I absolutely identify with this Pronghorn Does attitude here. That Mosquito had just dropped in front of her face as I was watching. The attempt at catching a little extra protein in it’s diet was aggressive. I’m pretty sure she was irritated at it as we all get from now and then. Skitters grow pretty big out in the grasslands but fortunately we have a lot of biologic control in the form of dragon flies in this country. The further away from water you get though those mosquito eating heros of the insect world’s population thins out. The mosquitos don’t seem too in a wet year.
Out there photographic musings:
This is a very long capture literally from a Jeep Window Rested Orion refractor telescope I’ve adapted for terrestrial use. At a full 3 feet long, it is by far is the cheapest way to get very high magnifications. Using astronomic glass for terrestrial work has it’s issues but I’ve used up to 6400mm optics in the field by hand, fixed aperture though. You only have shutter speed and camera sensitivity to play with as far as camera settings. No aperture/f-stop adjustment in telescopes. They are always wide open. Mine has a 110 mm front lens and it is very fast like 3200mm at f20 fast. Fast lenses are lenses with a low f-stop number available. Big open apertures give you lower fstops and a greater ability to collect light. I was at least 100 yards out for this capture.
This is ART done from a photograph (I did mention this is ART didn’t I?) Oh the moon was real and the cow was real but she wasn’t exactly pointing her head upward. Simply speaking I drew her head in for the moo pose within the digital darkroom. . I’m sorry, I had to cheat to get this with her “mooing”. Everything was going well except you can never get a cow to look up at the moon when your in the right position for this otherwise silly hard technical image. Getting a long uphill slope to a ridge, a cow and the waxing gibbous moon rising in enough light to get a grassy slope in focus…. lots of things to go right.. .
She was 300 yards uphill easy. 800 mm lens. The moon is out a bit further than her. Of course high f-stop numbers are in play here.
The decidedly blue color cast is my doing of course since this is art. Blue Moo and all that. A little time in the digital darkroom makes almost anything possible. No question I try to be a photorealist at ALMOST all times. I have found that all work and no play makes Frank a dull boy 😜🤘📸
Have a great evening as this posts at 7:30 Wednesday the 19th February. This is a written one week before it posted on social media.
Only the Yucca and the Highest grass is standing above the snow back in this backcountry cul-de-sac of a valley. I was driving the ridges adjacent to this lower area. I’m able to drive mostly two tracks at the time I type this. It has been drifting a bit in the backcountry lately. Makes it hard on me. Tricky…
I have seen this group around in several familiar locations to them and myself. . These 3.5/4.5 year olds all have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. They have slowly started to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my new vehicle now. How I approach them is the same. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m a grazing animal. Stopping, moving a little and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before.
I wasn’t destined to integrate with the herd here, the terrain was against me getting to them in the first place. Problematic is the travel noise my rig was making. Too much noise busting over/through snow crust. Crunchy noises are not the best way to make deer comfortable I have determined. Make no mistake these are wild deer. These guys were moving slowly across the landscape trailing to bedding in this late day light. They each to an animal have seen me drive around here in my new rig quite a few times now. Hard to get this close in the snow however.
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
Catching a Pronghorn during Levitation is a demonstration of Stotting or Pronking. Relatively stiff legged they more or less pogo stick across the ground. Apparently it’s an energy efficient way of moving but not their fastest method lol.
Pronghorns are the fastest land animal in North America and pretty much hit 50 everyday around here at one time or the other lol. This apparently is an efficient way of covering ground quickly as they are moving when they do this. Maybe 30 ish…. This is harder to capture than you might think….. This is not really an everyday thing for them. Hard to capture as only once in a while do I see this. You have to be there to start with and then they have to do the behavior you want lolol. Technical camera settings are straightforward but opportunity wins every time. 📸
This of course is a summer photo as the lack of mid-winter snow AND the total absence of the Pronghorns this time of year. There are no Pronghorns on ranch that I am aware of that are overwintering here. We do keep water open but it looks like all of them have migrated south about 30 miles to the Thunderbasin National GrassLands. They gather there by the thousands for running water and lots of grass. I’ve seen individual herds of 250-300 before and they were just a random herd. I know there are bigger groups down there.
