Bird’s-Eye View

Aerial photographer Dave Tunge partnered with South Dakota Magazine for the publication of a book of photographs Tunge has taken across the state. He is pictured with the book and South Dakota Magazine editor and publisher Katie Hunhoff.

Those who don’t think South Dakota has a diverse landscape need to talk with Dave Tunge.

A commercial photography pilot, the Yankton man has flown across the state in his Piper Super Cub for several years now, capturing photos with his professional Canon camera.

“(The Piper Super Cub) is a good platform for aerial photos because the side of the plane opens all the way up,” he explained.

When shooting photos, he uses his knees to steer the aircraft stick.

Now, his award-winning work is being featured in a book, “Sky High South Dakota,” published by South Dakota Magazine of Yankton.

Through the years, many of Tunge’s photos have run in South Dakota Magazine. At one point, the magazine also ran a photo essay featuring Tunge.

“We had such a great response from that, that we kept printing his work, which became a natural extension of what it is we do,” South Dakota Magazine editor and publisher Katie Hunhoff said. “We try to show a different side of the state to our readers and give them something new and exciting. What better way to do that then by showing them a photo from a perspective they don’t get to see every day?”

According to Tunge, it was his and magazine founder Bernie Hunhoff’s idea to create a book showcasing Tunge’s best photos.

“They did all the work; I just furnished the pictures,” Tunge remarked.

He gave magazine employees hundreds of photos to select from to create a 208-page book.

Katie said that was one of the most challenging tasks of putting the book together.

“The last 50 (photos) we had to cut out was painful,” she said. “Dave had such a wide variety of fantastic photos from across the state. We needed to make sure all the parts of the state were represented and that there was something for everybody.”

Tunge said he already had photos from most parts of the state, but had to make a couple trips specifically to get photos of certain areas.

He noted that one of his favorite photos is of a cow leaving a trail through muddy, murky water in northern South Dakota.

Images like that — of everyday people and creatures going about their business — are mixed in with traditional landscape photos in the book.

Katie Hunhoff noted that the book illustrates the diversity of landscapes that can be found in the state.

“If you get high enough, you can watch how the Missouri River landscape changes from the other side of the river,” Tunge said.

Due to a large percentage of the photos being landscapes, the South Dakota Magazine team opted to make the book wider and taller than most books in order for people to feel the size and scope of the landscapes.

“We wanted it to be high quality, and it exceeded our expectations,” Katie said.

“The colors came out really good,” Tunge added.

Putting the book together was a nice change of pace for those at the magazine, including Katie.

“It’s great when the staff working on it get excited about it because we look at photos of South Dakota every day through submissions,” she said. “Not that it gets old, but it’s refreshing for us to have this new medium to work with.”

The books are currently on sale.

“They make good Christmas gifts,” Tunge said coyly.


South Dakota Magazine will host a holiday open house and book signing with Tunge on Friday, Nov. 30, from 4-6 p.m.

For more information, contact Tunge at 605-660-0840 or by email at

Follow @ReillyBiel on Twitter.

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