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Deer Grazing in the Light

Deer Grazing in the Light
Deer Grazing in the Light

Deer Grazing in the Light

Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.

This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet

The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.

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

Title: Deer Grazing in the Light

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Moon Over the Mountains

Moon Over the Mountains
Moon Over the Mountains

Moon Over the Mountains

Starting with the first ridge about 10 miles down range. That would be the furthest west of the ridges in the Prairie Dog Hills. Between the first ridge and the last ridge here is 25 miles. The moon is a little further away at 1.3 light seconds for light to travel from there to here. That exact number depends on whether the moon is closer or further away in it’s elliptical orbit around the earth. The terms apogee and perigee come to mind to describe the furthest away and closest the moon is to the earth. A difference of about 25,000 miles (significant if your walking).

This particular morning was one of the few I got to work on that months moon’s timeline. I like to have both the moon AND the sun up behind me to get landscapes like this. There are only about 3-4 terminator crossings a month that I can work this kind of scene. Rarely do I see everything cooperating as this to get a wonderful color pallet on a morning landscape. They are usually TOO red for my taste. This is just about right to the lighting several minutes after sunrise. At most I get 15 – 20 minutes of the actual full moon above the horizon coterminously with the sun. A photographer has to work fast. It’s a bad time for batteries to go down lolol.

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

Title: Moon Over the Mountains

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Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana
Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Boy the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing on this country. (Except Deep Sea Food lol) . Those swanky Japanese Maples are perhaps more photogenic than the backcountry Jack Pines seen here. But not much. Old growth and 60 feet tall survivors of the “big fire” back in the 1930’s. Here they bask in the colorcast smoke filtered light. The smoke from the fire all over the west. The sun size show the crushing of perspective by this long lens. Those trees are a mile distant.

These survivors dominate the ridge on the Wyoming / Montana border. This ground was more like the ridge behind them 100 years ago. No low branches is an adaptation to range fires. Those trees that loose their lower branches to heat from earlier fires do better the next time around. This growth habit is not reflected in the young progeny around the old still standing soldiers.

Living Hundreds of years on this ridge, the family here is tightly knit. I would imagine they are all related closely from a single pioneering ancestor. No doubt from way back in local early post glacial history. These pine trees of course release their seeds by way of cones falling scattered around their base. Those cones only open in response to a grass fire that is not too big, not too small. When the fire burns past, you get a generation of young pine trees that sprout up afterwards. Unless the fire is too hot. Fed by a century or more long build up of fuel in the grass. Old logs, branches and layers of pine cones.

Facts are that regular fires are GOOD for the ecosystem by regularly cleaning up the forest litter. Preventing HOT uncontrolled fires is a good idea across the board. Those fires burn the seeds they release and set the trunks of the old grown on fire destroying them in the process. Regular small fires help, large hot burns not so much. I’ve fought a few fires during my two decades on ranch. I don’t like fighting back in the woods too much. Not that I like fighting fires at all lol. Controlled burns are a GOOD thing. It spreads out the work over decades safely instead of all at once where you just loose things. This is not new knowledge. Common sense.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana .

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek
Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek

Satire:

Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.

Back to my normal programming.

Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.

Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.

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

Title: Deer Hide and Seek

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Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave
Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave

I titled this Shock but I could have used Bow wave just as well. The atmospheric phenomena you are seeing here is a very complex interaction for sure. The color is real as is the wave in front of the sun. I was watching this clearly on my video eyepiece just as you see it here. The Pall of Smoke was significant even for recent standards.

Amazing light effects occur in a heavily occluded / smoky atmospheric haze. I have views looking west from the local that reach out 93,000,000 miles to the sun. Between myself and the sun are many miles of atmosphere acting as a filter to all but red and yellow light. (With all gradations in between like orange).

