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Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber
Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber

Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms the light from the silhouetted areas.

Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.

I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.

Good news is, my new ride (F150) is in Nebraska traveling on a semi, due next week at our local dealer. I ordered it Oct 3 and it was a 2020 so it is certainly one of the first off the assembly line. Give the dealer a week to prep it by putting on the dealer installed accessories So about a week from when this posts…just before xmas, some of my shots will be from several feet higher perspective. Stay tuned lolol. My first new truck in 15 years. I’m looking forward to a better ride quality as well as clearance/snow capabilities I haven’t had with my Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In a few more years, I’ll be showing you branch details with the sunset. Cameras will exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Windmill Sunset through Timber

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Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate
Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate

The well known ranch rule is.: If the gate is open, leave it open. If the gate is closed, close it after you pass through.

I will leave gates open to allow easy passing of game through the fences. They don’t have to crawl under the wire or jump over it. This particular area is a busy summer area for game, not so much in the as winter water is more than a mile away. It has to be moving water of course to not be frozen in this environment. Dryland areas like this evacuate of all ungulates during the colder months of the year.

I usually put game trail cameras on open gates but I had just removed several from this spot due to the oncoming winter. Not only will it be difficult to tend to those cameras, they would capture almost nothing that time of year. I tend to keep them around those water sources that are kept open. We trickle a jet of high pressure water into 4, sometimes 5 stock tanks all winter. It keeps them open nicely and should provide some nice ice sculpture images this year. Wildlife hangs near the water for good reason. Trapped near an island water source surrounded by dry land with LOTS of food. It’s not a bad way to spend your winter if your an ungulate. The one thing we usually have enough of is deer fodder/food.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Open Gate

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Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion
Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

SATIRE:

So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…

Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:

OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

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Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral
Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Photographic Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments. Try manual mode sometimes…… Only three main things to learn….. Just saying.

When ever I try to capture a fairly bright sun, I actually use no lens filter in front of this or any other of my sun shots for several years now. I use mirrorless camera gear that shows me the image on a video screen. This prevents me from being blinded doing this twice a day when I’m working photography a week at a time. DSLR cameras in contrast to Mirrorless Cameras have a direct path for light to your eye. Yup, you can blind yourself doing this once.

With the right gear rated to do this, turn down your ISO to 100 or lower if your camera will go lower), turn your fstop to the highest number of the lens your using has. (this closes the “pupil of the lens to a pin point). A LOW F-stop will open up the lens and you’ll have overexposure PLUS the tree will be out of focus). High f-stop numbers give you a long depth of focus. As well high f-stop reduces light. (sort of important looking into the furnace).

The last of the three things you adjust in manual mode is Shutter speed. This last setting is your variable with the first two setting taking priority in getting this image. It may take everything your camera has for a fast shutter say 1/3000ths of a second. My Sony Alphas will hit 1/8000th of a second for a LOT less light.

Many consumer entry level cameras don’t have enough dynamic range built in. The ability to shut down light enough is part of that.. Then you use a screw on glass filter in front of the lens. Called Neutral Density filters, available at any camera shop for your lens. Coming in different degrees of darkness, they cut down light. In my experience, they give you ghosts to deal with in the image. This is why I don’t use them..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Etherial Light in the Cathedral

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Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show
Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

Awaiting a new ride. According to the Ford Website, the 2020 Ford Truck is “In Production” at the moment being assembled. The last truck I purchased new was in 1999.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title “Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show”.

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Echinacea on Ice

Echinacea on Ice
Echinacea on Ice

Echinacea on Ice

This silhouette on ice is in full disclose a left/right mirror of the left side of this flower head. Limited by reality I am not within my digital darkroom. I took the silhouette against this wonderful orange Alpenglow sky. The seed head hides the sun totally.

As I said this is ART. IT looked strangely incomplete and unbalanced. I simply mirrored the other side to make an ice world of reflections on the seed head. There is a cross and some face figures inside of the dark area if you are prone to seeing anthropomorphic images in random data. (seeing faces in clouds etc). ART yes but just the totality of the image. Not the left half… When I combined the left 1/2 of the image with it’s mirror was the moment art was committed.

