Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte (a little out of season).
Rainstorms were moving through the area this late fall day. This was before the first frosts. That seems a long time ago sequestered in the house most of the day. Various levels of Cabin Fever begins to creep into your psyche. Most ranchers get outside enough and maybe some light to keep them sane. A lot of times their wives go first unless they get out too. You’ve got to get some sunlight during the winter.
Sort of a cheap “Skittles™| knock off I’m thinking lolol. Rainbows are not fixed objects but will move as you move across the landscape. (Did you know that?). If you jump in a car and stay sunward of rain shafts in sunlight, you’ll have a moving rainbow. So to find the place to line this up you have to travel. I’m glad the Sun wasn’t much right (behind me) as I would have run out of ridge and gone over a cliff lolol. That has happened to more than few photographers
I all that conical / pyramidal butte “Turtle Butte”. In this late summer shot, you can see the normally mild mannered wanna be volcano, spew rainbows everywhere. Now we know where all the rainbows came from. They sky is stocking up. Makes sense. That butte is EXACTLY on the Wyoming/Montana border. That border is PRECISELY 1/2 way in between the Equator and the North Pole.
The trip to get this (and other) images from this time line was memorable to me. I left the house around 6am well over an hour before sunrise. It had snowed 6 inches flat with zero wind. Yes I said, zero wind. It was a Sunday morning so traffic was non-existent on the backcountry road dozens of miles from the nearest highway. Every path was trackless until I drove that way. The back of the Jeep covered by 1/2 inch of hard snow crust from the drive in the powder. The tail lights visible as neon through the white translucent shroud. Everything was bathed in an icy blue/cyan cast over the snow. A pastel pink soaked the sky.
From my perspective I was alone without another living human for miles in all direction. The sky opened up for me at sunrise.
Worried I was the cloud cover would not relent it’s hold on the light passing through. Clouds ultimately are gate keepers of my work either allowing me to chase light or keeping me cloistered behind my computer lol. Fortunately, snow depth wasn’t a problem as it was flat. Sub-zero snow is very dry and powdery. It was like driving through flour. Mid-winter snow storms can be cold lolol.
Old Wooden Tower AERMotor Windmill heads were an expensive investment to the rancher back in the 30’s. A wooden tower was the cheap way to go. Wood does decay over 50 – 100 years out here. Lack of much rain is the reason. We are considered semi arid here, almost desert. There are NOT many left standing.
Location: somewhere near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them. All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations are there for me to play with.
Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop.
Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜 Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large Fstop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Small Fstop numbers would have blurred anything past the grass with a narrow depth of focus.
Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no dept of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment.
Well it’s time to start the gold mine because I know there’s more that one “pot o’ gold there’. I’ve seen numerous rainbows on that ridge…. Just saying… I’ve got the entrance all engineered out and ready to get the timber for. I figure if this isn’t a pretty durn close location for that gold mine, I don’t know where is. I wonder if Amazon delivers timber for mines? I’m sure the UPS driver wouldn’t mind.
Running with it
Microscopic gold is actually mixed in with the Hell Creek Sand. Tons of it on my ranch. You’d go broke mining it but it’s there. The term “Diffuse” applies to the tiny particles of gold. After all, all things end up in the sea. This ground is built of sediment temporarily paused. Stopped between stutter steps to the ocean. Now gone mountains west of us provided the sand, transported eventually to be laid down here now hardened to bedrock. (Mountains eroded long before the Big Horns rose. Those eroded mountains spread as sand across the continents surface as Hell Creek/Lance. Those ancestral mountains are long since history. But their substance remains in transit to the sea along with all the “Whiskey” I’ve ever swallowed.😜 As I say, all things end up there. w
What I’ve done here is take a very long lens and zoom up on the right leg of a particularly well lit rainbow. It was a ways out anyway as this is a 1200mm lens about about a mile distant from the lens. Rainbows WAY out there are a requirement for this kind of image. Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena.
Location: Biss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are 4 arcs here in this image but that second wheel was hard to work into this lol. I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has a few 👀📸
IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. I don’t like to squish around in the mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol.
Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow”
Science of this:
Here you can see a fainter secondary rainbow above and to the left of the primary rainbow. The primary rainbow is caused from one possible reflection inside the water droplet. The secondary rainbow is caused by a secondary reflection inside the droplet, and this “re-reflected” light exits the drop at a greater angle (50° instead of 42° for the red, deeper hued primary bow). This is why the secondary rainbow appears above the primary rainbow. The secondary rainbow also has the order of the colors reversed as well with red on the bottom and violet on the top. ROYGBIV to VIBGYOR 😜📷
A little moon Magic from exactly the Montana/Wyoming border. OK, that is 45 degrees north Latitude. Exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. It’s exactly 2700 nautical miles to either from here. One of the prime meridians. Might be some symbolism here. ☯
All taken in the month of December 2019 for the Full Cold Moon surrounded by waxing and waning crescents. The full moon on December 12, 2019 is known as Cold Moon, Open Moon or Big Winter Moon.
I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.
The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)
The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.
Looking west During Sunrise instead of at the “main show”. I look over my left shoulder, the “Pink Belt of Venu”s variety of Alpenglow DOMINATES the back show.
I wonder why they call those mountains the “Red Hills” ? 🤔🤔 Humm…
The Science of this.
The Light Version:
The Pink Alpenglow known as “The Belt of Venus” is literally the back screen of live real IMAX theatre screen I live surround by. Only the longer more penetrative red/pink rays of light make it through all the atmosphere to the relatively light grey / opaque atmospheric ice present. Here the BOV is working it’s way down’ on the Red Hills. The ice refracts and reflects even more red back to my fancy photon capture boxes. The red rocks on the hills are also adding to the effect of just the debris apron up of the Mountain. It is exposed to the sun over the shadow of the horizon behind me as the red light moves down the peaks. Technically the sun has risen for some places and not for others. I am standing in deep shadow as is the 40 mile wide valley in front of me.
Between me and that ridge is the Little Powder River Valley with the Montana/Wyoming border somewhere in there. That little 6 foot wide river removed all the sediment between where I stand and those mountains all by itself. No kidding. I wonder how long that took a spring flood and yearly freeze thaw cycles to break up the bedrock so the river can haul sand/silt/clay most of the time? Geologic time is a difficult concept to grasp.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Both Wyoming and Montana are in this image. Looking West.
Driving out to remote backcountry ridges up here in the borderlands is often the best part of the day. I’m taking roads with no other traffic to go to smaller two track trails with less traffic. 😜👀 Then I usually have to climb up on a ridge to get a view of the horizon . I live in a world of parallel ridges. Deep dissected gullies divide the high ground into distinct highways around the area. You generally try to travel the topographic lines around a hill side. Going into the valley and back up isn’t necessarily an option in this steep country. That far ridge sits 200 feet above the bottom of the gully between us. There is an old saying up in this country of: “you can’t get there from here”.
Now “You can’t get here from there” is a ubiquitous saying around Wyoming. Most places settlements / communities have only one way in and at most 2. The roads around here are always iffy. While that ridge is a few miles out, it would take me 30 minutes to get on it because of the above statement.
This morning was a fully involved Civil Twilight Sky. I saw this forming up really early and bolted for the backcountry. Took me about 20 minutes to get to this point. I worked the whole morning as it was a magnificent sunrise. I don’t see many this involved.
As I drive down the county red gravel road, I look to my left. Traveled a bit further to pull over safely. The paucity of traffic up here makes me drive even more carefully as I pull over at the strangest times. In the last 2 years I believe I’ve met less than 10 different cars / trucks out on the backroads working sunset/sunrises in this backcountry. . This image on “Section 36” taken 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border . This is nothing like AREA 51 just so you know… . Section 36 in any particular township is the “school” section. That square mile reserved by the govt for the gov’t to be used for a school building.
