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Borderland Backcountry Brass Benchmark

Borderland Backcountry Brass Benchmark
Borderland Backcountry Brass Benchmark

Borderland Backcountry Brass Benchmark

This U.S. General Land Office Survey Benchmark says 250 dollars for removal. Placed here in the 1914 survey, this marks a 4 section corner very close to the 45th parallel. . These surveyor guys putting these brass markers using mules to haul their bulky plane table and alidade across the 45th parallel. Plus they were carrying a bunch of these heavy markers plus tenting/shelter for this country.. Tough slog to say the least. The 45 degrees north latitude coincidentally is also the Montana/Wyoming border. It’s also 1/2 way precisely between the North Pole and the Equator.

They are kind of a dangerous thing to suddenly find with your ATV or other vehicle if you by chance happen to be chasing a cow through deep grass. This is a big place and these things are about a foot to 18 inches high off the ground. When I find them, they get flagged. . I haven’t taken out a suspension yet with one but I suspect if I do backcountry enough I eventually will. 3500 miles on an ATV in that backcountry in 2018 is a lot of exposure. I found a few of these by seeing them. I do have a “general” idea of when I’m close to one. They really are a potential hazard to an ATV or truck. Remember this is private ranch land. We can/do by necessity chase cattle almost anywhere.

Location: almost literally up on the Border, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Borderland Backcountry Brass Benchmark

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Giant Allium Summer Bloom

Giant Allium Summer Bloom
Giant Allium Summer Bloom

Giant Allium Summer Bloom

Taken just after a gentle spring rainstorm. The air was fresh and drenched with moisture. 99 percent relative humidity has everything wetted as you see here. A drop of water with it’s little moon following dropping from the flower’. A strong scent of wet sage was lofting across our homesteads lawns, the tips of my tennis shoes wet from the grass. Green Green Green, the “Bokeh” (good google word) here was ideal for a gentle background to the Giant ornamental onion from the orient. This one is just starting to bloom and had pulled back a little with the rain falling. The Allium flower isn’t a terribly long lasting bloomer but boy are they great in clumps of 8 or 9 bulbs in a spot you want conspicuous for a few weeks a year.

Allium giganticum means Giant Garlic interestingly. Probably from the similarity in shape of the bulbs and not the taste I’m thinking. Otherwise the classic Crocodile Dundee reference would be “needs Allium”. … (if you get that I’m worried about you😜😜) Even Bumble bees were temporarily grounded due to the rain. I went out just as it let up. Rain and Cameras = Hazardous duty pay + overtime. I’m pretty careful with water. Taking photos next to or over water with a good camera is like taking photos next to a flame with plastic clothes on.

I could take this photo with the background in focus or not in focus. High f-stop numbers will put that in focus. Low f-stop numbers give you a thin field of focus and you only get the flower sharp. It is a good tool in your Manual mode tool kit to actually decide what and how much of your image you want in focus.

Title: Giant Allium Summer Bloom

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Peacock Flower by Frank Bliss

Peacock Flower by Frank Bliss
Peacock Flower by Frank Bliss

Peacock Flower by Frank Bliss (ART) Laser Painting

In the winter blooming flowers are not common up here except in my Aquaponic greenhouse. This Amaryllis flower just started blooming but Could I Leave It Alone?…….. Of course not. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy 😜.

SO, turn off the lights at night, get a good LED photographic studio light set up (it’s wet down there lol). Front light the flower and everything else black. Then get a violet laser with a circular swirl pattern lens installed on it. (A 1 watt laser spread out or it would have burnt through in a heartbeat. The illusion of a peacock was was I was looking / working for.

I don’t get to do studio work too often. I get a few photos for a lot of work in a studio. Where in the backcountry, I spend the same time for literally hundreds of photos. Setting up little areas of zen while a lot of fun, creating such illusionary scenes. There are so many already out in the world just waiting for us to see them. Humans are generalists, as a result, miss the little things taking in the whole scene instead. Photographers and Artists tend to “Zoom” in to those areas in the scene that have artistic attributes / qualities. I go out into the world and have to ignore the things I see to get other things done lol. Even I catch myself without the right camera in my hand lolol. (rule one of Photography, have a camera with you).

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

Title: Peacock Flower by Frank Bliss

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Book of Flakes

Book of Flakes
Book of Flakes

Book of Flakes

No I didn’t write/assemble a book on Snow Flakes yet. But this is a Stack of Flacks like a stack of poker chips. They are all aligned on their center axis. I count at least 4 layers maybe 5 here. Your milage may differ.

