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Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter
Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite…..

“Sneaky Pete” the wind engine is the smaller of 2 “brother” windmills of the “Pete” family on our ranch. Big Brother is “Re Pete” who lives 3 miles into the backcountry. Both are up in the rolling ridgeline country of “Wyotana”. Sneaky has been running for 20 years with a few rebuilds. He is 25 feet tall and pumps air for a ponds benefit. “Re Pete” is an antique still functional Aermotor Windmill way in the back country. Either would have provided served as a filter here. The symmetry stroked my OCD lol.

During the recent 2020 brown / fire smoke season, sunrises / sunsets are unusually interesting. There are a LOT of particulates in the air. The Deep Crimsons and yellow sphere of the sol are the only colors in the otherwise color bereft landscape. The feeling on this last of the few remaining warm nights was of an original Twilight zone episode I saw as a child. It scared the heck out of me. A fog moved into a community, next thing they knew they had been transported to an alien world. Scary stuff to an adolescent with 3 channels on the B+W Tube TV with aluminum foil on the Rabbit Ears. Some of you might have to reach back early on to remember all that.

Stark lighting, like being under a partial eclipse. It’s an odd look with everything terrestrial cast in an odd red glow. I compare it to a gel filter over a stage light. Just a really big light lol.

As I type this narrative on the 7th of September 2020, a weather system is moving through with mostly drizzle so far. It’s a classic fall weather system though and that is a good thing. We need moist days for sure to make it to the snows. Snow in the high country. I’m not draining the water out of my fire truck yet to winterize it. I don’t keep it in a heated building as it is bigger than you can image. Winterizing is a balancing act as too late, you freeze something. Too early and you don’t have water immediately handy when you need to put out a grass fire for instance.

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

Title: Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

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Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave
Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Setting Sun Shock Wave

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Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click
Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click

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

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

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

Title: Buck Heard the Click

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Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure
Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure

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

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

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

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

Title: Veiled Moon Time Exposure

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Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence
Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence

(Satire)

As I follow the full moon traveling along the ridge lines, I saw this situation develop. As I travel parallel ridge lines, I descend as the moon ascends which keeps the moon “rolling” along the crest. Ridges here travel for miles and have deep gullies adjacent. My options are many to watch the lunar progress. So I’m moving along and stop. Suddenly the moon stops moving too. Seemingly confused by the wire obstacle in it’s path. Hard to get that much cheese from here to there over that so to speak… That fence line would have been a cheese slicer for sure.

So to avoid being cut into cracker snacks, I figure it will take some computational power at least similar to the computers in Apollo spacecraft to make this maneuver. While I’ve seen the moon do many things. I’ve never seen it hike a fence. I see the same look on his face as I see on a Mule Deer. You know, that look just before they jump a fence. Sort of a mix of determination and blank stare if you break it down….. 👀

So this time delay sure could have thrown off all those critical tidal charts. That let alone the full moon effecting human behavior for longer. Full Moon and all that. To that point I’m sure this indecision slowed him down on his rounds. Must have made it up later though….But an apparent feat of athleticism as I continued my trip. I turned around, moved a few feet and JUST when I looked away and moved, it had jumped. Must have since when I looked back, it was on the other side of the fence…

Back to my “normal” programming…..

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

Title: Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence

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Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective
Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

First of all, this is the SUN, not the MOON. (Weird eh? ) Zooming in on Terrestrial objects in front of Celestial objects is often wrought with technical issues. Damn the torpedos, it’s the composition I was after of course. Dark Scene…..

The sun always moves to the right the same time it’s being covered by the horizon. That shift right has not much to do with the suns motion. After all the sun doesn’t actually set. The earth spins so the horizon is actually rising to cover out window to the furnace. The movement precludes LONG time exposures to get the landscape.

This is an odd perspective produced from me as the tree was really too close, the ridge still too close. Fortunately the sun is mid-field that is perfectly in focus. It is after all the point (huge) of interest here lol. The rest of the image is just a place holder for the odd scene’s relative position. It gives the viewer a frame of reference.

Sure is a deep brown sky though. It is essentially acting as a N50 neutral density filter lol. This was actually VERY LOW light as in camera shake and the leaves rustling in the breeze were a thing. When the sun is a little more bright than a candle at 100 yards, it’s like taking a photo of the moon literally. In fact the sun here was darker by a significant factor than the setting moon.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

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Best Cathedral Sky Ever

Best Cathedral Sky Ever
Best Cathedral Sky Ever

Best Cathedral Sky Ever

I get a few “Cathedral” Skies every year. This happened a week before this is published. Assuming you haven’t just returned from two weeks of Spelunking deep under a rock somewhere, we are living under a Pall of Smoke from western fires. Most of the west is enjoying unhealthy air qualities, and high temperatures. Low humidities, dry lightning strikes and a drought year long term continue to press the US.