I think there are a lot of things going on here with the color and the gradients. You will note a baseball diamond shaped area of yellow above the sun is the highest sky where yellow can penetrate with a given intensity. (a calculus equation or two involved here I suspect chuckle). Less smoke between me and the light there. Below on the wave, only the red light can penetrate the haze. The closer to the sun, the brighter the light the haze has to block. The curve will be smooth around the base. Mother Natures Geometry at her best artist strokes. I love smooth gradients but naturally stepped gradients are massively cool. Maybe it’s just me chasing light again lolol.

I’ve seen this only a few times in my travels. I suspect it has a name but I haven’t researched it.

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

Title: Setting Sun Shock Wave

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Grackles Watering Up

Grackles Watering Up
Grackles Watering Up

Grackles Watering Up

I’d say these guys were traveling the neighborhood and found an oasis in this high near desert environment. I usually keep a game camera pointing at active (full) stock tanks. Some day I’m going to photograph a big raptor on this tank but not yet lolol. Mostly I get blurry animals at night but SOME (1 in maybe 100) day time image are pretty good.

Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is watching the commotion as he effectively photobombs this wildlife image. I have no control over his actions.

We keep four stock tanks running all year with a small by high pressure water jet into the tank. This circulates the water in a circle and tends to keep it open in the winter. I’ve not had one freeze up yet. About a gallon in 4 minutes… Pumping water for lifestock and wildlife consumption has been expensive over the decades I suspect. I haven’t crunched the numbers and really don’t want to know… With all the cattle our water pumping amounts to around 100 bucks a month worth of electricity. Fortunately that is right around what we get back from the utility company we feed with 18 big solar panels each month. More water use in the summer of course, less in the winter.

I figure without liquid water in the winter, most of the deer that winter here would move to lower (wetter) locations. The grackles are migratory so are grouping this time of year. They raid my barnyard when they get the urge as well. This tank is a busy winter tank. Lots of deer come to water here.

Title: Grackles Watering Up

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Sun Bouncing Down Boulders

Sun Bouncing Down Boulders
Sun Bouncing Down Boulders

Sun Bouncing Down Boulders

(Satire)

There are some technical hurdles necessary to capture something like this lol. First, you have to wait for the sun, done with it’s day, to start rolling down the hill to catch it “thunking” over the boulders for those last few “steps”. The Smoke has to be thick in the air filtering out all but the yellow through red wavelengths. The Black is for free.

You see, this is what actually happens over the horizon. I bet you thought the sun falls below the horizon to fly clear around the earth for it’s morning appointment with dawn. In reality as I show here, the sun disappears only to take the steps instead of slowly floating around the globe. Remember it has to be all the way on the other side of the planet in the morning and the stairs through the center must be the fastest way. Don’t go around, go through must be the plan…

IT takes a LONG lens to reach “over the horizon”…… (snickering). (drats…. my emoticons aren’t working at the moment on this program).

SO at any rate, no is the time to return to my normal programming lolol.

As I type this a 45 mph wind from the Northwest is bringing DENSE smoke down from a fire up in Montana 80 miles away. The air quality went from good to terrible in 30 minutes. It has stayed poor or worse since the start. We are under a Red Flag warning. No sparks needless to say. Humidity out currently say 18 percent….. Wow. (Note: this was written a week before it publishes).

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

Title: Sun Bouncing Down Boulders

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Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click
Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click

It took me almost 5 months to collect this image from one of the 29 game trail cameras I keep running in the Wyotana backcountry. They usually take relatively crappy images, blurred, too dark or too light, or just off frame. Each and every image I get off a 150 dollar Game Trail Camera has a host of issues that a 3 thousand dollar camera doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have to leave a 3K dollar camera out in the elements either lololol. I have to fix each game camera image I post within the digital dark room. I literally have to look at 1000 or more images to get one that even has a prospect of making it into my portfolio. This is one such photos. This is very close to the camera for it to be in focus in this moderate light.

