Horses & Icons of the Wild West in Winter 2015 Trip Report

By Darrell Gulin on Feb 26, 2015

I flew into Billings, Montana, late on a Saturday afternoon in January, one day before the start of our 2015 Horses & Icons in Winter photo safari. The roads were clear for all of my two-and-a-half-hour drive to Shell, Wyoming. But that was about to change! When I arrived at the Hideout Guest Ranch I was greeted not only by Tom, the Hideout’s working foreman, but also by falling snow, as we began to check out the various shooting locations for our upcoming five days of photography. With some snow already on the ground in the beautiful Shell Valley, the new snowfall gave us a gorgeous clean layer of white for our entire workshop, dusting the trees and glistening on the open meadows.

What a week! We had a great group of fellow photographers each taking an average of over a thousand images a day. We were out shooting twice each day—the Hideout’s fantastic meals keeping us well fueled against the cold. Following a hot breakfast, we were out for several hours of morning photography, then returned to download our images—and out again to photograph until the last of the evening light was lost. From red slickrock backdrops to sweeping pastures and meadows and blue sky mountain vistas, the ranch has it all. Add a fine herd of horses, and a photogenic bunch of cowboys and cowgals—and that pristine snow—and our cameras were kept busy! Then it was time for drinks and a relaxing dinner at the lodge with our fellow photographers and a chance to share the stories of the day’s shoot. It was ideal.

But even the most ideal situation can be unexpectedly disrupted, especially for photographers, by a virus on your laptop. Yes, a computer virus corrupted my digital images from the first morning and most of the first evening. All that remained from that first day’s shoot were good memories! However, I still needed to download and back up my images for the rest of the week—especially since this is one of the most photographically productive workshops I lead. But the ranch and my fellow photographers saved the day! The Hideout loaned me a laptop computer to download and back up my files—so everything else I shot for the rest of the week was backed up except for the corrupted files from the first day. Tour participant and good friend, Holly, loaned me her laptop for three evenings to convert my images in order to create a slide show for Friday evening. The slide show for all of the wranglers, ranch hands, Hideout staff and tour participants is a highly anticipated tradition at the end of the week and could not be left out—but I certainly learned what is meant by burning the midnight oil!

I have been leading cowboy horse drive photo shoots for 20-some years, but the combination of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris and the Hideout makes for a truly winning combination—one even a computer virus couldn’t disrupt!