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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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Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate
Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Open Gate

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Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets
Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.

Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.

Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

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Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise
Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise

Pareidolia:

This phenomena is the ability to see faces in common objects. The scientists say it developed in our species due to infants need to smile when they see a face. The smile engenders loving care in return. The babies (a million or so years ago) that smiles more, were cared for better on average. They grew to adult hood and reproduced. Rinse and repeat cycle over and over and over. We are teaching computers to do facial recognition using essentially the same process. The ability to see shapes out of random data is a survival skill.🤔 This “ability”/curse used to be considered a sign of psychosis “back in the day” before it was recognized as being absolutely normal lolol.

Taa Daaa. (or un taa daaa? which is a classic reference), This captures was during a wonderful morning of bronze mottled/rippled cloud deck with the sun just cracking the horizon. IT was dead calm on this ridge top which is not that common for me.

Trees Beard here is of course a distant cousin of the Ent’s of Tolkein’s masterpiece. (If your not a geek and don’t know). They were walking/talking tree creatures of great age that watched over the forest like shepherds. That’s all within the frame work of the Two Towers book out of the trilogy.

At any rate:

I also see a wolf’s head outline in the negative space the trees provide. Some may see a horse. Something else?

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Beard at Sunrise

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Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4
Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!

That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

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Back Country Buck Rake

Back Country Buck Rake
Back Country Buck Rake

Back Country Buck Rake

Winter is bleak and the snow is deep in the hollows. The restless wind of the borderlands, the sun, the grass fires have all contributed to what lives on this landscape of Tertiary river sediments. All this ground is composed of debris carried by rivers about 130 miles across the Powder River basin ALL the way to the Big Horn Mountains. That is a big apron of sediment 130 miles out. My ranch is about 8 miles over that hill from this location.

There was a snowstorm coming in and I drove JUST ahead of the storms shadow for about 10 miles. I of course was snapping the wonderful lighting all along the way. I have this antique grass rake from this side and looking through it at the sun. All taken from the road via telephoto. I will never leave the right of way taking photos if it’s private land unless I have permission ahead of time.

A seat is missing from the top of the center support for it. This was certainly horse drawn at one time or another in it’s history. A pair of horses with harness ruled early farm life in this country. As technology advanced but even more importantly, because servicible here. A host of various machinery was used to pull farm implements. Some had actual tractors other bought army surplus crate Jeeps freshly returned from storage depot. All produced during World War II. Many a Willis pulled a hay rake during the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Location: About 8 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Back Country Buck Rake

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Back Country Sun Dog

Back Country Sun Dog
Back Country Sun Dog

Back Country Sun Dog

This big old sun dog happened one cool sub-zero morning. Ice crystals refracting light were falling out of the air in front of my camera everywhere. All the white speckles are ice crystals close to the camera. I was just driving along a high ridge as is my typical backcountry drive. It suddenly appeared as I was driving along. The ice fall moved over me.

Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Alternately, refraction from drifting in freezing moist air at low levels as diamond dust as here. Those “mock suns’ are from the aforementioned “Diamond Dust”. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was VERY bright.

This half circle halo is 22 degrees from the sun. These 22 degree refractions are present with and without mock suns in my experience. This particular Sundog even has a sun pillar above AND below the sun itself. Pillars develop as a result of ice crystals slowly falling through the air, reflecting the sun’s rays off of their hexagonal flat surfaces.

I’ve only seen one better sundog off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area at the Village mid winter back in the 90’s. This was a few miles back in the backcountry pretty much across the border with sky in both Montana and Wyoming. .

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

Title: Back Country Sun Dog

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Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset
Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

OK, it’s a halfie with the horizon 1/2 way up the frame…. I don’t produce a lot of halfies but this one is worth of your time I feel. A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a mouse on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, these seeds wait for a grass fire to open up and “seed” themselves. The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

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Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks
Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Some would call this a cloud bank, however if you look closely, it extends all the way to the ground. It was slowly heading our direction reaching us within an hour of this capture. The morning was beautiful, calm, clear overhead with a clear sky sunrise to my right. The approach of this cloud bank obscured the sun for the rest of the day.

This location has a wonderful view toward the northwest over the Montana border (I’m standing in Wyoming). There is a natural frame here (or 10) on this ridge. It is only a few miles from my homestead and a relatively “easy” drive to get up the hill. This time of year snow drifts about. I suffer long periods where I am denied access to locations up on this ridge. The view without that cloud bank is about 60 miles, with about 6. I have more images with this cloud bank literally rolling in at ground level.