I’m thinking he heard the “Click/whir/sound of the camera. This particular camera has a 360 degree circle sensor. If it senses movement anywhere around it, the camera literally swings around inside of the gadget to take a photo in that direction. So it makes a little whirly noise and a click when it goes. I like them because they cover a HUGE area from all angles. I can put one 360 degree game camera out versus 3 or 4 regular game cameras. Humm, tough choice…

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

Title: Buck Heard the Click

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Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset
Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset

The horizon is a ridge 40 miles out. Those bumps are full grown pine trees making the saw teeth on the horizon. The perspective is deceiving. The area of the sky covered in this image is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. Telescopic lenses literally give you a front row seat by crushing distance and thusly perspective you perceive. Such large celestial objects are possible. The relative apparent sizes mess with you… This actually makes the trees look HUGE relative as the sun. 863,000 miles across for that sphere, 50 feet for the tree. Based on that comparison, the sun must only be a few thousand feet tall. (shaking head side to side)…. Early Scientists/observers had it rough. They came up with the “Flat Earth” theories….

All the smoke in the atmosphere these days is good only for photography. Giving me crimson, yellow and black as my entire color pallet to capture. Three color, color schemes are fairly hard to find in nature typically. You have to narrow your search with the telephoto. There was a MUCH bigger sunset on going all around this close up. Many more colors started to appear. But when looking directly into the furnace, you only capture what light makes it to the camera. The smoke stopping ALL colors but Red/Yellow =Orange from making it to my photon traps. I can only record what is sent my way after all . I’m pretty sure that the time spent watching backcountry sunsets is not taken off your life’s timeline by the powers that be. It’s all free time….

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

Title: Front Row Seat Sunset

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Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact
Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂

The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….

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

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

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Mirror Mirror Cloud Art

Mirror Mirror Cloud Art
Mirror Mirror Cloud Art

Mirror Mirror Cloud Art

All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy. This is ART. Did I mention it’s art?. Viper Sky

But I really didn’t do that much to the original image which is a legit Sunset taken from my back yard. I typically can instantly visualize a sky that has been mirrored back on itself in the camera. This one, I saw the possibilities for mirror art before the camera is even involved lol. This is the same photo seamlessly folded back on itself like two mirrors at 45 degrees to each other. The left 1/2 was the original image. 

In my Pareidolia infected mind, I see a large Snake with big fangs about to reach out and touch. Alternately there is a WONDERFUL Bearded Old Mans face dead center top frame. I never know what is going to magically appear at the “totem pole” that is usually formed at the “crease” where the two images are merged. I take great care to precisely align the center. Clouds and Trees are my favorite visual materials for this kind of photography and post click mirroring. I did very little to the image after the fact. If you have white clouds AND yellow/golden clouds in the same image. There isn’t much color manipulation that has occurred even though this is art and I have no rules. 

This was a storm at sunset with rain falling but evaporating before it was hitting the ground. This is otherwise known as Virga. That would be a good google word for the morning … Have a great day all…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands. 

Title: Mirror Mirror Cloud Art

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Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise
Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

A second Landscape Perspective this morning. I figure I’m a landscape photographer, I better post a good landscape every now and then lol. This Close / Far capture of the old growth trees about a mile distant, the far ridge at 10 miles with the sun a mere 8 light minutes distant (93 Million Miles).

I LOVE salmon / peach colored skies. In this case it was the smoke between me and the orange source giving what would normally be orange a decidedly grey colorcast. The dirty smoke contrasting the layers of landscape in this multiple ridge environment. I’m standing on ridge one, the sun rises over ridge 5. That’s the first ridge to my east all the way to the last I can see. That last ridge is my effective horizon. I’m not aware of any place high enough for me to see over it short of climbing the big horns. It stands about 200 feet higher than the hill I am on. I have to climb over that ridge to see over it unfortunately. I don’t miss but about 2 minutes of initial sunrise from this position.

Remember when your teacher said you’d use geometry in your lives? I actually do to a degree (pun intended). I have to imagine how this stuff works before I can decide the concept is correct.

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

Title: Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

/ / / / / \ \ \ \ \

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Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Landscape Looking Toward Gillette
Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Good Morning…
Taken from a high point overlooking the Montana/Wyoming border into the furthest north drainage in Wyoming. The telephoto camera sees a ridge 60 miles to the south. At the left end of that ridge stands a hidden in the mist Gillette Wyoming. Around 20+ thousand people live there. The actual population depends on the time of year certainly. The boom or bust of the local economy there depends on oil, gas and coal. The blue collar guys working the hydrocarbons and the white collars that manage it all live here. Lots of people drive through there on the way to Yellowstone every year. It is the first bigger town in Wyoming on the east side.