This is a “School Section” mostly state owned ground 660 acres in size. It is leased to a neighboring ranch to me. A square Mile of State ground. Private ground past on the far Ridge. The pyramidal hill on the right skyline is “Mitten Butte”. Back in the 1950’s, the view the Parks Road /Trail Creek One room School House had. No neighbors then either. Only two signs of that old building… Some concrete foundations remain over a bank where they. Secondarily an old oil burning furnace about 3x3x5 feet still sits on the prairie marking the site where most of the local ranch kids learned the basics. It was a mile plus walk from our homestead where quite a few of the local kids came from to school.
Satire: Did I mention this is Satire but just to begin…. My father told me many times that “things are as they are, not as they seem, or you are told.”
You know we have a young sun. Young men often have trouble with their complexion. I heard the sun has some spots on it’s face. So, how do you expect the sun to get the spots off it’s face. Here Sol is going through the local “tree wash” before it rises up. Best be clean and shiny…. Best way it has found to get the spots off it’s face here during the solar minimum. I see the sun do this almost every morning. It takes a lot of work to keep your face under control as a youngster. . But there is a time and place for every photo and this moment in space and time is forever frozen. Caught him washing his spots I did ! 😜😜🤔📸📸
Back to my normal programming:
If you didn’t know, we are currently at the low period of the sunspot cycle. Every 9 to 14 years with a mean of 11 years, the sun goes from High to Low numbers of sunspots and back again. We’ve been watching this cycle repeat 25 times since it was first recorded in the early 1700’s. Men watching the sun with pinhole cameras could see them back in the day lol.
As I type this, there were 2 little sunspots just appearing on the suns disk. The first in months. Low sunspot numbers in the past has been affiliated with long periods of cold (Maunder Minimum is a phrase you should google). Suffice to say the sun behaves cyclically. It might not be good to get cold as famine is associated with cold times. As a GeoBiologist (literally) some of the most biologically active times on earth historically have been warm ones. Turning up and down the furnace as well as distance from that furnace is a BIG driver of the various climates earth has (Earth does not have a climate BTW. It has ALL climates on it)
Out 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. Close / Far perspective…
To use a stand of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Testures and lines 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 only have 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. 🤔📷
A summer image for those of you with cabin fever here in late January. In the remote borderlands area of Wyoming and Montana I live on, we have fairly severe winters. Fortunately I have the perspective of living 10 years in Jackson’s Hole Wyoming. I used to get 6 feet of snow flat in my backyard every winter in Jackson. My drive way was only a few hundred feet to the plowed road. Here we just deal with drifts some of which are significant. Way more wind up here on the high ridges of the western most Wyoming Black Hills. Unfortunately my drive way here is 1/4 mile long. It’s also warmer here. Jackson is 6200 feet above mean sea level, we are 3800 ft elevation at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch homestead.
The summer patch of Bee Balm seems happy in it’s full sun wash location. The soil in the wash is richer. Seeds fall/germinate in the moist gullies and aren’t exposed to the wind as much. “Monarda” AKA Bee Balm is related to the mint family. I’ve seen pink, lavendar and purple variants around the ranch. Other nabes are Bergamot and Oswego Tea. Hummingbirds love this stuff.
It has a plethora of medicinal properties. It’s an antimicrobial , antispasmodic for menstrual cramps and coughs. Soothing to the digestive system (tea), it treats indigestion and bloating as well as nausea. Used to treat anxiety/stress, it’s similar to lemon balm.. The tea is made from individual petals pulled. This creates a bright red tea. Takes about 15 minutes to steep. 1tablespoon of dried flower petals or 2 tablespoons of fresh petals to every cup of water. Bring it just below a boil and no more.
I was able to maneuver around on this buck and get him in the “right position”. . The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. You have to love Sony Alphas… I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising at sunset remember ).
Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a Jeep. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form. I’m still noisy and smelly to them though. Basically I’ve achieved “just another grazer” status with this group. I left them, they didn’t run away from me. If fact I stopped and talked to another rancher down on the county road and pointed them out up on the hill. A rare encounter on a very backcountry road.
We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝
6 months ago, In a backcountry far far away… (scrolling text talking about Jedi)
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This little mirrored pond is 3 miles of bumpy two track paths from the closest county road. The county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away.
I find that you “are where you are” when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then.
This lake I have seen run dry before but not this year. We were way above average moisture accumulation. It remains full through totally iced over at the moment lol. (January) . Living in the backcountry tends to boil down life to the essentials. I find that photography, simple is usually better. Wood, Water, Grass and Sun combine for this composition.
I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:
RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️
I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.
You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.
Boys will be boys. They didn’t need a reason to lock horns because their hormones were kicking in. Rut was in late November/early December this year up here in the borderlands. They were, as they say, preoccupied and din’t care much about my presence during this tussle.
These two are the best of friends. Thick as thieves they are. About 5 minutes earlier, they wereresting in the shade of the afternoon together lol. This image was taken about 4 weeks before the rut really started and it was still good natured. They really were working on building up their necks. Those necks will swell considerably the close to the rut they get.
Biologists say that a big Bucks neck can swell up much larger than these boys have currently. From the spring, they can 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.
I have followed these two around for several years. These 3 year olds have known me since the beginning seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. Now they are starting to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of old vehicles and how I approach. I drive like I’m grazing stopping and stopping. No I have a new truck so this will be interesting. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close without changing natural behavior. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before. I didn’t get a chance to do that this year for what ever reason. Everything has to line up just so for a good day of grazing with the Mule Deer. Running late.
Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron (The ultimate wide theatre screen for the filetered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector lolol.😜🤔📸
Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It served as a projector screen right at sunset. These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.
The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). Big Clouds like this are Projections screens for the colors that make their way through the atmospheric filter. The Red Light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere to be projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white at the top of the cloud only slightly yellowed light. This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. You just normally can’t see all of it lolol.
It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.
Perspective Wounded Tree (I love trees growing out of rocks. ❤️📸
Wide landscapes are one of my many photographic pursuits and I enjoy using veiled skies better than clear blues. Getting high up topographically on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good start for a memory. The span of space/time has been bridged. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by human machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.
I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the Wyoming border.. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of miles on two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep
I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry.
These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go gown with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 200 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.
Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
Yes there is a little pac man on the right center side of frame reaching over the lip… Sort of a Kilroy was here cloud….
Watching over the Deer Herd (Natural Spirit in the Sky). This is NOT art and is Natural as I photographed it. It’s a total anthropomorphic illusion totally done by mother nature. Border Magic occurs..
I love it when an old man in the clouds is overlooking a herd of mule deer up here in the borderlands. Wouldn’t be the first time (chuckles) Spirits in the sky, particular when they are natural will ALWAYS get my attention. Click !. It lasted about a minute then morphed into something not so anthropomorphic lolol.
Heavily Veiled this sunrise was. I was a few hundred yards out. I’ve been able to drive in among this group but I was on another mission that morning. The Light was my target, not deer closeups in low light… The deer herd is one that frequents this hay field for the Alfalfa that grows there. Water is nearby/running. Isolated and peaceful up there. It’s a wonderful place. The trick is to get the local deer herd familiar with your presence. They don’t see a lot of cars/rigs there. So me driving up and moving VERY slowly across a field stop and go. Acting like I’m grazing, eventually wins them over. In 20 minutes I could have been inside the herd like I was just another cow on the prairie.
This was captured mid spring 2019 and I just found the image buried in an”Images to finish” folder. Sitting nested with 1000’s of untouched images that I pulled for eventual evaluation over the last year or so. Somehow this one got past me for 8 months before I re-discovered the capture a week ago. The main problem with having literally years of work already “in the can” is that sooner or later one has to finish those images lolol. I’m stoic about it. My OCD will get them all done over time. Problem is I keep going out and capturing more each day mostly lolol.
Double Your Pleasure, Double your Fun with Double Mint, Doublle Mint, Double Mint Bucks. (commercial Jingle rolls around in your head lol)
I caught these two brothers crossing the country road. I actually “know” these two having watched them grow up from fawns. One is 4 and the other is 3 years old. Running into them often around the ranch, they have seen me so much that they are “Fairly tolerant” of my old Jeep (anyway). I haven’t seen them since my new ride arrived. No clue how they will react to the new rig. I suspect that they will not let me get too close for a while? Familiarity is a big deal with deer. My old Jeep never pushed or pressured them. They just don’t know that about the new bigger black truck.
I tried really hard to move more to my right. That would have better nest those antlers. . They weren’t in the mood for sitting still for me. Deer are like photographing a 2 year old human. They are very photographic but they don’t necessarily want to sit still for you lolol. These two are thick as thieves they are. “The deer on the right is called goal post and is missing his left brow tine. A male mule deer’s ears are 22 inches wide. I’m curious as to how large he will be next spring but he is starting to put on some neck mass.
These guys with the award for synchronized posing certainly. I’m not sure how they could get more alike without me cloning them in the digital darkroom lolol.
The morning was cold but we are having a lack of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky and the main frame shows the Belt of Venus, the pink variety of Alpenglow.
A Backcountry drive in the borderlands:
Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year are easy driving without snow depth. There are thousands of miles ofI took this back when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee which was limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’d go off on two trail tracks with my new rig to work at the moment but working roads has it’s advantages. You get to use the road itself as a leading line for the eye. It invokes memories of similar drives you have done. Or better gives you insight to a world you haven’t experienced. The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with pink to orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.
The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective that the rear view mirror gives you is worth the effort.
Quick Photographic thought.
Have fun with your high fstop when you try this as there are 3 layers of close/far focus issues plus it’s low light so your sucking wind for light to start with. Shutter speed has to be long to compensate, . Hard NOT to over expose the moon and see anything else in the frame. Your riding a knife edge on these.
At 40 miles distant from my camera, the full sized 50 foot Pine Trees seem like brush on the far ridge. The Top of the “Red Hill’s clear across the Little Powder RIver Valley. You MIGHT be able to see a human waving at you standing on that ridge. So at 40 miles, it’s 211,000 feet to the mountains. Amazingly we can see a 50 foot high tree. CRUSHING perspective here.
The atmospheric Window was wide open between here and that ridge but on the other side of that window was a slatted shade to the sun. The Shade I speak of made here of course of cloud bands.. This instantly reminded me of a window blind. Must be an “Anderson” sunset.
There apparently are 2 small sunspots on this sun which were the first after the bottom of the current solar minimum (good google phrases there). There is too much cloud cover to resolve those in this environment. I do have the technology to get good sun/solar face sunspot images. I haven’t seen any for a while lol.
The 20 inch long , 8 pound lens/camera back rig i used for this is somewhat clumsy and slow to bring into play. But to get the sun proportionally this big compared to the ridge at that distance, you have to have a long focal length. Here is a case of bigger IS better 😜🤘📸
I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.
Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.
The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).
Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.
I set sail early enough under this sea to achieve the vantage point I knew was on the hill. The fog bank moved over my homestead a full hour before sunrise. A window in that cover to the stars gave me a good idea of how thick/tall the bank was. I jumped in my rig driving through this lavender pea soup. Not until I climbed enough ridge to get above they tops of the waves of clouds that were hugging the ground rolling in.
The “Islands” at 30 miles from my lens, were looking back at me. The Missouri Buttes were a big sign post to the wagon trains known to them as the “3 Sisters”. Remember that those 3 hills are all related volcanic necks. Made of hard rock. they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower (left off frame about 20 miles), but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better
Location: near Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana), (Crook County/Campbell Count line about 4 miles south of the Montana/Wyoming border. Looking south east.
This is a capture initiated by the -2 degree evening, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST settling down over the ridge with less than a minute left in the day.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 1 mile out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunset for me is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles into the light. Here I saw this long line of smaller pines covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. The trees are my cellulose filter in front of my lens. Regardless, I had to turn my camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment. Be careful pointing your camera into the sun.
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….. 🌲🤔📷
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 ….
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.