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Bee Balm Summer Meadow

Bee Balm Summer Meadow
Bee Balm Summer Meadow

Bee Balm Summer Meadow

A summer image for those of you with cabin fever here in late January. In the remote borderlands area of Wyoming and Montana I live on, we have fairly severe winters. Fortunately I have the perspective of living 10 years in Jackson’s Hole Wyoming. I used to get 6 feet of snow flat in my backyard every winter in Jackson. My drive way was only a few hundred feet to the plowed road. Here we just deal with drifts some of which are significant. Way more wind up here on the high ridges of the western most Wyoming Black Hills. Unfortunately my drive way here is 1/4 mile long. It’s also warmer here. Jackson is 6200 feet above mean sea level, we are 3800 ft elevation at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch homestead.

The summer patch of Bee Balm seems happy in it’s full sun wash location. The soil in the wash is richer. Seeds fall/germinate in the moist gullies and aren’t exposed to the wind as much. “Monarda” AKA Bee Balm is related to the mint family. I’ve seen pink, lavendar and purple variants around the ranch. Other nabes are Bergamot and Oswego Tea. Hummingbirds love this stuff.

It has a plethora of medicinal properties. It’s an antimicrobial , antispasmodic for menstrual cramps and coughs. Soothing to the digestive system (tea), it treats indigestion and bloating as well as nausea. Used to treat anxiety/stress, it’s similar to lemon balm.. The tea is made from individual petals pulled. This creates a bright red tea. Takes about 15 minutes to steep. 1tablespoon of dried flower petals or 2 tablespoons of fresh petals to every cup of water. Bring it just below a boil and no more.

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

Title: Bee Balm Summer Meadow

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail
Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail (Back to the Summer Farm in the Winter)

I’m easily distracted by a play of colors and shades in monocultural fields surrounded by less disturbed landscapes. The cultivated field in contrast to the sage and grass natural turf. This particular ground has had european man’s stock grazing it for over 120-130 years and probably longer. But before that this was all native prairie. Still some in the background.

Geologic Musings:

This particular alfalfa field is down low in the Little Powder River valley and tends to be flooded every now and then. It’s on a terrace not far from that small meandering river. The river rises (comes down in local vernacular), and the fields flood in the spring. Snow melt and big rains up stream are the biggest causes for floods in this country.

Meanders result from the river moving back and forth across the landscape over geologic time. A meandering river is one that is NOT cutting down into the sediment and the local geology. (River’s Base Level is a good google phrase). It only can expend it’s energy on the sides/banks as it moves across the valley back and forth. It takes a few years to work across a valley lol. There is SOME gradient to this river so the Little Powder seems to be to be slowly down cutting into the valley floor. Don’t expect the Grand Canyon to form in this Climate during our lifetime. One grain of sand bouncing down the bottom down hill at a time wears down mountains over long enough time. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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

Title: Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

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Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet
Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet

I hadn’t thought about this image for a while but it needed to be updated and posted in January 2020. Out of season images are a good thing this time of year lolol. The weather was warm late spring which this year was a month late. Spring actually occurred on a Friday last year (2019). While Fall was on a Tuesday. I remember those days well but either side of those 2 days were brown season and white season. Interestingly this last year, a third season kicked in. A rare green season. Last year was so wet that it was green through August. I haven’t had to fight a fire for 2 years which is a very good thing.

This bloom is purple mustard I believe. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.

Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title:Sunset over Purple Carpet

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Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter
Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter (Sunset middle of the summer so a tad out of season)

Geum triflorum is a perennial native to North America. This flower seed head pictured here have a host of nicknames. These include: Long-Plumed Avens, Three Flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens and Red Avens. This is actually a rare plant across it’s range as naturalized invaders are out-competing it. 😕 I only know of a few spots on my place to find them. They are only 5 or 6 inches tall and not particularly obvious. They aren’t really an evergreen. Their leaves can last through winter turning red and crimson. This is easier for me to find than in the spring. I just make mental notes where I see them.

The Native Americans used an infusion of the roots , crushed seeds or pulverized roots as a kind of eye-wash, a tonic for menstrual Cramps, a gargle solution for sore throat and general stomach complaints. You will need to research further to get the processes involved in those uses. I only see them a few times a year during the late spring and earliest summer. Spring was on a Friday this year as I remember our yearly spring day. 😀

There is a little belly time involved in pursuing this kind of cellulose filter. I way prefer natural cellulose filters rather than glass filters. The Bokeh show us a sunset view . Rolling around on the open pine forest these are thriving in, has it’s host of risks. This is cattle country after all. Then there is Prickley Pair Cactus How else am I supposed to stay in shape? Rolling around in the woods.

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

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Anybody notice the Photobomber in this image? You have to look past the obvious to see the little spoiler lolol. Interestingly enough I didn’t see it until I got the image up on the big screen to finish the image. So I suggest zooming in on this capture lolol. 👀📸

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish.

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

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire
Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire

Geum triflorum is a perennial native to North America. These “Three Amigos” pictured here have a host of nicknames. These include: Long-Plumed Avens, Three Flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens and Red Avens. This is actually a rare plant across it’s range as naturalized invaders are out-competing it. 😕 I only know of a few spots on my place to find them. They are only 5 or 6 inches tall and not particularly obvious. They aren’t really an evergreen. Their leaves can last through winter turning red and crimson. This is easier for me to find than in the spring. I just make mental notes where I see them.

The Native Americans used an infusion of the roots , crushed seeds or pulverized roots as a kind of eye-wash, a tonic for menstrual Cramps, a gargle solution for sore throat and general stomach complaints. You will need to research further to get the processes involved in those uses. I only see them a few times a year during the late spring and earliest summer. Spring was on a Friday this year as I remember our yearly spring day. 😀

There is a little belly time involved in pursuing this kind of cellulose filter. I way prefer natural cellulose filters rather than glass filters. The Bokeh show us a sunset view . Rolling around on the open pine forest these are thriving in, has it’s host of risks. This is cattle country after all. Then there is Prickley Pair Cactus How else am I supposed to stay in shape? Rolling around in the woods.

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

Title: Prairie Smoke and Fire

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Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower
Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the wild Pasque Flower. Located on east facing slopes, they are not that common here.. I never really see them growing anywhere without a partial tree cover canopy over them. The south and eastern slopes here tend to collect a bit more water. Snow collects there blown from the north and west slopes. These are wild Crocus effectively. Commonly called “prairie Crocus”. The HAIRY bell shaped blooms are distinctive. Tissue paper delicate, transparent to bright sun with a very photogenic subject for a study of highlights.

Catching these guys usually involves being on your stomach. Please be careful where you lay down. (Besides the occasional Prickly Pair Cactus)….this is cattle country. You definitely need to watch what you roll around in lol. I have put my (then) un padded jeans covered knee on a prickly pear before. I also put my hand down once getting up on a prickly pear. There is definitely some hazardous duty pay situations out here in the backcountry. I now wear Goretex™/waterproof pants with knee padded pants when I work in the back country. I highly suggest good outer wear and layers in this country.

Since these little 6 inch flowers are random and rare in their distribution, you have to actually hunt them down. I have found them in small groups of 4 or 5 plants Harder is finding them on the upper part of that eastern slope where they can be worked photographically. In order to get low angle golden sun on the plant, they have to be on the edge of the forest. This limits your opportunities tremendously if your hunting the wild crocus.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

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Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs
Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs is from last spring of course. I see so much snow these days I’m ready for some of those warm days. It’s just December too lolol.

We have several Pink Lilacs as well as the standard purple. Swallowtails are a little flightly and are hard to get this close on without them heading for the next stop. Typically they fly out of reach. There were dozens of them swarming this bush along with a host of other species of insects. Finding one tolerant of you is a matter of ‘Becoming the bush” and don’t move too much. You have to be able to tolerate bees and other bugs flying around you though. Other than that, it’s not hard to so. Don’t wear perfumes as if you smell like a flower. Being stung in a bush is something that hasn’t happened yet. But merging into Lilac bushes and Hollyhock gardens has it’s risks.

Macro lens photography is a matter of getting close. REALLY CLOSE to your subject. I have half a dozen different macros good for different applications. This is a 90mm sony G series Macro lens at about 11 inches distance. I don’t autofocus anything ever so I’m actively focusing by moving my head back and forth fractions of an inch. A little bit of movement goes a LONG ways when your focus field depth is 1/8th inch thick. Set your focus and move your head lol. Handheld. Not a tripod.

Trivia:

The first known picture drawn by John White in 1587 of a north American butterfly was a swallowtail. This during Sir Walter Raleigh’s third Expedition to Virginia. That work is named Mamankanois that is believed to be a native word for butterfly in the day/area. I’m sure that it was shown to Queen Elizabeth who was the sponsor of Sir Walter Raleigh’s adventures in the America’s.

