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In September of 2019, I took a trip to get some photographs of the Black Hills and the Badlands I had heard from a friend that I should also include a visit to the Devils Tower National Monument. I had the time so I decided to drive over to the tower and arrive in the early afternoon to get the light from the west and hope for a clear sunset. The highway that leads to the monument heads up a slight rise before dropping down into the valley where Devils Tower stands. As I came over the rise and saw the tower for the first time my reaction was simply “WOW”!
Devils Tower must be one of the most unique rock formations in the country. And the closer I got the larger it loomed. As I entered the park and drove the perimeter road the tower looked different from every angle. I could have stopped the car every few hundred feet and the view would be completely different! I had made arrangements to stay at a bed and breakfast right next to the national monument which would enable me to be up and out before sunrise and catch some early morning shots This turned out to be the best decision of the day. It allowed me to be out and about the tower before the day crowds arrived, giving me unhindered access to the best shooting locations.
There is a blacktop walking trail that circles Devils Tower makes it very easy to walk completely around the tower and at several spots the trees open up and allow for an unobstructed view of the monument. This view was exactly what I was hoping for but the height of the tower was blocking the sun. I knew it would be at least an hour or more before the sun would move around the tower and I didn’t want to wait. So I just set up the tripod and took the shot with the light that was available. I did not see the effects of the backlight creating a sort of 'halo' until I downloaded the file on my home computer. The lichens that coat the top portion of the tower usually appear green but in the shadows, they took on a distinctive yellow tinge. I was very pleased with the effect. The trees were turning color and that added to the beauty of the monument and I would highly recommend this time of year for a visit to this site. It takes about an hour to walk completely around Devils Tower on the blacktop path and stopping to take photos will add at least another hour or two! Plan accordingly.