Favorite Things

Do you have things in your homes that you keep more for the memories or emotions they evoke than for their material value? Do you ever hold them in your hand, stare at them, and start to see them as new shapes, new lines, new images? Do you think that’s what the feelings look like?

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This is the first professional camera I ever bought. I’ve owned many others and most of them have left my possession for one reason or another, but I just can’t part with this one. It’s the embodiment of a journey for me, the root of a very important beginning.

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My sister teaches middle school. I’m really proud of that. A co-worker of hers makes these delightful glass sculptures and my sister gave us this one, which I think is lovely — like her.

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These vases were a recent gift of a my godmother, a very dear, lifetime friend. They are from India and like my godmother, exotic and worldly. They remind me of her unconditional love  and her belief in the best.

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I bought this pitcher for my wife many years ago as a Christmas present. Every holiday dinner we’ve served thereafter, she has filled it with her extra-special, secret recipe (there really isn’t a recipe) gravy. Talk about a gift that keeps giving.

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Most mornings, my wife and I are treated to a short cello concert given by our daughter.

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At times my best friend, at times my worst enemy. At times my constant companion, at times a distant memory. I’ve owned this trumpet for three quarters of my lifetime.

I want to photograph your favorite things. If you live in Bozeman and you have something with a story behind it I should know, please send me an email.

See these images big here.

#MontanaPhotographer, #FavoriteThings, #ProductPhotography, #StillLife

Montana Rural Photography Betty Potter in Clearwater Junction

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Al Kesselheim and I recently completed a project for the Montana Department of Natural Resource Conservation. We profiled water users in the different watersheds of Montana for the department’s report to the Montana legislature.

This is Betty Potter, 72, who arrived at a ranch in Clearwater Junction, Montana, in 1962, planning to stay two weeks. More than 50 years later, she was cleaning hay and horse manure from the irrigation ditch that waters her hay fields — still at that same ranch.

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During the summers, Betty Potter rotates water through her hay fields, keeping ditches free of debris. She cuts the hay too. She logs beetle-kill timber during the winters.

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“I’m not much of an inside person,” she says. “I like to work.”

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“I’ve got a bad back, a bad knee, sore shoulder. I take a lot of Ibuprofen,” Betty Potter says.

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“When it’s all said and done,” reads the inscription on her husband’s head stone, “we are only caretakers of the land.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” Potter says. “It’s not a way to get rich. It’s a way of life, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Roundup, Montana, editorial work for Montana Quarterly

It was a treat to be assigned to do a profile of Roundup, Montana, with writer Jennifer Groneberg for Montana Quarterly magazine’s winter issue. Jennifer lives with her husband, Tom, and their three boys on a ranch outside Roundup so she has a unique perspective on the community.

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And community describes Roundup pretty well. This is Dottie, who greets visitors to Carla Gosman’s Bull Mountain Trading Company in downtown Roundup.

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Carla has been on both the giving and receiving ends of Roundup’s community spirit. Her store sells gifts and also has a museum in the back.

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And the Friends of the Library are central to Jennifer’s community. Rose Emily Blum, left, says, “Most people think of community as the people you run into when you go to town. Ranching expands that definition of community. It’s who you worry about when there’s a flood or a fire. It’s who you call to check up on.”

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“The river shapes Roundup,” Blum says of the Musselshell. And the river is a bittersweet neighbor. It flooded in 2011 and again in 2014, submerging crops, businesses and houses, causing more than $10 million in damages in 2011 alone.

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The town was originally founded on the spot Tracy’s Mecca Bar and it’s working phone booth now occupy, at the confluence of Half-breed Creek and the Musselshell. Nan Witzel says her mother-in-law, Terry Witzel, is responsible for preserving several of the buildings that date to the old townsite. When coal was discovered nearby and the railroad arrived in 1908, the town moved across the Musselshell to its present location. Now Roundup is the home of about 1,800 people. Many of the old buildings still stand, but they’ve been repurposed for more 21st-century markets.

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Drive to Roundup from Billings, 50 miles to the south, and you’ll pass three cemeteries reflecting Roundup’s mining and agricultural heritage. You’ll also pass the Bull Mountain coal mine, still in operation, and plenty of small farms and ranches.

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#montanaphotographer #editorialphotographer #roundupmontana #ruralphotograph

 

Montana Winter Storm Horses

Killing time during my daughter’s cello lesson not long ago, I found some horses enjoying an early-winter snowfall. A magical place, this Bozeman.

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#Montanaphotographer #BozemanMontana #Horses #Winter #Snowfall

Glendive, Montana, Oil Spill

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Many of you may have heard that 40,000 gallons of oil were spilled from a pipeline about 6 miles up the Yellowstone River from the town of Glendive, Mont., way on the eastern edge of our state. Having nothing better to do, I took an 800-mile drive to and from Glendive yesterday to see what I could.

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Perhaps 60 miles downstream of the spill, near Crane, Mont., workers setting up some kind of spill containment on the Yellowstone, having to cut through the ice to get at the water. Closer to Glendive, at the Intake dam, game wardens from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told me they could smell oil coming from the river for the first time after the spill, but had not noticed any visible evidence of contamination.

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In town, any of the 6,000 Glendive residents who cared to  could receive two gallons of bottled water, per person, per day to use until the city water supply — coming directly out of the river and just a few miles downstream from the spill — was declared safe. The Associated Press reports that water was being tested Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, and hopes were high that it would be once again safe to drink from the taps of Glendive.

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Annette Tauscher said she got her two gallons Wednesday as a precaution, since she hadn’t noticed any smell or funny taste from the tap water she and her cat share. “If no one else is drinking the water, then I’d better not,” she said. Other residents in Glendive were on wells and said they were unaffected by the spill.

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Still, Bridger Pipeline’s Glendive station, shown here on the western edge of town along the Yellowstone, has a lot of questions to answer. And the Yellowstone, mostly frozen for now as it flows through Glendive, may yet have damage to assess when the thaw comes.

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#MontanaPhotographer #GlendiveOilspill #MontanaNews

 

Bozeman, Montana, biathletes

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Kari Swenson has a story many already know: How as a young, promising biathlete in 1984, she was abducted by a father and son who called themselves mountain men and spirited off into the wilderness. How she was rescued only after a man had been killed and she had been shot in the chest, left chained to a tree.

But read Alan Kesselheim’s story in the winter issue of Montana Quarterly, and you’ll find out much more. You’ll read how two years of rehabilitation were necessary for Swenson to return to the top echelon of biathlon. How she’s now a respected veterinarian in the Bozeman, Montana, area. And how she is coaching young prospective biathletes as part of the Bridger Biathlon Club. And much, much more. It’s definitely worth a read.

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Sabine Love is one of the members under Swenson’s tutelage.

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Swenson leads a group up the Bohart Ranch ski course.

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#Montanaphotographer #Biathlonphoto #Montanawinter

 

Bismarck, North Dakota, Winter Solstice Fishing

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The recent Winter Solstice found my family and I headed east toward my parents’ home in Chicago.

On the way into Bismarck, we spied the frozen Sweetbriar Lake, upon which several people were standing hunched expectantly over holes in the ice.

I went back to the lake at about sunset and met these guys who had made plans to fish well into one of the longest nights of the year, hoping to hook walleyes.

I hope they had fun. I headed back to the hotel.

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