This was not a short sky show either. 1/2 an hour… forever for me. I went into a how often do I see such a thing and started really accumulating clicks at a serious pace. The image changed by the minute with the rays changing / morphing as the clouds moved. The “Crepuscular” rays slicing through the heavy smoke above highlighting it with white unfiltered light above. Red Light traveling through miles of atmosphere making a shaft spreading below the sun.

Taken with one of my widest lenses. A 12 mm full frame Sony G series. The resultant image is well over 90 degrees wide and very tall. This is a major contender for the Largest Crepuscular display I’ve personally ever seen in my travels. It was a very unusual meteorlogic situation. Certainly an irreproducible set of circumstances. I’ll never get another chance like this in my lifetime I suspect. I took several hundred images on several cameras. There are many variations on this theme. Some are amazing like this one.

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

Title: Best Cathedral Sky Ever

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Noisy Midnight Lightning Storm

Noisy Midnight Lightning Storm
Noisy Midnight Lightning Storm

Noisy Midnight Lightning Storm

IT was/is VERY dry out. It has been in the 90’s for an extended period. Precipitation has been low all year. In HUGE contrast to the previous year.

A long day ended and an instant after I closed my eyes it seemed. Out of the night I was awakened by the rumble in the distance through the walls of my homestead. Generally being pretty quiet up here but for the roosters in the morning, I sat up to take notice. My fire watch instinct kicked in… On went the fire resistant pants and wool socks. I get to the porch all dressed up…. It started to rain…. pretty well.😜

Lightning flashed every 5 or 10 seconds but most of it was not visible to me where I stood. My window under a metal roof this night was fairly limited by the wind. I hesitate to put expensive gear out where left unattended, it might get knocked over or soaked. So I keep it close. I do keep a properly built “ground ring about my homestead. In 2 decades of living here. I’ve never had a lightning strike come into the house. I learned to build “ground rings” after building several Ham Radio Shacks and a communications tower on hill tops. Burying copper wire or water pipe recycled is a good way to get a proper path to ground before ground currents get you. It’s always better to have the best ground outside your place.

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

Title: Noisy Midnight Lightning Storm

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Mopping Up Range Fire

Mopping Up Range Fire
Mopping Up Range Fire

Mopping Up Range Fire

This is from the early July fire. Just got to this. The crews that fought our range fire each took on a little part of the blaze. The 20 mph winds didn’t help this job. We emptied our 1000 gallon tank three times during this blaze. Here it is all over but the busy work. We and others just managed to keep this fire out of the trees just over this hill. There are 30 acres of nice north slope pine over that hill top. This tree was slightly singed by the heat. The fire was out above ground but was smoldering /very hot under the pine needles at the base of these trees. We responded to the scene within 15 minutes of me seeing it. I automatically go up on the ridges after a lightning strike.

We had to pull about 300 feet of hose to get back into those trees. The ranch uses a 5 Ton M813 truck with 6 wheel drive, a big old diesel, 10 speeds, transfer case and the works lol. I’m the driver. No air conditioning as I like to know what the crew is doing in the back is experiencing as far as heat and smoke. I could drive through places that those guys on the back might not like too much with the windows up lol. I’m a good driver on air suspension seats which help my bad neck. I wear a brace driving that big boy. It’s a tad accurate in reproducing the uneven ground under the the wheels (It’s bumpy). 54 inch high radials too lolol. One of these days I’ll post a photo of the source of this water stream lol.

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

Title: Mopping Up Range Fire

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Tiger Salamander Show Down

Tiger Salamander Show Down
Tiger Salamander Show Down

Tiger Salamander Show Down

This is not a crop so it’s a BIG image for a salamander lol. This guy was a good 8 inches long and more or less happy in the water it was in. The hard part was getting him to stay still long enough to focus/click. He was hunting.

Brightly colored says “Stay away” as mouthing these guys will get your pets or kids sick. Even touching and then transferring it to your mouth can be detrimental to some individuals. Pretty much nobody bothers them but BIG one eyed (Cyclops to his perspective) photographers. IT had just rained probably wetting the crack he was in enough to entice him out to hunt. They are voracious eaters. I’ve found them along with toads by yard lights at night. The insects that are attracted to the light attract the Salamanders to the area.

Taken during the day is a rare thing for me to find them out. Usually not enough bugs out for them to attack. They go deep in the white season going torpid from the cold. Suspended animation.

An ancient heritage: Their development in the Late Carboniferous Period. An “Ancestor” started gulping shallow breaths of air with primitive lungs somewhere along the line. Eogyrinus (dawn tadpole) was a thin Crocodile (ish) critter that was fairly big at 15 feet in length. Modern Amphibians are distantly related to those early forms. The early paleontological developmental history is the topic of some debate not for this forum.

