I’m walking along this ridge line way back up into the borderland backcountry of Wyotana. I see this scene developing. That is NOT water dripping off that injured pine tree. That is pine sap and it is dripping in SUPER slow motion at these temperatures lol . The Pine Sap extrudes on any external injury by the pine. This will keep out insects from penetrating the wound. This of course is part of the process insect/pinesap to Amber made famous in the Movie Jurassic Park. Tree resin traps insects, it gets hardened by heat and pressure over time and you get an insect in Amber. Fossilization requires specialized conditions. Amber formation must occur in a wet low oxygen environment. Something like an estuarine, swampy or even a marine environments. (chew on that last one for a while). 😜🤔👀
Stripped of bark, this injury caused by a Porcupine will likely not heal. Particularly if it is deep enough an injury. Porcupines strip bark off Pine trees. Porcupine is from the french translation of “Thorny Pig”. They eat roots, stems leaves of many plants but definitely consume and even kill trees by girdling a trees bark. I have seen numerous trees killed by porcupines. The mountain men used to not bother them. Being slow moving, easy to catch animals, as such were easy pickings. So the mountain men saved them for Hard times and emergencies. Porcupines are greasy when cooked I understand. I’ve never wanted to skin one lolol. 2:1 Aspect
This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They also blend in rather well. Magic in the backcountry.
I was quietly driving down low in a wash/gully in my Polaris Ranger Crew. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. Never got a look at what. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. Makes you dizzy.😄 The path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands from the famous “Hell Creek/Lance Formations. here.
It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist. MOST dinosaurs did indeed die but the ones that did’nt had feathers, a tail and teeth. Their modern descendants are flying around us now. There are two types of Paleontologists. (BAND and BAD). Birds Are Not Dinosaurs and Birds are Dinosaurs. Most are the Latter.
I have a few dozen good captures from this encounter but I have bigger “fish” to fry at the moment lol. . This G. H. Owl.
Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.
On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.
With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit.
The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly pink color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the sky opposite the sunrise. The “Belt of Venus” which is a very pink Alpenglow phenomena reflecting said pink light back. Pine Needles coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This pink color cast is not that common on local vegetation and is usually only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.
Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.
Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.
Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.
Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.
This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).
We obtained this Carving in 1993 while living in Jackson Hole. It has been on our porch under roof since then. While he does stay outside. He seems to be celebrating the holiday with the rest of us.
Cigar Store Indians are one of many different kind of carvings of various symbols in front of shops so passersby knew what was sold inside. A carving of a wooden Indian indicated a tobacco store; a red and white striped pole, a barber/dentist, a mortar and pestle indicated an apothecary while three gold balls meant a pawn shop. This tradition was because most of the customers could not read. Thus the symbolism was used instead.
The use of the carved Indians as a symbol in front of a tobacco shop began in England. Way back in the early 1600s as the ships from America began to bring tobacco to Europe. The symbolism of Native Americans became attached to the statues. This is because they were the source of the tobacco supply at that time. By the mid 1600’s, tobacco was growing in popularity. Cigar store Indians gave rise to what became a form of signage that has been used for the 350 years since. Many of the early carvings were made by craftsmen who had never seen a Native American. Those statues were based on drawings or descriptions from those who had visited the new world. The sculptures were sometimes called “Virginians” or “Virginnie men” to clarify what they represented.
This image takes a little examination to figure out whats going on lol. I’m always looking for nested antlers images. Getting deer to line up properly is way above my pay grade. Usually only a deal with “Sneaky Pete” will get deer to take direction.👀 Occasionally I get lucky and can move to just the right spot to take the image. It would be typical for one or the other deer to be moving but not as fast as the moment of their alignment which is fleeting. Usually I don’t have enough time and can’t get the camera set just so. Moments like this last a few seconds at best. Catching unique moments in space and time is the still photographers job. Otherwise we’d be shooting a movie lolol. (I am not and will never be a videographer).