Reading a Book of Snowflakes

The temperature/humidity/pressure has to be just so for books to form. They can all crow from the same center ice needle. Each flake of course is unique in the book. Sitting on a coats fur collar, this flake has long since turned to ice in a pile or has sublimated from solid to gas directly. IT’s been a winter so far of mostly ice pellets. About 6 snows in October I think.. Our air is dry here and sublimation is a major source of snow disappearance by a direct phase change. Captured in a tiny tiny moment of time and space. Forever now launched in Cyberspace as once it’s on Facebook, it’s stored until the internet finally crashes lol.

Setting the proper mood:

There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,
unlatching the fortochka in the morning light.
Let’s name them all, love, along the way.

Last night snow danced its boreal ballet
of whorls and swirls, fine arabesques in white—
you know hundreds of names for snow, you say.

Down crystalline paths we slip and spin, surveying
ice falls, tall drifts, single flakes in flight—
my love and I count them along the way.

In my head, sparking visions start to play:
once love’s begun, who knows? Perhaps we might—
There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,

gently, their meanings subtle, hard to convey—
elusive as love’s many meanings last night.
I wait. You walk—silent—along your way.

Feeling foolish, unschooled, I whisk away
a sudden, childish tear obscuring my sight.
You know hundreds of names for love, you say:
I’ll learn them all, love, along my way.

— Katherine E. Young : Public Domain

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

A Book of Snowflakes

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Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle
Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Hanging out in a “to do” folder this unidentified moth haunts me again. Many of you no doubt remember this guy from a much closer image I post of him. He has been seen by thousands of people and no one seems to be able to key him out and ID him. Here’s hoping someone will have a moment of recognition to a moth they saw 20 years ago.

Bug Photos are a favorite…

I had caught this fellow the night before hanging about a porch light. Then he was placed in an inflated gallon zip lock. Then into the fridge overnight. Next day I released the torpid 34 degree moth into a 60 degree environment. It had enough wits to hang on to the well lit tree branch I set him on. Between the sun and the ambient temperature, I had perhaps 2 minutes to shoot him. He did indeed flutter off in my typical catch and release program I run for my photographic volunteers. I haven’t seen many bugs since Oct 1 when winter started this year. . I think I too a photo of a Orb Weaver Spider on my front window inside my house since.

I’m about to photograph a Black Widow female I’ve kept alive. The crickets I grow in my green house’s front entry stairs. I just leave a little fish food around and they reproduce nicely all winter. The Black Widow is at least 6 months old here mid-winter. Her prison is a pyrex glass beaker on a shelf. She can not get away and I’m very careful with handling them. The biggest threat is to her not to me. They are fairly fragile. They break like an egg if you are not very careful and they are very fast. Stay tuned for that lol. .

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

Title : Muppet Moth Wider Angle

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Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly
Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies. That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare. Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol.

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

Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

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Green Stink Bug Macro

Green Stink Bug Macro
Green Stink Bug Macro

Green Stink Bug Macro

OK, a little out of season but some summer color seemed like a good idea. A little up close and personal..

What a beautiful bug. The legs are startling in the color gradients they present. In nature, bright colors usually means “Stay Away”. Well these guys do not bite or sting posing no real danger to humans and our familiars. They are however considered harmful bugs to be eradicated as they are a major agricultural pest. They cause millions in damage to a large variety crops. Also called Shield Bugs or Chust Bugs.

You may remember a Macro close up I did of a Tachnid Fly a month ago. A big gold Hairy Fly…. Those Hero’s of the Flies lay eggs in the Green Stink Bug and will paralyze the pest devouring it from the inside out. So we have both sides of that parasite / host equation right out in our back yard. We have apple trees here but we have not had excessive Green Stink Bug problems. Natural predation is obviously working up here at the moment.

These guys are found throughout North America unfortunately. Large Stink Glands grace both Nymph and adults of the species. Able to discharge LARGE amounts of a foul smelling liquid when they feel threatened. This fluid used to be used on an industrial scale to add odor to some acids thusly reinforcing their own odor. Long since that process has been modernized utilizing modern artificial aromatic compounds.

Location: Backyard, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana) That’s a piece of Fossiliferous limestone he’s walking on.

Title: Green Stink Bug Macro

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

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

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

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

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes
Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Kinda looks like just rocks don’t they? “Leaverites” Knowledge is power I point out.

