Do you remember the advice given to photographers many years ago regarding the best time of day to take photos outdoors?
As I remember the instructions contained with a roll of film advised taking photos around midday because the colors would be reproduced most accurately.
But the rule-breakers found that photos taken at different times of day produced very different photos--many of which were more far more interesting than the midday shots.
We considered the work of the rule-breakers as we began our visit to the Badlands National Park in western South Dakota.
It was shortly after noon when we arrived at the Northeast Entrance to the Park. We took these first three photos as we drove into the Park. We didn't spend much time taking photos during this stop because we wanted to spend more time taking photos at sundown.
Our campground, just a few miles from the entrance, was near the town of Interior (pop. 67). It was an hour before sunset that we returned to take the remaining photos here.
The difference in the noon and sunset photos is dramatic. The colors and shadows present at sunset produce a more vivid picture with more depth and character.
From the Park's publica-tions: "The 244,000-acre landscape is both barren and beautiful. Wind and rain erosion have creted an eerie moonscape of deep gorges and jagged sawtooth ridges with rock layers painted in subtle hues of sand, rose, gold, and green."
The Badlands' name came from Sioux Indians, who called it "mako sica," meaning "lands bad." It is more commonly said that the Native Americans couldn't plant anything at all.
Fur trappers who came to this area in the early 1800's also called the area "badlands," because of the complete lack of drinkable water in the region.
The observation of Frank Lloyd Wight during a visit to the Badlands in 1935 were thought-provoking: "Let sculptors come to the Badlands. Let painters come. But first of all the true architect should come.
He who could interpret this vast gift of nature in terms of human habitation so that Americans on their own continent might glimpse a new and higher civilization cetainty, and touch it and feel it as they lived in it and deserved to call it their own.
Yes, I say the aspects of the Dakota Badlands have more spiritual quality to impart to the mind of America than anything else in it made by man's God."
As the sun sank below the horizon, the last moments of daylight created another mood as we walked among the rock formations.
The harshness of the bright sun and the boldness of the brilliant orange of the late afternoon gave way to the muted gray, rose, and blue tones of early evening.
There were two short trails--Window Trail and Door Trail--that led behind the formations in the photos above.
The canyon (above) was an unexpected feature at the end of the Window Trail.
It was a full moon on the night of our visit and the appearance of the moon was a perfect final act of the display of color and character of the Badlands.
The memory of the moonlight on the formations will last a long time.