At night I can see any clouds over them from all the sodium lights. With time it golden light pollution will turn blue as the switch to LED is underway. That is a lot of ground in between. The road distance is 70 miles but it’s 60 as the crow flies. I’ve taken photos of fireworks from up at this location during a Gillette Wyoming sky show. They would look like a dim dot on this scale of magnification. I can zoom up to show clusters of shells going off but not much detail. It’s a long way to Gillette. Took a two day trip with a buck wagon with a team. I’m sure the local pioneers enjoyed the overnight between here and there. They were tougher back then.

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

Title: Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

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Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show

Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show
Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show

Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show

This storm hailed on me an hour prior to this click. I tend to follow behind these guys around sunset. Some of the scenery I see doing this is otherworldly. It was very dark on the ground as the silhouette shows. There was no way to properly expose the clouds still keeping the ground visible. Usually I can pull out the ground detail in the digital dark room. Not so much here. So I consider it a good use of negative space here lol.

This storm was quite a sporty little spitter on it’s way through the area. It was big and had a lot of various rain / hail shafts for me to run from lol. There were rumors on the weather there was golf ball hail on going somewhere under that. I was hit by marble sized hail. It seemed to follow me that night on the way in lol. I went 10 miles away from the homestead trying to get the photographic angle. The proper location is everything.

The Pink light is the “Belt of Venus” effect that is so common with a bunch of moisture in the atmosphere frozen or fluid. The pink light survived the longer trip through the low atmosphere. This light reflects back off the clouds to my photon capture boxes. There the photons are converted to electrons and stored for me to work on later. Have to love technology.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show

Mesocyclone Mammatus Twilight Show

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South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer
South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer

Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts

Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)

Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.

This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.

The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.

The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.

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

Title: South End Northbound Deer

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Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks
Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks

I see the light. Light has a tendency to travel in a straight line unless acted upon. Usually this is by passing through a change in media such as air to water. This refracts the light. As I was carefully wandering in the twilight dusk along a high ridge. I was scanning for imaginary faces in the silhouette. (This image having many for you Pareidoliacs out there).

Having huge deep boulders on the skyline usually makes anthropomorphic imaginings easy. This scene froze me in my tracks. The spot of orange light in the black on the low right is actually showing THROUGH the boulder field. Talk about a gauntlet/light filter lol. I’m not used to seeing straight lines through rocks. My geologic background caused OCD kicks in lolol.

I was walking around with the wrong camera upon first happenstance to see this. “Clever Girl” was up the hill about 4 stories. Climbed up and traded cameras, climbed back down. (Got to stay in shape to do this stuff). I figured I was never going to find the exact same place in 3-D space again. I went back to roughly the same spot with this lens, found the “zone” and clicked. It was visible in a little window about 2 feet by 2 feet. Move outside that box and I couldn’t see it.

It’s an obvious metaphor. Simply put: “Seeing the light is looking at JUST the right angle at the right time. “

Title: Path Through the Rocks

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Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck
Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

It was pitch black out around 11PM this stormy night of worrying about range fires. I usually end up going “up the hill” after lightning storms with a quality “FLIR” (look it up if you don’t know) to look around for heat signatures in the distance. I find stomping a fire out when it’s 10 feet across is much easier than 3500 acres. Loosing a little sleep and running around the ranch at night is a small price to pay. If I hear thunder, I am up before it fades from the distance.

So I tend to stick around watching such events, nothing better to do…. Might as well set a quality camera on a tripod. Placed under my front porch roof where I can go inside and be close by. I have a tendency to try not to let quality gear get wet. Conditions have been known to change rapidly during these weather events.

