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Fall Equinox Fence Line

Fall Equinox Fence Line
Fall Equinox Fence Line

Fall Equinox Fence Line

During the Fall Equinox (on Sept 22nd during 2020) Smoke Pall over the skies from the fires to the west.

Around the Equinox, the east / west trending fences have a tendency to fall into order with the universe. For all intents and purposes, this fence line is directly on the Montana / Wyoming border . Montana on the left and Wyoming on the right. Looking East at Sunrise. Ive done many fence perspectives straight on with the fencline. Getting above it so far was an act of crushing perspective with a long lens from a far away hill. Looking over this west slope of a local divide between upper drainage courses.

Many of my photo’s have parts of both states in them. Either a Wyoming ground with Montana Sky or visa-versa. Here the sun looks over all that ground. It is having a great deal of trouble getting it’s light to the ground. The Pall of Smoke this particular day (this has set in for a few months I’m thinking ) was different than each day before it. The strange “filtered light” feeling reminds me of watching a total solar eclipse.

You might note the “Hump Gate” mid-fence. It’s a Cattle gate I designed to put on the ground without having to dig a hole under it. Cattle don’t cross it but ATV’s zip right over it. Idle minds are problematic in my world lol.

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

Title: Fall Equinox Fence Line

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Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn
Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

You might have seen small drops of water on grass, plants and trees shining like pearls in the early hours of morning. Often misinterpreted as rain left on the grass but not so much. For those of you that are learning this stuff…

Dew drops are formed due to condensation of water vapors. Air around us contains water vapors which we call moisture or humidity. Hot air contains more moisture versus cold air. At night when the relatively warm / humid air comes into contact with colder surfaces, water vapor present condenses on the cold surface in the form of droplets. These tiny drops of water are of course called dew drops.

The dew formation is enhanced when the sky is clear and reduced when it is cloudy. When the sky is clear and the trees and plants are cooler at nights, there is more evaporation of water and hence more dew formation. But when it is cloudy, trees and plants do not get cool in the night. This results in less dew formation. As the sun raises high in the sky, these dew drops evaporate into air directly.

It seems to me… We really don’t have an excess of dewey mornings here on the MT/WY border. Maybe we have more but I’m not seeing. This is after all a very dry environment. Frost is a similar phenomena but below 32 degrees.

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

Title: Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

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Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight
Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Cattle Country:

The cowboys have been awake for 50 minutes . Takes time to get geared up/. Grab some breakfast from the hen house… Then there is tack on the horses to apply. A few big Black Angus Bulls strayed from the local herd managed to successfully negotiate the fencing separating 2 herds. The separate owners would prefer not to mix cattle if possible lolol. The cow hands will go separate the bulls. Horses work best moving Bulls. Trust me on this… I’ve done it both with horses and with ATV’s. Not even close the two experiences are lol. One is comfortable, the other is stupid lol.

Even the best of fences, while keeping good neighbors, is but an inconvenience to a Big Angus Bull with love on his mind. Operations generally try to keep Bulls Pinned and landlocked with another pasture between them and the next herd. Even 5 wire barbed wire can be easily over come by nearly a ton of BIG willed fellow. Thick skinned they are. Not many made into couches due to that tendency to scar themselves up a tad in the spring.

Bull Fences must be well built. Any structure that you intend to work any significant number of “head” over the years has to be a long term engineering project. Well built and heavy. Iron is best of course. There are MANY sucker rod and drill stem pipe fences built/welded together up here in Oil field country. They are permanent additions to any cattle operation.

Less longevity built in, this particular Wood Plank Fence is quite old, still willing to hold back the cattle pressure from the other side. We are just an inch of precipitation yearly from being called a desert… as such wood lasts a LONG time. Many decades of life.

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

Title: Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

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Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad
Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

(Tad bit of Satire mixed in…)

I am always watching the moon making sure it keeps on it’s appointed rounds. Here I caught it resting on top of the local cheese cutter “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. The moon is like a big bird standing on an alligator’s back if you follow my metaphor. All that cheese sliced in one fell swoop… 🙂

Close / Far Perspectives in the world of Smokey Skies is a hit or miss proposition. The moon was up high enough to be above most of the smoke hugging the bottom few thousand feet of this air column. The sunlight however coming in over my right shoulder was markedly red as the sun was a bit lower than the moon to the horizon. The sunrise was before the moonset giving me about 15 minutes to work. Both in the daylight at the same time is a rare monthly window. My job was to catch the moon goofing off on the job. I only got to work 1 out of 3 good mornings for this kind of capture.

Evidence: Here you can clearly see the Lunar Disk sitting, resting on the arm of the wind vein belonging to this local windmill. I’m not sure how he makes up the time he wastes sitting on his tail around here. I catch him reclining on trees all the time but It’s a big planet and getting around it has got to a bear. The moons orbit is 1.5 million miles long. I’m always seeing him sitting down on the job. He’s aware of it as when ever he notices me, he starts moving again. Sorry about the windmill not spinning, I have no control over his actions most of the time …..

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

Title: Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

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Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies
Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Deep in the backcountry sits this deep gully system. It is a magical place with artesian springs, little evidence of humans dinosaur fossils literally visible on a few rock outcrops about. Well there are a few pits around. Removed most of those fossils I’m aware of. These small pits will be poor evidence I was here but in a mere 20 years. Those will fill small holes will, collapse/fill, naturalize as it were.

80 years ago in the early 1930’s, there was a log cabin on a small homestead not 500 yards from this location. The ranch was visited several times by one of the now adult (elderly woman). That 80+ years ago grew up here. Situated there, a wonderful dinosaur fossil site. Just below their old homestead it was. Less than 200 feet away,

I can’t believe the kids didn’t notice teeth, claws and bones. They are coming out in various spots (Microsites) sand down in the “wash”/gully. Being adjacent to the house make me think that they just didn’t randomly notice. Hard to believe that 3 kids didn’t play down in that gully in the sand. Now If I had seen a tooth laying in the sand as a kid….Who knows what I’d been doing now. I found a fossil sea shell on a gravel pile in Illinois at age 5. I became a geologist as a result of that experience. “Oh look mommy what I found”…. I have found WONDERFUL big teeth down there on the surface. 👀. Looking is fine, it is better to see.

Rife with stories now lost to history is this backcountry. The woman mentioned above brought her extended family up 2 times over 10 years. . I led her to the old remnants of the cabin safely as it’s about 3 miles of two track roads to get there. The metal/glass “dump” over the gully bank edge remains in testament to their existence. The great grand kids got to rummage around and pick up parts of their family history. Old glass bottles, car parts from the 20’s along with general debris that were just too broken to fix remain. Old broken stove parts and even a partially standing sod roofed root cellar/storm shelter. Each part tells a story of acquisition, use and finally deposition of the item. Lives past put into perspective.

Down in the gullies where everything eventually travels to the sea.

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

Title: Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

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Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

Sunset Over Layers of Landscape
Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

The smoke that evening was intense. The air conditioning in the truck barely moderated the sneezing I enjoy in such air. Going out into this for long is a health risk certainly. There are all sorts of negative effects from enjoying the air as this. A good allergenic episode is my typical response. I know others that are put out of action by this kind of Pall. This kind of pollution can push some individuals over that cliff too. My advice is to stay inside if you can. As I type this the thermometer is approaching 100 degrees. I hope the animals find relief from this. They can’t come in as much as I’d like it for a while. Then there is the clean up thing….

The brown landscape color is accurate to the scene. The lowermost darkest ridge is 3 miles, next is 10 miles. The low ridge past that is 13 miles. Finally the 4th layer is 35 miles out with the sun hanging around 8 and 1/3rd light minutes out. This is as thick as it gets without blotting out the sun. I COULD have easily watched this outside of the camera with my naked eye. I don’t however suggest doing that. Always use appropriate eye protection. OK, maybe a very quick glance at this level of illumination.

Usually the Sun is FAR too bright to expose both landscape and it’s surface properly. Here because the sun has been smoke filtered a LOT it is possible to resolve the ridges. Normally hidden in the glare. The smoke acts like a theatrical gel over a spotlight. It allows only the longest wavelengths of light through.

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

Title: Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

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Full Smokey Moon Rising

Full Smokey Moon Rising
Full Smokey Moon Rising

Full Smokey Moon Rising

Wednesday Moon Day:

Close Far Perspectives are something I haven’t worked recently. The smoke plumes from western fires clogging up my horizons to anything but the sun. I get only a few terminator crossings a month any to photograph the rising lunar disk coterminous with the sun still being up (even a little like this). The dark blue you see here is seconds away from turning black in the camera. The is the edge of the envelope for what this technology can do. The silhouette would soon be fading into the black sky in minutes.

Wonderful smokey color that night though we weren’t particularly under Pall at that moment. Particulates in the higher air is likely to blame for this hue. Almost salmon but with just a tinge of red. Hard to find such things in archives of my travels.

Heads Up!… The Moon while on schedule for once a month, but October 2020 will have two. The first on October 1st, and the second on October 31st. That rarity is what coined the phrase “once in a blue moon” back in 1821, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The “standardized” explanation of the blue moon wasn’t defined “officially” August 1937 or so the story goes… I will work both moons in October assuming the weather window to their light opens for me to capture in my photon capture boxes. Rule number 112 of photography is: no window, no images… That one is fixed in the rules of the universe I’m afraid lolol.

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

Title: Full Smokey Moon Rising

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Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

Renewables Struggling to Keep Up
Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

The Smoke Pall has shown a short fall of solar renewables to keep up with demand under the significantly lower light levels. ALL the ranchers under this smoke that rely on solar wells to water stock are scrambling if they use solar… (When you have to chain a 12 foot long 6 inch diameter pipe tied to a well casing down to keep it from moving in the wind). There might be some wind loading on this infrastructure lol…

Many ranchers have to put generators on their wells now to pump enough water to keep all the cattle well watered. The average cow drinks 30 gallons a day on a nice day. Hot days…. 50 or more :)… That adds up in a herd with say 400 head drinking 30 gallons each. That’s 12000 gallons they need on an easy day ….. A garden hose at 5 gallons a minute, 300 gallons an hour is only 7200 gallons a day with 24 hour sun………. Hard for any ranches solar well working a it’s highest efficiency to do that much…. This one does 5 gallons a minute in full sun. Maybe 10 hours a day in the summer……

Ranchers aren’t the only one to notice this shortfall I assure you. ANY solar array installed on homes, businesses, and utility based are having performance issues lately due to the western forest fires. This is perhaps biggest problem with solar is that the sun doesn’t always shine and it’s really expensive to store the power (plus inefficient).

Apparently Tesla has recently sold some BIG batteries to England that some hoopla was made that power can be stored then used in peak demand times. I don’t know the specifics but that had to be expensive and will need to be replaced in 10 – 20 years. I read where some body in Tennessee has figured out how to crack ethanol from water using an exotic copper catalyst plus CO2 driven by electricity If that comes to fruition, electrolysis using spare electricity from renewables will change the game. Just burn the generated ethanol to run a generator then…. In the mean time, any scheme to substitute renewables will run into this problem with regional brown outs or rolling blackouts.

Having some background in this…. I have run 18- 200 watt solar panels net metered to the utility since 2005 . Individual solar set ups since 1995. ). I did all the engineering /wiring / installation of the systems. We even had 5 electrical engineers from the power company there for the initial connect. All watching the meter run backwards going ooo and ahhh. We were first to hook up feeding back to the utility in this region according to them in 2005. They were excited.

I was even a member of the Wyoming Wind Power working group upon it’s inception for about a year of monthly meetings in Casper. All of us were “pioneers” doing this. That group was more interested in the big projects unfortunately so I left. I was more interested in what ranchers could do…. Wind, just another renewable that doesn’t work all the time. Interesting hobby if you have the spare money to put into a project that will never pay for itself. The solar well now…. that’s another story since running electricity to this particular spot would be several hundred thousands of dollars. It has paid for itself many times. Solar running a house…. not so much.

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

Title: Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

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Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana
Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana .

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon
Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

At first I had an imaginary shark hunting the water in the distant. The waves covering all but the dorsal fin. No wait… perhaps it’s a sail boat at a good breeze in high seas. The crest of the wave hiding the hull of the sailing ship. The illusion of waves swelling in the open ocean is unmistakable. I’m often taken by flights of fancy. The freedom to search for what could be is sometimes more compelling that for what is. On that segue…

I watched this moon descend into the cloud bank on the right 15 minutes earlier. Wrote it off for the session. I figured it would be obscured. From that point on, it was just until I looked back to the horizon. Looking the other way… Preoccupied I was working the sunrise on the dawn side of the sky. I was aware (back of my mind) when the moon was setting. Having done this a few times I finally did glance around at the other horizon JUST in case. I was surprised when I looked up to see this vision. The clouds had moved to the right leaving a window to the really low moon.

Now this was taken with a huge long lens. These totally screws with your perspective. Zooming up on the relatively small mountains, makes the moon looks big. That ridge is 40 miles distant. The place I set up for this backshow of the sunrise that morning was high enough to give me views both ways. Around 4000 feet which is high ridge country in this corner of Wyoming.

