Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise. THe sky starts to light up, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀
This was taken over a month ago in early December. We had lighter snow then than now. There is 6 inches flat everywhere on the ridgetops at the moment. You have to be very careful going off the ridge tops. The snow that use to cover them has been blown of to the sides. There hasn’t been much drifting yet this winter and I have a new truck now with excellent capabilities so it should be a productive winter up on the ride tops.
Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.
I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 50 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft so the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.
We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.
That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.
Grass Stand Sun Filter (or Summer Sunset Through the Grass…..)
Yellow gradient to red but there were some low clouds messing up a perfect gradient. It’s hard to fight mother nature but I like the yellow and transitional orange in this. Stepping JUST over a ridge line with a long lenses camera is at sunset becomes habit. I work parallel ridgelines all the time looking for close / far perspectives such as this.
The sun is SOOOO bright you couldn’t look at this scene with the human eye. I’m about 150 yards back from this grassy ridge with around 400mm involved. I work the shadow line on the far ridge. Distance is your friend with this kind of shot. Maximum F-stop settings (high numbers) give you a deep field of focus. Ifs your first priority to get the grass AND the background in focus. Good thing, it’s a bright scene and the High f-stop makes your aperture a pin hole. Go higher if you can. Then I mentioned, distance from the foreground object is key. You have to be far enough back to get the grass AND the sun focused at the same time.
As I type this, we are going into a cold snap you will have experienced by the time you read the post. I build these posts about a week ahead on average. I post 6 different images everyday on FB along with the story or lesson for the narrative.
So I’m up on a high ridge for twilight. The sun is down for 5 minutes and the clouds are lighting up with a still blue sky above. I was driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV that has 2 bright LED lightbars on the front. I sat down right up against the front bumper in the grass. I brought a 12 mm wide lens but I cropped the image down to the center since the edges were all dark. Only the center was bright enough to recover. I only expose the highlight properly and worry about the dark later. This actually came out much better than it could have.
Close / Far perspectives under low light are rather tricky to capture. It’s takes a basic understanding of the requirement to use Manual mode on your camera to catch an image like this. High F-stop numbers, Long shutter speeds (tricky with moving grass), and perhaps a higher ISO to add a little camera sensitivity. Your priority here is depth of focus field. To get close grass AND the sky in focus at the same time requires you to use that requirement as your first priority. F-stop is the baby here. The other two settings are to get enough light to compensate for the high Fstop (very small hole in your lens to let light through). You have to realize that fstop is a double edge sword.
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.
I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 1200 mm long focal length to have a sun that large. on a range so far away. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing.
This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.
Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys). DSLR’s need not try this with a really long lens. That sizzle sound is your eye ball cooking …..
The lower shadow of a mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper. Amazing geology of a very large scale up here.
I introduce: my new backcountry photo studio “Trail Worthy” workhorse. You locals will see me in this from now on. Please don’t shoot me…..All Black Ford with a camera or two sticking out the window…..Hopefully the animals will accept it….
I have been telling you all that I traded my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That jeep earned it’s “Trail Rated” badge. I’ve been driving it around the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and surrounding backcountry for 15 years with it. It is now out of my hands. I will miss the old truck. I will not miss the ride quality of a Jeep though. This thing rides like a dream. 35 inch studded Goodrich snow tires for the winter up here. Lots of ice around.
Having said that, that bumpy ride of my youth has mutated to this purpose built specialty truck. This is a 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. My old jeep had a 320 Horse Power Hemi motor in it and was “quick/agile. This new truck is heavier but has over 450 Horse Power so the power to weight is familiar to me. It is WAY more agile than that jeep however. It might have some potential high center issues due to it’s length but it has full length skid plate underneath. This reduces the possibility of catching grass on fire on the catalytic converter which hangs out over 1000 degrees. Lots of fires under trucks. I’m thinking not so much here. So many crawling features, so little space here.
The only thing the new rig can’t do is squeeze between one gate on my place that the old jeep cleared by inches on either side. This truck is 8 inches wider than a standard F-150. This makes it much harder to tip over. The 360 degree camera system is novel to me. Backing up is MUCH easier. Computer controlled 14 inch travel suspension….Versus maybe 8 inch with the jeep. WOW.