The leaves are blurred on the close tree left frame. They were rustling in the breeze which in time lapse photography means blur. The 25 second time exposure is pointed down my driveway to the main gate entrance. That log gate is a 120 yards from the camera. The ridge right in front of the bolt is 550 yards out. The bolt certainly hit the next ridge over which is right at 1000 yards or 3/4 of a mile. I was running the camera at this point. FLASH….. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. Booom… After regaining my eyesight, thought it might be a good idea for me to go inside and let a lightning trigger run the camera on automatic lolol.

The big white diamond on the lower left is a reflection off of 8 solar panels on a solar tracker. There are more panels you just can see the corner of in yellow sodium light next to it ground mounted. I’m thinking I got a little battery power from this lightning bolt

Location: The Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

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Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure
Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure

This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.

I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…

Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.

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

Title: Veiled Moon Time Exposure

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Perspective on a Smokey Sunset

Perspective on a Smokey Sunset
Perspective on a Smokey Sunset

Perspective on a Smokey Sunset

The Amount of Smoke in the air should not be underestimated here. When I get stepped gradients around the sun, there is literally a visual tunnel / window your looking at suspended in the sky. LOTS of Smoke… This is the scene exactly as I saw it. The colors are spot on. It shows the prodigious accumulated plume from of hundreds of forest fires to our west all the way to the Pacific Coast. The southwest/west is in a Mega-drought of sorts and has been for two decades. Megadroughts happen, and have happened several times in the past. This all before man became responsible for climate.

Researchers in the “southwest” compared soil moisture records from 2000-2019 to other historic drought events from the past 1,200 years. They found that the current period is worse than all but one of five megadroughts identified in the record. I haven’t read this study personally but this is from the abstract.

The paper, presented in the journal “Science” reveals the south-western US has been suffering from a 20-year “megadrought” – a period of very severe aridity that is starving rivers, stoking fires, emptying reservoirs and constraining water supplies to the municipalities of the region. Explosive Population growth and river diversion for agriculture as well as human use certainly looks to be a future problem. Millions depend on rainfall in the South Western United States.

Way up in northeastern Wyoming, our ranch is mid-continent 100 miles from the geographic center of North America. None the less the Drought monitor map has tongues reaching right up from the Southwest to this corner of Wyoming. We are definitely “enjoying” a serious lack of precipitation. Unless a Mesocyclone or two happened to run directly over you this summer. You’ve had a rough year growing grass. (our main crop).

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

Title: Perspective on a Smokey Sunset

Perspective on a Smokey Sunset

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Cloud Frame Around Moon

Cloud Frame Around Moon
Cloud Frame Around Moon

Cloud Frame Around Moon

Here the well risen moon had a window to my part of the world through a break in the storm system moving through. Those are REALLY big clouds at over 40 miles out. The rain under them is covering Devils’ Tower way under their base. I wish It was visible as it would give a much better scale for the size of these storms.

This was late in the day around mid-golden hour (about 7 pm in August). The talk is there will be snow in Wyoming this weekend. Hopefully we will have a wet fall which could moderate next year considerably by killing off grasshoppers. They don’t do well in wet. Prefer dry years it seems. I mean if your going to have a drought, you might as well have bugs eat all the grass that’s left lolol.

There was close to a 2 inch rain on this ridge with lots of water running in the local creeks. In the rain/hail mix was marble sized hail. I tried to get out of it’s way. The hail shaft seemed to follow me and went right over me. Trying really hard to be a distant observer of this stuff, it’s harder when there are a 1/2 dozen hail shafts moving through the area. Some places get rain, others get nothing. Usually the areas that gets wet. Getts really wet lolol.

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

Title: Cloud Frame Around Moon

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Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone
Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

This is the third image in this Huge Storms Time line that I’ve published. Several double bolt shots were taken of this storm. What really stands out on my 27 inch computer screen….. That loop of clouds on the far left side of the frame stands out big time to me. It is a perfect chain hook for this storm. I’d say the bottom of this huge slowly spinning stop is 15 miles across and the top was 40 or 50 miles across. Still small at this capture, 2 hours later it ran over the Devil’s Tower area. I have images of Hail Slathering the Tower from the hail coming off the back of this storm. The separate shafts off the right side of the storm consists of mostly hail surrounded by rain.