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

TItle: Tiger Salamander Show Down

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Balancing Bucks on Barbed Wire

Balancing Bucks on Barbed Wire
Balancing Bucks on Barbed Wire

Balancing Bucks on Barbed Wire

It’s really scary when your compositional mind works real time live in the camera….Got it… I had to adjust my position sufficiently to capture these Mule Deer Bucks (all) balancing on the tightrope all and positioned between the fence. Click…. I had forgotten about this image and it languished in my “To Do” folder. Found it!.

So this of course is the second leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch All Ungulate Relay. The Deer here are in second place with the Pronghorn having lapped them a few minutes ago. The runners here are all grouped up drafting one another thinking they still have a chance. (their mothers read the the “Turtle and the Hair” as fawns). Persistent/valiant but the Pronghorn are hard to out run.

It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago.

Paleontologist recognize that age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). BTW… The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Just saying 🤔 👀

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

Title: Balancing Bucks on Barbed Wire

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Moon Hanging with Mars

Moon Hanging with Mars
Moon Hanging with Mars

Moon Hanging with Mars

Here’s a Close / Far Perspective for you. Moon Close, Mars Far…(ish). If you can full screen this, the moon is pretty sharp here….Good seeing that night.

There was an internet/Facebook meme that the Moon and Mars would be in the sky together with a GIANT Mars. Well here they are…. Mars was supposed to be the size of the moon. Darn it….. So disappointed…😜

Captured is the reality, only a “little” different than the meme circulating around with two big globes in the sky. From the human eye perspective this is a giant mars. (that little red dot far right frame). The moon getting close in the sky to mars was obvious looking up that evening. I don’t work night skies very much photographically as it’s off schedule to me. I get jet lag easily lol.

At any rate, I don’t see opportunity to take a planet and our moon in the same frame too often. Well I could zoom WAY back to be able to actually fit them in the frame lol. Only when a planet is close can you do this. The dynamic range difference between the bright moon and the little dim mars is tough to pull out of the dark.

Mars closes approach to earth will be on October 6th 2020 at only 38.6 million miles away. The moon is currently 224,800 miles out which is relatively close I suppose. It does indeed appear larger than it normally would further away lol. Not QUITE the same apparent size as our orbiting partner.. So if you read it on an internet meme, you might want to initially question the information.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Well somewhat over it anyway)

Title: Moon Hanging with Mars

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Sunset Tile ART

Sunset Tile ART
Sunset Tile ART

Sunset Tile ART

I sometimes HAVE to take a little time away from my daily serious photo-finishing work. The need is to play inside of the digital darkroom of course. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy….. Leading off this AM with some Tile Art.

Inside my greater sphere of photographic/graphic arts interests are a few creative ones. This versus the photorealist my OCD normally requires lol.

One of my favorite play time activities is to put together what I call Mosaic Mirrors. This one I made 3 “Totem” poles in. Were ever mirror images meet, mind magic occurs. The totems either side of the center arch are a stack of Creatures great and small. For you Pariedoliacs out there, this is full of endless wanderings and imaginings. All of the imaging was taken from a photo of the sun setting over a fenceline next to a tree in the backcountry.

Often I’m doing this thinking of classic mid-evil architectural arches and will sometimes build a floor. Here I built a reflecting rippled water mirror under the sun. Technically this was fairly easy to do, I just enjoy the resultant bilateral symmetry that instantly pops into existence. More than just fun though are the amazing anthropomorphic shapes that always form from that symmetry. Those with the tendency terribly to see faces or animals in random data can get lost in either making or studying these. I’m the former. I could make these all day. Tree limbs are particularly are suitable as subjects. Plus you don’t have to get a signed model release. 😜

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

Title: Sunset Tile ART

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Sunset for Pariedoliacs

Sunset for Pariedoliacs
Sunset for Pariedoliacs

Sunset for Pariedoliacs

I like to end most days with a photo of a sunset. This is from about 10 days before the image actually publishes on line. I am currently that far ahead in setting up my post. I hope you enjoy the evening. Be safe all.

Well if you see figures/shapes/forms in clouds, this image is fodder for your imagination. I’ve got several anthropomorphic figures floating around in my head from this image. I saw it at the time and thought it worthy of your time. Primarily I can imagine a woman on her elbows crawling but you might go with a lamb or some other figure. Whats nifty about this tendency is that no one really constructs the same vision inside their head. The next person is always going to see something different. The snake eye in the upper right just caught my eye too. Maybe it’s a rabbit: lolol.

This is a Photo taken across the 40 miles of the Little Powder River Valley from Wyoming into Montana. I’m sitting on the west side of the pass on Trail Creek Road in Wyoming. The border is 4 miles to my right.

