Catching an occasional break, weather and luck-wise, in South Dakota. The morning was totally socked in with fog when we arrived at Mt. Rushmore. Caught the movie, looked outside and saw it clearing. Before the fog decided to resettle, I raced around and shot the bejesus out of the famous 60-foot-high heads in color and B&W from a number of angles.
I had just ascertained from a ranger that there is only one week in September when they go up to do maintenance on the faces. I always wanted to get one of those “scale reference” pix of a little guy hanging by his harness on a big nose or ear.
Oddly, that same ranger neglected to let me know that a couple of his colleagues were going up that morning (not to hang from the face, but for a quick look at a monitor on top of the heads).
I just caught the sight of the little ranger on the big head as we were leaving, and managed to knock off a few frames before they disappeared. The place was crawling with Sturgis-bound bikers, and before I left, I made friends with Jeff and tried a different scale perspective to get the noble biker in a presidential pose.
Jeff was into it, and obliged. I have to say that it’s a kinder, gentler breed of bikers here than I encountered 30 years ago when I was a newspaper shooter. Then, I did a picture story on a gang of outlaw bikers, (I think it was a chapter of the Pagans, but I don’t remember for sure) with a clubhouse in lower Jersey City (in a dive neighborhood that is now filled with the multimillion dollar brownstones of financial district yuppies).
I was doing a portrait of the leader Tony with his shotgun, standing in front of a very politically incorrect flag in the meeting room of the building, when the clubhouse facade was raked with automatic weapon fire in a drive-by, and we all hit the floor. Needless to say, the portrait session was over and the gang and I scarpered out of there before the police came to investigate.
Just one of the many reasons I got out of news photography while the getting was good and I was still in one piece!