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

Title: Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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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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Cowboy Peace Offering

Cowboy Peace Offering
Cowboy Peace Offering

A Cowboy Peace Offering is for the long run

Just before the horizon rose to cover the sun

Only then is the cowboys work almost done.

Putting his horse away is just one

Of Several chores left undone

When or when do they have time for fun?

Frank Bliss (2019)

I don’t do much poetry but that may change as I get images like this that push me that way. I’ve been watching cowboys up here for two decades. I am definitely NOT a cowboy. I do however respect the heck out of the profession. If you think you know what hard work is, try putting up a mile of barbed wire fence mid summer. How about hay bales…ever picked those up? . Have you ever had to get an injured calf away from it’s angry mother to treat it? Does anyone out there think working outside all day, driving stock, fixing water sources and dealing with horses is easy? I’ve done a little of all those things. Has anybody here chased a 2K pound bull with a 500 pound ATV by bumping his rump with it? I will personally confirm to you that crash bars are a good thing for a 4 wheeler on a ranch.

I know many people that have been cowboys all their lives. This is cattle country up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Part of the American Redoubt we are. The cowboy lifestyle as far as I can tell is as good an existence as any I’ve experienced in my 9 professional careers I’ve had during my life.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cowboy Peace Offering

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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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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.

Photographic Musings:

This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸

Mini-Lesson for working on Manual:
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎


Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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Bee on a Summer Day

Bee on a Summer Day
Bee on a Summer Day

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day.

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail in the bokeh is the dividing line of two planters on our lodges main “patio”. It’s nice and warm on that concrete pad. THe first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee on a Summer Day”.

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Autumn in the Grasslands

Autumn in the Grasslands
Autumn in the Grasslands

Autumn in the Grasslands is full of colors.

I’m not sure of the seed plant here. Grows in big bunches. Not a lot of them on ranch so they are probably a noxious weed I don’t know lolol. Anyone got an idea??

Our ranch is about 1/3 pine treed pastures and about 2/3rd’s grasslands. Autumn down on the flats off the old growth treed ridges is a different perspective entirely. Thats a good mix of winter and summer pasture. You don’t want your cows in pine trees as the pine needles they eat cause spontaneous abortions from the turpentine they contain. Deer do just fine with them but not cattle.

Autumn happened on a tuesday this year in full disclosure. This is actually winter in this shot between snows/melts and was taken about a week ago as I type this. (2 weeks from when it posts. ). Up here in the remote ridges/high backcountry of Wyoming/Montana borderlands, we have a pretty long ramp up to full winter. That ramp is pretty steep this year so far lol.

The sun was just dropping below that cloud deck highlighting everything in a gold light with about 15 minutes to go to sunset at this point. I love perspectives and wide lenses

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana grasslands.

Title: Autumn in the Grasslands.

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Seed Filter for the Sun

Seed Filter for the Sun
Seed Filter for the Sun

A seed filter for the sun …

I’m always looking for free cellulose filters to reduce the very very bright light from the sun. I never use filters in front of my lenses ever but natural ones. Extra glass get’s in my way but a Seed Filter for the Sun is always a good idea. I’m not sure of the plant species. There was a cluster of them by the road side so they are probably a noxious weed that just went to seed. I only know a two patches of this up here that I’ve noticed anyway. They seem to be very localized. It’s pretty stuff though with the sun playing through it. .

Photo musings:

This was taken just a few weeks ago before the snow crushed all of this to the ground. Using a really Wide angle lens helps with this kind of capture but you want a lens that focus’s very closely. When I was shopping for a good wide angle, one of the things I paid a lot of attention to was how close the lens focuses. My 10 mm lens (here) will focus down to 9 inches away. Your setting FIrst priority is a high F stop….F-22 (deeper focal fields the higher the f-stop number) You need a deep focus for this… Shutter speed just has to be fast enough to stop any wind or hand motion of the seed headsSay 1/100th second. Then you just have ISO or camera sensitivity to balance the light equation to get the image where you want it. .

Your of course working manual settings on your camera. I don’t even know how to work my Sony Alpha cameras on Automatic. Never used it before on them. This image would have been capturable by a cell phone but this was a high end camera and lens.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Seed Filter for the Sun

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Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha
Bumble Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing pattern alpha was tough to figure out…. I watched very carefully for a while to figure out how “Bombus” (250 species of Bumble Bee under Bombus) was approaching and landing on the bottom flower. There was a rotation involved with this bee (bumbler) moving between these two Hollyhock blooms and a few others.