The biggest upgrade here besides the amazing technology incorporated into the system, is the ability for me to actually carry a passenger. I could never do this in my Jeep as it was always full of gear. Not so much as with the securable dry storage is huge with how I configured the bed. “decked”.
I’ve been peripherally involved with 4 wheel drive. I live off road and drive trails daily. I still own 3 Jeeps after selling off my 2005 Grand Cherokee so I wont be without a smaller ride….. The local 4 wheel Drive Club makes the drive up here every few years lol. If you wish, youtube up the 2008 Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure” video. (an annual video production with 17 professional/semi-pro rig touring one day and 4 wheeling the next for a week). We were stop number 3 I believe with still images from the event here making several Front covers of that magazine’s/media company’s main publication.
Stock Vehicles usually don’t impress me. I am impressed officially to date. It is my new best friend. I have many good memories with my old friend. The king is dead long live the new king! I hope this one lasts as well as the jeep did.
Location: Remote NorthEastern Wyoming/South Eastern Montana borderlands. near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.
Let me start of by saying I LOVE trees growing out of rocks/boulders. This area on our ranch has a few trees demonstrating this phenomena. Where they grow the roots break up the much larger rocks under them into smaller rocks. I’m slowly starting to make a map of these in my head to refer to when the lighting is right. Heavily veiled skies as above are really good for doing perspectives and frames with foreground objects as this. Trees have their own attractions of course being the natural frames that they create are often better than the sunset/rise behind them lolol.
This is a view of the “Red Hills” (Their real Name). 40 miles distant on the horizon looking almost straight west.. Being a very wide angle lens capture, those hills on the horizon appear smaller here than they would look live. Your eye is naturally equivalent to a 55 mm lens. This image is at least 90 degrees wide at 24mm .
The scene in the sky was actually quite bright which made it hard for even the best camera technology to get the detail in the shadows. I run into technological brick walls all the time working outside or on the edge of the envelope of the light I see up here. Mostly my solution for it is to expose the highlights correctly and worry about the shadows in the digital dark room.
Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland : Last post for Windmill Wednesday Theme Day, number 6 of 6 Windmills posted around social media, Facebook and the internet. Hope you Enjoyed my theme day 🙂 Windmill Junkies are all not overdosed for a while …..
When the winter really moves in, the game changes. The familiar ground becomes blanketed with the diffuse white. It’s MUCH harder to get around. When the drifts get much over 2 foot tall, , it get’s interesting. When they get 20 foot across, that’s a problem. A big issue are low areas that collect deep snow. You can loose a pickup in those areas till spring lolol.
January is a month that has a tendency to have long periods of cold weather. A front moves down from Alaska through Montana and we are frozen like Siberia . We do see -30 some winters and -20 virtually every winter. I clean about 1 mile of driveway. Fortunately we haven’t had any snows that exceed my skid steers ability to push through. Historically they have had some big storms up here. I was told of a 15 foot drift in our current front yard. Hopefully those storms will avoid us for decades.
I am currently testing the abilities of my new ford f-150 pickup (Raptor). It doesn’t seem to care about snow yet but there is only about 6 inches of snow at the moment after the melt off a few weeks ago. I can drive anywhere at the moment except I won’t go to stupid spots where snow gets deep very quickly and is in shade so it doesn’t melt. Snow can get VERY deep there. At any rate, I’m getting around better now.
My 3rd of 6 images posted today for Windmill Wednesday (Thematic today, all windmills, all day.) Posted elsewhere on FB and other social media that is 😀.
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
WOW, I see a lot of lit up twilight skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns do not look quite that large as they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. .
The Big Horn Mountains are sticking up on the landscape 130 miles distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Windmill Junkies Unite: but don’t let your mothers know you look at stuff like this 🤘🤘.
This 100 year old AERMOTOR Windmill has been providing water to cattle in this remote part of our ranch. It’s several miles to the nearest power line from here. About a decade ago we ran a water pipeline about two miles from one of our wells to this site. We used the existing tanks of course. The windmill was working last time we used it. It needs a new drive rod connecting the motor to the pump head. Undoubtedly, the leathers replaced in the pump, a little grease….. It would run no question in my mind.
6 months out of season when I post this Jan 8th but remember today is Windmill Wednesday. I’m going to have windmills every post all day today. There will only be one or two in some forums and other places on the internet will have all 6… . This is entry number 1 for the morning at 6 AM (ish). I’m going to start doing SOME thematic days as they CAN occur (meaning I have 6 images of the same type like Windmills).
I do miss the big storms that roll by in the summer. I don’t miss so much the ones that roll over us lolol. Rain is rain though. I’d rather not have it as 5 inch softball sized hail though. I just got a new truck lololol. We actually had to have every roof on the ranch replaced in 2008. We do get some rough storms.
Of course I immediately saw the triangle in this veiled sky taken on solstice eve. Such forms in the sky are fleeting. I levitate toward and will image natural geometry in the world as I see it. The lens turns towards the light. The veiled sky imparted an orange color cast to the alpenglow that was rife at this moment in space and time.
I managed to get up on the local roof of the world. It’s a little slippy on the slopes. I actually own a new vehicle (F-150 Raptor) with studded snow tires . I’m thinking it’s an ideal expedition/backcountry vehicle. I got up on this hill with a 4000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’ll see if the heavier Raptor will make the pilgrimage to this high point.
Slightly right center on the horizon you can see the Big Horn Mountains at 130 miles. Snow covers the ground. We definitely had a white Christmas up here in Wyotana. Actively snowing during Christmas day. This is a 50mm capture which is equivalent to the way your eyes see the world.
No telephoto effects here. When you see me post images of the Big Horns Taken from here, consider the actual size of those 13,000 foot high range. Holding your thumb out at arms length would cover the range as you see it from this viewpoint. This is reality to our eyes but telescopic lenses literally crush perspective making the very far larger but things that are closer much larger proportionally. 🤔👀
I watch this melodrama many times a week. This was a mere opening act in a performance governed by the laws of physics and whims of mother nature that morning.
The Conductor Raises His Wand……. Tap Tap Tap
Photography is indeed a form of art. To learn to draw the eye and mind into an image without the ability of a painter to “make stuff up” takes a while. Composition is all about bringing a story to the observer (you) while engaging / pulling you to look deeper into the image. To bring out memories in you mind, by placing the image into proper perspective. This is my simple goal in each composition. Doing what I do is easy as I’m just following the light trying to encompass it’s meaning.
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, northern Campbell County Wyoming about 70 miles from the nearest 3 color traffic light. There are a few red flashers at 50 miles away. No AAA… I live on the same ridge but 4 miles further north of this spot. I can’t see this much of northern Crook County anywhere else I know of or have been to. This ridge blocks my view to the south east direction. I love the sunrises from on top of this ridge. An equally as big a view exists on the west side of this ridge. It’s looking across to the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles away. I can see about 80 miles in this direction to the horizon. It is a 210 mile horizon to horizon sky from up there. Public Road 📸
LOL, filed under things I see here on the ranch. As I drive around the ranch, most cattle this time of year are VERY tolerant of ranch vehicles. They learn to associate the running engine and the rig with feed or hay. When they get fed, it’s a noisy, smelly scary looking contraption unrolling a bale or two. There is a lot of grass in this field that is still accessible to them though. Keeping herds of cattle in the backcountry is hard work.
There are still bales to pick up this year. Cowboys are still in the process of being gathered even now in Early January where a tractor can reach them. Hay Tractors don’t care too much about snow until it gets several feet deep. We have to keep the cattle out of the pastures the bales are still in. Our small herd of 34 Corriente Longhorn is corralled right now with me feeding them a 1200 pound bale of hay every three days. This keeps them away from the hundreds of bales in their normal winter pasture. We’ll have this snafu fixed shortly. Tough to get it all the hay gathered before the snows.
This beautiful night was calm for the beasties on the plain. Both wild and domestic critters were enjoying the lack of wind that evening. Mid Winter up here in the Wyoming/Montana backcountry is harsh, long, not much sun. It’s COOOOLD when the wind blows. With no wind, I walk outside for quite a while in a t-shirt at zero. It’s so dry and if it’s still, you can’t feel the cold. I’ve heard it does get still up here occasionally. Just a rumor though…😜
I see this capture metaphorically as closing one eye to observe the view through this ocular shaped frame. Eyebrows above and a bright pupil from the sun rising behind a deep veil of clouds. The illusion was complete to me. The colors were marvelous. I worked this sunrise hard for about an hour from twilight to mid-golden hour.
When I’m walking around the backcountry, I try to see natural shapes that mimic familiar shapes. Commonly those are anthropomorphic reminding me of human attributes. Here I was looking through Natures eye actually feeling like I was looking through one 👀
This scene was spectacular for that imaging/seeing. I’m pretty much standing on the Montana/Wyoming border with “Turtle Butte” to the left. Several layers of trees constitute the rest of the frame. I call that hill “Turtle Butte” because it has a wonderful turtle silhouette on it’s top from the right angle. This late in the year, the sun is rising so far south, that angle is a few months around the corner.
This is one of the last photos I will have obtained from my old Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in on a new truck. My angles will change with the new ta;;er vehicle. Modified is the way I see those little areas of Zen. By over 2 feet, my viewpoint should be elevated. Hopefully this vehicle will ride better, and go where ever it needs to. My Jeep would go anywhere my Polaris Ranger could more or less. It would just throw me around the cab doing so. A properly built Ford F-150 Raptor is a bit longer than either of the previously mentioned vehicles. The tendency to “high center” more easily is a characteristic of a long truck. By the time you read this, I will be driving it. First new vehicle in 15 years. Finding myself stuck is the backcountry has never happened to date.
Late summer of 2019 it was time to run “the herd” through a crowding pen and sort calves from mothers. Some vaccinations ensued. Lots of “hunting / gathering required to collect the cattle. Collecting a herd of calves and cows from the square mile pasture takes maneuverability. These are real cowboys horses and good workers all.
The weather that after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. The little cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Just as the last cow was released, everyone retreated to our large barn for tailgate food while it was hailing outside. A good time was had by all except a few calves that got branded that day. This is a ranch after all. During the year the ranch has over 200 cow calf pairs grazing the various pastures. The big pastures are around a square mile here. Other ranches that are bigger have bigger pastures lol.
Rotating pasture ground is important to manage the grass. We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. Just the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation. This year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck all summer.
I know, it’s out of season in Wyoming, not so much down south at the moment though. Be careful down there. As the cold air moves over us, the arctic blast does BIG storms in LA, MS, AL, GA….. Be careful out there and prayers for those effected by the storms.
In this complex summer image, I set the camera up at the mirror to reflect the sky slit 90 degrees left frame….Flash….. Can you find the Deering Seeder? This was a HUGE mesocyclone that hadn’t even reached us yet. We were just under it’s leading edge here. That shelf cloud is an indication that it’s about to get sporty. The 80 mph winds this brought with it did some damage. The big hail missed us though. That big white roof is our big barn which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field under that roof. It’s an old roping area under there.
This storm donated quite a few lightning photos. I usually work storms like this up on the ridges definitely in a car. The car doesn’t make you immune to the strikes but it helps. Your not going to get killed by ground current if your not touching metal is the plan. Not that the bolt couldn’t hit the camera. I’ve been pretty close to some strikes before and it will wake you up. Looking forward to working it with the new vehicle with no moon roof. I ordered it WITHOUT a sunroof (a several thousand dollar options that will probably leak). More metal overhead is a good thing I’m thinking lolol.
Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.
I look at this and see a moon orbiting a gas giant planet such as Jupiter. That is because I live in a science fiction world of fantasy at times. I also have a somewhat overactive imagination but that is for another story lol.
To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.
A big super-telephoto fast Canon lens to do this work is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.
A famous myth like the Phoenix, a magnificent creature of paradise, a land beyond the sun. . Fatigued from building it’s nest before the sun rise, you notice it’s obvious tiredness. The sun god began to carry the sun up from the horizon to it’s zenith, the Phoenix bends it’s neck back like a crane. It begins to sing a haunting cry that stops the sun in it’s tracks. So beautiful was the song, the sun god stopped to listen to his notes. Upon his resuming his journey, a spark falls from the sky igniting a fire that consumes the nest and the bird. But please avoid worry, it rose again from the ashes reborn young and renewed. 😜
Those crazy ancient greeks thought the Phoenix lived across the straights in Arabia. Living next to a well (paradise in Arabia apparently ), it bathed there every morning. (bird tea I’m thinking). That song stopped Apollo and his chariot in the sky (with the sun), the rest is history 🤔
We’ve seen destructions, creation, life, death along with learning that life in Paradise isn’t all it was meant to be lolol. The Phoenix lived a thousand years each rebirth cycle. Never destined to stay destroyed but to be reborn again. A lesson of time works into the story as well. There are several versions of the story, one where the bird self-immolates lol.
This is from a good Game Trail Camera sitting mostly on the ground. Catching a flock of what I think are cowbirds coming in to a water hole to drink. The only control you have over a Game Trail Camera is where you place it. Love the lens flares …..
I look at literally thousands of Game Trail Camera images a month these days. Less now because I can’t get to a lot of my cameras until snow melt in the spring. For now those cameras are on their own. Every once in a while, I get an image that just blows me away. This one was sitting in a “To Do” folder I went partially through today. Taken this last summer along with a lot of others and it slipped my attention until now.
Game Trail Cameras are of course limited by the technology of the camera built into the device. This image drives my OCD crazy but I left it un-touched. I was just scrolling through hundreds of black and white night images so randomly this popped up on my screen. I about fell out of the chair. As I say, the image has problems but “holy deer perspective POV batman” say’s Robin. This totally took me by surprise. Probably 1 in 10,000 images comes out this nicely from those cameras. As a photographer/graphic artist, I get enough good images from my network of 29 of these to make it worth my time once a month to visit as many as I can. I usually go out about 1/2 an hour earlier those days to stop and swap Data cards.
This is a White Tail by the bone structure in the face I believe. More gracile than the Mule Deer sub-species that shares the range. Usually there is an uneasy truce but the white tail tend to force out the Mule Deer I understand. We have both but the Mule Deer are bigger, easier to approach and know. I don’t know ANY of the Whitetail around here by an identifying mark. I have several Mule deer that I have known since they were fawns. The white tail tend to head down into the valleys during the winter. The Mule Deer stay on ranch for the duration of the cold drinking water from stock hydrant/tanks we keep open all the time.
6 months ago during the summer solstice of 2019, a BIG 100 mile across mesocyclone moved over us right at sunset. Of course “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill jumped into the photo as he is a terrible attention hog. I have no control over his actions. Windmill Wednesday AND Christmas Wednesday. , Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘
I do understand through a third party that “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill wishes all of his fans a very very Merry Christmas. He has this insecurity problem where he wants to solve through fame and fortune acquired via his exposure in pictures. So he rushes into my images. His brother “Re-Pete” I’m sure also has Christmas wishes but he couldn’t be present at this photo taking session. He was over the hill out at his hangout during this storm.. Hard to get a family together portrait of the two brothers. They can’t move easily through the timber. I suspect they haven’t seen each other for a long time. I’ll have to see if I can arrange a digital family reunion someday…. 😜
I’m not sure what his New Year resolution. I’m pretty sure it has to involve photobombing more and injecting himself into my landscapes.
My new years resolution is to catch more skies like this and finally get all these images I’ve got stored away up on my web gallery. That will take a “while”. I consider it job security.
From all of us at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, all of it’s creatures mythical and otherwise , Merry Christmas and a Happy/Safe New Year. 2020 is going to be an interesting year to be alive.
This is such a wonderful play of colors on this sunset, I thought it worthy of Christmas Eve. I’ve photographed well over a thousand sunsets going into twilight. This one ranks right up there. I often start in the golden hour then staying up on the ridges through the maximum twilight. I’ve gotten many images of this period after sunset. Often heading home from working catching photons. Not many twilights I see are this vibrant. Within this cacophony of colors, every color of the rainbow is displayed .
Lots of dust and moisture in the air effect western sunsets. I’ve never experienced better sunsets than I’ve seen here on the Montana/Wyoming border. Montana is to the far right and Wyoming is to the left on this image. As seen from my ranch, the little Mountain range on the horizon is the Big Horn Range. A 50mm lens took this scene.. Your eyes see the world in a very similar way to a 50mm lens. Typically, I often post close ups of the peaks from this distance. This is the way that your eyes would see the scene. The mountains really do look that small. Your thumb held out at an arms length would cover the 13,000 foot tall peaks over 130 miles distant from my lens.
This should give many of you an entirely different perspective of the close ups of the Big Horn Mountains than I normally post. Good long telephoto lenses will do wonderful work if you have them. Buy them generationally as lenses last a long time. It’s camera backs that are throw away after a few years. I actually have to repair several cameras a year as I wear out the controls literally. If you work on manual all the time, your spinning exposures and fstops every photo virtually.
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has positioned himself dead center of this BIG twilight borderlands twilight sky show. Habitual Photo-bombers like Sneaky are incorrigible. I have no control over their actions.
I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color.
The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies. This is a pretty wide and tall image out of a 24mm lens.
Commentary on the weather:
We have way more snow than this at the moment. Winter has been very early this year. There is a lot of snow in the backcountry now and it’s not Christmas yet. IT has been a very moist year with every season being a month off. Spring was late and fall was REALLY EARLY on a Tuesday. Oct 1 Winter began this year. In the past I’ve driven down empty roads through Yellowstone in October before. I’ve never seen as cool/moist as year as this in my 30 years of living in Wyoming. It’s going to be a very long winter I’m afraid.. Starting winter early is bad.😫
Twisted pine trees, once they loose their bark to weathering and decay, show their grain. This snag might be 50 years laying in this spot after it stood here for several hundred years. This hillside that it is on protects it from as much cattle pressure (rubbing/scratching) as it would get on a valley floor.
The spiral is the tree being twisted by the winds pushing unequally on the sunny side versus the less dense shady side of the tree. The winds will gradually turn the tree into a corkscrew. Inexorable force over a long time is the reason for the spiral growth. Nature does many things we don’t think about unless we look below the trees skin (bark) to it’s structure. This is one of the best examples of this over such a long distance on the trunk that I have found. I know of quite a few of these trees. Usually they are broken up pretty badly. This one is “well preserved”.
I’ve tried this a few time. It’s pretty difficult to get the close far perspective to work. I still needed a sense of the 40 foot long snag. I did have to wait until the sun went behind that little cloud to take the edge off the lighting. This was still pretty early an hour from sunset from the sun’s I usually work with perspectives. This cloud comes along and makes it all possible 📷👁. Cloud Filters work as well as any glass filter in front of your lens.
These younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner take all. These bucks get along most of the year. They may even hang out “down on the corner” together. But this is as close to a full blown organized
So on an overcast Monday afternoon “Down Yonder by the fence line” was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut .It can really be violent when Pronghorn Bucks go at it. This appears more casual for the camera I suspect. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred.
All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment. They all migrated about 30 miles south to the THunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds. I had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here this year. He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as an antelope can be tolerant.
This post on December 21’st during the solstice was taken a week ago. This is just about as far to the south that the sun will set from this location. I’ve never found a location to take the sunset behind the Missouri Buttes (right side of the horizon in the distance. I’ve looked too. The forth bump just to the left of the buttes is the Devil’s Tower (Bear Butte). This angle is from a neighbors driveway up on the highest ridge around.
Maintaining a “Blue Snow Free Zone is something I advocate since it rarely exists in nature. I’ve examined this very discussion quite seriously from my point of view/history in color work as a background. I concede a single exception under certain conditions in early morning twilight or late evening twiligh. From a brightly projected sky like this, you can get a blue/purple tint to the normally grey shadows in the snow. I have only photographed one other twilight that has enough color from the twilight sky to suffuse into the snow cover. That one was two winters ago and was a dark Crimson not orange like this. Needless to say, the “colorcast” here was extreme and I consider this a very rare twilight color combination.
My new Ford F150, all black and shiny, should be my ride by the time this posts. My point of view and angles will change several feet higher. I’m not sure of all the ramifications of this, but I’m pretty sure I’m in for a better ride with this F-150 Raptor. My jeep has about 6 inches of suspension travel, the Raptor has 14 inches. I’m seriously looking forward to getting it under me. As I type this, my Jeep Grand Cherokee is cleaned out of all my stuff and is ready to “go to town”. I won’t use it again except the trip to town for the trade. That Jeep and I have been together for 14 years.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
This location is about a mile below a good sized oil field pumping 140 degree water out, treating it, holding it in ponds until it eventually freezes. With it having been below zero several times already, having an open body of water in the backcountry is an oasis. Particularly this time of year. (Imaged last week) A lot of wild birds stop by and over night here. Liquid water is always interesting to animals of all kinds in deep northern Wyoming / southern Montana winters. Numerous Geothermal ponds exist from deep oil wells in the areas surrounding my ranch but none directly on my place unfortunately.
I love geothermal pond areas for photographic trips in sub-zero weather as the steam generates huge hoar frost needles on virtually everything. The mists in the mornings can be amazing to watch the sunrise through. This is the kind of things I see driving backroads in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.
As I noticed this, it stopped me from 45 mph and I backed up a ways to set up for it. The speed limit up here is 45 on the county back roads. It only took a few seconds to get back to the proper position for this frame. . I rarely pass another vehicle when I drive around the backcountry. Maybe one car every three or four days of work. Mostly that would be a local rancher either going to town or tending cattle.
If you have ever taken a math class or √100 classes, you might recognize π if you see it. I’m always on the look out for natural letters for my “alphabet” collection. I never expected to find Pi in the backcountry.
SOoooo, I really liked the view this old fallen soldier this mathamatical snag. A high vantage overlooking this remote borderlands backcountry scene . Fallen wood lasts a long time here in the semi-arid 14 inch per year precipitation environmnet. We have MANY snags left over from the big fire in the 1930’s that “burned till the snows came”. 90 year old snags usually don’t have their branches in piles so I’m guessing 50 years or less. Being on a steep slope has protected the branches from as many cattle from rubbing against them to scratch. The sun had barely risen with direct sun light JUST starting to touch parts of the high ridge I’m on. Click. Close/Far perspectives in the backcountry… be still my heart, a few visual tunnels here. 📷
I walk backcountry ridges routinely for significant distances. Exactly how far depends entirely on how much gear I’m carrying. Some of my camera lens combinations that I would walk around with weigh up to 8 pounds. If I’m walking a long distance I carry a pack of gear and a chest rig of cameras weighting 20 or more pounds depending on what I’m doing. THe trick of course is not to fall down a hill or into a cactus patch while looking through a long lens and moving. More than one photographer backed up “Just a little more” a bit too far lolol.😜
This is an image of more or less the entire northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming. This vista is a very wide and deep telephoto composite at high resolution. The light was wonderful that morning with a strong orange colorcast. This orange tinting was extreme at times reflecting off the snow quite strongly. I have several captures with it WAY more extreme than this. However this work is very representative of what I was watching this am. (about a week before this posts).
This photo is of course from on top of the Trail Creek Road Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming. I live on this same high ridge but my ranch is about 6 miles over my shoulder. If this ridge wasn’t here, this is view we would have. It’s starting to get snowy. By the time this posts, I should be driving a taller vehicle (ford f-150) with quality studded snow tires. My 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee is being traded in. I just cleaned it completely out of anything remotely “mine” today. It’s amazing how many photographic gadgets I had stashed in there.
In Wyoming during the winter driving extended backcountry roads, I am very well prepared. Essentially I always over dress and generally drive with one or more windows open at most winter temps. A comprehensive emergency kit including most medical and lots of blankets/carbs. I alway wear pretty high tech gear in multiple layers. I carry a radio that easily will connect with my home base. Someone usually knows where I’m going if I’m going far. This is my 20th winter in these lowlands. I spent 10 years living at the foot of the Teton Range for my snow training 😃 Jackson is 6200 feet and snowy, we are 4000 feet and blowy …….
I might have the feet heater going hard though lol. Keeping the car temp and the outside temp the same reduces mirage effects on your images from a vehicle.
Location: near the Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then.
This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface. Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book.
The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Creatceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly unfossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀
I’m always saying I work Parallel Ridges photographically but actually showing parallel ridges isn’t easy. These long shadows during this late golden hour moment accentuate the topography in this landscape.
Autumn is in full effect for this country. Most of the ranches trees are behind me but this treed gully provides some foreground color in this image. A lot of grasses have a reddish hue to them as well as the various deciduous trees in the valley.
There is a lot of ground covered in this frame. 50 jiles out to the far ridge which part of the Red Hills up in Montana. I’m on what I call Ridge one which is about 1 mile inside of Wyoming. I really enjoy working this country with cameras. There are infinite angles and slopes to work ridge lines to properly corral light into your camera. Wild life encounters set off the experience. I never know what I’m going to run into up here. This is a land of many uses.
Your actually looking across 2 good sized river valleys. Ranch creek is the first big valley in the distance. Ranch Creek eventually feeds the Little Powder River which resides in the second valley. These small rivers removed all that sediment between the tallest peaks. The ground used to reach between the peaks and filled in all that valley area. Little rivers do LOTS of erosion over a LOT of time by a LITTLE at a time. 🙂