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Warming My 3 Souls

Warming My 3 Souls
Warming My 3 Souls

Warming My 3 Souls

I was warming the souls of my trail boots along with my own soul for this capture… Watching dramatic scenes as this unfold in front of me is a deeply engaging moment by moment adventure for me. I work at a high operational tempo when there are minutes left in the light. Lots to do and not much time to do it.

A “sun slit” about 5 minutes to sunset, the flat light from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives with these old fallen sentinels of the high ridges are well worth pursuing . They provide the artist with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the fallen tree lays waiting for the night. It was a soft bed in the snow.

This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔

Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.

There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my left shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. I actually have built the road up to this ridge top but there is no build road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Warming My 3 Souls

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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

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

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet
Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title:Sunset over Purple Carpet

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Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge
Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise. THe sky starts to light up, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken over a month ago in early December. We had lighter snow then than now. There is 6 inches flat everywhere on the ridgetops at the moment. You have to be very careful going off the ridge tops. The snow that use to cover them has been blown of to the sides. There hasn’t been much drifting yet this winter and I have a new truck now with excellent capabilities so it should be a productive winter up on the ride tops.

Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

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Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming
Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming

I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 50 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft so the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.

That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mesocyclone Incoming

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Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads the view. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the bright scene on your retina. A quick though of eye damage, you blink and a minute later your vision is back. . 

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about. 

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. 

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunset

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off
Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off

In reality, these two bucks grew up together. I’ve been watching them a brothers from two different parents of a herd I’ve followed for years. Thick as thieves they are. Always hanging out together. I’ve seen them sparring many times but never with murderous intent that I’ve seen in males that didn’t grow up as best friends.

Regarding the image. For this to occur, I had to figure out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

Disclaimer:

To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Best Buddies Facing Off

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Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland
Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Geologic Musings.

Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant in Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.

Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. T All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch . During some years past, they have been totally eroded from my place and are gone. Carried down the drainage one grain at a time. . ‘

Residual Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers above that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there… isolated. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there.

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

Title: Sunrise Side Show Borderland

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Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky
Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

This Crown Sky during mid-civil twilight (about 15 minutes after the sun went down that night) is a pretty rare sky event. I’ve only been able to photograph a half dozen crown skies this good in 30 years. This is the second from mid -twilight with the sun well below the horizon by a few sun diameters by the time this was taken.

It was dark. I didn’t enhance the colors, this is a time exposure of about 3 seconds which tends to enrich colors a bit. I adjusted them to where I remembered them. This is a night sky after all… I will work a “promising” sunset from early Golden Hour to late Civil Twilight. Longer if the sky show lasts longer. Reverse that for morning / sunrise. Sometimes I work from my yard, other times I’m way out in the backcountry. Hard to know what the skies are going to do.

Science Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments not you. . Try manual mode sometimes…… You do the work…. Only three main things to learn….. Just saying. (ISO, F-STOP and Shutter Speed)

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

Title: Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

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Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter
Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter (or Summer Sunset Through the Grass…..)

Yellow gradient to red but there were some low clouds messing up a perfect gradient. It’s hard to fight mother nature but I like the yellow and transitional orange in this. Stepping JUST over a ridge line with a long lenses camera is at sunset becomes habit. I work parallel ridgelines all the time looking for close / far perspectives such as this.

The sun is SOOOO bright you couldn’t look at this scene with the human eye. I’m about 150 yards back from this grassy ridge with around 400mm involved. I work the shadow line on the far ridge. Distance is your friend with this kind of shot. Maximum F-stop settings (high numbers) give you a deep field of focus. Ifs your first priority to get the grass AND the background in focus. Good thing, it’s a bright scene and the High f-stop makes your aperture a pin hole. Go higher if you can. Then I mentioned, distance from the foreground object is key. You have to be far enough back to get the grass AND the sun focused at the same time.

As I type this, we are going into a cold snap you will have experienced by the time you read the post. I build these posts about a week ahead on average. I post 6 different images everyday on FB along with the story or lesson for the narrative.