Dinosaurs often had chunks of bone growing on their skin to act as armor. “Osteoderms” are commonly known as Scutes. Many creatures have them. Crocs and Alligators come to mind. Skin surrounded these bony armor chunks They fit tightly in a network of armor to protect the turtle shaped dinosaur with the clubbed /spiked tail from bites. These are remarkably rare. I’ve found these three in 20 years. I’ve found way more T-rex teeth for example and they aren’t exactly growing on trees up here lolol. Ankylosaurs were 20 feet long and 5 foot high at the hips.

Out of curiousity I looked up some pricing on similar items on the commercial market (I have NEVER sold and never will sell a fossil). The smaller one would be in the 500 dollar range and the larger in the 1000 dollar range. I knew they were uncommon but I didn’t know there was a demand for them. Ankylosarids are rare in the upper Cretaceous. Again, they are NOT for sale. They are in the ranch collection of over 10K fossils at this point.

Disclaimer: The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch is 99 percent private land. Deeded ground is the only place it is illegal to collect ANY vertebrate material (if it had a backbone, leave it alone) on public land. BLM, state and Tribal land is off limits. See a turtle shell, leave it lay. On government ground, artifacts from humans are also best left alone. They can definitely get you in big trouble. Invertebrate fossils and wood are a different story. I suggest the Bureau of Land Managements website for further information.

Our ranch is completely covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation. Problem is, there is a lot of grass here too lolol.

Location: Cretaceous Hell Creek Lance Formation, Horn Sieve Bed, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands Coll: Frank Bliss
Title:Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

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Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations
Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

This is a view of a nice tooth on it’s inside concave edge showing clearly the serrations on the edge of the raptor tooth. The serrations weren’t used so much to cut meat but to hold onto meat bitten into. Thusly “ripping” muscle with the neck muscles and the teeth holding on. Rough way to catch fast food. This 66 million year old or so chomper in the mouth of a 8 foot high dinosaur that resembled a bird with teeth and a tail. Most of the rest of the bone structure are very similar to modern birds. The lighter lines on the darker enamel is where capillary roots have chemically etched the tooth’s enamel. This was found close enough to the surface for root action to effect the surface. Another possible explanation is stomach acid has etched the surface of the tooth.

I really enjoy finding nice dinosaur teeth here in the Cretaceous Hell Creek Sands that blanket this ranch. OF the 5 square miles of land we own, MAYBE one acre has fossils on it and there are 25 places that add up to that acre. We do have one bone bed for larger material but this came out of a sandy pit I dug by hand. I find “microsites” sticking in the exposed hillsides that are indeed fossilferous.

Anything that was alive with “hard parts” at the time in the dinosaurs environment is also possible to find. The rivers current sorted fossils by shape weight and size. Thusly concentrating fossils in one spot where the river dropped them. Microsites usually mean small teeth but this honker is an inch and a half long. The glass is 3/16 plate (blue line). That is a glass shelf in my lit display case.

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

Title: Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

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Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire
Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire

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

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

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

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

Title: Prairie Smoke and Fire

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Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower
Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close
Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

I have no idea of how the physic of the color center of the flake operated. It is not false color and I didn’t do it in the digital dark room. It’s not a digital artifact. Somehow there must be a polarizing film such as melted water there? But the physics say there must be a second polarizing film to draw color out of white light like this. I worked polarizing optical microscopes used in mineral analysis for years. Somehow “crossed polarizers” formed for this image to occur.

Captured using a 1:1 “macro” rated lens. (90mm Zeiss/Sony) I was able to zoom into this piece of natures artistry. As they say, no two flakes are ever the same. There are MANY different kinds of macro lenses. If you have questions about this PM me. I used an LED flashlight for the source of light hand held but there was not a polarizing lens on either the camera OR the flashlight. How this happened is beyond my level of understanding. I’m just happy to have captured it lolol. 📷

Geometric purity always amazes me. The geometric forms created under the rules of nature become phenomena… One thing I have observed and confirmed personally as a scientist over my travels, is that growth of any crystalline substance is orderly. A repetitive process, the materials used in the construction of the snowflake arrange themselves into a limited number of predetermined orientations. Science right in front of us.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

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Dragonfly on Barbed Wire

DragonFly on Barbed Wire
DragonFly on Barbed Wire

Dragonfly on Barbed Wire (A bit out of season but this is from this summer previously unpublished. )

I’m an opportunistic photographer. Driving along two track roads one sees various things. I keep my eye open for various things, I like to think I see some detail now and again. This is of course whey I find fossils so easily as I tend to detect variations in patterns easily. Here I noticed this guy resting on a strand of old old barbed wire. There are many generations of barbed wire on ranch. This is an old one. The DragonFly is somewhat younger.

