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Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past

Winter sets in deep during mid-February. The cycle of the year repeats over the century this ground has been settled/worked.. This tractor first chugged along in 1939. The first year of the International M tractor. I need to change the tires on it but it runs if I add gas and give it a jump. It has a crank on the front but I’m not as strong as I used to be. (or foolish). I’ve driven this around pulling this and that on the ranch over the time I’ve had it. Lost a tire a year ago and have to just cough up the cash lol. A big ranch operation takes time and money spent fixing things. 😜

The long late day winter sun throws deep shadow casts on the ice crystal projector screen the surface provides. The contrasts present were blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not look directly at the sun with them. Mirrorless cameras have significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this.

Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Shadows of the Past

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Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains
Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains

The Journey we are on is varied in the paths we take. Many roads traveled and many not. Some choices were made to get where we are. Many were correct in the decision. Others might have been best remembered as a detour along the way.

As travelers, often we must choose between two bad choices others times the choice seems clear. I’m my journey, I have seen the best laid plans fail, and the least anticipated outcomes prevail against all logic. I’ve learned not to swim upstream. I try to float with the current that tows us all along with it’s inexorable pull.

Time and space occupy my thoughts some of the time. Oh not outer space but inner space. For I feel our understanding of what is “without” will be found from “within”. Much of what I observe externally conforms to my beliefs on how the mechanics of the universe I learned from my teachers. Their thoughts gathered from their professors and handed down thusly. The understanding of generations of observers of the natural world painstakingly and sometimes erroneously recited. There is a loss of information in the game of telephone.

The one truism I have learned during my many steps. Things are the way they are, not the way you are told or what you think. I always re-evaluate and modify my path to conform to the values that I have accepted over those miles. Just like taking a path down an untraveled snowy two track off into the distance. One must choose ones’ path carefully.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming

Title: Road to the Misty Mountains

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Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape
Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.

Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms

Photographic Musings.

This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.

The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)

Title: Moon Light Only Landscape

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Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree
Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree (moon Monday all day)

Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.

Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔

Back to my normal programming:

Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Nesting in a Tree

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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.

From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:

Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.

I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.

I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post
Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post

Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. At that early time I suspect they didn’t really know about humans. Known to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.

For birds, they are as smart as birds come and I suspect more than one has become a pet. As corvids (the same family as crows), they have runny droppings plus they are big bird. You might say they leave a big footprint… So with that pleasant thought in mind…. They eat about anything from carrion to simple grains, grasshoppers and dung beetles. I’ve photographed these guys on top of deer actively picking ticks off of the deer. The ungulates tolerate them as they get those irritating ticks off of places they can’t reach. I watched and photographed 2 magpies setting up a deer cleaning station one foggy misty morning up in the highlands. Those photos and discussion are elsewhere in my developing manuscript.

Musings on my musings:

If you follow me closely, you may notice I’m writing quite a bit on each narrative consistently over 250 words and more.. With some simple editing out of the redundant from post to post, I’m building a book right here in front of you. Enjoy the process. I’m writing about 1800 words every day average at the moment into these narratives. I now have over 1000 pages with images and associated narratives. . I’m not in a hurry but I am doing 5 images every day with narratives. Coffee table book or 2 some day………

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

Title: Magpie on a Post

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Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull
Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Boy was this young bull a trouble maker. Corriente’s really don’t care too much about fences. He at 1 year of age got a whiff of some angus heifers and managed to spend the night before we got him out of that mess. Waaa Hooo… Barbed wire is no match for these guys motivated. His name is “Salt”. He mother is a short hair version of him colorwise. This is the only long haired Corriente we’ve ever bred.

Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. This young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill of roping from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. It’s easier to get the rope around the horns. But the horns are big enough to have the rope cinch there. Versus angus purebreds, cattle of this breed are ALL athletes. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos/ ranch work. Practical skills used in cattle ranching and the sport of such. Practice makes perfect.

He spent his summer running from horses. Then being roped is usually the end result. . Lopped off were the two items causing his bull issues. So he’s not quite as much of a problem lol. He will be a sporting cow for a year until he get too big or his horns get too long. He’s getting a bit big already.

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

Title: Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

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Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset
Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset

2×3 portrait orientation

Veiled sunsets as this are best viewed from high on the ridges here in the Wyoming / Montana borderlands. I travel deep into the high ridges to find views like this. A visual alley appears in front of me, I crunch to a stop and line up the composition. I find it’s easier for these scenes to find me than me to find them. Give the ridge a walk and see what pops up is one method I have used with some success. Of course getting up there is another discussion all together lol. It’s been muddy lately so I haven’t gone up the hill until tonight. It’s frozen up there now. There is no reason to tear up the turf that took hundreds of years to stabilize. It’s one thing to drive over grass when dry, it’s another thing leaving ruts in the ground. Ranchers are the best caretakers because we don’t want to hurt the productivity of the ground. I seldom drive off the two tracks and usually dismount to walk the scene.

Of course my photo timeline is governed by where I am and what the sky is doing so I’m pretty versatile. My rig will drive across most things but snow drifts will stop me. So far this year drifts have been far and in between with the deep snow being on slope sides. Stands of Yucca brush will trap deep snow and stick the unwary backcountry traveler. I drive a very agile new Ford F150 Raptor. Built/configured just for this. It’s a wonderful upgrade to my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I carry a radio anyway 🤔📷

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

Title: Notch in the Trees Sunset

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Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill
Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill (Headline of the news story).

A tad bit of Satire if you don’t mind …. (It’s an old narrative if your new to my world 🙂 )

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite: 😜🤘

Crushing Perspective with Telephoto lenses is a very good pastime. I find that certain objects lend themselves to Close/Far work which of course is quite challenging to line up just so…… “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill here lends himself more than not to photography. He sites pretty well, much better than most kids anyway. The durn sun is always moving. It worked it’s way from the “trap” by slipping out the back door…….😜

Sneaky has his job on the ranch pumping air into a barnyard pond to keep it freezing in the winter and destratified plus the O2 thing. He is an aquarium pump lolol. Just a really small duck pond. He’s close enough to my house to be the first thing I run by on my way out to backcountry photo locations I visit.

So Sneaky is a notorious photobomber of some ill repute. He is always popping into my landscapes as I obviously have no control over his actions. Only Timber slows him down as he gets tangled… He only lets me live here as he’ll be here long after I’m gone. Sneaky is quite a character, I’ve seen him hang around those innocent Mule Deer and Pronghorn. He lives of course near a running water hydrant so the local wildlife is usually negotiating deals between the various characters that live around here through him. His deal is all about publicity.📸📸

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

Title: Sun Trapped by Windmill

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Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill
Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

There is more science going on here than you might suspect. First of all it’s about 8 minutes after sunset here. I can tell from the blue area under the pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow. The moon sits in the blue. That color is the SHADOW of the horizon. The long traveled red/pink light above the moon is the reflected light from the sun that made it back to my photon capture boxes (camera). The horizons shadow on the atmospheric Ice floating acts like a projection screen for the only color to make it that far. Ligh raveled hundreds of miles through air/dust/moisture/inversion layers bending and filtering out shorter wavelengths by those obstructions.

Photographic Musings:

Long telephoto captures CRUSH perspective. Low light after sunset starting civil twilight is one of my favorite times to practice my long range skills. This was done with a fixed 400mm lens which in an ideal world, should be a standard lens in your “kit”. Most use a 100-400 zoom. Most of those are not particularly fast lenses but they work just fine under all but these conditions lol. Bigger diameter lenses gather more light than smaller diameter lenses.

Normally I would blur the windmill as 99 percent of the time it is moving. Not that it’s windy up here or anything….. IT was indeed dead calm at this moment. Problem though, even if it was moving, a blurred windmill takes a long exposure, the bright full moon takes a shorter exposure. Your only choice is to expose the highlights properly. You can’t cheat on this on in the camera though I could have done it in the digital darkroom (photoshop) easily.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Moon Ascending to the Zenith
Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from those tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage about.

Photographic Musings.

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a cooperative moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher as I work this at f64). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 1 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera..

This was handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Moon Ascending to the Zenith

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Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands
Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands

The January Wolf Moon

Diving into the morning low sky mist, the incoming light from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth) has lessened from it’s peak. .. IT had just snowed the night before. Moisture was thick in the air.

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Tree and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. 

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that anyone photographer could need. 

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

Title: Moonset over Winter Highlands

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Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise
Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Everything was covered by ice. During this winter cold morning with little or no cloud cover, the glare was excessive. The Shadows are Long with a slight down hill angle to the hill. This makes the shadows a bit shorter. However this is a VERY high contrast environment of white and black is way outside the normal photographic envelope.. Human eyes just can’t look into a scene as this without blinding ourselves. The Mirrorless Cameras I use that feed to a video screen. It actually lets me see this image BEFORE I click the camera. I can adjust the settings live real time on the screen. Love those Snow Diamonds…

Photographic Musings:

There would be a star around the sun if it weren’t filtered by the branches. I way prefer cellulose filters to glass ones in front of my lens. Turning up your f-stop which is necessary in this high light environmnet has an added benefit. in this case by reducing the amount of light coming into your camera. It also gives you a very thick depth of focus.

In this high light environment, your also going to have adjust shutter speed really fast. Set your ISO really low (camera sensitivity) or both to compensate for the high light. Basically you have to shut down your camera to light. Many cameras will take a neutral density filter to accomplish this. . Your always balancing 3 different settings in Manual Mode on your camera. I use NO/zip/zero automatic settings anywhere. Not in my cameras or lenses. No auto focus, no stabilization etc. Manual photography strictly on a very modern platform. I get a pretty good battery life that way😄. Manual Mode is best.

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

Title: Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

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Exposed Volcanic Necks

Exposed Volcanic Necks
Exposed Volcanic Necks

Exposed Volcanic Necks

This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow.

Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…

Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol.

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

Title: Exposed Volcanic Necks

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Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise
Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise


Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

Textures in Twilight and sidelight. Using the headlights / LED lightbar of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV from the side on the fence. The textures and shadow details would have remained muted without the extra light. A nice coating of first hoar frost then everything got coated in snow from a blow. Click!

This posted in late-January, we have had a marked lack of snow since about early November. Right now it’s ice season. I was in Gillette last night walking across a parking lot and I’d say it was actually an ice rink. Everything was wet during the day and within minutes of sunset, it turned to ice. I don’t get into town very much thankfully. We actually don’t have that problem living with gravel. The closest asphalt is 15 miles from this location. 

This location is about 2 miles from the nearest gravel road. Only two track trails covered in bumpy ice are access routes to the backcountry. There is usually no easy way up on the ridges this time of year typically. Right now if it’s not muddy, I can zip right up to the high country. Usually I’m plowing paths just to get on top. If I don’t mind the bumps, I’m good to go 🙂 If this mid-winter drought keeps up, we will be short going into the year as we get MOST of our moisture from the winter snows. Those snows are what fills up the lakes and ponds on the ranch. 

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

Title: Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

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Perspective In the Shadow

Perspective In the Shadow
Perspective In the Shadow

Perspective In the Shadow

The winter wears on up in the highlands of the Wyotana borderlands. This year has been a low snow year so far. It has also been winter since Oct 1st. Most of the snow is now either granular or ice at this point. We’ve had sort of a January Thaw around mid month. That period of warm weather took a foot of snow turning it into 3 inches of dense hard bumpy ice. It’s durn uncomfortable to drive in the backcountry at the moment. During the day I have mud problems out there as well. Vehicles leave marks in mud so I tend not to go out.

Bright scenes and over exposure….:

High Contrast snow/shadow divergent light is an interesting perspective to work. It’s really hard to get the bark detail in the silhouette with most cameras. I find these Sony Alphas are low light monsters with a very high dynamic range. The ability to bring out shadow detail is a big deal in my world. I always expose the highlights correctly as my third rule of photography. If you overexpose the highlights, you loose detail and get a washout. No details exist in washouts. However there is usually a boat load of photo hidden within the shadows of virtually every photo we take. Almost every photo I take you would consider underexposed and dark in the camera. It’s hard for me to preview them raw sometimes as a result. I have to work on them a little bit to see what I actually got. There are advantages to having a quality editing program.