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

Title: Grass Stand Sun Filter

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Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise
Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather hundreds of these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. . I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. There is a LOT of hay in this “stack”. Several local ranchers (you know who you are) just raise grass, some just cattle and most raise both. There are not a lot of sheep herders up here in the high country that I’ve noticed. I know there are sheep operations around the area but most of the ones I know are down in the river valleys.

This was late in the year and the sun was far right of this almost perfect east/west trending Hay Stack. As the winter fades, the sun will slowly rise further and further to the left. Each day it moves a little more to the north as we orbit around the sun.

The green biodegradable netting around the hay is cut away before feeding the bale. We currently have our Herd of 34 corriente corralled and I’m feeding bales. Feeding a bale every 2-3 days, the Corriente Longhorns patiently wait for me to pull it off the bale. I always have to turn my back on them to do it so some day I may get got. 👀😵 Once I’m gone, all heck breaks loose and the pecking order slowly takes over. Everybody eventually gets their fill lol.

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

Title: Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

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Mirage Over the BigHorns

Mirage Over the BigHorns
Mirage Over the BigHorns

Mirage Over the BigHorns (They don’t look like that)….

Fata Morgana = Complex Mirage

Often observed over large patches of snow/ice at low uniform temperature. Sounds like here lolol… A Fata Morgana is a pretty rare event in my experience. I’ve never seen this before but it can occur anywhere. There is no limitation for temperature though as they can occur on hot days. This was not a hot day lolol.

Fata Morgana is described as a very complex “superior” form of mirage. It will have three or more distorted erect and inverted images . All within the primary mirage. Changes of the constantly variable conditions of the atmosphere cause it to change form rapidly. A Fata Morgana may change in infinite ways within just a few seconds, Including changing to become a straightforward superior mirage. A superior mirage occurs when the air under the line of sight is colder than the air above it. This unusual arrangement is termed ” temperature inversion”. Warm air above cold air is the opposite of the normal temperature gradient of the atmosphere during the daytime. That obviously was the case here.

Seen from sea level to mountain tops, this phenomena has even been seen from aircraft. I’ve never ever experienced this in 20 years of living up here. Now the Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant. That is one long distance mirage. About 200 miles line of sight past the Big Horns are the Wind River Mountains. The strange slopes COULD be from the Wind River Slopes showing in the mirage. Alternately, the mirage COULD be Multiplying and stacking in several layers the slopes of the Big Horns themselves. (Educated Speculation at best).

“Atmospheric ducting” of light causes this. The lensing created by bending the light rays in an arc equal to the curvature of the earth. Proper Positioning is necessary to see this. Being JUST below or actually in the atmospheric duct is necessary to see the Fata Morgana Mirage.

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

Title: Mirage Over the BigHorns

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Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal
Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This top 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Up Close and Personal

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Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery
Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Up higher in the backcountry I travel extensively. The high ridges in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands have a host of small groups of Pronghorn Does pooling their young fawns into a nursery. The other adult females/mothers are off grazing elsewhere. Of course the mothers were elsewhere unknown. However, I’m trying to figure out how the grass is better elsewhere lol. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for that behavior from my human viewpoint except… Getting away from the kids, ie. mental health lolol.

This is right at 6 months ago (as this posts) about a month after the fawns were born in June. It never got brown this summer. The babies had a banner year with good grazing. Green grass is rocket fuel to Pronghorn. Nothing like feeding the fastest land animal in north America high octane fuel lolol. I do see them eat sage brush all the time. They are the only animal I’ve ever seen nibble on it. I always thought they taste a bit like sage. I haven’t seen a Pronghorn on ranch for two months+.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. A pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns, I managed to photograph 5 in the same frame. I have more of this encounter. Those will gradually get finished over the winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

I watched this group for about 10 minutes until something spooked the young ones but not the adult. Amazingly they all ran directly toward my camera lol.

The Pronghorn have all migrated 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands consists of a huge area of unpopulated ground. Thousands of Pronghorn migrate there.

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

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

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The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation
The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

Having lived for 10 years in Jackson Hole and having taught geology in that part of the state…. I enjoy the scenery on a whole different level

One the Highway between Dubois and Moran Junction there is the “Breccia Cliff” that I’ve always known as “The Pinnacles”. They are a magnificent exposure of Volcanic Lahar flows (hot glowing cloud of volcanic debris) layered one on top of the next. It is a geology classroom all around this country but don’t try to climb that hill. It’s always having avalanches and rock falls in that country.