These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.
Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.
In this spring time shot, these Pronghorn Does are still in winter coat and are starting to shed in clumps. The doe in the foreground right is way pregnant. Of great interest to me are the differences in the color of their coat depending on the angle of the golden light from the sun. In shadow, there is a marked tan color. Their coat turns to reddish under the color cast.
These are Pronghorn. They are not “Antelopes” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…
The best way to tell a male from a female is to look for a black cheek patch a male has absent here. These are females sans that patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. (I’ve done it). . It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands.
Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. At that early time I suspect they didn’t really know about humans. Known to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.
For birds, they are as smart as birds come and I suspect more than one has become a pet. As corvids (the same family as crows), they have runny droppings plus they are big bird. You might say they leave a big footprint… So with that pleasant thought in mind…. They eat about anything from carrion to simple grains, grasshoppers and dung beetles. I’ve photographed these guys on top of deer actively picking ticks off of the deer. The ungulates tolerate them as they get those irritating ticks off of places they can’t reach. I watched and photographed 2 magpies setting up a deer cleaning station one foggy misty morning up in the highlands. Those photos and discussion are elsewhere in my developing manuscript.
Musings on my musings:
If you follow me closely, you may notice I’m writing quite a bit on each narrative consistently over 250 words and more.. With some simple editing out of the redundant from post to post, I’m building a book right here in front of you. Enjoy the process. I’m writing about 1800 words every day average at the moment into these narratives. I now have over 1000 pages with images and associated narratives. . I’m not in a hurry but I am doing 5 images every day with narratives. Coffee table book or 2 some day………
Boy was this young bull a trouble maker. Corriente’s really don’t care too much about fences. He at 1 year of age got a whiff of some angus heifers and managed to spend the night before we got him out of that mess. Waaa Hooo… Barbed wire is no match for these guys motivated. His name is “Salt”. He mother is a short hair version of him colorwise. This is the only long haired Corriente we’ve ever bred.
Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. This young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill of roping from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. It’s easier to get the rope around the horns. But the horns are big enough to have the rope cinch there. Versus angus purebreds, cattle of this breed are ALL athletes. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos/ ranch work. Practical skills used in cattle ranching and the sport of such. Practice makes perfect.
He spent his summer running from horses. Then being roped is usually the end result. . Lopped off were the two items causing his bull issues. So he’s not quite as much of a problem lol. He will be a sporting cow for a year until he get too big or his horns get too long. He’s getting a bit big already.
The Corriente” Breed was brought into the America’s as early as 1493. These are a breed of Criollo cattle all descended from that old lineage. They are all to an animal tough, fast, self sufficient, and will paw at the snow and find grass in the winter. These are relatively small cattle compared to the modern beef cow. They almost went extinct with the introduction of bigger breeds. American Ropers and Doggers Know all about them. You know who you are 👀
Big Bulls are 1000 pounds, big cows weigh in at 800 pounds. Yearlings are around 400 pounds in both sexes. Qualities: Corriente” are Great Sports Cattle, These guys are supposedly easy to tame. They are lean beef and good eating. Small Herds are easy to keep. Hardy as heck, they actually require less food and water than other beef brands. Good cows to have a small herd of. They don’t take much diesel fuel to keep alive. 🤔🤔☑️
Musings on Narratives:
I write like Trump talks. Chain of consciousness plus I type very fast. Believe it or not, there is a technical reason to have long narratives on your post if your a budding professional photographer as myself. Google will take note of you more/better and place you higher on search results. There are all sorts of technical things I do in my narratives to attract google. The saying is: If your not on the first or second page of google, your not going to be found. 300 words plus it is minimum per image I post.