I definitely consider myself a landscape photographer. As an artist, I actually photograph very few people (as I don’t see a lot of people here). I think in 20 years of running around the backcountry here I’ve run into 3 different people I didn’t expect to see randomly. All had a good reason to be there. (Pipeline inspectors and local ranchers looking for lost bulls). The pipeline people call me now first as they should. The ranchers have free access.

Not that I will turn down offers by local wildlife to pose for me. Then there are the always the famous photobombing Windmills known as the “Pete” brothers. I have no control over their actions. Fortunately, windmills get tangled up moving through timber. These high forested ridges are Windmill Free Zones. 😜📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Landscape Morning Fog Banks.

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Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill
Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill is doing what he does best, get into my landscapes. I have no control over his actions…..😎 (years old narrative).🤣

The window to the Big Horn Mountains from my ranch has 130 miles of atmosphere between my high ridge location and those 13,000 foot high peaks… I see them maybe once a week. It was windy but this is still a 1/15th second time exposure in order to blur the windmill sail.

This was a missed post so I manually posted this this AM. I’m not sure how I screwed it up but here I am working live and not a week out lolol.

Have a great Friday and be safe in all you do.

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

Title: Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

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Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds
Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds

This gravel road is headed up into the clouds. Some of this is the perspective CRUSH by the telephoto lens of course. IT really is a steep section of road. It was snowing just up over the lip of the hill. The ridges around here are a whole different environment than the surrounding lower country. We live up in the higher ground where it almost always snows a little more.

We call our place “Little Siberia”. 1: the label was handed down by the previous residents. 2: it always has snow here when the valley has just rain.

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

Title: Pass Into the Clouds

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Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag
Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

There is a LOT of texture on this twisted snag. It sits on a steep slope. There is little wear by cattle rubbing on it there. Cattle rubbing destroys things up here faster than freezing and thawing. I attribute most of the damage to old wood wagon wheels here to cattle rubbing against them.

It’s called “Cattle Pressure” . This acts heavily on fences and panels . Where cattle are crowded together such as corrals such becomes serious generating a lot of outward force. So this trees falling on a steep slope keeps the cattle way. If it was much steeper or wet, it would keep me away.

The Twisted pine is literally spun around. All from uneven wind loading. Branches on one side of the tree unequally are exposed to the constant wind. These are worse on the ridges. Pin trees end up getting twisted. Mostly into cork screws like patterns.

A fallen soldier like this is perhaps 80 years dead. There is only 14 inches a year average of rain a year here so rot is a very slow process. The result is very weathered surfaces and wonderful patterns that stand out well in the right light.

I’m pretty sure there is a white Unicorn in the white sun saturaturated area. A natural spirit in the sky looking left to right. I’m a victim of seeing images instantly out of random shapes as clouds or other data. This tendency to see patterns in random shapes used to be considered a psychotic symptom. Modern medicine says normal. Recognizing anthropomorphic shapes out of random data is something we have trained computers to do. (facial recognition).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

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Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate
Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate

This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile.

In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set far to the left side of the frame is still lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Jeeps drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.

I use “RC-2” mounts on everything. You have to buy tripod heads All my tripods and all my cameras all mate up properly (or that is the plan). I JUST got two of my Sony Alpha 7RII cameras back from repair (takes a month usually). At any one time I usually have one camera out being repaired. I’m pretty hard on the cameras, spinning dials all the time in a hostile dusty environment. Cameras will last longer if you use them on automatic and don’t spin dials (moving parts) that wear out and stop working after 50 or so thousand adjustments. However running a camera on automatic is like owning a supercar and having the computer drive you down a traffic free winding mountain road.

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

Title: Out the Back Gate

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Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning
Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).

Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.

This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Brace for the Morning

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Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night
Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night

It was around 11pm and my Mastiff’s wanted out. It was the beginning of a 24 hour snow but it was still rain at this point. The drizzle covered anything exposed. That is a 400 watt LED stadium light. It is as bright as the sun versus the total black here in the backcountry. According to nasa, when it’s dark here, it’s as dark as the north Atlantic Ocean. I can see lights effecting the sky from towns hundreds of miles away. Particularly if I go up high and look around. (Billings, Gillette, Sheridan for starters). You can’t see the actual city lights but you do see the glow in the sky on the horizon. The cities light pollute the local “seeing” and not at all here, 70 miles from the nearest town.