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, they grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol. 

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dragonfly on Barbed Wire

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Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly
Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Iridescent Golden Back Fly

Getting this close to a fly isn’t that easy. Usually they live up to their name and “fly away”. Truly not many insects like a big one eyed lens stuck into their face. The movement no matter how small triggers their built in escape and evasion mechanism. Flies pick random escape vectors to get away from danger. Really bright lights help as it tends to blind them too.

One of my macro-lenses has a bright ring of LED’s around. I’m sure it has the appearance of the sun incoming at the fly. Blind the fly and he won’t move as you approach is my take from this. The temperature was warm so he wasn’t torpid. So distraction, blind your subjects and move slowly is the lesson lolol.

Flies are never a “popular” image because they are generally nasty creatures. However they are engineered by the master of engineers

True story:

Three engineers are arguing which is the oldest of the three disciplines, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering

The mechanical engineer said ” Mechanical Engineering is the oldest profession, god was a mechanical engineer, just look at all the levers and tendons in the human body.”

The electrical engineer said ” Electrical engineering was gods work, had to make the nervous system first before any muscle could move. Electrical engineering was first.”

The Civil Engineer said “God was obviously a civil engineer. Who else but a civil engineer would run a waste canal through a recreational area. “.

(Top hat crash)

18 inch x 18 inch square aspect

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Iridescent Golden Back Fly

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Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs
Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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

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

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

Trivia:

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

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

Title: Swallowtail on Pink Lilacs

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

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

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

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

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

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro
Cross Eyed Moth Macro

Cross Eyed Moth Macro

I took this image mid summer. I found this guy near a night light Soon he was popped him into a freezer bag. Refrigerate at 34 degrees for the day. When you take them out, they will hold on to thinks but will give you a bit more time to photograph them if they are cold. They warm up fast enough but will give you a few minutes anyway. I set this reddish brown fellow on a birch branch with sun exposure. The camera starts clicking away. Macro lenses will focus usually less than a foot away. Bright light is your friend for this kind of work.

To this day I don’t know who this guy is. I’ve never seen it in any google image and don’t know the systematics for moths. If you know who it is, I’d love to know.

I call it the “Muppit Moth” for lack of better terms to apply. He’s definitely a hoot with those eyes. What a proboscus too. Jimmy Durante had nothing on this guy. He has a degree of cuteness that doesn’t usually go along with insect close ups. I’d love to find another one. (Any body Remember Jimmy Durante??). The peach

After about 5 minutes of gradual warm up, it flew off to the sky. Never to be seen again. This is more or less my version of catch and release. This moment in space and time however did not get away from me. ….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cross Eyed Moth Macro

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Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower
Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower during sunset.(Geum triflorum) I believe. Everyone needs some purple in their live once a week.

These late spring/early summer blooms are only found in deep woods on eastern forested slopes. It’s harder to find them along the edge of these groves of trees. There is no other way to wait until the late afternoon and take advantage of the lowest sun to highlight it’s fuzz. These are not very large flowers being about 6 inches total in height. Just above the spring clumps of grass under the thick blanket of pines.

It’s easy to miss them as they are not found in quantity but usually ones and twos. Of course you have to go belly down to get this angle, be on a steep hillside, wait for Alpenglow to start. Then there is the camera settings lolol. Looking into a bright glare with a camera is it’s own little world of adjustments. I am very fond of using cellulose filters as above to handle the excess glare. I’ll use transmitted light to achieve the exposure. This might as well be an x-ray of this bloom as its so bright and the flower so delicate. They remind me of fuzzy tissue paper. They are quite soft.

This flower is not to be confused with Prairie Smoke which has long purple tendrils. Pasque Sun Filter. The plant is indeed darker purple without all that transmitted light flowing through the petals. The net effect is to lighten the actual flower color.
The Blurry area behind my in focus field is called “Bokeh”. You should google this word if you don’t know it already. (Assignment). There should be a test later.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rose Bells Pasque Flower

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Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider
Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider: Captured December 1, 2019. ….. Inside…..

Araneus diadematus (Cross Orb Weaver) I believe is the correct ID. I am certainly not a spider specialist however they are photogenic.

We have been under winter/cold fall conditions outside since October first. So I’m looking out the front window and notice this little home invader. It had set up shop having built a pretty good web overnight. We were sleeping of course. It had a plan to get all the bugs in here.