You want to avoid the back of these storms as getting under one will get you slathered in hail. Hail can be 5 inches or so. That would be a bad thing. In 2008 we had some soft ball hail cause 150 grand of damage on our place. This year 1/2 hour of chickens egg sized ice with a few bigger did over 1/4 million in damage. Next year we will be replacing 47000 thousand square feet of roofing. That is our ranch headquarters just this side of the north part of the storm by about 15 miles. It went past us and left us untouched but we got little rain. We need the rain but not the hail. Picky, picky, picky…..

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

Title: Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

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Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass
Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass

This storm passed over me about 30 minutes before. Those are my truck’s tracks looking back from whence I came. High up the hill from my current vantage point well of the ridge peak. Big views on that side of the hill but a better perspective down the red dirt road up one of the better sledding hills in the winter you’ve ever seen. Maybe 20 cars a day drive this during the summer. Just a few oil well service trucks and ranchers travel this. Trips to town are 70 miles to Gillette Wyoming or 90 miles to Belle Fourch South Dakota. This is a pretty remote spot in Wyotana. It is only 10 miles to the nearest asphalt road here though. All down hill too, literally lol.

That was a deluge of a storm coming over where I was. I tried to avoid the storm but the course was unpredictable without cell signal with affiliated radar. I just need a doppler rig on the roof. Big Hail is NOTHING I want to run into. I’ve got enough damage on my truck from it. I try really hard to stay out of the weather but several storms went through the area and one was bound to run over me. It did. No damage and I got some really fine images from the event. I have about 1/2 an hour of cool phenomena related to a good hail storm that will work their way into my publishing timeline.

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

Title: Storm Over The Pass

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Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset
Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.

There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.

The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.

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

Title: Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

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Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise
Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise

The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.

So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.

There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.

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

Title: Banded Smokey Sunrise

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Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog
Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

It had just hailed about an inch of marble sized ice stones from the sky. Heavy rain accompanied the hail shafts. This is a remote meadow near the Montana / Wyoming border. A series of large storms moved through the area. It’s the heaviest rain I’ve personally been in all year. I’m sure it dumped 2 inches of water plus the hail. ALL the local stream were running which is a rare event. I don’t think this particular drenching under this Mesocyclone was particularly unusual but for the drenching. I’ve seen 4 inches and hour before and this one only gave us a couple of inches in the 1/2 hour it lasted.

So all this hail ice is laying covering the surface of the ground up the hill. The sun hits it, evaporation and sublimation (google the latter) occurs and a cloud of cold saturated air off the ice flows down hill like so much water. It ran in rivers from every hill to every adjacent low area in this valley. This is the fog lake resultant in a wide low pasture being fed by dozens of smaller fog rivulets. The low angle lighting adding to the frames unusual nature. Oh yeah, there’s a rainbow up there too lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

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Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

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Mule Deer Family Portrait

Mule Deer Family Portrait
Mule Deer Family Portrait

Mule Deer Family Portrait

Overall it’s a fairly excellent photo from a game trail camera (GTC). Each and every one that I finish takes a lot of attention to detail to fix the issues inherent with GTC images. Finishing them this well takes a LOT of luck. This is Jane Doe and Twins in the early summer.

I’ve been watching them all year and they are currently starting to loose their spots. Probably should name them as they are going to be future stars of my photography. You can’t see it here but one of them has a chunk out of it’s ear which makes it easily identifiable. The other one will present a problem to differentiate from another random doe. No Notches on her. Jane’s left ear is slit nicely which makes her easy to discern in the crowd. I ran across these guys the night before I typed this narrative.

Of late I’ve been collecting most of the “Chips” (SD cards) from my network of Game Trail Cameras (29 currently I think)…I only see some of them once a year or so depending on where I planted it. Collecting them spread out over s 6 square mile area is a chore. So I can’t visit every location in one day. Usually I do this over a week in the later summer. Then I look at THOUSANDS of random automatic camera images (99 percent crap) over several days. Just occasionally I get a good one. This particular 360 degree sensing camera is planted nearby a path to a stock tank that this particular family unit waters. It literally will detect and take a photo anywhere in the full circle (not a panorama). Normally it takes 3 or 4 cameras to properly cover a likely spot.