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

Title: Perspective In the Shadow

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Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset
Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Really wide lenses give a feel to an image that is hard to describe. All encompassing I’m thinking on several levels really. I’m always looking for visual tunnels particularly on clear Alpenglow only winter skies. Close / Far perspectives magically appear as I walk from place to place. This old growth stand of trees survived the summer/fall long fire back in the 1930’s around here that cleared so much timber out. It burned from summer till the first snows I understand. Islands of trees surrounded by a sea of grass is the rule up in the borderlands north of Gillette. We still find snags left over from that fire not decayed into dust yet from a 90 year old fire.

We were wet all summer but currently (as I type this (in Mid-January). IT’s been dry since about mid November. There wasn’t much snow in December and January has been dry. It has not been particularly cold yet either. Kind of a mild winter in my opinion. We need a bit (key word bit) more snow. Say about 4 inches a week lololol.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder lol. I might go find this very spot again under different conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

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

Title: Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

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King Corso Mastiff Drool

King Corso Mastiff Drool
King Corso Mastiff Drool

King Corso Mastiff Drool

This is likely as close as you’ll ever get to my King Corso Mastiff. He is one of three that live here in the ranch’s headquarters fenced in compound. The other two Mastiff’s are the Pressa Canario breed. I hate to tell you how much food 500 pounds of dog collectively can eat in a day. They all get about a pound of meat a day with kibble as a backup. They have wonderful coats and no skin conditions at this point. I’ve had this little guy for 4 years now.

Mastiff’s tend to be family dogs and not real tolerant of others. This 220 pound boy is no exception. He is a WONDERFUL dog to us and few others have been “granted entrance” into his circle. He is very picky as to who he will accept and who he won’t. I would have a heck of a time with him if I didn’t live in this isolated place. He is not tolerant of others he doesn’t know.

Mastiff Drool:

Drooling, slobbering slabber, frothing, driveling, flobidising — salivating by any other name would feel just as sticky. Dogs with huge heads sporting big lips can’t help it; they’re built to drool. Mastiff owners are easy to identify as they usually have a couple of paper towels crumpled in their pocket. Strategically located piles of towels around the house become a necessity. We ONLY feed dogs meat or treats OUTSIDE (everyday by hand). NO people food and no feeding inside. Feeding Mastiffs any kind of people food will make the animals drool when you eat. Another indication of feeding a Mastiff people food are the little dried out strings of drool on the ceiling..😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: King Corso Mastiff Drool

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Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient
Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

Snaggy Silhouettes are fodder for my photon capture boxes. (cameras). I always like snag silhouettes but when a sky is fully involved showing off to me, it’s enough to get my attention. (I’m spoiled) This is not an easy tree to be at right at sunset as it takes a little travel to get there in the backcountry. All two track trails suitable to 4 wheel drive only most of the time. To find standing snags on ridges isn’t as common as you think. Lots of snags standing in sheltered from the wind areas. This is fully exposed and will be laying down pointing to the south (ish) sooner or later. The prevailing winds from the north west will eventually win the battle with this old soldier.

Such organic forms are rife with smooth curves, contrasts against colors of a veiled Wyoming Sunset. The sun JUST peeking around the trees / snags base. Raw organic. Rainbow gradients are always to a one beautiful. I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. 📸 Always expose the highlights correctly. Worry about the shadows later. 📸

We call fallen trees “Snags” because as you walk, they will Snag your leg and trip you. Pines die here mostly due to lightning strike or wind damage. Igniting from a lightning strike, they may burn for days if not extinguished (usually by the rancher). I have maintained a 5 ton truck just to fight fires up here for 12 years now. If you get too many snags in your “woods”, your going to have a hot fire. In their defense, they provide homes for wildlife. I call them wildlife trees myself. Woodpecker holes abound in them.

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

Title: Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

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Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds
Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds (A MUST for Full Screen)

Ducks were EVERYWHERE taking off that morning for parts unknown but likely south of here. The Cattle Hang here because the rancher feeds them nearby AND there is liquid water. The fog while freezing is still warmer than the air surrounding this microclimate.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area.

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

Title: Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

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Big Horns Big Antlers

Big Horns Big Antlers
Big Horns Big Antlers

Big Horns Big Antlers

The Big Horn Mountain Chain is one of the largest ranges in Wyoming. Two peaks exceed 13,000 feet in elevation. The far ridge under the twilight sky is a ways out at 130 miles from camera.