This is a defensive posture as he was less than thrilled with a tripod and very bright lens was put in his face. Earlier, he REALLY didn’t like the high intensity UV light I put him under to see how he looked under UV. I was disappointed in it’s appearance under UV light. I resorted to plain old LED light of a Surefire Flashlight. (About 1000 lumen.) t’s not like flies were busy getting trapped in his web. It was 30 degrees outside so he wasn’t going anywhere. Best photographic subject ever trapped with no way out lolol. I actually ended up putting him down in my Walipini Aquaponic Greenhouse (the only one in Wyoming we think still). Hopefully he’ll say on ground level (there is a 20 foot back wall) and I’ll have more of this guy.

I actually have this guy as a baby spider. I took a family photo. A few thousand of these little guys hatched out about 30 feet from this spot. They spread to the wind. This one stuck by close enough to make it in the door somehow before winter and has been hanging low ever since. It will survive the winter. I doubt there is another of it’s species in my greenhouse so probably it won’t reproduce. There are plenty of things to eat down there though. Spiders keep crickets down so I don’t mind having a few harmless ones out.

I keep a Black Widow under glass down there to feed crickets to though :). She’s a big one. I’ll get her on film soon I’m thinking😀

You guys on “PhotoAssignment”, you can hear my wife (and some of you) scream! 😋

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (front picture window inside!)

Title: Orb Weaver Winter Spider

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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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


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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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Chicken From Hell Tooth

Chicken From Hell Tooth
Chicken From Hell Tooth

OK, it’s not a Chicken from Hell tooth, it’s a Paronychodon sp. (Larson 2008) tooth from the Hell Creek/Lance formation. From my “backyard” The scale is in inches.

Paronychodon besides being rediculous to spell, is relatively hard to find fossil dinosaur tooth. You’ve heard as “Rare as Hensteeth” before? Payonychodon was an Avian Dinosaur…a bird with teeth, claws and a tail with feathers covering it’s body. Sort of a big turkey with inch long teeth/tail. I’m thinking they wouldn’t be a good addition to the modern turkey. Anyone that hasn’t seen human habituated turkeys interacting with UPS drivers (for instance) doesn’t have access to youtube lolol. Some wonderful videos are out there with turkeys chasing just about everything. So just add some teeth to the equation….great lololol. 😂

There is a rumor that dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. Let me clarify that a bit.. Most dinosuar died during that punctuated extinction event. The ones that are still flying around us survived the extinction obviously. A quick comparison of T-rex anatomy and any modern bird will show MANY similarities in bone structure, utilization of lightly built mostly hollow bones for weight savings while maintaining strength. The comparisons can keep coming. Just look at any modern bird toe bone and compare it to a t-rex toe bone. Except for size….they are about the same design built by the same engineer.

This little tooth belonged to a flying, fighting carnivorous meat eater with a bad attitude. The only fast food on the menu was the stuff that got away. No 7-11 on the corner in the Cretaceous up here on the Montana/Wyoming border.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Site 9 by my field notebook. Surface. Cretaceous, HellCreek/Lance formation. Pretty much on the border of Montana/Wyoming.

Title: Chicken from Hell Tooth

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Bumble Bee Up Close

Bumble Bee Up Close
Bumble Bee Up Close

This Bumble Bee Up Close image was obviously from this summer as it’s a -8 Windchill as I type this post lolol.

A factory 90mm sony macro lens at mimimum focal distance of about 9 inches caught this fellow feeding. The focal plane is perhaps 1/8th inch deep, maybe 3/16’th of an inch depending on how much light I set the camera for (f22). Bright sunlight is the ONLY way your going to get in this close with a standard 1X lens.

Photographers Notes: Discussion on Macro-photography

Macro lenses come from 1x up to 5 x that I have found. I have several Chinese built lenses that can do pretty impressive work in the upper magnification. A 1X Sony Macro lens took this image as I said. Sort of a miniature telephoto but with only a little thin layer of focus. Working these lenses require you to get in the hollyhocks with all the bees. I wouldn’t do this if your allergic to bees but I’ve never been stung doing it, yet….🤔

Thin focus fields: Anything in front of or behind that depth of focus zone is OUT of focus. You can see various areas that are JUST out of the optimum distance and position of the depth of field focus zone.📸

A lot of photographers use dead insects. I’m absolutely good with that to a point… I prefer to keep a bug in a bag overnight in a 33 degree refrigerator. Don’t freeze it. Then you can put it onto a flower under studio conditions for a few minutes before it warms up so have some cameras ready to catch him moving as well. Hard to adjust your settings under warming up bee pressure lolol. Insects waking from being cold are always candid since you don’t know how they will react. It’s different for each species I suspect. You can always put it back in the fridge😁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee Up Close

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Solar Panels for Pumping Water

Solar Panels for Pumping Water
Solar Panels for Pumping Water

Here at the Bliss Ranch we use solar panels for pumping water in several places. We are pretty green for a ranch…..