I’ve been up to it’s base but it took a day on horseback to do it. Do not try that on foot, it’s way further back than you think. Unforgiving country. Grizzleys hang out there now.

The rock there is basically a blender mix of tuft, scoria, a volcanic conglomerate as it were. Chunky pieces, angular all suspended in a fine grain matrix of volcanic rock. This formation is seldom found below 10,000 feet in elevation on the eastern margin of Jackson Hole. The formation is up to 3000 feet thick in this country. That’s a lot of Lahars….. You can drive right to this picture spot on Highway 287 and pull over on this meadow along the side of the road. Click

There are some wonderful lakes in this area. This is snowmobile recreational heaven in that country. Big Groomed trails along the divides cover this area. There are a few campgrounds and a lodge or two in the area. This is pristine northern Wind River Range backcountry visible right off the road.

Location: Hwy 287, 30 miles north of
Dubois on Togwatee Pass.

Title: The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

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Buck Ready For Rut

Buck Ready For Rut
Buck Ready For Rut

Buck Ready For Rut

This thick necked 5×6 is working his gals. Running across the field corralling any strays and chasing away challenging suitors. How ever you want to classify him he’s a busy guy at the moment. He obviously survived the hunting locally which was heavier this year. I suspect he will father quite a few fawns shortly. I believe that rut was about 20 days late this year starting in Latest November-mid December. . The rest of the summer was a month late so I suspect they are also effected by the offset weather. This was indeed a very odd year weather wise. Lots of water = lots of grass but fortunately it all didn’t catch fire. There is a LOT of one hour fuel out there at the moment. The cattle are busy eating this all down as I type.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up much bigger than this 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 he has control of.. He will defend his haram against all new challenges from itinerate males. Looks to me like he needs to do some running as that gut is nothing to “go into the ring” with lolol.

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

Title: Buck Ready For Rut

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Winter Grass and Shadows

Winter Grass and Shadows
Winter Grass and Shadows

Winter Grass and Shadows

So the question arises is this beach sand or snow. It’s not hard to tell with out the low winter sun casting long shadows across the snow surface.

I love divergent shadows on snow. High contrast environments paired with really wide lenses show the divergence much better than lenses less so. I really like to think like a mouse when I set these shots up. Literally I imagine what it looks like down there and realize there is a possibility for divergent shadows. I will chase those and work with the sunset to compose the image. Stark was my point here.

Winter’s grip is firm here currently with a good amount of snow concentrated off the sides of the ridges. Where clumps of grass, sage or Yucca plants rise above ground level, snow accumulates in 3 foot high drifts. Our driveway has inches of glaze ice on it currently. I resort to walking around with ice cleats on my boots in the backcountry. They keep me off my A** walking as much as I do along the ridges. There are a lot of spots with very tricky footing.

Some deer obviously came by and took off all the seed heads of this grass patch. Cattle never made it to this spot this year so it was wildlife doing the grazing. I’m already having deer start to eat the hay bales we have piled up to feed the Corriente Herd. Ranchers feed a LOT of wildlife in our activities.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Winter Grass and Shadows

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Grass Sunlight Filter

Grass Sunlight Filter
Grass Sunlight Filter

Grass Sunlight Filter

Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.

To use the head of a shoot of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You onlyhave just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷

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

Title: Grass Sunlight Filter

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Dinosaur Horns Assortment

Dinosaur Horns Assortment
Dinosaur Horns Assortment

Dinosaur Horns Assortment

These are nose horns from various Triceratops with perhaps a dermal scute from Ankylosaur in the front row that looks like Apollo 11 re-entry capsule.

Each horn has it’s story regarding how I found it, the “Eureka” moment, the rush of adrenaline. I have only prepped the rear one. As they were found, the remaining stay. Restoration occurred on the BIG horn in the rear. It was in 80 separate pieces when I found it.. Restored to “pretty cool” condition. I’ll post it later. The best one is the smallest on up front row. It’s an amazing fossil.