Taken a last year about the same day so not as much snow cover in this capture. Currently the ground continues accumulating snow for the winter… Totally covered by 9 inches or so of snow flat with bigger drifts out in the backcountry. Still waiting (as I type this) for my new ford f-150 that is replacing my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. My vehicles play a significant roll in my photography. Being agile and fast in moving from place to place gives me more opportunity to chase light. Light is faster of course but I can predict where it’s going to be and get there first. 😜😜
I spent two hours last Sunday morning (since this posts a week after I write it) clearing my driveway. That’s pretty fast considering how much snow has fallen the year. More importantly most of the fall snow that has fallen for the last month hasn’t melted much. It much harder for the wildlings to get their food grazing. Most ungulates paw the ground to get to grass or just eat sage like Pronghorn do. Running water is the game though. Animals like these bucks are attracted to any open water in this spell of below freezing weather.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) 2:1 Aspect Ratio to 40 inches.
Title: Mule Deer Antler Nesting
This is the second Killdeer sitting on eggs that I have in my portofolio. It is silly hard to get close enough to a Killdeer to take an “eyebrow” photo. To get a Killdeer sitting on a nest without triggering it’s wounded bird display is a slow motion process. Their instinct is to play injured bird to draw you away from their bare nest. They carry on for a hour if that is what it takes to get you distracted from where their next is. It is job one for the little guys. They are actually a member of the Plover family if you keep track of such things.
This parent was sitting on 5 small eggs surrounded by rocks. Nothing soft at all. From humble beginnings….. This patch of stones are a Killdeer’s idea of good camo for little eggs that look like stones. They are dutiful parents.
I have many photos of day old chicks running around with their parents playing their part to draw me away. Of course I ignored them and took images of their chicks. Once I know where something is….matter of time Killdeer are a hoot to watch. They are a challenge to watch out of “character” and doing natural behavior. That is besides their bad acting career lol.
This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 40 inches x 20 inchs at 300DPI. 2:1 aspect.
Jabba the Owl is a Great Horned Owl AND a fledgeling laying down under a wing.
This Capture is WAAAAAY far out there for the optical technology I had at that time. At least 300 yards across a lake at 3200mm. Taken last spring before the leaves sprouted on the host Cottonwood Tree. I only got a few opportunities on this nest as the spring COttonwood leaves totally hid it from me time and time again. . I just couldn’t see him for about a month after this shot. When I finally got lucky with a certain angle and a beam of light. At these distances a quarter mile line of cottonwoods all looks alike from different angles lol. These owls have some of the best disruptive camo I’ve ever seen. It was amazing I found him this time. I do have some other images with him and a fledge standing too.
There was no other way to approach this next as just finding it against the visual noise of the treeline that ALL looks like this lolol. That is a very small area of a big row of trees looking through a long tube with no landmarks lolol. One time I had a green frog at 15 feet in algae to find while looking through a 18 inch long lens. Under High Magnifications, this is nearly an impossible task. To point a camera that precisely with consistency time and time again….nope This capture is taken off a sandbag on a Jeep Window.
This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.
High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before.
The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. THe ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formatoin and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).
This male looks nothings like the female (sexually dimorphic). The female looks like a long billed sparrow. This male was down on the waters edge hoping along this piece of driftwood. Eye for insects and small critters. They are Polygynous with the male floating among several females and the females have been known to “roam” as well. The Males are aggressive toward any intruders to their nest. Every male I’ve ever seen was the dictionary definition of brash.
They are WIDELY distributed with around 20 subspecies. Their primary diet is bugs and berries. In my barnyard pond, they seem to be mostly waiting for pickings left over by the ducks and chickens. Known to go right through normal chainlink. This to get access to the inside of my chicken coup. Another section of finer chicken wire took control of that invasion route. Nuking them from orbit might be the only option. They seem to really want to get into the grain in the chicken roost for some reason.
These guys are in the same family (Icteridae) which includes the Baltimore Oriole and the Eastern Meadowlark. Our birds have no doubt migrated to southern climates. October 1st was the first day of winter (early) . I did not notice large flocks this year but I saw some last years. Random distribution I suspect.
)rotected under the Mgratratory Bird Treaty Act, Red Wings are in trouble . Populations of Red Wings are currently in decline. Standard stuff..habitat distruction, miccro plastics normal climate variations or what ever is causeing the decline.
Just so long as we all know the bird needs to be helped not destroyed.
I was driving to check some game trail cameras at a nearby wildlife funnel. I saw the parents bolt for my presence. We surprised each other as I only check cameras when I’m in an area which might be several weeks. This image is a regular camera issue . I think it took me about 2 minutes to have a 360 degree game trail camera on the location. I have some excellent images of the the parents tending their eggs. The Game Trail Cameras worked without me bothering them. I have a few finished images of that apparently that I have yet to revisit but I’ll get there lolol.
There was NO hatch of this nest. . The parents were obviously disturbed by something. They left the eggs. (not by me as the trail camera watched them for a month tending eggs. ). Suddenly, they were gone. The eggs scattered. I don’t know what happened to them. I do have a pretty good series of very close images from them with the eggs. Several other animals apparently took advantage of the nest after that. I have blurry photos. The night a raccoon found them was the last. It’s hard to know why the clutch didn’t hatch and the parents departed. 😔
These wetlands are on ranch. They are spring fed, as such in 20 years I’ve never seen this pond dry up. Built by a dam on the old local section of the “Montana to Texas Cattle Trail”. A LOT of cattle have drunk water from this pond. The trains started hauling cattle..
The closest “General Store” to this old buck board wagon was 15 miles. I wonder how many times this wagon was used to drive back and forth across the backcountry all the way to Biddle Montana or to Rocky POint Wyoming. They were about equidistant from our ranch headquarters.
A drive to supplies from here in a modern Car at 60 mph car is about 20 minutes. to drive the 15 miles to Biddle Montana. There has been a “General Store” there since the first settlers moved in. There were dozens and dozens of smaller ranches settled in the early 1900’s. When little chunks of land were available for settling.
Wagons like this were the main way that good made their way from civilization to the backcountry. A couple of good carriage horses should be able to convey a carriage 20-30 miles in an 8 hour day.. Carriage horses trotted but horse pulling loaded couldn’t travel as far. Trotting wasn’t an option with a heavy load of flour, beans and oils. Don’t forget cattle supplies and machine parts for fixing broken farm equipment. This wagon made many day long round trips from dawn to dusk. Probably 12-15 hours. Rough on the team plus rough under the Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) weather.
Weather up here is dangerously changeable. I’ve seen it drop 40 degrees in 24 hours. Dust storms, wind storms and worse lightning storms. (a place called “Lightning Flats” is 20 miles east of here lolol) You and your cargo is at the mercy of the elements. I’m trying to image getting a winters supplies of food (months anyway) in this wagon.
Heck, the supplies themselves where hauled to the general store from the rail head by horse and wagon. Early trucks certainly started up hauling that 50 miles as the technology because affordable and available. The roads then were not concrete stretching across the country. Those roads were rutted 2 track roads. Most of which were originally game trails following the easiest path.
This place is a living museum. I’m always finding old technology discarded here. Old plows, discs and a long list of old grass machines found in the “bone yards”
“This Post Was Posted” is a 2:1 Aspect up to 40 x20 inches.
This fence is on the Montana border. Montana is (left) of the fence. . Wyoming is (right) of the fence. It’s 10,000 kilometers from the North Pole to the Equator. This fenceline is pretty durn close to exactly 1/2 way between the two important geographic features on the globe. This coincides with the 45 degrees north latitude. (the north pole is 90 degrees and the equator is 0 degrees. This is looking east and is just after sunset in early civil twilight.
Some of these posts are really really really old. Wood takes a long time to rot up here. We don’t get a lot of moisture at 14 inches average a year so it stays mostly dry and stable. This is a massive old cedar post used to anchor a good section of fairly tight fence. Our ranch is located on both sides of the border of course. We pay taxes in both states. It’s pretty close to 50/50 in each state. 2 courses of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship are in Montana and 2 courses are in Wyoming as well.
RIght here at the border, under this fence, the Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing Rock Formations magically change name from Hell Creek Formation (in South Dakota and Montana) versus Lance formation (Wyoming). Based on all sorts of reasons known only to the people doing stratigraphy, they arbitrarily named the same rock formations caused by the same environment at the same time, two different names. Hell Creek left, Lance right. Sort of silly I think but hey, I only have a Masters in Geology. I don’t have it Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I don’t worry too much about what I can’t change 🤔 Filed under trivia…
Taking a Great Blue Herons profile from the same elevation is a pretty low probability encounter. I use my Jeep as a portable blind. Adjacent to the 50 foot tall Cottonwood Trees, exists a steep grassy hill that reaches over 50 feet above the trees. The higher you go, the further you are away from the Heron Rookery. This required a long lens to reach out and touch this guy.
Sort of the “drone” point of view but I don’t fly the things lol. I’ve never captured an image before where you could see the top AND the bottom of a heron’s wings at flight. (I take a lot of Blue Hero). I find photographers shoot what’s in front of them…..Kinda like some hunters… I would really have liked to have this shot from the other side. The longer I work this site, the more likely this will happen again. Good photography is a function of being there and paying your dues. There are of course, some technical considerations for a long range shot. 📷 I used an 800mm telephoto lens for this image.
Photographed in the late spring. (spring was on a Friday in 2019) Swing seasons between white and brown are usually one day long in this high ridge line prairie country. Spring weather would be welcome with a storm due as I type this narrative.
The ranch wetlands these birds nest on are wonderful places for biologic productivity. The Cottonwood trees they roost in grow on a many decade old dam across a spring fed pond. That pond is also runoff catchment for several square miles but the runoff is all grassy, broad and not gully like. It’s wonderful hay country there. The pond is a nice several acre puddle. There are a series of water sources in the area so the birds to fly away to hunt as well.
Great Blue Herons are big up to 5 pound birds. That is a 5 foot wingspan across this 40×20 inch image.
Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies with golden Alpenglow behind these two species cooperating so closely. There are several images in this timeline still to be finished.
The Bird Is a Magpie, a fairly common bird here in the borderlands of Montana and Wyoming. We live on the high ridges with a mix of wildlife, deer, pronghorn, some lions and coyotes with the occasional wolf and bear. I seldom see such a big bird interact with deer but have seen this before.
The lighting was bright from behind and there was a lot of fog/moisture in the air. All the brightness was amplified by the Projector Screen the fog became. The Golden Alpenglow and mist behind him made it necessary to silhouette him. The camera couldn’t do any better. There is no way to accurately bring out the detail in the deer or birds body. So I left them as the camera saw them.
A symbiotic relationship between magpies and deer doesn’t seem logical but here they are. Somehow the deer, jumpy as heck, knows to allow these raucous birds to land and pick away. I’m pretty sure the ticks are torn away and not gently pried out like they should be. It has to be taught from parent to fawn somehow. I had never witnessed this before this timeline and I have several more similar captures, one with a deer and several birds on her. Crazy stuff you see only once or twice in a lifetime.
Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. They used to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.
Green Spring Wash is a capture from May of 2019. Our region has been in a winter weather pattern since October 1. I figured it was time to put you here with me at that time. This is a broad wash (shallow gully) that can flash flood with feet of water)
I had driven there in an open ATV. Early may is a tad chilly as the sun rises as such I was aware of the temperature. It wasn’t windy when I was walking though. Just brisk. This gully is a few miles from my homestead and I hadn’t worked this before. This gully has wonderful sculpted rocks and cottonwoods along with the thickest grass I’ve seen up here. All the mineral sands from a few square miles of drainage area wash by here. It’s probably as fertile as it gets in this country. .
The sun had just risen a few moments before. The sky was blue as could be with a cloud bank to the left blocking the sun. Contrasts are important. This was just a small window to the sun on a mostly overcast morning. This wash was full of spring growth.
That sideways branch in the foreground was budding having broken away from it’s parent tree years ago. Just a fine connections (lifeline) is all it needs. Life is resilient as heck here. It has to be to make it past the floods, the winds, the cold and the summer heat. Drought and fire is a common event. As a famous Movie once stated “Life will find a way”.
Perspective: Hill Top Back Show is a hill top/ridgeline view toward the rising moon to the east. I am standing within a few feet of the Montana/Wyoming border looking across it. The view is to the southeast. Trying to be alert to what is ongoing around you is a task. I move between shots quickly and cover a lot of ground doing photography in the backcountry. The big sky show that was going on behind me at this time was impressive to say the least. . However I make a point to turn around every few minutes just to see the show behind. Perspectives can be deceptive. Those boulders are the size of pickup trucks lol. This is a very wide 2:1 aspect image up to 40 inches wide. Its hard to find spots like this where ALL the leading lines point to one place lol. The moon had just risen an hour before sunset that beautiful spring day. With the weather turning decidedly brown season trending toward white season now. I considered this post carefully for a Friday night placement. THe other direction was beautiful. I instantly saw the perspective. These reflected photons needed gathering.📸 Science Factoid: Remember that none of these objects emit their own light. Everything seen in this image is reflecting light originating from the sun. 🤔. These are all collected photons backscattered at me from the sun. A good scientist should consider thinking this way. “Things are the way they are. They are not the way you think. Certainly they are seldom the way you have been told.” My dad used to say that. I took him seriously. Some times He would have to tell me things twice…..three times lol… I usually pushed back a bit the first time lolol. Location, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands Title: Perspective: Hill Top Back Show
Capturing Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect is not an easy settings combination to figure out on your camera. It is counter-intuitive to say the least and a cell phone isn’t going to catch this image. The layers of ridges , the sails blur, the rising horizon (setting sun)🤔
Montana skies on the right. Wyoming Skies on the left. Living on the Montana/Wyoming border has it’s little spiffs lolol.
There are 3 things you have to set to run a camera on manual:
1: Your first priority here is to catch a blurred windmill. The only way to do that is to set your shutter speed to a very long 1/15th of a second to facilitate the blur. That makes a longer time for the windmill sail to blur the whole disk. Your kind of stuck with this first setting priority.
2: So then you have a VERY bright sun on the left of the frame. …. …. Your f-stop will reduce light so automatically you turn it all the way to the highest number the lens will go (this was f64). I was about 300 yards out from the windmill. 800mm telephoto.
3: You will still have to turn the last thing you have to set to run the camera on Manual. ISO or Camera sensitivity . I would think not many cameras can do this because they don’t have enough built in dynamic range . I use ISO 80 for this and the camera will go down to 50. Yours will probably go down to ISO 100.
This was done WITHOUT a glass neutral density filter in front of the camera but that might help some of you that cant turn your ISO any lower.
Now you know everything I know about trying to take one of these except, don’t do this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye will blind you. I look at a video screen to do this using mirrorless cameras. Also, make sure your using a camera that can take this (is rated for it). a direct sun through a long lens can and will melt some sensors in cameras out there. Don’t melt your camera please.
Sharpie on an Icy Wire was a capture from 35 feet below and 50 feet off to the side. The wire was moving back and forth in the breeze. The bird was constantly shifting it’s significant weight to compensate. The ice wasn’t falling off so it was pretty well attached.
I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 50 others were hanging out nearby. There is a very large flock hanging around this year. All the good images I will get this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.
The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…
They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….
This is a sub-committee of the larger Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Pronghorn Ladies Club. The discussion started out as talk about a stock tank and a mid day drink. On the way, this fence crossing shows very clearly that Pronghorns make decisions as a group lolol. The stress is obvious….
There is an obvious internal discussion on going regarding this obstacle. I’m “OK” at lip reading AND translating from Pronghorn at the same time so you’ll have to trust me here . (Classical Reference to a recent commercial). It was the youngster walking in that not knowing any better say’s “just step over that wire” (or something like that). which moved the group. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it .
I’ve watch Animal behavior pretty carefully as I see it…. . When I notice hair on barbed wire, I see a place to plant a Game Trail Camera. (I buy pretty good cameras). It’s ALL about placement. There are so many signs that say watch this area. The trail walking to this 15 foot wide fence section then it shrinks behind the camera. Fences naturally funnel the animals to here and they take advantage of the downed wire to cross. If you want to dab a little buck urine on that hair, it will pause animals there for a while too. (good hint but be careful with the glass bottle, you don’t want it to freeze in the winter in your rig lololol).
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
Here the local Wyoming Roaming Road Block was down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. These are Pronghorn Bucks still with antlers (not for long) and does mixed. They are on the move migrating down to that remote grassland to winter over the rough Wyoming Winter.
As this was taken, I was on the road to Gillette from my ranch for a ‘day trip”. It’s about 25 gravel road miles to this spot. Then another 12 miles of gravel before I run into concrete in the form of St. Rt. 59 (Wyoming) .
The Thundbasin National Grasslands are huge chunks (several spread around a few states) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with very few inholdings by private land holders. These ‘reserves” are hundreds of square miles of just an occasional power line and stock well or solar well. Of course there is the obligatory oil well facility but these guys don’t care about buildings. Usually geothermally warm water is the only running water and there is a few of those sources around here. They are oasis’s in the winter for wildlife living near them.
I’ve seen many very large herds of Pronghorn roaming just off one of the few maintained roads out there. Vehicle traffic is prohibited within the national grasslands. The only way to get miles back and up high is to horseback or walk in. I gave up horses a decade ago and walking more than a few miles backcountry with 20 pounds or so of gear gets pretty old pretty fast in the winter I have found. Reminds me of deer hunting when I was way younger. I’ll stick to the roads down in this country lol.
Location:25 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Thunder Basin National Grasslands, Campbell County Wyoming.
Deer With Pronghorn Bookends was a real deal… Here two Pronghorn’s are literally “herding” these intimidated deer doe into a defensive pile. I’ve never seen this behavior before but I did watch them for a few minutes. The deer were not having fun and I think the Pronghorn were lolol. This of course was from late summer as the ground was drying a bit from the overly wet year we had (are having). At the moment, it is snowing at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. Fall really was only on a Tuesday this year. Oct 1 all things turned winter and it really hasn’t looked back very much. We had a FEW days in the 60’s in October but it’s been VERY early coming winter has. I digress again:… I saw this down on Trail Creek Road, slowed down and stopped. None of them were really giving me much mind as their interaction was so intense. You could feel the adrenaline in the deer. The antelope were acting a little like border collies or a good cutting quarter horse at times. Remember I’m mixing in many previous portfolio images all this winter with my current work flow.
Location: A few miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (snowy now). Title: Deer With Pronghorn Bookends
The sun had set a minute before. The wind on the peaks were certainly gale force pushing snow a thousand feet into the air or more. I’ve had more sun behind the “Big Horn Mountains” this week than I’ve had in 20 years of trying to get shots like this.
Bear in mind that the range is 130 miles away from my ranch. I’m look at a VERY SMALL part of the sky at 13000 feet high peaks. Twice a year in the late fall and early spring the sun sets behind the BigHorn Mountains. The angle changes depending on where you are from the range. At this distance, you need really long telescopic lens ability to get “this close” from my place. I suggest an 800mm lens to start..
This is an 800mm lens and the image is a 2:1 Aspect ration 40 inches by 20 inches at 300DPI. I personally love silhouettes and pursue them as readily as images showing the detail of the trees on the peaks in daylight. You gotta love huge mountain chains 📸
Boy do I have images from this week of the Big Horns 📸.
“Listen Up Girls” as I’ve got a plan to get those deer.
You see the buck was tired of the deer eating up all his favorite tasty morsels. He has these gals convinced he is the know all save all stud that he portrays himself to be. He obviously has all their attention and is giving them some relevant/important tidbit of Pronghorn information. The crowd is in awe of his wisdom and obvious magnificence.😎
Well that’s what he thinks anyway lolol. I’m sort of the idea that he does have them bamboozled certainly. How else could he get ALL their attention. So here I am sitting 200 yards out in my Jeep not moving, they are all looking to him as to what to do. He is annoyed as he was eating and now these girls want a decision. Boy having that many “wives” would be one decision after another lololol 😜
This group eventually moved out as the male, though forced by the group into changing what he was doing (eating).. He just thinks he’s in charge. If all of them ran past him, he might just stay there because he’s too lazy and secure in his powers. Overconfidence is a fault in a prey animal that evolved to be the fastest land animal in North America… I suspect more than a few bucks have been taken out by that overconfident attitude. I’ve seen them strut around like they own the place. I’ve also seen them lazy enough to ignore threat. Quite a contradiction.
Banded Sky over the BigHorns was captured last week as this posts.
I only get a couple of times a year that this line up occurs. I can travel further north and/or south if necessary. My limiting factor is always weather windows that long . The places you can see/work the Big Horns located within 20 miles of my Ranch, I can count on both hands. There is a lot of high ground for sure but getting up there is another thing lolol. A lot of snow will keep me off the really high hard to get to ridges this time of year.
Northeastern Wyoming is big country with bigger views. It is 130 miles to the Big Horns as seen here. The clouds are probably 50 miles behind that. There is a 50 mile horizon the other directions. I know a peak that you can see South Dakota AND the Big Horns by simply turning 180 around and looking both ways. That’s close to 200 miles easily.