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

Title: Mule Deer Family Portrait

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Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming
Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming

Boy I was traveling and I sure didn’t want to get under that. It’s hard to predict the motion of something like this and drive at the same time. You have to stop. Which is where it overtook me. It’s about 7 miles away from me at this point and heading right my way. I weathered the storm behind a stand of large well needled pine trees. Trees are of course a dangerous place to be during lightning but this really wasn’t an electrical storm. I was on rubber tires so I wasn’t too worried about ground currents in the truck. It was definitely a hail storm and that was a VERY heavy shaft of rain/hail. I call that a “Water DUMP” .

When streams run up here high on the ridges, there is going to be high water down drainage for sure. All this surface area really adds to the number of gallons concentrated in the valleys. Some canyons off this ridge are a hundred feet deep cut into the Cretaceous Sandstones underlaying my parking place. I saw more running water after this passed than I’ve seen in years. The hail was small marble sized fortunately but we got a bit of it. There are many more (many) more photos from this weather event’s timeline.

The events in the aftermath of this were VERY interesting to me. I saw some phenomena I haven’t seen in decades. Click, Click, Click, Click …. So many choices, so little time ….

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

Title: Hail Shaft Incoming

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Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

Pronghorn Herd on the Plains
Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

Milling about, generally moving a bit to the north, the group was grazing a little. generally they were uneasy but I don’t think it was me they were upset about. I find that groups of these guys are the definition of jumpy lol. This perspective is through a long lens camera sideways. I’m well outside their “line in the sand” that get’s them nervous. I was stopped, engine off. Watching them for about 5 minutes at this point. It was more like they were waiting for something to happen. Maybe me moving on… hard to know.

That last ridge is known as “The Red Hills”. This was taken a few weeks ago as this posts. Still at the very beginning of some lighter smokey days. It got WAY worse later the next day. The normally crystal clear view to the “Red Hill’ turned to haze by the massive fires out west.

Visibility was 10 miles tonight as I worked the smokey sunset again driving ridges in the backcountry. It’s getting close to dense fog kind of visual occlusion as I type this. The air is just plain unhealthy. I’m not sure if “Clever Girl” even likes it. Might have to change the air filter sooner driving around in this forest fire soup. The sun disappeared tonight long before it hit the horizon. The surface smoke totally obscuring the solar disk. It was last seen around “Sneaky Pete” tonight.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

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Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

Mesocyclone Late Afternoon
Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

These monster storms often miss us entirely, sometimes not so much. We had one roll right over us dropping 1/2 hour of up to 3 inch hail on the place. A mile wide strip of crushed grass and broken things. There were at least three ranches up here along the border that got pummeled in early July by one of these big clouds. We do get much needed rain from the periphery of these big fellows. Sometimes you get a little more than you need. Flash Floods, Hail, Lightning, Tornado’s do come out of these. Occasionally we get just a nice rain 😜

The HUGE country up here only sees a few tornados a year. The big rotating mass (like a 80 mile wide top with a 20 mile across base) spins very slowly, imperceptively so. The drafts and wind currents clearly visible along the sides. The center of the cloud was still growing taller in this point in the storms timeline. Rotational energy in the horizontal that turns into vertical becomes problematic. Tornado’s are no fun except to see at a distance.

I followed this storm for about 3 hours leading into late twilight. It was such a good projector screen later in the evening for that late twilight “Belt of Venus” pink and orange. The road way added a few layers to this red tinted landscape. It’s Golden Hour lighting at this point in the timeline. That just hasn’t reached up to the clouds yet just hitting the ground as I clicked this frame.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

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Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky
Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky

Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.

Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.

The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.

10mm Full Frame Lens, 130 degrees wide.

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

Title: Massive Cathedral Sky