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

Title: Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

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Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape
Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Here the BigHorn Mountains are surrounded by an odd color to cover a landscape. It was really that color lol. I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. I haven’t seen a weather window open to the BigHorns for over a month. Smoke, haze, soot and other forest fire products were blocking the view. The sun was hiding far to the right off frame. This was a night when the side shows were WAY more photogenic that the glare of the sun. The odd lighting resultant from the filtering of the light by the smoke.

The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange (ish) colorcast. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape. As the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds, the scene disappeared. Too dark to capture.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The distant range is always playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have very few Long Distance captures from this month on the ranch. Those few will slowly work their way into my work flow here. The black ridge at the in front of the BigHorns is 40 miles out from this high resolution camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset
Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset

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

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

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

Title: Front Row Seat Sunset

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Rotation in the Storm

Rotation in the Storm
Rotation in the Storm

Rotation in the Storm

I photograph most storms that pass around and over our ranch. I almost never pursue them more than say 10 miles off home base. That still adds up to a lot of storms each year.

I’ve never been around a tornado on the ground before with a camera. I still haven’t lol. This was indeed rotating but disappeared before it got any lower. Rotation under a big Mesocyclone is not that unusual. I normally don’t see it so well formed. I’ve seen several in the air like this. Mid-July Weather that I’m just now getting to the images to finish. I have job security with 1000’s of images to work on with more coming in almost every day. (Shaking head side to side).

What I didn’t notice in the camera the woman’s face imagined on the tornadic cloud. It totally escaped my attention until I got the image onto my big screen at my workstation. POP… Pareidolia is a tendency that some possess to imagine anthropomorphic shapes in clouds or other random visual data. This obviously low light image is properly exposed for the conditions at the time. More light would have been helpful lol. Going to full screen with the image will help with seeing to what I refer. Kinda Scary when the clouds threaten and a face is attached to the threat looking back at the photographer…..

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

Title: Rotation in the Storm

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Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise
Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

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

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

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

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

Title: Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

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After the Hail Storm

After the Hail Storm
After the Hail Storm

After the Hail Storm

I started working this storm because I couldn’t get out of it’s way. There were a few rain/hail shafts pursuing me across the flats so I went up on the ridges to get a better look at the storm. It’s not often I get to see running water in these ephemeral washes. (Good word to google). This storm just Dumped Water with marble sized hail for some time. I’m estimating 2 inches of precip fell with right at an inch of ice in places. Here it had melted somewhat since it was 60 degrees out up at the local top of the world for this shot.

The water that was accumulating down river would have been significant from this storm. I didn’t go down to the flats where dozens of these little washes conjoin into a much bigger force to be dealt with down river.

The Storm was breaking as sunset approached. Passing to our east leaving me with a window to the sky. A crepuscular display ensued for our enjoyment.

The chill in the air that night was only matched in it’s uniqueness only by the mist rising then flowing down valley. Neither something I’m used to this drought year. A river of dense fog rolling down the valley. That vision has already published on the internet a week ago. The saturated air hitting all the hail ice covering the ground made a wonderful fog generator. Both evaporation and sublimation (another google word) was occurring along with the flooding locally.

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

Title: After the Hail Storm

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Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks
Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks

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

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

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

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

Title: Path Through the Rocks

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Storm over Volcanic Necks

Storm over Volcanic Necks
Storm over Volcanic Necks

Storm over Volcanic Necks

This is a dark image. Only because it was taken in a very subdued light environment lol. Only Devils Tower on the Horizon is illuminated. That through a window in the clouds. The Storms behind me were blocking the sun effectively. This storm towering above the Ancient Volcanos in the distance have dominated the environment for hours. Finally the Moon was looking over the shoulder of the storm back at me of course. It occasionally shows up for a cameo appearance in my photographic timeline. I’m happy to oblige it as it keeps it’s schedule and I admire clock work. Responsible Celestial Objects are worth having around your neighborhood.

The ground was light grey from a coating of marble sized hail. That was creating a foggy layer near the ground. Typically when you see the grey like that off in the distance, it is an artifact from the digital darkroom. This is real hail fog plus some of the white hail showing through in the distance.

Remember the Devils Tower is 1000 feet high above the surrounding plain. The perspective makes this Cloud look VERY large but I’m thinking it’s only about 1/2 way there. Lens perspective is a property I’m constantly using and studying. Close / Far are my stock and trade for perspectives. Having said that. I’m always interested when nature works it out for me lol.