I don’t do much dark night photography these days. I’m not sure why but I do need some sleep sometimes.

Photographic Musings:

I did this without a tripod as I was only hunting for the highlights in this image.. Negative space here is as important in the composition. I wanted to razor edge the settings. So you need light in the camera AND a fairly deep focus. Compromise. ISO 1000 for sure. (or a tripod) and minimum handheld shutter speed of 1/50th. That only leaves f-stop to set. . If your far enough away, you’ll have some leeway in f-stop. F-stop primarily going to be set low numbers here to gather light, damn the reduced focus depth of field as a result of the low f-stop setting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Reflections: Ice Covered Night

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Sunset Up Close and Personal

Sunset Up Close and Personal
Sunrise Up Close and Personal

Sunset Up Close and Personal

When the trees on the ridge 40 miles distant from my lens are in focus (more or less for the distance), the sun is scalloped and crushed The hundreds of miles of atmosphere the sun is filtering through, is distorting the suns edge. I get to watch those scallops move in real time when I set up shots like this. Big long lenses are necessary to do this kind of work.

When present, heat shimmer will create optical distortion that will diminish the quality of medium and long distance photos. trees at 40 miles is pretty hard to focus with moving air caused by heat islands in between my camera lens and the ridge. There is some distortion of those trees by the intervening atmosphere as well. Imaging anything over 20 miles I find you start running into distortions of various kinds. It’s not the lens, it’s the atmosphere.

What can you do about this distortion problem? Heat waves in the landscape are an image quality factor that you generally can’t spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to remediate the problem. . Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image. Low angle moon and sun images are going to have differential heating between you and the moon/sun. Fact of physics and the environment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Sunset Up Close and Personal

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Sun Slit Across the Valley

Sun Slit Across the Valley
Sun Slit Across the Valley

Sun Slit Across the Valley

I watch the sky both morning pre-dawn and pre-sunset to see if the photons emitted are worth capturing. I am always interested in layered landscapes. The series of parallel Ridges here frange from a few miles out to 40 miles for the large ridge. The biggest ridge you CAN”T see is the ridge that is cutting off the bottom of the sun. That ridge is called the Big Horn Mountains. Even though you can’t see the ridge, it stops the sunlight dead in it’s tracks. When the sun sets at this spot, it always sets above the first tall ridge (the Red Hills) as the ridge behind is a light blocker whether you can see it or not.

This is a dark capture as the sun was heavily veiled in this capture. There was so much moisture in the air as this was a day before the Dec 1 Storm Came through. Anybody else notice Oct1 and Dec1 were both big storms?? Maybe it’s just me lolol.

As I type this at 3:40 in the afternoon, 40 minutes till sunset, the scenario for sundown seems to be coming to something like this. A sunslit can be wonderful if it lights up the cloud deck above the “slit”. I will make a decision within 15 minutes of whether to go out or not. It depends on what I’m seeing as it takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography when I have about 4000 images to refinish seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol.

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

Title: Sun Slit Across the Valley

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Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape
Perspective: Golden Backcounty Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.

I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

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Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth
Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth.

These frosted Pines stand along against the elements high on a remote ridge. They have long survived backcountry wildfires. . The lack of branches down low help keep them safer from grass fires. . Their isolated island also helps prevent fires from taking them. These survived a major fire in the late 1930’s that burned all summer in this area. Only the winter snows extinguished that long burning fire. There are still many snags around from that fire. A lot of seasoned firewood has come from those snags. Some still stand as a stark reminder of natures wrath. Partially burned and totally now “wildlife” trees.

I don’t take a lot of Black and White images. However, this scene seems made for the genre . Frosted Needles and boughs are the rule in this shot. Each with 1/4 inch of ice everywhere on any exposed surface. There has been a lot of slowly freezing storms come through this fall. All starting out with rain or freezing drizzle. Then they turn to snow so an ice coating under a foot of snow makes for interesting backcountry driving.

I can not travel easily now in the backcountry. Over a foot of snow from the last storm put a hitch in my giddy-up. I try to be safe and not stick myself back country. It’s a long walk back. Having said that, I do carry several radios including a ham radio to which I have a repeater on my communications tower. I’m pretty much in communication if needed. Cell Phones usually aren’t much good up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

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Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show
Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

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

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

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

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

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

Title “Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show”.