Sun reflections through the ice are in the dozens in this capture . I can’t imagine a better cellulose filter to reduce the light of that bright bright sun . Be still my hear as I definitely like highlights and miniature sun images lol. My cameras work best with moderate amounts of light. Using natural filters like this seed pod is a favorite topic of mine. Conveniently there was ice the night before 😃📷 Without that seed pod in the way, the sun would have overpowered the camera at the settings I used for this capture.

Note: Will all the photorealism I do, if I don’t play a little now and then, I start making mistakes.

2×3 Aspect to 36 inches wide

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Echinacea on Ice

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Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge
Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

The Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana. It was pretty muddy up on the pass road to Alzeda Montana from Ranch Creek. I wouldn’t suggest that route to anyone at the moment. Once it freezes it’s going to be deeply rutted certainly. That is always a tough road to choose or not. 

But…. I got this shot anyway. It took me a 1/2 hour to wash off my Jeep. The mud was 4 inches deep many times…. I had to take a front wheel off to get the rock that was stuck between a brake rotor and a brake shield from…..well mud and rocks lolol. I was noisily scraping around for a few days hoping it would just fall out but nooooooo. Not a chance that would happen. I can’t see this portion of the Big Horns from anywhere on my ranch. This pass is higher but 10 miles further back from the peaks. 

This particular sky was a magnificent during the after sunset show. The large eye shaped cloud would be a good image to mirror. It would look like a masked bandit. I’m always looking for images to mirror as they can make very good Halloween Images if done properly. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

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Canada Goose Nest Sunset

Canada Goose Nest Sunset
Canada Goose Nest Sunset

Canada Goose Nest Sunset is a capture

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..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Canada Goose Nest Sunset

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This Post Was Posted

This Post Was Posted
This Post Was Posted

“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.

Geologic Musings:

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…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: This Post Was Posted

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Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower
Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower during sunset.(Geum triflorum) I believe. Everyone needs some purple in their live once a week.

These late spring/early summer blooms are only found in deep woods on eastern forested slopes. It’s harder to find them along the edge of these groves of trees. There is no other way to wait until the late afternoon and take advantage of the lowest sun to highlight it’s fuzz. These are not very large flowers being about 6 inches total in height. Just above the spring clumps of grass under the thick blanket of pines.

It’s easy to miss them as they are not found in quantity but usually ones and twos. Of course you have to go belly down to get this angle, be on a steep hillside, wait for Alpenglow to start. Then there is the camera settings lolol. Looking into a bright glare with a camera is it’s own little world of adjustments. I am very fond of using cellulose filters as above to handle the excess glare. I’ll use transmitted light to achieve the exposure. This might as well be an x-ray of this bloom as its so bright and the flower so delicate. They remind me of fuzzy tissue paper. They are quite soft.

This flower is not to be confused with Prairie Smoke which has long purple tendrils. Pasque Sun Filter. The plant is indeed darker purple without all that transmitted light flowing through the petals. The net effect is to lighten the actual flower color.
The Blurry area behind my in focus field is called “Bokeh”. You should google this word if you don’t know it already. (Assignment). There should be a test later.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rose Bells Pasque Flower

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Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies
Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies 2-1 Aspect Ratio

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Sunset Across the Border

Sunset Across the Border
Sunset Across the Border

Sunset Across the Border starts in Wyoming where I stand. The Prairie Dog Hills on the Horizon in the Montana side of this sky show.

The Horizon Rising to cover the suns face occurs with finality in the backcountry. This spot is several miles out into the grasslands. When the sun goes down, it gets very dark very quickly. Particularly so on moonless or cloudy nights. Dark as Pitch. In fact as Dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA’s website that discusses such things.

Twilight landscapes are one of my favorite things to pursue. Landscape details out of the dark are worth learning how to extract from your data file on an image. The information is usually in there but just hidden in the black in your cameras raw file. I pay very close attention to the highlights exposing them correctly to the actual scene then retrieve the details in the dark later.