Photographic Musings:

Nice buck… it was very low light. To freeze him in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second. It was very dark, you either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop and thusly the mountains in the distance are slightly out of focus. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

Geologic Musings.

I live and work higher in elevation that most of the ground between here and there. Obviously that is line of sight. That ground in between is called the “Powder River Basin”. Coal from here generates 30 percent of the electricity we use in the country. Wyoming is a HUGE clean coal producing state.

The coal formed there because the WAVE that the mountains and the adjacent basin make. (The earths crust was crushed east/west to make a wave). Erosion wore the much bigger mountains down to where they are today, filling up that basin with alluvial fan carried sediments. Traveling all the way to the edge of my ranch, those alluvial fans covered/filled up that sedimentary basin (think bathtub at the base of the mountains). Lots of swampy conditions in the topographic low area/basin occurred back in the Paleogene to allow coal formation. All the surface geology between my ranch and the mountains is all about things washing off the Big Horn Mountains.

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

Title: Big Horns Big Antlers

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Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset
Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group. They need the muscle for all the tussle.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

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Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond
Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond (Magic on the border)

The Belt of Venus variety of Alpenglow enhancing a rising full moon with it’s man (in the) looking back. This was just after the sun set over my right shoulder. It was an orange sky the other direction. Long wavelength red light makes it through the atmosphere to light up on the projector screen that this summer ice filled sky provided. Summer Belt of Venus is way more uncommon than in the winter.

Rising moons will alway have that face upright looking at you. The setting moon that face is on it’s right side. The moon appears to twist as it rotates but that’s an illusion. It’s actually you that twist as the earth rotates and look at the two different horizons for moon set and rise. It sort of depends on how far north or south of the ecliptic (good google word) the moon is.

Getting the Reflections of a Full Moon in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana is a matter of finding a lake lol. We are mostly a dry land ranch. A few small ponds near our well driven hydrants are sparse on the ranch. This one is no exception being hydrant driven. A ranch pumps a lot of water. Fortunately a wet year to kept this lake full all year. This was mid summer with heavy due on the grass and twilight skies miles into the backcountry. It was a wonderful drive to go there that morning.

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

Title: Reflection over Farm Pond

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Yucca Morning Sky Show

Yucca Morning Sky Show
Yucca Morning Sky Show

Yucca Morning Sky Show

I’m all about highlights. These dark brown/red seeded plants past the yucca were a projection screen for the sunlight just creeping over the hill top. Working backcountry ridge tops for perspective gives you interesting diversions from the normal. I put myself into the mind of a mouse and use the light from their hiding places in my photon capture boxes (cameras). I usually leave a few foreground objects out of focus to get the feeling of closeness. (It was)..

Using a Yucca sun filter, a Spike blocking the sphere of the sun proper from our view. This is yet another in a long line of “Close / Far” perspectives I have finished in the last couple of years.

Buying lenses Musings:

Close far perspectives require interestingly, a close focus capability along with higher fstop capability if possible. Most folks when buying lenses look at the focal length as everyone wants a long lens. God knows bigger is better right? 🤔😜. You actually CAN do this from a 400mm telephoto if you set it up right. The closest my 100-400mm Sony/zeiss telephoto will focus is 15 feet. So much for things in the way lolol. The 10mm Voightlander lens on a Sony Alpha 7R2 back I used here will focus down to 10 inches and do so under high fstop for a very deep focal field indeed.📷📷📸

The particular lenses I use isn’t important and isn’t my point. When your buying a low fstop lens is nice but I like lenses with HIGH fstop potential for close/far since higher fstops give you a thicker field of focus. Close to infinity is the game here. Evaluate perspective lense about how close they can focus. “Macro” lenses focus very close. But they MIGHT not focus close AND far at the same time. High stops with close focus is a very good thing in a lens used for this kind of image. Hope this helps if your buying gear.