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BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder
BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. Th grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.

Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well south of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next spring again. The sun will continue to set a little more south each day until December 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.

I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

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Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Western Painted Turtles Sunning
Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Sneaking up on Western Painted Turtles Sunning is a matter of patience and position. If they see you, they will dive. I don’t care how far away you are. They consider humans dangerous. So, a proper lens (800mm), a nice warm summer day when I had a few spare minutes and a couple of sleepy turtles. 

The really funny thing about the fly on the turtles shell, it that there are actually 2 flies there. They need to go rent a room. I think there are a few by the hour down in Gillette. 😂😂 

Taken from 15 feet away, I was blending into the background motion of a pretty windy day. Tree Branches moving, lots of tall grass swaying in the wind. . I’m peaking my well camo’d head over a bank VERY slowly. They didn’t sense my presence for some time. I worked them for at least 5 minutes pretty much circling them on one side. You really have to move slowly though. First time you sneeze, your done lolol. I attribute my stealth to the moving limbs and trees all behind me masking my motion. Admittedly, I was moving very slowly. 

These guys make lifelong pets with some living 50 years in captivity. Pet shops sell Western Painted turtle domestically raised babies. I’m sure many thousands have been released back into the wild. Soon after the novelty wore off, many have landed in the woods or a local pond lolol. 

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Western Painted Turtles Sunning

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Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting
Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbirds use an interesting approach to egg laying. No time is watered to build a nest. They expend all their energy laying eggs. But only in the nests of others. The bigger chick usually wins the battle against smaller fledgelings from the parents actual offspring. They are all raised by adopted parents often at the expense of their own breed. The most common “Brood Parasite”

The network of 29 (currently) Game Trail Cameras that I run occasionally come up with some pretty candid captures. I don’t recommend any brand of Game Trail Camera as all of them have their share of unique problems.

This capture was from mid summer 2019. We just at a Blizzard (a week ago as I post this) There are Game Trail Cameras that I won’t be able to get to before spring already. I had pretty good batteries and typically they can go 6 months unless something is overstimulating the shutter. Moving branches or grass can set your Game Trail Camera off eliminating your battery or SD card’s capacity. Which ever comes first will be the end of that camera.

I do have to remember where I have put cameras. This is a very big place and I’m sure there are a few out there than I don’t remember but I eventually will run into them. This is a very big place at 5.5 square miles. But it’s a small ranch compared to others around hre. It’s a matter of scale which is very hard to convey. Folks that have visited here fully understand.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

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 deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

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. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Moo Moo Sunset

Moo Moo Sunset
Moo Moo Moon

Moo Moo Sunset

As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.

Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??

This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moo Moo Sunset

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Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail
Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂

An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.

Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck
Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Images from Game Trail Cameras are all problematic in one way or another. This one is better than most and I love the position of the camera here. Most daylight images it takes are pretty darned good. I don’t think you can do much better with the technology that is out there than this image.

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. 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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Mule Deer Buck

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Perspective C Shaped Tree

Perspective C Shaped Tree
Perspective C Shaped Tree

I took this Perspective C Shaped Tree last summer. The tree is certainly an odd ball, suffered an injury early on but survived. Perspective here makes it look Huge but I’m standing about 10 feet from the tree. It was and I emphasize was a large branch. Looooong shadows here…. 👀📷

This image taken last summer. Somehow this branch “blew up” and is in a dozen pieces. I drove by this remote spot about 3.5 miles away from my house in the backcountry. . So this well be the last image of this interesting tree. We had a few high winds (high 70’s at least) this year. One of those blows probably torqued this non-typical tree to bits.

This is about 1/4 mile from some wonderful dinosaur micro-site digs that have given me quite a few Cretaceous age Dinosaurian fossils. Lots of teeth in this ground. It’s just a matter of finding them. All the vegetation is growing on Cretaceous River Sands.

Across that treed gully was a 1930 homestead that a family lived WAY back here off the county road. The father died in the 30’s of an acute appendix attack during the winter. No way to get him out in time. There are many remnants of their life around. Frames of model T trucks, old stoves, metal bedsprings, a host of metallic grace the landscape. The remains of that residence are scattered by time but the easiest search is down the sides of the closest gully to the old homesteads. There was always a place homesteaders threw non- combustable/non-reparable over the bank.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective C Shaped Tree

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Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever
Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle were required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates that fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Biggest Sun Pillar Ever