I always travel with a tritium illuminated compass. There is a very real phenomena called “Death by GPS”. I only use them for land owner Identification. I would never travel back here with one. There was a semi-truck driver that had to walk out of the backcountry up here because he followed his GPS. He high centered his truck trying to turn around. 95 degree day, he had a bad time but managed to find a ranch with a hose and got cooled down after a 6 mile walk with very little water. Compasses used properly don’t usually lie.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Across the Border

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Moonset in the Backcountry

Moonset in the Backcountry
Moonset in the Backcountry

Moonset in the Backcountry

Layers of ridges sprawl below the Crescent Moon perceptively nearing the rising horizon. This 2 second time exposure of a 3 percent crescent setting over the Red Hill.s That last ridge is 40 miles distant from my lens. Resolving the different darkness of distant ridges in early civil twilight was a secondary goal in this image. Of course, getting that shadow and full outline of that sliver of a crescent was my main goal. I love alpenglow.

Actually capturing a detectable outline of the whole moon seems to be “restricted” to moon captures fairly close to the horizon. I’m not sure of the physics involved in this observation anecdotal as it is. However, what I do know for certain: seeing the whole outline is a tough capture. I can actually see things like this in the camera’s live video at the time.

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are Christmas shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I use the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope work).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moonset in the Backcountry

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Spring Time Heron Rookery

Spring Time Heron Rookery
Spring Time Heron Rookery

Spring Time Heron Rookery is a capture from Late Spring (May) of this year. I know it’s a little out of season but I think a little green is good now and then.

There are 6 Great Blue Heron Nests are 50 feet high up those Cottonwood Trees. (Can you find them?). There were sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action. This was a sunset looking north. Early in the year the sun is still way to the left and has just set. There is NO blue shadow under the pink that would represent the earth’s horizon’s shadow. If the sun had been down for 15 minutes, there would be a large wedge shaped blue shadow low over the distant hills. The pink band moves above as the red light is reflected by the ice in the atmosphere becomes blocked by the horizon.

As I said, any darker and the bird would have blurred. This is right on the edge of catchable in the camera. I would love to see green grass sooner than May. That isn’t happening up here lol. These 6 nests have been productive this year. The species as a whole haven’t been seen here for months now. They move south as the lakes they feed on freeze over.

This is a spring (and runoff of course) fed lake from an aquifer 500 feet below by a crack in the ground. (a fault). This crack allows water to seep up to the surface because the “hydraulic head” is higher than 500 feet at this place. The sandstone that provides this lakes source is literally a water tank full 500 feet higher than the sandstone is at this location..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Spring Time Heron Rookery

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Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow
Golden Hour Sunset

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow. When the sun is so low, slowly working left of the BigHorn Mountains here, the light is quite golden.

You would be blinded looking into this scene but the ability to shut the camera down to light changes the game.

This is an overlook across 130 miles of landscape in north central Wyoming. Looking west into the scene that the pioneers saw at the end of a long day of travel. Custer was around here, Native Americans were all over this place for thousands of years. The history here is long, many have crossed that land but daily I walk places where no human has been before.

We are up high on the ridges where there is not much running water. We find TeePee Rings, a few artifacts, stone tools, even a couple of metal ornaments (rare). There actually exists one of the very RARE Documented Clovis Man Habitation site within 10 miles of my ranch. It’s not on my land however. Those same pre-historic folks walked around the post’ glacial landscape burning/slashing/hunting/driving game for a living. I have no doubt they were walking here to some of our artesian spring locations.

When the pioneers got here, they built dams below those artesian wells and formed lakes. The natives didn’t have that option and it can be a long way between water holes when you have deer bladder canteens to carry your water for the day…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

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Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape

Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape
Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape

Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape: It’s mid-November and a HUGE hay crop was everywhere in this country. Still picking them up this late in the year. Boy there are still a lot of haybales to move. I caught the a hydraulically equipped hay truck stopped long enough to take this 1 second exposure. They had been at this all day and it was pretty dark and were still hauling. There were hundreds to pick up this year.

This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed is about 1/100th with a telephoto so your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. The first rule of photography is get the shot. The second rule is get it right !.