What a long afternoon of photography this day ended with. Near the end of this timeline, I had been out for 3 hours following a Mesocyclone across the landscape. No rainbows this day though. Only lightning and serious weather to deal with to our south. The sun stayed away till the end.

Location: The Pass on Trail Creek Road To Rockypoint Wyoming USA.

Title: Sunset for Pariedoliacs

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Hail Covered Devils Tower

Hail Covered Devils Tower
Hail Covered Devils Tower

Hail Covered Devils Tower

I worked the storm that led to this photo for almost 3 hours. “Devils Tower” here is Hail Covered White. This was taken about 10 days ago when Crook County Wyoming made national News with it’s weather. I doubt more than a few dozen people saw this phenomena from this direction or at all… Sun only lit it up for a few minutes while I was working this storm over volcanic neck complex with several long lenses. I have never seen the Tower covered in hail before. I believe this is as white as I’ve ever seen it. The storm that dropped all this ice clearly visible on the three Missouri Buttes too was a big one. It ran east to west about 20 miles south of where I was observing it from.

I’m just starting to work this timeline finishing the images and writing appropriate narratives for each. Lots of lightning captures from this storm. This capture is at the end of the timeline.

Remember these posts are all book pages in my eventual coffee table book. Currently it’s over 1800 pages long about life and times up here in Wyotana. Admittedly the tower and the Buttes are all Wyoming. I’m standing about 4 miles south of Montana in northernmost Wyoming. I consider about 10 miles either side of the border (Wyotana).

Bear in mind this in early August, not winter. It was 80 degrees when I took this. An ice covered national monument is always an interesting image I think lolol. At the time I actually said “WoW out loud. Slathered with hail appears to be the towers fate . I hope no one was on the trail walking around it. If so they saw it up close and personal. All the while “slathered” too lol.. Hopefully no one was hurt. Hostile Environment sometimes up here. 📷

Location Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, Campbell County Wyoming.

Title: Hail Covered Devils Tower

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Waves in the Storm

Waves in the Storm
Waves in the Storm

Waves in the Storm

This “Wave cloud” does not have a specific classification to scientists, there are various situations that form wave patterns. I’d call them “Stair Way to Heaven” clouds if the name were not taken already lol. (classical reference). Finding a stable thin layer of atmosphere that the temperature doesn’t get colder with hight. This stable layer can be disturbed by waves of adjacent air to move along it. Similar to water waves in a pond. It that stable layer has enough humidity, a cold wave crest will cause cloud formation. The cloud evaporates on the way down the wave. I have only seen this phenomena a few dozen times and never this well developed under a mesocyclone. Every other time it has been a herring bone sky under altocumulus sky cover. This was unusual to me anyway.

Another form of wave cloud is a lenticular cloud often accused of being UFO’s. Those are mostly formed over significant geographic high points (mountains, big ridges etc). Saucer shaped. But they are also related to these and a similar phenomena. I’ve never seen them trail 20 miles off into the distance before. That is the ranch communication tower about a mile from my position. This was an unusual storm that moved over for this. It was mostly wind and rain. No hail and little lightning. Not very strong but interesting none the less. I never know what I’m going to see when I climb up these ridges.

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

Title: Waves in the Storm

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Tiger Salamander Up Close

Tiger Salamander Up Close
Tiger Salamander Up Close

Tiger Salamander Up Close

Ambystoma tigrinum

Slimy Sunday I guess. We had a pretty good quick rain move over and dump a few 10th’s of an inch. This little 8 inch (or bigger to 14″) Native to Wyotana Tiger Salamander Amphibian decided to come out. Must enjoy the wet while it’s about. It’s unusual to see them in the day as they hunt at night being voracious insect predators.

Known commonly as a “mole” salamander. It has been hiding down a deep crack usually next to foundations of buildings or elsewhere. Where they tend to go deep in the winter, they need some water to keep themselves properly wet. They don’t like their skin to dry out. We have some moving water between two small deck ponds that has been running for 20 years. That is a favorite habitat for them. Most lakes and ponds in the area will have these. Some can live up to 16 years in the wild.

These guys are not fast. A brightly colored creature is telling you something…. This typically means “Warning” do not eat me. It turns out that they secrete toxins all over their sky. (Don’t eat or mouth the skin). Juveniles are way more toxic than adults generally speaking. You DON’T want your dog to eat one or a toddler to mouth one of these. Depending on how much exposure to the Salamander it’s had…. You should even wash your hands after handling any creature. It’s a good idea to double scrub after these guys. The first sign is slobbering but it can lead to death.

They have a wide spread distribution and rank as the largest Salamander in North America. They might be coming out at night right under your nose and you don’t know it.