Alternative energy seems from my vantage point of having solar and wind systems for 25 years to be useful in areas where regular electric lines are not available. Using all the energy your panels produce pumping a dedicated water well is way more efficient than selling your excess energy back to the grid (net metering). I currently make about 100 bucks a month off of a 4000 watt solar array selling it back to the utility with my grid connected solar array.

Lets do the math. 35000 dollar installation 15 years ago. (lifetime of panels is around 20 years but I have some 25 year old and still working). Had one fail). I make 100 bucks a month from them…. 1200 dollars a year x 15 years = 18000 dollars. Of course I had to replace 6000 dollars of batteries at the 10 year mark so the system costs 41,000 dollars. (I did all the work myself by the way….it was cheap for 2005. ). So total cost of system to date = 41000. In 15 years it has made 18000 dollars. (or that’s 18000 I didn’t spend). Total loss to date is 22000 dollars for that experiment. Now if it cost 60K to run electricity to a house, it might be worth it.

Now prices have come down a bit on the panels to where you MIGHT MAYBE POSSIBLY could come close to breaking even if your grid connected. Might take about 20 years but the energy spent making and delivering the panels to you just blew that out of the water as far as carbon economy (lolol).

My conclusion after owning a solar array for 15 years…. money loosing proposition IF your on the grid. If your off grid, it’s better than no electricity. I have a well with 6 solar panels that pumps water for several hundred cattle in a remote pasture. It’s a mile from power. Cost would be 60K to run line electricty to it. Cost of solar well including the well, 20K. I’ve had to replace the pump a few times at a grand a piece and lost one of the older panels to weather. Net cost benefit on that well.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Solar Panels for Pumping Water.

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Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation
Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

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Bee on a Summer Day

Bee on a Summer Day
Bee on a Summer Day

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee on a Summer Day”.

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Bee On a TINY Bloom

Bee On a TINY Bloom
Bee On a TINY Bloom

Bumble Bee On a TINY Bloom

The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which do exist as well).

This guy is getting a LITTLE pollen from this (I think) sedum flower . It’s a TINY blossom and this bee is going to get every last piece of pollen off it before he leaves lolol.

Ultra close macro lenses are really a challenge to work since they have a very thin depth of field so getting everything is focus is your priority. Move your head 1/4 inch and the focus shifts back and forth with you.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Bumble Bee on a TINY bloom

: Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow

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Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal

Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal
Dinosaur Vertebra Nerve Canal

Looking through a Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal in this “Centrum” (vertebra without it’s external processes)

I saw this centrum sitting about in my outdoor rock pile lightly frosted and saw the possibilities lol. The top view is something that not many have seen. The hole is big enough to get your thumb in.

This vertebra was from the lower back area of a Hadrosaur (duckbill) dinosaur. It was found sitting on the surface in the grass at one of my sites. Sometimes all I have to do is walk around and pick stuff up lol. The neural canal was the first information super-highway. Long before fiber optics lolol.

Cretaceous Dinosaurs here in “Cretaceous Country.” Jurassic Park is way older. The End of the Cretaceous was the end of the rule of the dinosaurs over the earth. Those rocks are exposed here on ranch… The Hell Creek/Lance formations here are upper most Cretaceous sands deposited by huge sweeping rivers choked with sand. Bones were like wood then (and as big as branches mostly). Lots of small fossils too are present. Fossils of anything else that was in and around the water are discoverable along with the dinosaur stuff.

Everybody came down to drink sooner or later and was predated. The bones eventually got into the water and covered by fine grained sands and muds pretty quickly. The rivers were dumping sands by the boatload so the soon to be fossil got covered deeply quickly.

The missing processes are a result of being transported by the rivers. Any particular bone might have been buried, then re-excavated by the rivers moving back and forth meandering across the lands. We were just slightly north of the equator at the time. The continent was rotated about 90 degrees from how it is now.

Rule 1 of geology: Processes we observe today, were the same as in the past and will be in the future. Seems logical but some argue with this for what ever reason. I’m good with that.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal