but it’d take time. We hadn’t seen another vehicle since back in Stanley, so I didn’t expect to have help anytime soon. I always stress being prepared for anything. I always have food, water, warm clothes and everything needed to survive 72 hours in my truck no matter the season. I also have plenty of tools; shovel, hand winch, saw, tow straps, flashlights etc. “Just in case.” 

I guess I had been working for over an hour before I decided to turn the radio on and see if I could get anyone. Obviously we were no where near cell coverage. I have an HF radio in my truck but my antenna for it is disassembled for repair at the moment. I had a portable antenna kit that I could have put together if I really needed to. I turned on the 2m rig and tried all the repeaters and simplex. I’ve got a pretty nice 2m antenna that’s served me well in the back country, I’m always amazed what I can get from where. I figured Shaffer Butte was my only chance, from previous experience while driving this road, and it was spotty at best. I knew the Cinnabar machine was out of the question, but tried it anyway, as well as every other memory in my radio, Simplex and even the Shaffer reverse pair. I finally dialed around to the Snowbank repeater surprised to say the least to hear it back. I know I can hit it in other places between Stanley and Boise but I really didn’t expect to hit it from here. It had to take at least two bounces to make that path, especially considering I was up against a steep mountain blocking me in that direction. I’m sure the weather helped  

It was around 10 or 15 degrees and snowing pretty hard, so I was cold from the weather and hot from all the work… Needless to say I was really happy when I heard you answer my call (not sure if you were on the .62 or if the link was up and you were on the .84). I was still 51% sure I could dig out, but wanted to let someone know where we were and to let my parents know we were ok. Given the number of avalanches we’d seen, I did have a thought in the back of my mind of a larger avalanche coming down the mountain and burying the truck. I know it wasn’t the best signal and you had a hard time understanding me, it probably didn’t help that I was a tad stressed, but you were great. I can’t tell you how reassuring it was once I knew that we had a link to help if we needed it and you had called my parents to tell them know where we were and that we were ok. Just knowing someone knew where we were made an incredible difference.  

It still took a LOT longer to dig/winch out than I would have thought. Apparently you gave your phone number to my parents, when you tried to call us for an update, both my wife and I were outside the truck and our new puppy (just picked him up that day) had stepped on the remote mic for the radio and turned it off). Given the lack of radio contact, this is probably when they left 3 messages on each phone we have, plus email and text messages, thinking we may have gotten out without letting them know. As I understand it, this is the point where my parents called the Boise County Sheriff’s Office to report us missing in the area to see if anyone could drive out to check on us; The dispatcher told my parents no one was on duty and they didn’t want to wake anyone up. (reassuring isn’t it?)  Wonder if they would have regretted that had another avalanche buried us and they found us dead the next morning? 

I don’t recall exactly but I guess it was around 2am when we finally got the truck back up onto the road and were able to get word out to you that we were moving again. We stopped in Garden Valley to change into warm clothes and made the rest of the trip uneventful. We did see one other avalanche on the banks-lowman road which had about eight to ten feet of snow across most of the road but were able ease around it. Glad we weren’t involved with that one. 

Again, I just wanted to say thanks. I’ve been working in or volunteering with emergency communications since I was 14, but this is the first time my rear end has been the one on the line, and I’m very thankful you were on the other end. It might not have been a life or death emergency at the moment, but who know what could have happened… Having someone know our location could have made the difference had something else gone wrong. 

I’d also like to thank the Voice of Idaho Amateur Radio Club tech team as some of the upgrades made to the snowbank repeater in the last few years made it sensitive enough to pick up my weak signal where it wouldn’t have in the past. 

Zeb Palmer
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Stanley Lake Twilight Star Trails

Stanley Lake Twilight

Stanley Lake Twilight Star Trails

I recently posted this shot on a couple sites and was promptly asked the questions; how’d ya do it? So I wrote up a how-to and posted it in a couple of the forums where it was posted. I’ve added it to my flickr photo page and now cross posting it here for archival purposes.

I took this star trail shot from Stanley lake. A high layer of clouds that was moving in so the stars (planets) near the horizon had a halo effect and turned out quite large. but it added some color. this is a stack of around 80, 30 second photos at 200 iso and around f4.

Setting the scene: I was sitting on ice covered rocks on the side of a half frozen lake with wind blowing across it at me, it being 5 degrees, watching my camera blink off and back on every thirty seconds for two hours……. Continue reading »

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