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Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase
Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 30 feet maybe. It took a while and I’m really surprised it didn’t fly away. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to the animal to stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals in. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there. I take photos at each stop. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 22 feet deep and the background is totally bokeh’d out . Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium lol.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those orange nares are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour
Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

I can count the number of Blue Sky Background images I produce a month on both hands. I have been finishing 150 -180 images a month for the last 7 months. I’ve got 1300 pages finished on my future book (s) project. My tendency is to have a definite preference away from the longer colors of the spectrum. Robin’s Egg Skies are ubiquitous up here at certain times of the year. This visual tunnel with the anastomosing feminine form of the snag caught my attention driving along that late evening. The shadows were very long in the late golden hour low angle light. The Fallen snag in the foreground frames the bottom, the surrounding pine boughs frame the sides.

Telescopic perspectives are always worthy of the attempt. This is a 600 mm 28 inch long lens with me standing down this hill hundreds of yards. These long shots are deceptive in how they treat relative distances. That plus the lighting on this scene drew me to stop my rig and set up to take this cornucopia of textures and contrasts.

Taken late fall 2019, it’s just making it’s way into my workflow. I have the job security of 3800 portfolio images left to finalize lolol. Finishing more than 5 a day is hard work. These days are warming so that might have to go to 4 a day over the summer. I get distracted by fossils and ranch chores during the warmer days. I’ve finished 1300 since Sept 21, 2019. It’s be easy if I also weren’t finishing new material as I take it lololol. 😜📸

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

Title: Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

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Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset
Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily’s are not uncommon in the backcountry. I think this is a correct ID with this flower but I’m a terrible Flower Identifier. This one was closed up for the end of the day as the setting sun through a slit in the sky. I find one can only photograph what is in front of him. I would take photos of plunging high water falls or some exotic Asian scene if I were younger and able to travel far. I’m fairly tied down here on ranch because I’m the repair man here.

When in the middle of nowhere, you have to find beauty in what is at hand using the resources available. We have a log of high ground with a lot of living things that cover that landscape. On this particular trip out into the backcountry I was hoping for a magnificent crown sky to fully involve the sky show in front of me but no. All I got was a thin slit in the clouds late. Mere minutes before the sun would slide below my line of sight to the horizon. My day working cameras into the light was about done. What to do, what to do???. My mind screams “Close / Far” perspective!!!.

What is available miles from the nearest building surrounded by prairie grass. I was moving but this last summer was wet. Most things that could bloom, did bloom. This was early in the summer around early May. Our last frost is mid may and it was cool that night. The LED lightbar on the front of my Polaris ATV provided the illumination for the Crocus. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

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

Title: Sego Lily Sunset

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Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging
Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging.
Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .
Magical things often appear in the wetlands in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.
I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Title : Golden Warbler Foraging.

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Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset
Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset

Married since they were seeds from the same pine cone (likely). These three have survived a hundred years of exposure to Wyotana weather and sun.

Musings: I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol.

Working in and among the trees lining remote ridge is the way to set up compositions like I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. There is SO much going on in any edge of a forest with a view of the horizon. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” of small creature, a mouse, a cat but what to level?….

The far horizon which indeed is fully involved with a setting sun. Perhaps the three’s travels through the endless sun rise and set cycles moving as in HG Well’s many movies of the “Time Machine”. What a life they have see but if they could tell the stories. I actually like the really wide angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon not level with the image’s floor.

Technically:

Getting detail out of the shadows in the foreground while looking at really bright backgrounds is a major goal of mine. Got this one 👀📸

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

Title: Tres Hombres Sunset

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Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset
Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.

The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.

Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.

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

Title: Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

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Landscape through the Trees

Landscape through the Trees
Landscape through the Trees

Landscape through the Trees

Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant into Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.

Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks with no dinosaur fossils. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch at one time. All gone now 🤔⚒

During some years past, those alluvial fans have been totally eroded from my place and have left to the Mississippi River Delta. Carried down the drainage one sand grain at a time. Some is still in transport I’m sure. The layovers along a sand grains journey to the sea can be long.

‘ Residual Petrified Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers previously above where I stand that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there on the surface…. isolated. I have never seen it “in situ” in Cretaceous sands so it came from above literally. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls straight down over geologic time as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana

This is a land of many uses with a long history to tell if you can read the book that is open in front of us.