Longer time exposures give your camera a chance to gather light the easy way. You always want as LOW and ISO as you can get away with. Low light images like this look wonderful if done on a tripod. Not so much hand held. I use a clamp on my car window with my favorite tripod head on it that mates to my cameras.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape

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Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect
Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is literally 3 for the 1. Add the Devil’s Tower and the Bear Lodge Mountains to their left.

This early morning (2 minutes after sunrise) on the Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming was clear sky. Alpenglow was lit up by the low angle far traveled rays. Those long yellow and reds are the only light to make it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Only then they refract off the ice needles to my camera. A yellow sky in the morning is a VERY common thing in the winter.

This is a view to the south west . This location overlooks MOST of northern Crook County in Wyoming with the Bear Lodge Mountains coinciding with the South Dakota border. A REALLY big area covered in this 3:1 Aspect image (60 inches by 20 inches). Triplet aside, this is one wide image.

This is a 3 photo (left/center/right) composite) corrected for perspective and seamlessly integrated together). This is not a panoramic telephone image lol. I must admit that I like panoramic cell phone camera images very much. Handy as heck. However they will not quite go to 60 inches wide lol.

This was a beautiful morning for a clear sky sunrise. These kind of morning are all about the side shows, not the sunrise itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and clean as can be.

Location: Trail Creek Road, The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming.

Title: Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

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Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel
Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.

Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.

But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.

Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.

(Frank Bliss 2019).

Snowy landscapes and clear sky sunset are MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle long focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have things in the foreground out of focus.

So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a little light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.

This is an antique Plow abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. It was a horse team pulled plow. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. It was used to turn over centuries old sod to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands..

Title: Sunset of an Old Wheel.

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Deer Tick Cleaning Station

Deer Tick Cleaning Station
Deer Tick Cleaning Station

Deer Tick Cleaning Station with golden Alpenglow behind these two species cooperating so closely.

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer Tick Cleaning Station

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Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow
Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

For me to get to this location, I have to leave about an hour before sunrise “Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow”. It is well down into Crook Country Wyoming about 40 miles towards Devil’s Tower. If that hill weren’t in the way, you could see the big thing.

Normally I would just drive up there. This isn’t my ground and I’m not big on trespassing on others ground. This shot was from the country road It is now filed in my “Wyoming/Montana backroads folder. All of the backcountry roads up here are gravel with an occasional Concrete/asphalt highway cutting across no mans land. It’s about 40 miles in any direction from this spot to a Wyoming State paved road. It’s all county road department maintained here.

There are some rough areas of course to get here. But if it’s frozen, the mud is no longer a problem but for deeper than your tires ruts lolol. Driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee where taller pickups leave tire grooves is always exciting. I’m still waiting for my now officially issued VIN number model year 2020 Ford F150 to be built. It should change the height at which I take images sometimes lol.

I get lost in reconstructing past lives and events, the comings and goings of old homesteads. This wasn’t much more than a cowboy bunk house with a wood stove for the “hands”. You had water with the windmill and 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.

This is very big country open back country with many square miles of grass attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. This water pump is still standing though. It looks to be in working conditions.

Location: “D” road, Crook County Wyoming.

Title: Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

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Sun Pillar Over the BigHorns

Sun Pillar over the BigHorns
Sun Pillar over the BigHorns

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. .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Pillar Over the BigHorns

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Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight
Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Here is a rare shorter narrative as I realized I didn’t have a 3pm post ready lol. The Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight 3:1 Aspect image is 60 x 20 inches at full resolution. This was taken about 2 days ago.
In full disclosure it is a Left/Center/Right telephoto image from 35 miles distant. This is a view from the Northwest looking southeast. The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming with Trail Creek Road going over the “hill” is a pretty good view if the weather cooperates. It’s an hour and a half from the nearest population center so there aren’t a lot of images like this out there I suspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

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Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail
Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail is BEST seen full screen.

Setting the mood:

The layers of ridges, the dark civil twilight slowly encroaching into nautical twilight. Then the stars will start to come out. Setting very quickly, less than a minute left before the horizon rises to cover the “Sail” of the ship so far away. The first ridge (black) is 40 miles away from my lens. The second Ridge is the Big Horn Mountain chain 130 miles out from my camera. Look carefully to see the outline of the whole moon. This is all very Subtle and it was quite dark for this capture.

I seldom see such a clear sky on a night that had very heavy alpenglow. (Starts out red, goes to orange and then this umber color. This is certainly the best moon sail I’ve ever captured this late in twilight. (just minutes before Nautical Twilight) Not having grain in an image like this is a gift. Only the moon edges blurred by several hundred miles of atmosphere is coarse.

Photographic notes.

Being a student of such things I think it worth noting that being able to differentiate the two ridges in this image or see the un lit side of the moon is almost magic (high technology we don’t understand) This is a brand new Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back and the dynamic range on this camera is PHENOMENAL. It also gives me 100 meg raw files to begin with 🙂 (60 meg .jpg out of the box). Put it on good fast glass and it’s a Monster for low light.

Dynamic Range??? What is that?? Low light??

. The Human Eye has 20 f-stops of Dynamic Range.(DR) This newest Sony has 15 f-stops of DR compared to less in MOST other cameras. The ability to see black cats in a coal bin and make out the individual hairs on the cat is good DR. . DR is all about seeing MORE levels of black or whiter on duller whites between. Seeing a white weasel on snow and picking out white hairs is all about DR. Or in this case, resolving a difference in what I thought at the moment was a dark silhouetted single ridge landscape but the data was there.

The inability of a camera to take the photo of stars behind a properly exposed full moon is due to that (at least) 5 f-stop difference between the human eye and some of the best technology we use. (as a normal consumer anyway). IF you ever see a properly exposed detailed Full Moon AND there are stars in the background of the image…..It’s a composite image combining a star field in photoshop which is very easy to do. If the artist is presenting it as a photo, he/she is a fibbing a tad.

Stars behind the moon.

I use pretty good (very good) gear and I CAN NOT take a close up (long lens) photo of a Full Moon where you can see the properly exposed details AND have stars in the photo. I see fakes ALL the time. Literally I have worn down a few batteries out trying to do so lolol…It is however, really easy to do it in photoshop all day lol. A veiled moon is easy to get SOME starts through the cracks in the clouds but not an unfettered full bright moon. A single Bright Planet like Jupiter MAYBE. Not a star field….. “ain’t gonna happen”. It goes against the Laws of Physics involved.

Gear, Sony Alpha 7R4, Canon 600mm with a 2x on a good tripod. 1 second time exposure, ISO 250, f-11

Location: From my front yard: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Crescent Moon Setting Sail

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Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree

Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree
Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree

Silhouettes: Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree

The Middle Tree,…..A silhouette of a Dancing Medusa Mythological Figure instantly stood out. This capture is a result of course of my somewhat overworked imagination 😜 A favorite tree of mine, it is handy to photograph in the late fall and early spring. During those times, where the sunsets changes as the sun migrates south. This gives it an angle that is hard to refute aligned with this location. It’s about 200 yards to those trees from my camera. Filed under imaginary creatures in the trees up here in the backcountry of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Title: Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree

Mythology Medusa:

Medusa was a normal but beautiful Mortal. She was unlucky enough for the Goddess Athena to punish her. Athenas punishment was giving her wings and snake like locks/hair. This along with her annoying ability to turn anybody that looked/gazed at any of her head even for a moment into stone. She is one of the monster figures called Gorgons by the ancient Greeks.

The Medusa was however the Only Gorgon that wasn’t immortal. You might remember Perseus in a legendary journey across the Greece to Medusa’s lair. So much for immortality lolol. That trip culminated with the head of Medusa being severed. It’s head later wielded by Perseus to save Argos from the “Kraken”. This encounter it turned the monster to stone. Perseus was rumored to have buried the head in the marketplace of Argos. I suspect it still lies there🤔

Classic Greek Mythology is certainly from the heads of those also with an active imagination. Hat’s off to those old boys 😀

On “Wyoming Backroads” (where I tend to work when the backcountry is blocked to me by snow.).. The roads are USUALLY open lol.

Location: Northern Campbell County Wy 4 miles from Montana, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dancing Medusa Cottonwood Tree

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Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the BigHorns
Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:

I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.

That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.

Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.

Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.

This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.

This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch Wyoming/Montana

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“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.

This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex

. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.

There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.

Erosional Remnants:

Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Alpenglow Across the Barnyard
Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Caught Coming Home the other night: Alpenglow across the Barnyard

Really dark scenes like this are best caught on a tripod. I have a vehicle window clamp that works pretty well for lenses under about 8 or 9 pounds. I’ve had several cameras on that window before lol. One is easy. The reflections in the windows of this rather large Barn Structure we have (286 feet by 94 feet I believe) which is about the size of a regulation foot ball field. The Moon was up far to the left and I was trying like heck to see it’s reflection in the windows but I couldn’t get low enough to catch it. Durn Ground was in the way. Some things you just have no or little control of.😜”Alpenglow Across the Barnyard”

Time exposure, night time about 30 minutes after sunset at the beginning of Nautical Twilight. About 2 seconds worth of shake free camera. (you have to turn down the volume on the stereo AND turn off the car to avoid that. A real mood breaker since I tend to do photography with some jamming tune in the backcountry.

Alpenglow:

When you have a LOT of “stuff” in the atmosphere plus a LOT of red/orange light filtering through it, leads to Alpenglow. The low angle sun light plows through hundreds of miles of air, clouds, moisture, and dust. In this case, ICE is a major sun projection screen lighting up with the infusion of colored hues, mostly orange here but I’ve seen EVERY color in Alpenglow. Often the Gradients can literally be a rainbow gradient. I’ve seen and photographed it numerous times.

You can count the number of architectural silhouettes I’ve published on both hands I’m pretty sure. My tendency is to work nature not the man made stuff up on ranch…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Crescent Moon in Twilight

Crescent Moon in Twilight
Crescent Moon in Twilight

Alpenglow with the Crescent Moon in

Very clear Skies, Alpenglow below with a Crescent Moon in Twilight. This Crescent a few days ago was a 5 percent illuminated disc. It will be a new moon tonight if we see it. Winter weather is occurring as I type this and next week look cold…. (Your reading this about 6 days after I typed it). This image was actually taken in my driveway which ended up just about the last image I took that day. I locked the front gate behind me as I go into our homesteads electric fence deer resistant perimeter for the night. I have to close the gate though as they will go across the cattle gates without a gate in the way. Title: Crescent Moon in Twilight

That night there was so much ice in the air , it produced one of the finest Alpenglow displays I’ve seen in quite a while. This was way to the left of the main show to the west. The camera her was almost straight south by south west. The real show was in the west but the moon wasn’t so..🌙lick…

This was later in Civil Twilight just before the boundary time 28 minutes (ish) after sunset to Nautical Twilight. 28 (ish) minutes later than that Astronomic Twilight starts (so do you know the difference?) It’s a good google if you don’t. Night starts the second the sun goes down and ends with the tip of the sunrise in the morning. Remember it’s not the sun that moves, it’s the horizon that is rising or falling across the face of the sun that your watching. Things are as they actually are, not the way you think they are or the way you have told they are 🤔🙏

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Driving into the Western Sunset

Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana
Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana

When your on the local “main road and yourDriving into the Western Sunset on the Backroads of Wyomint and Montana was taken on the Equinox when the sun set straight to the west at 270 degrees corrected for magnetic declination. This section of road is by coincidence also straight east and west. The horizon is 50 miles out and the sun is a minute from being covered by the rising horizon. (You know the sun is not setting but the horizon is rising about 4 inches the time it takes a rifle bullet to travel 1000 yards….. It only take around 3 minutes for the sun to be covered by the horizon once it touches the sun. This varies with the season because the tilt of the earth’s polar axis with the solar ecliptic

It’s starting to get icy more often. As I type this we’re in the middle of a snowy period. Winter is coming (contemporary reference)


Location, close to the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Driving into the Western Sunset