Reservoir Dogs, January 2011

An Exploration of a Winter Day in Northern Oklahoma

Having delivered my wife Abby to the airport in the morning for her flight to Baltimore to see her newborn grandson, and having the entire day off, I decided to invite my longest-time friend Michael, who I have known since 1975, to grab his new Nikon D7000 and go up to northern Oklahoma to see and photograph the vicinity of the Great Salt Plains State Park and Wildlife Refuge. After breakfast at IHOP in Oklahoma City, we hit the road.

Our first stop for the day happened when we spotted this frozen fountain. Michael made this image of me photographing it.
Our first stop for the day happened when we spotted this frozen fountain. Michael made this image of me photographing it.
Thick ice clings to the base of the fountain.
Thick ice clings to the base of the fountain.
Michael ponders his next frame at the frozen fountain.
Michael ponders his next frame at the frozen fountain.
There are so many different ways to photograph an object like this, but there are also so many ways to start making the same photo over and over.
There are so many different ways to photograph an object like this, but there are also so many ways to start making the same photo over and over.
The Great Salt Plains Reservoir is an impressive concrete structure.
The Great Salt Plains Reservoir is an impressive concrete structure.
A chain link fence keeps you from walking too far out on the spillway.
A chain link fence keeps you from walking too far out on the spillway.
A red steel door leads somewhere on the Great Salt Plains Dam.
A red steel door leads somewhere on the Great Salt Plains Dam.
Michael finds an angle on the dam.
Michael finds an angle on the dam.
A slightly-melted trace of snow is visible on stairs in this image at the dam.
A slightly-melted trace of snow is visible on stairs in this image at the dam.
Some authority wants us to not do something, but I couldn't tell what.
Some authority wants us to not do something, but I couldn’t tell what.
Since we were there, Michael and I had to do the "up the stairs" bit.
Since we were there, Michael and I had to do the “up the stairs” bit.
Despite being important and impressive engineering, dams and spillways are often kind of bland.
Despite being important and impressive engineering, dams and spillways are often kind of bland.
Your host photographs the water flowing down the spillway at the Great Salt Plains Dam.
Your host photographs the water flowing down the spillway at the Great Salt Plains Dam.
A painted inset of Art Deco lettering identifies the dam at Great Salt Plains.
A painted inset of Art Deco lettering identifies the dam at Great Salt Plains.
A coil of bubbles floats on the water near the spillway.
A coil of bubbles floats on the water near the spillway.

We drove around the lake in a counter-clockwise route, stopping at several turnouts.

Your host does something dangerous,
Your host does something dangerous,
There was a small playground in one of the camping areas.
There was a small playground in one of the camping areas.
We saw and photographed these hackberries near the playground.
We saw and photographed these hackberries near the playground.
The lake was frozen in some places, including at this prominence at Sandy Beach on the northeast area of the lake.
The lake was frozen in some places, including at this prominence at Sandy Beach on the northeast area of the lake.
Your host prowls around the beach area on the northeast side of the Great Salt Plains Lake.
Your host prowls around the beach area on the northeast side of the Great Salt Plains Lake.
A closer view of Sandy Beach reveals animal tracks.
A closer view of Sandy Beach reveals animal tracks.
A shallow feeder stream is completely frozen.
A shallow feeder stream is completely frozen.
A hazy winter sun tries to melt the lake.
A hazy winter sun tries to melt the lake.
In a wooded area near the lake was this daunting, haunting tree.
In a wooded area near the lake was this daunting, haunting tree.
I hope you will forgive me for employing the oldest photographic cliché in the book with this ultra-wide view of the woods.
I hope you will forgive me for employing the oldest photographic cliché in the book with this ultra-wide view of the woods.
This portion of Great Salt Plains Lake was mostly frozen.
This portion of Great Salt Plains Lake was mostly frozen.
A large goose had died near the shore of the late, so I made this close-up of it's feathers.
A large goose had died near the shore of the late, so I made this close-up of it’s feathers.
Sometimes signs say enough by not saying anything.
Sometimes signs say enough by not saying anything.
Michael works with my 10-17mm fisheye lens.
Michael works with my 10-17mm fisheye lens.
Michael is pictured is this fisheye view on the boardwalk on the west end of the Lake.
Michael is pictured is this fisheye view on the boardwalk on the west end of the Lake.
An armadillo approaches us at it forages.
An armadillo approaches us at it forages.
Geese fly over us as we hike.
Geese fly over us as we hike.
Deer keep an eye on us from the woods.
Deer keep an eye on us from the woods.

The hazy grey sun persisted, but that combination of light lent itself well to our last stop, the salt flats. The park is the only spot in the world where crystal enthusiasts can dig for hourglass selenite, a rare and fragile form of selenite, which is a form of gypsum. Digging times are available from April 1 through October 15.

This moody overview helps convey a sense of how open and vast the site is.
This moody overview helps convey a sense of how open and vast the site is.
The muted late-afternoon light creates a graceful image of this tall grass.
The muted late-afternoon light creates a graceful image of this tall grass.
A fence stretches along the salt flats.
A fence stretches along the salt flats.

You can see Michael’s images from this day here (link).

The day ended up being extremely fruitful, not only photographically, but also intellectually, since Michael and I have densely packed conversations about everything, and while we don’t always agree, we are always respectful of each other’s opinions. We ended up having an excellent dinner at El Chico in Enid, Oklahoma.

Your host poses at the end of a walkway on the west side of Great Salt Plains Lake.
Your host poses at the end of a walkway on the west side of Great Salt Plains Lake.