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

Title: Tiger Salamander Up Close

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Moon Lone Tree Silhouette

Moon Lone Tree Silhouette
Moon Lone Tree Silhouette

Moon Lone Tree Silhouette

A few days a month I get a chance to get SOME light from the sun at the same time the full moon is rising. This is a little late in the timeline where there is still enough light to catch the outline of the ridge. The Full Sturgeon Moon slowly emerging from hiding behind this lone tree. IT turns out the moon is shy until it has no choice and has to be exposed. I mean it turns all sorts of shades of pink, orange and red so it MUST be shy. He might have been ducking behind that tree to relieve himself before he starts the night shift. I mean the man in the moon is obviously a gentleman trying to be proper after all.

Photographic Musings:

Getting Details on Close objects and far objects in the same single photo…. A matter of high #f-stop setting which give you deep focus. It also steals light preventing it from getting in the camera. So a long shutter open time is a good thing. Not too long as it will over expose the moon, not too long as this hand held shot would be blurred. I find 1/30th freehand minimum for blur. A monopod will go 1/15th. Tripod you have to keep moving, not handy, a few seconds exposure on a moving moon. That’s not good. Basically, your walking over uneven ground, moving in opposition to the moons movements. It rises, I walk closer to the hill. It goes to the right, I move to the left. Set your ISO to get a visible image on your screen. Rule of photography 127 is “Get the photo” Damn the ISO…

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

Title: Moon Lone Tree Silhouette

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Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese
Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

Ol’ “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is up to his old tricks again. I find he is more than willing to try to interfere with the clock work universe. Here he is trying to slice and dice up the moon again. I’ve caught him several times attempting what must surely be a crime anywhere but Wyotana.

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite) 🤘

“Sneaky’s” full time job is to pump air into a small pond that has barnyard ducks on it. This de-stratifies the pond and makes it more able to deal with the extra poop load from the ducks. It also keeps a pretty good hole open in the ice during most of the winter. Well, with the help of the aforementioned water fowl helping. He has been very good at pumping air over his career. I can’t even imagine how many times it has turned around over a couple of decades.

Photographic Musings: (Long but instructive)

More angles in this thing…didn’t have a clue what to use as a level horizon lololol.

Fellow students, what to do you have to do to get this kind of shot?

OK, Full Moon up during the day (maybe 2 chances a month IF the weather cooperates). Then the moon about 2 times a year lines up just so with the topography. (Topography is my master). It has to be somewhat windy.

Where to set this up, you have to be at least 300 yards away from the close object (windmill) with a 400mm lens. That puts the windmill in the same focal depth of field as the moon at infinity. I work up to 1200 mm this way for some distance perspectives. The further back you go with a larger lens will give you a relatively bigger moon in the image.

THEN with all that conveniently arranged, you have to Set your camera to the dreaded M – mode. I know, it’s scary in there. Set your priority that you need most. Blurred windmill…… OK, 1/15th of a second exposure to allow the blur. That’s pretty much set in stone so adjust the camera shutter to 1/15th. Balancing the exposure now is easy now.

That leaves only two other things to adjust, ISO (camera sensitivity) and F-stop (aperture/iris size in your lens.) F-stop controls your depth of field which you want very deep. So a high enough F-stop number to focus both is required. I used f-22 for this. Lower f stop settings will thin your depth of field. You would have to move back too far to fill the frame.

One setting left. Turn your camera sensitivity to what is required to give you the proper image in “live view” or in your mirrorless camera. In a mirrorless camera, what you see in the eyepiece is what you get. You get to watch your settings change live real time in the eyepiece. What ever it takes. Rule number one of photography is to get the picture. Damn the high ISO if it is needed. Fortunately this is still some daylight in the frame. 📷

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

Title: Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

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Case of Mistaken Identity

Case of Mistaken Identity
Case of Mistaken Identity

Case of Mistaken Identity

Bee Flies are Harmless to humans as they do not bite. I have only seen this species a few times and they are “Flighty”/hard to approach. I’m thinking I cheated and used a sex lure. I didn’t intend to of course. I had just mounted a fire fighting mattock tool with a yellow fiberglass handle to the racks on the Raptor. The Yellow Bee Fly must have just fallen in love instantly. I had brought my cameras out to the truck a few minutes before planning to head out shortly. Looking over I froze in my tracks. I got my camera and he was still there…..

Holy Crap I thought. I took 3 progressively closer images until he wasn’t in the view screen anymore. This was from 10 inches away or there about. Natural Sunlight just cooking down. This actually makes the capture harder since bug are very active when fully warm. Hair Triggers so to speak.

Those are HUGE eyes for such a small Bee Fly. This accounts for their tendency to fly quickly. These are good bugs too. The adults just sip nectar but the larva eat some bad bugs in your garden. I like to see these guys. They are just not very common in my area. Pretty small is the word…. It might be 1/4 inch eyes to butt. I’ve seen them more early in the spring on Dandelions though.

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

Title: Case of Mistaken Identity

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Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising
Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising

I actually saw this scene live real time resolving it easily with my eyes. To my knowledge, there is no way to photograph it using only one photograph. The difference of illumination between the reflection in the water and the brightness of the moon was too large for my gear to resolve. So I took an exposure of the moon properly followed by an image of the water properly exposed.. Merge the best parts of both photos and here you have a composite art work reconstructing the scene as I experienced it. The technology commonly in use today is inadequate to capture such a scene with this extreme dynamic range in a single frame.

In other words, I can take a good photo of the moon and see nothing in the water. I can take a photo of the ripples in the water but the moon is bright white. The only way to see the scene the way my eyes did, is to merge those digital images. Human eyes see a wider dynamic range than do cameras thus far in their development. I could see this very well except it was pretty far away. Technology is chasing the 21 F-stops the human eye can discern where as the best cameras I can afford will give you 15 F-stops dynamic range.

I figure in 5 or 6 years and as many generations of chips I will be able to do this in camera. It was very cool to have this all line up though. Getting topography and Celestial objects to cooperate is a once a year thing at best when weather cooperates. I was back about 400 yards for this from the wind driven choppy water. Because it’s a composite, technically this is ART imitating an actual scene. 600mm F-4 lens. At f-11.

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

Title: Sturgeon August Moon Rising

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A Bite Of the Moon

A Bite Of the Moon
A Bite Of the Moon

A Bite Of the Moon

I know this is a very dark image but it was very dark. Late Civil Twilight at dusk. What? You think T-rex only ate during the day? 😜 Yearning for some cheese I’m thinking.

Here the background narrative here is that we here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch use a “Way back Machine” (time travel) I acquired on e-bay. The estate of Mr. Peabody was disposing of it. (The 1960’s cartoon). So I sent a couple of pokes back to the end of the Cretaceous after tinkering with the machine for weeks. Got it working.. It’s hard to get all those old tubes and electrolytic’s they used back then. Lots of dust too… (Years old discussion)…👅

So we saved the moon 66 million years ago but I understand someone stepped on a butterfly. (You can be my friend if you know that reference. ). 🤘

The Plasma-Cut metal art over the Ranches “Gate 1” has been the cooperative subject of many a yarn woven into my art. It has been the subject of many a photographer over the decades since it’s inception. I created the image on my computer in photoshop (drawing). Then I had a file sent to someone who utilized computer controlled plasma-cutting of metal. This angle however is silly close to the previously mentioned foreground gate art. To have both objects in the same focal field takes some “manipulation” of the settings in manual mode. This was hand held as is most of my work. I’d say I use a tripod once a week for 5 minutes. I do use a truck window to steady a camera from the driver seat most the time. (Rested camera). I also use rocks to rest a camera. 📷

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

Title: A Bite Of the Moon

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Cliff Kissing the Moon

Cliff Kissing the Moon
Cliff Kissing the Moon

Cliff Kissing the Moon

I think there is some affection there. I think the moon was trying to Dock there….You know, take on supplies and the like…. 😜 📷

Finding the Cliff was easy. Getting far enough away from the rocks to place the cliff in the same focal plane as the moon (infinite) was the hard part. Topography has to cooperate along with celestial agreement. The Moon is mostly a moving target remember. Getting planets and Cliffs to line up has some complexity to the capture to get both in focus. Position your head/camera in the X,Y,Z and time 4th dimension (time in this case). Getting a kiss on a moving face is pretty hard. I had the idea at first of making them contact by moving my head about 1/2 inch to the left. It’s truly amazing how little one has to move to have an object 600 yards plus away (cliff) to cover a moon a couple of hundred thousand miles away. Nailed the focus on the cliff, the moon is a little soft. I will perfect this with time.

This is the Sturgeon Moon, August Moon 2020. Filed under things you can do with a 1200 mm lens…. So far I have many captures of this months moon in various situations that will work their way into my work flow shortly. Remember the full moon was 9 days ago as this posts. That is how long it takes to go from Click to Publish with me doing this essentially full time. I figure I invest on average 1.5 hours work per image/narrative page on average and I publish 4 a day every day.

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

Title: Cliff Kissing the Moon

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Morning Singer with Audience

Morning Singer with Audience
Morning Singer with Audience

Morning Singer with Audience

For a Black and White Game Trail Camera Night Shot, this came out pretty well lolol. 📷 Grainy as would be expected of an Infra-red camera.

Each game trail camera shot has issues. I spent some time working on in the digital darkroom this to fix them. The result was good enough to get published second today on my timeline. I love photos that tell stories. This has a wonderful obvious one.

A Mule Deer Buck Listening to a Meadowlark Sing it’s melody in the Twilight.

The bird on the post in silhouette is a Meadowlark. I know them very well, trust me it’s a Meadowlark. It’s singing it’s heart out to the Spring Velvet buck (you can only see one growing horn at this angle) . He was in antler growth mode in early June when this was taken. I have no question that buck is listening and watching that Meadowlark. Being the State Bird of 6 Western States, the Meadowlark’s are sort of hard to ignore even at 4:55 AM. What a way to start your morning 📸 . Actual sunrise that morning was around 20 minutes later. You have to look but there is a grazing buddy of the buck over on right frame.

Game trail cameras lag months behind as I only pick them up when I pass them. That might be 1/2 a year depending on the season.

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

Title: Morning Singer with Audience

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Pronghorn Family at Night

Pronghorn Family at Night
Pronghorn Family at Night

Pronghorn Family at Night

Taken at 2 AM by one of my game trail cameras. Of course as an Infra-red Flash automatic camera I have no choices here except for 3 levels of flash, 3 levels of sensitivity to make it flash and where to put it. The later being more important. Now the moon was full and illuminating the scene nicely thank you. Touching noses with one of her fawn ID’ing each other in the dark conditions. The other fawn is probably with the other Doe as well.

I place this camera at the gate between this field of grass and the field behind the camera where the water tank is. We keep 4 different water tanks open 364/24/7 for anybody that needs it. It’s funny how they don’t hang around water most of the time . Preferring to eat a mile or so away from where they water most of the time. I suspect that is an adaptation to Pleistocene hunting pressure near water . Back when the Large Cat population of crazy types like Saber Tooth, American Lion etc were about…. These guys are adapted to escape from those cats no longer an issue. Nothing else alive on the plains today but humans in our machinations can keep up with them. They don’t have a lot to worry about these days. As a chunk of the Pleistocene Megafauna slowly disappeared, these ungulates survived the causes of that extinction. What ever they did, it worked and here they are lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Family at Night

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Comet Neowise High Magnification

Comet Neowise High Magnification
Comet Neowise High Magnification

Comet Neowise High Magnification

This is my last image of the Comet Neowise this time around. In 6800 or so years, I’ll get it next pass. It is traveling on a big loop around our sun. The bluish ion tail points straight away from the sun. The curved tail of debris off the nucleus is spewing off the curved race track the comet is on. This like so many chunks of gravel from a race cars wheels. Mr. Newton would be pleased to understand that his laws still seem to work. I estimate the light from this comet took about 6 minutes to get to my lens. It was far far away. At .7 Astronomic Unit’s distant from earth, it’s almost as far away as the sun itself when I took this. It is quickly getting further away and is only visible with good gear now. . 📷

Mostly I worked this comet with medium to wide lenses. I did however pull out a big gun for about 30 minutes. First of all let me say, This is a big aperture terrestrial lens (about 6 inches) and very fast at F4. Focal equivalent of 600mm. And I got about 6 seconds of exposure at ISO 3000. Any longer of an exposure and you’ll get long star streaks. I really should have tracked the stars and done minute long exposures at f200. Coulda Shoulda Woulda and all that. I keep pretty busy when I get a once in a lifetime opportunity with such clear dark skies. 👁

Tough to get set up as it was a little windy, big lenses have a high wind profile. A tiny wiggle ruins the image. I couldn’t even see the comet in the viewfinder. I was aiming blind literally. Set the camera in the general direction, take a photo, realign the camera and try again. This took 4 attempts to get it entirely in frame. If you look carefully you can see the tree line at about a mile distant from my camera. Close far perspective lololol.

No more Neowise. 😔

Title: Comet Neowise High Magnification

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Water Gadgets and Machinations

Water Gadgets and Machinations
Water Gadgets and Machinations

Water Gadgets and Machinations

(Maybe a little silly satire). We are pretty green up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I believe there are 24 big solar panels up and running things like water wells up here. Wind generators 2. Underground and above ground green house. Big windmills 2.

I can only align this the 28th of July and May 15 when the sun rises in a certain position. Otherwise the spacing is all off and nothing is aligned throwing off my OCD (I have it bad) Compositional requirements all amok. There is no alternative to turning the camera mostly off to light pointing a telephoto into the sun. (NO DSLR’s). The background ALWAYS goes to some shade of burnt umber and the sun goes yellow. I must point out that with a telephoto a close / far perspective like this with 4 layers of objects.

“Sneaky Pete” the windmill is 200 yards out. The smaller wind electric generator is 100 yards out. The Hand water pump about 120 yards along with the vent pipe the sun is sitting on. Re: vent pipe, I seriously overbuild my infrastructure up on ranch to support the mass of celestial objects as the sun. Bought that pipe years ago. My comment is they don’t make things like they used to. 😜 📷

I have a habit of catching both the sun and moon being lazy sitting down on the job like this. For all I know the sun is management (sitting around) and the other guys are out there pumping water… Oh wait, that is sort of how business works isn’t it? lololol. The sun provides the power for all these devices, human made (machinations) to run water pumps. Windmills (wind engines) can be used to pump water/air or circulate fluids, the wind is powered by the sun.