I am currently posting 5 images a day each taking over an hour to do. That’s around 1700 words I write each day. I’m not sure who’s going to compile it into book but I hope it’s not me lolol. I’m sure a few books have already narrated in my postings and I have them all in a pile I can access.. Easy to assemble by sorting pages. The pages are out there already lolol.
I LOVE shares by the way ❤️ They are the nicest compliment you can give an artist on FaceBook short of buying his/her art lol.
A mere 6 months ago, middle of a warm summers evening, a sky show broke out…. THe evening was fairly calm with a light breeze. The air contained some grass pollen, some cottonwood pollen so my nose was a little stuffy. You could feel the relative humidity climbing as the air cooled down. Traveling up and down topography, you could feed obvious temperature changes as you moved from falling and rising air.
Every Once in a while, I like to do one of these vehicle mirrored images showing both sides of the sunset (in this case). It’s a commonality that all of us share. Most of us anyway have occupied the driver seat of a vehicle or two.
The Corriente’ Long Horns were out in the middle of a big grassy I sold this vehicle December 31,2019 . I loved my 15 year companion a 2005 Jeep Gran Cherokee. It worked very well for photography of the backcountry. It would pretty much go anywhere my ATV would which is saying something. The king is “dead” long live the king.
The 2020 Ford Raptor I am breaking in as a photographic platform is performing stellar in helping me find light. (so far) Already it has gone on paths I wouldn’t have taken the jeep on in mid-winter. It is stable, allows some movement inside of long lenses. It has WAY bigger mirrors plus they move out of the way with a button’s push. I will see what I get when the light is worth trapping. So far it gets me there…
I don’t see a lot of blue eyed cattle…. But how often do you get this close? 😜👀
IT was a crisp cool 45 degrees this fine spring morning. Blue Eyed Bertha was enjoying the dew covered grass. Spring growth just starting from the winter dormancy. Every year are cycles. This mother has given us 5 calves so far. Starting to get too old to be sure of breeding, she was “sent to town” this winter. Blue Eyes has made the transition from lawn mower to be part of the food supply.😔
Such is the cycle of things on a cattle ranch. We do sell cattle for beef after all. Trips to town are the eventual result of a calf growing up to a cow living a cows life. I’ve known some of these animals for quite a while. Honestly this gal was a little standoff(ish) and seldom would cooperate with me going left when I wanted her to go right. Some girls lolol.
The 5 years she lived up here were never years of want. She always had food, always had water along with free health care and a place to hang out. There were always things to see, others to gossip with, new places to mark with their leavings. She wandered over about 5 square miles mostly with her head looking at the grass. I wonder if she ever took the time to appreciate the views, the sunset or the sunrise. She never sent a complaint to the management but I’m sure the weather was a concern now and then lolol.
Here Wiley Coyote’s cousin Willey takes a second to look back just to make sure that was a camera lens I was pointing at him. I have years of long range shooting precision rifles under my belt. I’ve been shooting guns a lot longer than I’ve been shooting with cameras lolol. As a ranch owner, I share the general irritation at seeing a coyote hanging around my ground (or anybody elses). A lot of livestock has been killed by coyotes.
I think on an intellectual level, they generally get a bad rap as mostly they eat mice and voles. They will occasionally eat the face off calves while they are being born. Lambs are a favorite snack. Road Runners are too hard to find around here except the local grade school who’s sports team goes by that moniker. So what I’m saying is, this guy is lucky that last look back wasn’t his actual last look back. It’s pretty hard to get a rifle into play after using a long lensed camera. It think the camera+lens is longer…. It might be a consideration that it’s illegal to shoot from a country road except with the camera. Also shooting a suppressed rifle from a county road would be a federal crime since any criminal act committed with a National Firearms Act registered device (like a suppressor/silencer) becomes a federal felony instantly. Needless to say, this guy walked away. It’s all in the details folks….
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands on Trail Creek Road.
There are only one or two mornings a month that I can get this kind of full moon scene. For the moon to be up full falling into the Belt of Venus (Pinkish Alpenglow). The lightI pick my spots based up on a few basic requirements. In this case I needed several “heros” in the image. Black cows in shadow are going to be silhouettes no matter what the camera. What is a western vista without a couple of longhorn cattle on board? My perception of distance was peeked at this scene. Click. The full moon Setting over the Red Hills 40 miles distant. Hit by the same red light blushing the Belt of Venus above them.
I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any closure to them as their temperment is my master in that. I do respect these mostly wild cattle. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon/sky considered an infinite focus in this camera calculus. Getting closer things precisely focused with background is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode…. Distance from the cattle is your friend to keep them in the same focal frame as infinite.
High F-stop number give you deep focal fields . A double edged sword high f-stop. High f-stop also steals light which is in short enough supply in this lighting.. Get too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. All the moon has to do, in close far perspective with almost anything, will be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close far perspectives. Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do.
This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.
I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.
The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.
Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor is a capture from earlier this winter. The orange/peach colored alpenglow accented by the cloud blush off the snow in the foreground.. This was a very good year for snow early but not so much now. This was a standoff. Me versus her. I just look brave as there as a cattle gate between us as I got down on my knees looking for the reincarnation of the Egyptian God Hathor.
The orange Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I very carefully expose in the camera that sky to match what I saw at the time. The cow here is 100 yards out for my telephoto to get both the cow and the sky in the same focal field.
This Cow is NOT a Bull, just having horns does not a Bull Make. This is a mother I’ve had 5 years on ranch. … Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early winter day.
If you don’t have a 100-400mm lens in your weapons chest, you need to consider it. You guy lenses for generations while fancy camera backs last a few years. I’m still using regularly a lens I bought in 1995.
Tip of the day:
You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight.
Ice Road Coyote is an unexpected Game Trail Camera Capture. I have 4 good shots of this guy walking by here on 4 different days. (so far).
There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans.
This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds.. I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.
Coyotes were “Wiley” I’ve always thought.. Hunting on thin Ice isn’t the brightest things I’ve ever seen.. This particular lake is well frozen at the moment. That ice is about 6 inches thick at the moment. If the warm weather keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw. I’ve seen these guys walk on thin ice indeed in the past.
I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks.
These two does (mother and daughter) were casually walking across the county road when the young one paused. Perfectly framed by the melt. The morning after the storm this pair was hanging around in the “Bull Pasture” just down the road from our main headquarters gate.
This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom with her yearling doe (fawn) .
I’ll watch this pair over the years as the little one grows up. She’s a member of a group that stays close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a baby maker in the years to come. She’s about 9 months old now. It’s difficult to ID particular does unless they have split or notched ears. I know their family group though anytime I see them. I’m pretty sure they know me too lolol.
There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Now, Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.
This is a 800mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. As I type this it’s REALLY muddy.
Twilight is the time of dark blue and pink in the sky. Spring is the time of the calving. Add the two and you get a story to be told in this Diptych side by side image. (2-20 inch squares).
Corriente’ Long Horns are a hardy group having come over first to the “Americas” in 1493. Their descendants walk down this hill slope in this capture. A solid unbroken line since then. Hardy souls all with very little care required for their up keep. Just standard vet care for cattle. They pretty much fend for them selves but will mooch off the other cattle about if there are any. Last winter my small herd of 32 Corriente were the only cattle on the ranch. Besides some lick and some salt, I only had to feed the 12 Large Bales over the winter. They paw the ground to expose grass similar to how Buffalo do it.
I actually took this through the fence that surrounds our “compound. I had just returned from a photo mission and was closing up the homestead for the evening.. You know, closing gates so deer don’t cross them, putting the chickens to bed locking them into their coop. In the same motion I lock the creatures that don’t need to be in with the chickens out. We have a 8 foot high deer exclusion fence around about 10 acres we live in. It’s high and it’s electric. Not too much get’s through it. My cats negotiate it occasionally. I’ve actually seen where they get through and fixed several places but keeping out skunks is a tough one. I have kept porcupines at bay with my fences.
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).
Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜
The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.
This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.
I know this deer as “Goal Post” I’ve watched him grow up since he was a fawn. He is really obvious as he is missing his brow tine over his right eye. He has already shed his winter coat as he’s looking quite well groomed here. Goal Post is 4 years old here from last spring 2019. He will be 5 in the spring. It will be interesting to see if grows much bigger antlers this year. He has never grown in that brow tine though. He just doesn’t have it in him I think lol.
Familiarity of myself with deer is a photographic asset for me. . His herd is one of several different groups I have been able “get used to me”. I have in the past been able to drive my rigs right into the herd without spooking the group. Intermingling with herds of deer is a very interesting activity to say the least lol. I just traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee they were used to. Now I drive a Ford F150 Raptor (all black) which they don’t know from Adam. We will see if they are tolerant of the vehicle or not. I’m betting that it’s the way I approach the herd rather than the particular vehicle. I do my best to drive up like a grazing animal. Move, stop for a while, turn a bit, move, stop, move etc. rinse and repeat.
JUST as the sun came up, lighting up that 15 mile distant ridge. Bright sunlight was about 10 feet over my head at the time. Less than aminute before I was lit up by the sun for my timeline.. In the distance the bright was working it’s way down the hill sides. The rain in the distance was far enough away to be a worth telephoto image. I was well over 200 yards out from Momma Angus to get her in focus along with the background with this long lens. Distance is your friend.
OK, another F-stop discussion…. High F-stop numbers take away a LOT of light from your light capture boxes. (camera). The higher the number, the smaller the hole in the lens for light to travel through. At the same time you make that hole smaller by turning up the F-stop number, you are thickening the “depth of field” focus depth. F-stop becomes a double edged sword. You can open up the aperture (turn down the f-stop number) and get a lot more light versus a pin hole at maximum fstop setting. But you loose depth of field/focus depth) So Bigger hole in the lens= shallow depth of field but a lot of light. A smaller hole in the aperture means less light but it gives you the ability to focus on things close AND far at the same time.
SO, you have to compensate for HIGH f stop numbers by adjusting the other two settings. Turning up camera sensitivity (ISO) boosts what little light that comes through a small hole in the lens. IT’s a double edge sword too though. More Camera Sensitivity (higher ISO) will give you a grainy image and introduce color noise. Speckles and big grain are not desirable so moderation is necessary.
Lastly you have shutter speed. Slower than 100th of a second you risk blurring the cow. Any movement from her would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto (rested).
Watching families of deer grow up is a pass time sub hobby of mine. This doe and her 4 month old fawn is moving along a grassy hill on a parallel ridge to me. They feel safe with me as I’m pretty much just another grazing animal. The group of deer these two belong to are well known to me. IT’s much harder to tell the girls apart than the guys. A three year old doe looks pretty much like a four year old doe. A year difference in the males will be really obvious. Anter size, shape and neck girth are usually unique in the males. The older battle tested males have torn recognizable ears unique to the individual.
My tracking of deer individuals is of course informal and spotty. I don’t necessarily see the same group every day. I do recognize groups though as they move around the ranch from haunt to haunt. There are certain places that each group will tend to hang at. Not reliably but tendency comes to mind. The exception is their daily trek to water which deer being a creature of habit, cooperate in the summer. I’m out more of course in the summer. NIt’s not necessary to
Deer have a gestation of around 200 days, this is not quite rut when this photo was taken so I’ve giving him 120 days since birth. This is probably a yearling doe as older does usually have twins.
This is likely as close as you’ll ever get to my King Corso Mastiff. He is one of three that live here in the ranch’s headquarters fenced in compound. The other two Mastiff’s are the Pressa Canario breed. I hate to tell you how much food 500 pounds of dog collectively can eat in a day. They all get about a pound of meat a day with kibble as a backup. They have wonderful coats and no skin conditions at this point. I’ve had this little guy for 4 years now.
Mastiff’s tend to be family dogs and not real tolerant of others. This 220 pound boy is no exception. He is a WONDERFUL dog to us and few others have been “granted entrance” into his circle. He is very picky as to who he will accept and who he won’t. I would have a heck of a time with him if I didn’t live in this isolated place. He is not tolerant of others he doesn’t know.
Drooling, slobbering slabber, frothing, driveling, flobidising — salivating by any other name would feel just as sticky. Dogs with huge heads sporting big lips can’t help it; they’re built to drool. Mastiff owners are easy to identify as they usually have a couple of paper towels crumpled in their pocket. Strategically located piles of towels around the house become a necessity. We ONLY feed dogs meat or treats OUTSIDE (everyday by hand). NO people food and no feeding inside. Feeding Mastiffs any kind of people food will make the animals drool when you eat. Another indication of feeding a Mastiff people food are the little dried out strings of drool on the ceiling..😜
Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire (6 months out of season, remember these guys?)
These 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. This guy was jumping around this Yucca Flower frond as seen and zipping about and then back to this place.
He was putting on a considerably good show for me in my portable blind (my jeep at the time) while I had just crested a hilltop in the backcountry. He was flitting around this Yucca like it was a toddler on a sugar high. I just by happenstance had an 800mm camera set up with me that I grabbed off the seat for the fairly close encounter. Several other Males were in the area pretty much just watching the aerobatic display I think as I was … amazed at it’s abilities. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure.
We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.
Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds (A MUST for Full Screen)
Ducks were EVERYWHERE taking off that morning for parts unknown but likely south of here. The Cattle Hang here because the rancher feeds them nearby AND there is liquid water. The fog while freezing is still warmer than the air surrounding this microclimate.
This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.
The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area.
The Big Horn Mountain Chain is one of the largest ranges in Wyoming. Two peaks exceed 13,000 feet in elevation. The far ridge under the twilight sky is a ways out at 130 miles from camera.
Nice buck… it was very low light. To freeze him in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second. It was very dark, you either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop and thusly the mountains in the distance are slightly out of focus. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.
I live and work higher in elevation that most of the ground between here and there. Obviously that is line of sight. That ground in between is called the “Powder River Basin”. Coal from here generates 30 percent of the electricity we use in the country. Wyoming is a HUGE clean coal producing state.
The coal formed there because the WAVE that the mountains and the adjacent basin make. (The earths crust was crushed east/west to make a wave). Erosion wore the much bigger mountains down to where they are today, filling up that basin with alluvial fan carried sediments. Traveling all the way to the edge of my ranch, those alluvial fans covered/filled up that sedimentary basin (think bathtub at the base of the mountains). Lots of swampy conditions in the topographic low area/basin occurred back in the Paleogene to allow coal formation. All the surface geology between my ranch and the mountains is all about things washing off the Big Horn Mountains.
We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).
Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.
Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group. They need the muscle for all the tussle.
Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇
During the run up to the late fall Rut, the Bucks do anything they can to build up their necks. Itching their antlers might have something to do with it. This one has already molted it’s velvet off it’s antlers. This particular bush is a deer rub every year I’ve been here. I’m sure it’s been handed down father to son by generations of deer. Poor Bush gets a beat down yearly. It’s probably really old. Tough environment.
Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. Mule Deer are actually indigenous to North America. Recognized easily by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.
Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.
Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.
I was able to maneuver around on this buck and get him in the “right position”. . The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. You have to love Sony Alphas… I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising at sunset remember ).
Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a Jeep. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form. I’m still noisy and smelly to them though. Basically I’ve achieved “just another grazer” status with this group. I left them, they didn’t run away from me. If fact I stopped and talked to another rancher down on the county road and pointed them out up on the hill. A rare encounter on a very backcountry road.
We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