Paleontological Musings:

Triceratops horns are like cattle horns in that they take on many different shapes even within the same group. These are all from the same bone bed I call “Horn Sieve Beds” as they have given up over 30 of them to me.

Hell Creek/Lance Formations are the Cretaceous River Sands/muds is where the last of the dinosaurs hung out. Both formations cover our ranch. We span the MT/WY state line. There the Formations change names formally. Same rocks, different name.🤣

I got my masters degree around most things Paleo-Environmental……. I might have been one of the first Pale-environmentalist ever minted lolol. There is another that will read this I graduated with. Hi Dave!

So, paleo-topography when this dinosaur roamed was a broad equatorial coastal plain sloping like the piedmont of North Carolina east facing toward the then interior sea way stretching from the current Gulf of Mexico across the continent to Canada.

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

Title: Dinosaur Horns Assortment

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Glover Moth Purple on Blue

Glover Moth Purple on Blue
Glover Moth Purple on Blue

Glover Moth Purple on Blue (plus green and orange lichen too….Wyotana Summer is a good thing…

6 months out of season for your pleasure.

When I had this Glover moth over for a stay in my refrigerator for a night (I caught him by a porch light, zip locked eventually cooled him down to 34 degrees). The next day was sunny, bright/blue, warm with scents of various blooms in the air. I definitely put him on that flower hanging over that tree branch. He was happy to hang on though. Being torpid/cool and slow from that stay in my fridge, he was enjoying the heck out of the warming sun.

This Glover Silk Moth has a 5 inch wingspan. It’s as big as your hand.. Found all along the east/west slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Coincidentally that is also where our ranch is located roughly lol. Liking my backyard apparently.

Like most silk moths they eat various plants during the larval stage. The adults do not eat. They are interested in reproduction not ingestion lol. This one was hanging out on this flower one summer morning in 2019. Being chilled, the Glover had no interest in flying away. (He did in about 15 minutes. Forever in my world for a photographic subject actually sits for me. Better, lets me move them from place to place to find the right frame. That antenna system is a magnificent development that I as a ham radio operator am jealous of. 🤔😜

I see several of these guys each spring. Running into them around the ranch headquarters compound I find them near the lights in the cool nights here. They get cold over night and are pretty slow until the sun warms the day. I am usually out pretty early on sunny spring mornings looking for critters JUST LIKE THIS.

My “Catch and Release” approach with an over night in a fridge simply slows them down for the night and lets me have a much longer “encounter” with any buy you can catch. Just don’t take them below freezing overnight.🤔📸 Way nicer than either and a pin. Lots of photography done that way 😔

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

Title: Glover Moth Purple on Blue

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Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive
Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).

Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.

If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.

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

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

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Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun
Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun

This is a wonderful place in the world. I’m standing there on this toe of a long ridge with 130 mile long views across all those other ridges and ranges of Mountains. The air is crisp, a good breeze cutting into the chinks in my weather armor. Your fingers get cold working metal cameras and lenses. 

These pines were enjoying the last of their bath in the late day mid-winter sunlight. One even hugged the celestial object with affection but you have to keep a little distance from that hot old thing… 

This high backcountry ridge shows you clearly the parallel ridges I work photographically every day. Working the shadow line gives you amazing opportunities for photographic compositional creativity. Little areas of Zen are everywhere. I walk long distances up in the trees as it keeps me healthy. All I have to do is avoid falling on my A**. Now that has happened more than a few times. Usually when I’m looking through a camera and moving at the same time. A piece of sage brush is usually the culprit. An occasional stray piece of barbed wire mixed in brush can also mess up your day lolol. 

Ridge tops exposed to wind become scoured of snow. All the while, surrounding hill slopes become buried by wind driven powder.. At these low temperatures snow in the deep gullies under trees is still fresh. The snow on the ridge tops exposed to bright sun becomes crusty/icy. Traveling in the backcountry during mid winter is wrought with pitfalls. Low areas drift over concealing the threat to stick the rig your riding on. My old Jeep avoided snow deep enough to stick it over it’s 15 year tenure . 

Location: Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Embracing the Sun

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Caveman Picture Window

Caveman Picture Window
Caveman Picture Window

Caveman Picture Window

Wilma and Fred have nothing up on these accommodations. This is a small dry cave up on our ranch. There are quite a few overhang shelters in the extended “area” I’m familiar with. This is BIG country to say the least. I’ve been up here actively exploring for 20 years. I just found this shelter last year. It’s cozy in there but it’s dry. How many of you would crawl backwards into a dark small cave. I figured I’d see what lived in there lolol.

Hell Creek/Lance formation covers our Ranch. It’s the famous dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. There are no fossils obvious in this spot. The ridge upon which this shelter is located is typical. Aa hard well “indurated” (google word of the day) sandstone caps it like an umbrella. . The material that washed away to expose this cave was softer/less resistant to erosion. The cap rock usually protects everything under from exposure thus begins the removal of softer rocks surrounding. Eventually you have a hill or a flat topped butte. In this cave, you have a rare case where the cap rock couldn’t keep agents of erosion from removing the loosely consolidated sandstone that obviously used to fill this hole.

Of course here as everywhere agent of erosion like Wind/Water/Ice/Hot/Cold/Rain/Freezing/Thawing are the driving factors to remove boulders by making sand out of them. The sand blows or washes away. This ground used to be covered by thousands of feet of younger sediment. This sediment has been removed by the agents of erosion over the eons leaving this cave. view

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

Title: Caveman Picture Window

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Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders
Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.

Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. That lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.

Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

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Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry
Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.

Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.

This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.

Location: Ridge 1, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

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Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce
Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce

The metadata attached to the image showed 45 degrees F. . The ice was not thick to begin with. You can see the tracks behind the canid as he trots along the shoreline. He’s right on a razors edge here…. I’m thinking that this is not a good habit for a coyote to have. Hard to argue with the image though lol. He’s just a few pounds from breaking right through to the lake below. It’s not really deep where he is but there are deeper spots around the edge of this lake.

It’s got to be easier walking than on the shore but that ice was NOT that thick. I have several captures of this fellow over several days doing this same thing. Each is unique in it’s perspective as I have several cameras covering this area. Each camera has it’s own characteristics of color and exposure based on light conditions. They are after all…automatic cameras.

I’m currently running 29 game trail cameras. It takes several trips to check them all. I usually do it while I’m actually at a location. I’ll be picking some cameras up for the winter. While others I’ll refresh the batteries and let them run all winter. I’ll check them in the spring, swap out SD cards (modern digital image storage chip). Then freshen the batteries is the final task. A good game trail camera will use 16 – 24 AA batteries a year.

18 x 18 inches square aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote About to Pounce

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Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns
Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns

Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana.

I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 1200 mm long focal length to have a sun that large. on a range so far away. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing.

This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.

Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys). DSLR’s need not try this with a really long lens. That sizzle sound is your eye ball cooking …..

The lower shadow of a mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper. Amazing geology of a very large scale up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Sunset Over the BigHorns

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Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck
Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck

I’m always trying to imagine things as a mouse would in my travels. My cameras don’t care if I’m taking a mouses viewpoint or mine at 6 foot. I put the camera on a plate to protect it. It was warm from being inside.

I actually don’t do a lot of architectural images, maybe 10 a year 🤔📸 Rare of the rare, I even have electric lines in this images which is certainly less probable. I never have them if I can avoid it. But I like to think I have an eye for patterns and a tendency for walking around with cameras. I’ll give in occasionally to my habits…. The two characteristics are synergistic if you have OCD as badly as I do 😜 I try to take advantage of this partnership when ever the two meet in the middle.

This phenomena was the result of a very gentle, very dry powder snow. It was like sand sifting through your fingers on that deck surface. One poof of wind and it all would have taken to drifts. AND this was about 4 inches deep for an idea of scale. The entire deck surface had this appearance. I thought I had seen most odd ball phenomena in the snows during my 3 decades living in Wyoming. I’ve never seen this phenomena before though I’d seen other photos of it. I didn’t have a deck in Jackson Hole as we had concrete there. I missed all that dry powder then where this is probably common. We are 2000 feet lower and warmer here. Snow sticks all the time to itself and covers this surface solidly.

Just not from that little mouses viewpoint.

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

Title: Perspective Snow on a Deck

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