The smaller windmill charges a batter bank which is about 10 years old currently and holds a charge well. Still good batteries maintained by that. Runs a small water pump from a cistern Vented with a hand operated cast iron water pump. Good old man power also initially powered by the sun. 🤔 Getting all these actors to line up is like herding cats. The pipe is leaning from all that weight….. 👅

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

Title: Water Gadgets and Machinations

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Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

Lone Tree Moonlight Filter
Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

During those 2 days a month that I get to have both the full Moon with the Sun coterminously in the sky, I “work” them photographically fairly hard. My operational tempo on nights like this is intense really. I have a rough map in my head where I want to go sometimes but making to where I need to be and when are two different things lol.

Here I was about 5 minutes late. I spent too much time at the last location. Knowing WHEN to leave a site and move on is paramount to productive backcountry photography. Conditions are fleeting, the sun was setting, the moon was climbing in the sky. I love this lone tree on this remote ridge. It has wonderful views (about 180 miles horizon to horizon from it’s ridge). Such dendritic shapes lend themselves to light filtering work. I suppose I’ll get a bill with model rates charged plus the overtime for the wait. Never keep your model waiting for you. 😜

When I get a Full moon rising at the horizon, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. This is a sub-hobby with my larger professions of photography. Toward that end…. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This particular old soldier up high on a ridge has faced the worst wind/weather this high country can throw at it. It is a true old soldier. The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from the parallel ridge is was working in the dark for this capture. The moon is a “little” further behind the ridge.👀

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

Title: Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

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Comet NotSoWise Shooting Star

Comet NotSoWise Shooting Star
Comet NotSoWise Shooting Star

Comet NotSoWise Shooting Star

I finally get to the top of the first ridge to our east. Reaching the top, a vision unfolded around me. The telephoto crushing the distances as I turn toward the apparent shooting star in the sky. The illusion of motion fancifully provided by a cloud bank. That alone shadowing the low atmospheric ice to the left. Thus providing the obvious shooting star the proper debris tail. I actually took some rare play time and made an Inverse color negative of this resembling a remarkable comet. I might work with that image as art down the road. Talk about a naked eye comet lololol. I suggest Ray Bans™. You might remember all the Comet NeoWise images lately on your newsfeed. Well this is Comet NotSoWise. I just love it when my lenses come across natural illusions.

Photographic Musings:

I by experience expose the highlights correctly and dig the details in the shadows out within the digital dark room. If you expose the landscape properly, the highlights are WAY over exposed and there is no recovering image detail that is washed out… gone… It’s easy to take a photo of the sky just like it is but unless you have a way to differentially bring out the exposure in the dark areas, you have a dark silhouette for a landscape. No camera made today I can afford would take this raw. The highlights are exactly as the camera recorded them but the formerly black landscape had all this detail hidden within the data. A program like Photoshop™ and or Lightroom™ is a really important addition to your tool kit.

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

Title: Comet NotSoWise Shooting Star

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Gate to the Fire

Gate to the Fire
Gate to the Fire

Gate to the Fire

So you want to go fight a fire eh? It’s not a Disney™ ride. I believe that I have never been more covered in dirt, sweat and soot more than by fighting a good grass fire. Just recently I took two very newbie guys out to fight our recent on ranch fire a few weeks ago as this posts. Trial by fire. They had no idea but hung in there….

I have been totally soaked, over heated and generally bounced to death. Driving a 1000 gallons of water in a 37000 pound 6 wheel drive truck to the scene is usually bumpy across the backcountry trails. Some of the toughest jobs on the planet is the professional smoke jumper game. The “hot spotters” are an amazing group of people. Olympic Athletes with a purpose all. The crews that come into clean up a fire area are careful, hard working and generally in a great attitude about what they do. God bless all first responders.

I don’t think the fire crews are generally worried about changing the way they work to suit the new “norms”. On the fire line, there are a few more considerations that somehow seem more immediate of a concern. You suck a lot of smoke if you dive in front of a grass fire with a big truck full of spraying water. I have found that behind the flame front it’s WAY too hot with the ground radiating heat as well as the flame. In front of the flame, you don’t want your truck or your pump to stop working. I have driven straight into an advancing flame front numerous times. I’ve also seen them so tall that I didn’t go through it.

Grass fires are a way of life up here on the grassy prairie Wyotana area. Sparsely populated with miles between ranches, a grass fire can go un-noticed until it’s almost out of control. A fast local response saves the gov’t thousands of dollars in pay and travel time. We do our best along with most of our neighbors that can. The same is true across the west.

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

Title: Gate to the Fire