Big Sky country applies to both Montana AND Wyoming as the right side of this image is in Montana. This image is 130 miles deep and 130 miles wide at the horizon 😲📸
As a 2:1 aspect, The full file is 40×20 inches at 300dpi. Real colors. I always expose the highlights properly as per the sky I’m looking at. Color Density is Strongly controlled by your exposure time. If you look at your mirrorless camera screen, what you see is what you get. By changing shutter speed I could have turned this all golden yellow. If full disclaimer: This is a side by side 2 image composite of 2 high resolution images. BIG file and high res.
This V-shaped Sun Pillar over the Bighorns northern ridges was magnificent from 130 miles distant.
The Ground Blizzard on the peaks must have been intense at the peaks for it to blow so obviously. Remember the area of the sky in this photo is smaller than a postage stamp at arms length. I look into really bright little areas of the sky with my gear. 130 mils is so far that the air between here and there becomes a serious deciding factor if I can see the range or not. It’s the ice in front high between the ranch and myself that is lit up by the sunlight pushing over the saddle between the peaks. The sun is actually down for this so this is a night shot 😎
LONG telephoto shots like this are deceiving. Hold a postage stamp out at arms length and look at the horizon. This image would fit into that stamp. A 1200mm looks at very small things on the horizon. The mountains in this image are ONLY 9,000 – 10,000 feet high at this northern section of the Big Horn Mountain Range. The Big Peaks are to the left of this frame. .
Birdie Sanders was a European Robin Fledgling that was in my back yard Wind Break Woods last summer
Being a baby, his flight or fight reflex was not well developed. He could mostly fly to low branches and get away. Because it’s a baby, slow deliberate movements and this 800mm at about 15 feet was the equipment to have. Any closer would have flown.
This is a full sized image in a 2:1 Aspect up to 40×20 inch at high resolution. He was actually pretty curious about me but I didn’t want to attract my cats to the area so I didn’t linger. I managed to get a “few” images for the portfolio lol. I love the green grass summer bokeh from those ware lazy days of summer. This guy has migrated south already if he survived the summer and the one day of fall. (It was on a tuesday this year).
Capturing a Big Horn Sun Pillar: I had to drive about 10 miles south of my ranch to have this line up a few days ago to Capture this Sun Pillar over the Big Horn Mountains. The weather window between me and those little 13,000 foot high peaks just left of the sun has been closed recently. As I type this, tonight looks to be a repeat of this performance but the sun will be over the V notch . It’s all about weather, moisture in the air mostly, maybe smoke these days. We will see……So I’ll take a drive to start with with a LONG lens say 600 mm tonight before sunset…
Looks like a gas flame off the ridge to me lolol… Those Hills are 130 miles out from the camera. This image is 100 miles wide as well at the Big Horns.
There is a lot to be said for having a mirrorless camera built to look right at a really bright sun. Of course you would never look through a standard DSLR camera to do this. The direct optic path through the camera to your retina would blind you. Don’t try this with a DSLR. Only use mirrorless cameras for such things where you are looking at a video of what your are taking a photo of. Know what is safe before you try this at home. You could also damage your gear if it’s not rated for this. My Sony’s do fine (large sensor Alpha 7’s. )
This light level is a pretty rarified ultra-bright playground for most photographers…. you obviously need Manual Camera settings. High F-stop, High shutter speed and Low ISO. Your basically shutting the camera down to light. But you have to have enough to see the silhouettes in the image. Every camera setting depends on lenses and lighting so using my system of priorities, you figure out the settings pretty quickly.
You know your not going to be shaking the camera at high shutter speeds of 1/2000th or so. Iso 100 which is as low and most cameras under 1200 bucks for the body go. And balance the light equation with f-stop. F-stop is aperture size…. higher number means smaller aperture. Your basically looking here at one focal plane at infinity so ANY f-stop setting will work. Changing f-stop higher will just defract light a bit more but with high settings , you get less light into the camera than low f-stop numbers. (low f-stop # = big aperture/pupil of the camera)
There, now you know everything I know about setting up your camera for this high light.
Being a 2:1 Aspect image at high resolution, this is two 560mm shots side by side combined in the digital dark room. It is a composite but an accurate one showing the scene as my Sony Alpha 7R4 saw it.