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

Title: Yucca Morning Sky Show

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White Windmill Winter Wonderland

White Windmill Winter Wonderland
White Windmill Winter Wonderland

White Windmill Winter Wonderland

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘 I’m aware of your addiction so I am working diligently to support your habit. Please don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this….. 😜

Here “Sneaky Pete” took the full force of a sticky winter snow. He was operating blind with the cover of his sail covered. All the while spinning in the wind overnight.

Mustings on Mid-Winter:

As I type this there is a 5 degree windchill after the current coldest day of the year. It has NOT been a cold year so far here in “Little Siberia”. That “Moniker” was handed down to us. Thee previous owners of the ranch had generations of observations. . They were describing the tendency of this high ridgeline dry ranch. It always has more snow than the surrounding lower ground. Based on 20 years of observation living here, I would whole heartedly agree with their name and statement. It is colder and wetter up here than the surrounding ground in the winter. In the summer it’s a crap shoot as precipitation is usually from spotty mesocyclones moving over. Somebody gets the rain, others don’t. But in the winter, snow systems are usually pretty broadly spread around the region.

Winter ends in May up here. This year it pushed into late late may. Every season has been offset later this year by the current Solar Minimum.. We are just about dead center of the sunspot cycle low. Turn down the furnace and it get’s colder. Go figure 🤔📷

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

Title: White Windmill Winter Wonderland

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Perspective V Notch Landscape

Perspective V Notch Landscape
Perspective V Notch Landscape

Perspective V Notch Landscape (Winter Wednesday all day)

Perspectives from the viewpoint of a field mouse is what I was after here. I always look at a scene and zoom in to that mouse view in my mind. These little areas of zen seem to just appear in front of me. Wyotana backcountry is rife with old ground, ground not disturbed by humans. Lots of it by the hundreds of square miles. This is several miles off the nearest county road.

Wonderful backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷 I’m always looking for visual tunnels….

This shows the icy backcountry snow getting a crust on it with a few above freezing days. These followed by subzero nights. The crust actually makes it harder to get around because your wheels are always trying to climb on top of that crust. Your basically in 4 holes all the time coincident with your wheels. Plus the snow becomes like ball bearings…. It’s about time for a big snow though. January is a busy snow month historically. The biggest of course are in the spring when all the biggest snows are. Usually LATE spring around late April or early May have have memorable storms historically.

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

Title: Perspective V Notch Landscape

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Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail
Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail (Back to the Summer Farm in the Winter)

I’m easily distracted by a play of colors and shades in monocultural fields surrounded by less disturbed landscapes. The cultivated field in contrast to the sage and grass natural turf. This particular ground has had european man’s stock grazing it for over 120-130 years and probably longer. But before that this was all native prairie. Still some in the background.

Geologic Musings:

This particular alfalfa field is down low in the Little Powder River valley and tends to be flooded every now and then. It’s on a terrace not far from that small meandering river. The river rises (comes down in local vernacular), and the fields flood in the spring. Snow melt and big rains up stream are the biggest causes for floods in this country.

Meanders result from the river moving back and forth across the landscape over geologic time. A meandering river is one that is NOT cutting down into the sediment and the local geology. (River’s Base Level is a good google phrase). It only can expend it’s energy on the sides/banks as it moves across the valley back and forth. It takes a few years to work across a valley lol. There is SOME gradient to this river so the Little Powder seems to be to be slowly down cutting into the valley floor. Don’t expect the Grand Canyon to form in this Climate during our lifetime. One grain of sand bouncing down the bottom down hill at a time wears down mountains over long enough time. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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

Title: Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

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Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January
Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January

Here I’m using a windmill filter to moderate the bright light coming from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth). I lost about 30 percent of the light which is enough for my camera to pull the tower in the haze out of the dark. It would have been harder to do with the extra light had the windmill not been in the way. Those durn Photobombing Windmills always seem to work into my landscapes but this time, “Sneaky Pete” helped me some. I have no control over his actions…. 😜😜

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. All the while, at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol.

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

Title: Wolf Moon 2020 January

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Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set
Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020)

Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” primarily because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages.

A few definitions that apply to this moon….

A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol.

Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔

Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge

Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.

Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week after they are taken so this posts the 18th, taken the morning of the 10th. It’s as fast as I can get to new images posted these days as I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 6 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore but I am keeping up lolol. 📷📷🤘

Title: Icy Wolf Moon Set