Catching these guys in a 1/2 inch thick zone of focus while they are flying is “Challenging” to say the least. I have to get around 9 inches away with this particular 90mm Zeiss Macro lens to get this kind of image plus shutter speeds in the 1/4000ths range to freeze the wings. Those wings beat 250 times a second over a 90 degre arc.

Geologic Musings: There are a few fossil bees known from the Geologic Record. But the “Amber Bee Fossil “on Ebay for 12 dollars MIGHT be a fake LOLOLOLOL. Don’t buy “Amber” fossils on Ebay …. In reality, Bee fossils are quite rare and would be worth thousands on the commercial market and priceless to scientists. There was a nice bee fossil found from the Miocene northern Bohemia (recently released paper_ The Miocene was from 22-5 million years ago depending on the sequence. Technical paper but nice images in it. (Prokop,Dehon,Michez and Engel 2017 for citation if you want to look it up).

Factoids: Bumblers are the highest living insects actually preferring higher elevations. Someone found a colony on Mount Everest 18000 feet above mean sea level. Our 4000 feet elevation pales by comparison lolol. The biggest bumbler out there lives in Chili and is 1.6 inches long…. about 3 times the size of an average bumbler her in North America. Bees of course pollenate most of our crops and are a lynchpin in our ecology.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

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Bumble Bee and Lilacs

Bumble Bee and Lilacs
Bumble Bee Gathering from Lilacs in the Spring

Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.

We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.

Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).

With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee and Lilacs

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Praying Mantis Hunting

Praying Mantis Hunting
Praying Mantis Hunting

I caught this Praying Mantis hunting on some Russian Sage out in my garden about a month ago now. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects (wet and cool) so there should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species obviously thought the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. He was “thrilled” to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂

Location: Back in the woods at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s headquarters, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

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It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table

It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table
It Bee Approaching the Dinner Table

As this Bee Approaching the Dinner Table (Hollyhock), I had to anticipate where it was going to Bee.

Photographers notes: Everything is mostly out of focus but the bee. The focal depth at 9 inches (closest focus for this Sony 90mm Macro) from the bee with this lens is perhaps 1/2 inch deep even with a lot of light and high f numbers. Anything in that 1/2 thick plain is sharp, anything else is blurred. Somethings are ultra sharp and others not so much. That is part of the Macro game is figuring out where that zone is and waiting around at very high shutter speeds 9 inches from the “approach” angle to this flower. I was 90 degrees and focused on the center of the flower ….Hang out and wait (remember when it was warm? ) for a bee to come by at a busy landing strip…. Hold that photo-yoga position number 15 for as long as it takes.😄

This is harder than catching flies between two Chopsticks with all due respect for Mr. Miyagi.

A few more bee photos will straggle onto my posting schedules still left over from summer and some reposts over the winter to remember those warm days.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Eyelash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)
Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Up Close and Personal:
A Tachnid Fly is indeed a Gardeners friend. Hairy, spiny and without a peer, eyelash winner of the insect world. Guiness should be called (or sipped from a glass) in honor of this parasitic fly that lays eggs in other garden pests. They truly help farmers/gardeners and are a huge family of flies virtually every one of which is hairy as heck lolol.
They are munching pollen here and the “Last Man Standing” as I was walking through the woods after several HARD (around 20 degrees) over night freezes “hoping” to find a macro lens subject to cooperate. In this inch across image area, there is a LOT going on. I find the macro lens a lens of discovery as much as just technical photography. The LED illuminated ring around lens I used for this is about one inch from the Fly. Patience and very slow determined “Photo-Yoga” movements are necessary to get this kind of capture. Sort of a slow dance for me now . This is great stuff up close… 📸

There were several of these guys feeding on a group of naturalized asters back in the windbreak woods behind our place. Everybody else (bugs) were absent/in hiding or killed by the freezes. Snowflakes will be my next target with this lens.

Asters of course are tough tough plants but they were on their last legs here too. Fall insect life and green leaves here in the WyoTana borderlands are winding down.

Into winter we slide with punctuated winter storm events being the rule until it gets really cold lolol (laughing maniacially). Maybe a little “Indian Summer” left in the early winter on the high plains.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend
Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Flies are indeed a gardeners best friend. They are parasitic in their larval life stage of course and their favorite target are major insect pests to the garden. They eat pollen etc but kill pests with their larva. They are not mammal flesh eating flies per se.
I had to laugh about the hairy butt but there must be a reason lololol.

Location: in the garden (even after several hard freezes below 20 degrees). Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Tiny Green Bee on Aster Late Autumn

Tiny Green Bee on Aster Late Autumn
Tiny Green Bee on Aster Late Autumn

Known as the “Bright Green Sweat Bee”, this native Wyoming Species was about the only thing flying around and they were working some naturalized Asters in our forest. The last freeze pretty much wasted every other flower but these are tough little fellows lol.

When I say Tiny, they are perhaps a 1/4 inch long and my lens is about 1 inch from him taking the photo. It has lights that illuminate around the lens for pretty good intensity even under fairly dark conditions if you get this close. This is a really deep focal field for this tight a shot from an ultra-macro lens.

Location: in the backyard of the Homestead, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time

An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time
An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time

This Cone Flower (Echinacea) is a wonderful summer flower with this silhouette captured from one moment in time. There are millions of them on this ranch being ubiquitous in the borderlands.

This kind of sunset lends itself to silhouettes with a particular lens I like to use for it’s smooth as silk bokeh.
Obviously this is from this summer and not current. I will be posting a mix and match all winter with summer photos creeping in where ever they occur in my workflow. I have a folder with close to 1000 images to finish at the moment lolol (laughing maniacally) …..

Location: Bliss DInoasur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Aquaponic Orchid and Praying Mantis Hunting

Aquaponic Orchid and Praying Mantis Hunting
Aquaponic Orchid and Praying Mantis Hunting

This is another image from that Mantis that I saved from a for sure drowning. I randomly walked past a stock water tank and saw this guy floundering stuck in a carpet of floating algae strings. It took a few minutes to detangle him preferably without ripping his limbs off. he spent the next 10 minutes inside my palm warming up and once released into the jungle like humidity and temp of our underground greenhouse (Walipihni), he started chewing off the algae still wrapping his claws.

This was taken a week after that when he was happily crawling along the tops of some of the orchids I grow down in the Walipini looking for Lady bugs no doubt lol. The lady bugs hunt everything else…

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

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Marigold Moth Marathon

Marigold Moth Marathon
Marigold Moth Marathon

Capturing “Marigold Moth Marathon” was challenging. Getting two of these guys lines up and both in focus (mostly) was the result a lot of light and the angle along with a really good macro lens I’m playing with here. I have to get the lens tip about 2 inches away. This has a phenomenal long depth of field at higher f numbers..

Autumn was on a Tuesday This year. It was 75 and sunny warm on our patio for this. As I type this (the next day after the photo was taken) it is 20 degrees and 4 inches of sticky frozen snow on every surface lolol.

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

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Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast

“The Beauty and the Beast” is a photon grab from a warm active Wasp gathering pollen on a Purple Aster that we naturalized back in the “woods” years ago.

IT is covered by 4 inches of frozen snow as I type this. 75 degrees one day…..next day….. 20 degrees lololol. (Laughing maniacially).

All the vegetation up here are all still leaf bearing, covered with heavy snow. There will be some images resultant as soon as the light unflattens …..

White snow is going to be the rule not the exception this winter…. Never saw brown season this year. Missed it entirely. Went from this, to white in one day. Welcome to “fall” on the high ridges of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year… 😂

Everyone needs some Purple in their Life at least once a week🙏

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting

Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting
Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting

About a week ago I saved this Hunting Praying Mantis from Drowning in a stock water tank. Here he’s hanging out on some of my Orchids that I am growing down in my Aquaponic Walipini Greenhouse.
They move a lot from a camera historically but he’s pretty tolerant of me as I actually had to detangle him from a mat of floating algae without ripping his limbs off. It took a few minutes. 😀 By taking him down into my Walipini greenhous, he/she is assured a longer life as it’s a jungle down there (10 feet underground) even during the incoming blizzard (as I type). It’s always 65 degrees + down there and humid as heck in the winter from condensation on the roof glazing…..It’s always raining there when it’s cold….
The poor thing would have drowned or froze in a week, either way, I randomly saw him struggling as I was walking by the tank while changing cards in one of my game trail cameras. What are the chances ?? He was seconds from drowning….I happened by…

Filed under things I see driving around the ranch.😎

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight

Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight
Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight

Catching a Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight and being able to do it reliably is a challenge for every photographer. The depth of focus at 9 inches away (where you have to be to get a shot like this with a 90mm macro) is around a 1/2 inch thick so getting a very rapid fire camera really helps as well as one that will take 1/6000th or higher shutter speeds. This is not a crop. Full sized file as it were.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands….in our garden with the hollyhocks…