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

Title: Storm over Volcanic Necks

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Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck
Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

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Moon Above Mesocyclone

Moon Above Mesocyclone
Moon Above Mesocyclone

Moon Above Mesocyclone

The First Quarter Moon has risen 1/2 an hour too early to be in the optimal position for me here. It’s still mostly a rule of thirds composition lol. This was taken in mid Civil Twilight. Roughly 15 minutes after scheduled sunset. There were additionally a host of storms behind me to my west. I was in a dark environment looking at a 30K foot high+ projector screen. That reflecting the “Belt of Venus” color gradient back to my photon capture boxes.

The Mammatus usually means a collapsing storm but they can be affiliated with serious weather. Being under this monster would have been less than desirable unless you get lucky to get just rain. It does happen. I might be hyper-sensitive to hail after watching chickens egg sized hard ice fall with all other sizes below for 1/2 an hour this July. These guys ruin insurance agents profit/loss ratios in the summer. They can certainly cause massive damage in their wake. That storm has as much energy as a small atomic weapon wound up in it’s rotation. There is a LOT of mass there too remember. I wonder how many gallons of water is suspended up there … humm.

A generic thunderstorm cloud contains enough water drops to fill up a 275 million gallon container. That’s around 2.3 billion pounds of water. Alternately = 1.1 million tons of water. Assuming a thunderstorm produced one inch of rain over one square mile. This would be 17.4 million gallons of water . Weighing 143 million pounds. Amounting to around 72,000 tons). Heavier than air all of it. Lots of energy to keep it all suspended up there eh?

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

Title: Moon Above Mesocyclone

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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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Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone
Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

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

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

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

Title: Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

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Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset
Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset

I have accumulated a series of right turn signs photobombing objects near, far behind or on them I’m trying to take a photo of. The series name came from the Orangutan star in the early 1980’s Clint Eastwood Movie “Any Which Way You Can”. Having lived in Jackson Hole for the Decade of the 90’s, it was a classic to watch locally and see the familiar sites. The Great ape when told to “Right Turn Clyde”, would throw his hand out to the right, usually into somebodies jaw. That person typically needed a good punch in the story.

Photographic Musings:

The lighting was silly hard to do this with. It took a tripod to get enough depth of focus to capture this. Telephoto of course from some distance back. It’s the only way to do this. The settings are highly variable depending on how much light you have. The more the better. There wasn’t much here to collect in my photon capture boxes.

As a photorealist, I reproduce images dark if it was dark out. That sun was as dim as a candle in the window across the street. IT was in the process of being snuffed out like that candle by the cloud bank behind the Pall of Smoke. Neutral grey light background and just a bit of light from my truck on the sign. Those surfaces are holographic at times. Messes with your camera big time lol.

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass
Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass

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

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

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

Title: Storm Over The Pass

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Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset
Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

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

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

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

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

Title: Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

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Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective
Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective

My sense of Proportion mixing with the admiration of the cowboys that built all of the 30 miles of fence on and surrounding our ranch. Pastures being shaped by topography as often as by choice. I wonder how many fence builders / fixers that have passed this way before. Dozens of good (and bad) hands over the years I suspect. I’m just the latest to stretch, patch and otherwise tend to the pasture borders.

Rotating pastures is good husbandry of the land. One big pasture is inefficient as cattle center around the water. Ranchers have found over the years that open range just doesn’t work. Rotating keeps any particular area from being overgrazed (assuming you have any grass at all un-like this year). Fences make ranches work. They also make work for ranchers lol.

The smoke Pall covering the valley distant spans the 40 mile distance to the “Red Hills”. The last ghostly ridge is what you can see of that range.

The one good thing about a Smokey Atmosphere is the effect it has on the incoming light. Mostly it just absorbs all the shorter wavelengths such as Indigo, Blue and Green. That makes orange and red disproportionately abundant (otherwise known as “ColorCast”). When you have a LOT of Red, Orange and Yellow light, everything takes on a strange “Golden Color” thus the “Golden Hour”.

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

Title: Smokey Sunset Perspective

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Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming
Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming

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

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

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

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

Title: Hail Shaft Incoming

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Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

Pronghorn Herd on the Plains
Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Herd on the Plains

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Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

Mesocyclone Late Afternoon
Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

Mesocyclone Late Afternoon

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Mesocyclone Late Afternoon