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

TItle: Landscape through the Trees

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Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds
Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in the morning after sunrise last summer. A very deep focus close/far perspective of a long hill to a pass/crest in the distance. I was watching these wonderful clouds over the “hump” on the drive up. Stopped, set up, CLICK. A complex sky is a treasure but that morning was a treasure chest with all the rare contrasts the whole timeline. .

In the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Travel is much easier on the gravel roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress).

How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

RIght at the moment we are dealing with ice and mud alternately. Spring storms are incoming typically. Most of our precipitation comes in the spring.

2:1 Aspect Diptych 2-20inch square images. Eagle head in the clouds if you look up top right. FIsh in the cloud lower left lolol.

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

Title: Pass Up to the Clouds

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Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter
Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Pine trees, once they loose their bark to weathering and decay, show their grain. This snag might be 50 years dead stil standing by habit after it stood here for several hundred years living. This hillside that it is on protects it from as much cattle pressure (rubbing/scratching) as it would get on a valley floor. The spiral grain is the tree being twisted by the winds pushing unequally on the sunny side versus the less dense shady side of the tree. The winds will gradually turn the tree into a corkscrew. Inexorable force over a long time is the reason for the spiral growth. I point out that the ground UNDER the tree has worn away on this slope which is testimony to the rate of erosion of Cretaceous age sand off this 45 degree slope. .

Nature does many things we don’t think about unless we look below the trees skin (bark) to it’s structure. I know of quite a few of these trees. Usually they are broken up pretty badly. This one is “well preserved”. I’ve tried this angle a few time. It’s pretty difficult to get the close far perspective to work on this hill slope.. I still needed a sense of the 40 foot long snag. I did have to wait until the sun went behind that little cloud to take the edge off the lighting. This was still pretty early a few minutes after sunrise. Blocked mostly from the sun I usually work with doing perspectives. This cloud comes along and makes it all possible 😜📷

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

Title: Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

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Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset
Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

This is actually a morning back show looking at clouds sitting over the Big Horn Mountains 70 miles behind the dark ridge (the Red Hills) which are 40 miles distant. The cloud resembles a mesocyclone incoming and it was a weather system rapidly moving in on us. The moon was soon to dive behind the approaching spring storm. A mix of rain/snow and sleet proceeded to move in shortly afterwards that morning.

The moon here is a Waning Gibbous JUST past the full March Supermoon known as the Worm Moon. March is the month birds start digging worms out of the ground thus the moniker.

The two antelope had just run across the road in front of my truck, the male with them was still on the other side of the road. Separated from their leader, they stopped and waited for him Click . As I moved he broke stance and ran right in front of my truck as a sign of disregard to my presence. I have found that as a matter of principle, if Pronghorn CAN run across your path, they WILL run across your path.

I’ve only hit ONE pronghorn in 20 years of driving these backroads of Wyoming. I would indicate that as a family we have hit 13 deer and 2 antelope in the same time. I have personally hit 4 of those deer. Total Damage in all those collision to my vehicle… A broken license plate bolt and a lot of car washes. I spend a LOT of money on really good vehicle bumpers. Saves my insurance company a bit as I have never had a claim on a vehicle. Does it lower my insurance???? Maybe….

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

Title: Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

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Veiled Moon Lone Tree

Veiled Moon Lone Tree
Veiled Moon Lone Tree

Veiled Moon Lone Tree

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 that Lone 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 brush around on uneven ground. I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The moon is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings: The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the moon blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture unfortunately. Working on those 😜👀📸📸

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

Title: Veiled Moon Lone Tree

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Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise
Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Toward obtaining an image at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.

This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/8 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit. The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly pink color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the sky opposite the sunrise. The “Belt of Venus” which is a very pink Alpenglow phenomena reflecting said pink light back. Pine Needles coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This pink color cast is not that common on local vegetation and is usually only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.

Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

2×3 aspect to 3 feet

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

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Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon
Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

This joker was hanging out along the road where I was driving just as the nearly full moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon.

Photomusings:

As the western horizon moves upwards, the full moon set in due time. Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image I assure you.

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

Title: Shaggy Quarter Horse Moon

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Corral with a View

Corral with a View
Corral with a View

Corral with a View (Moon Setting from my side yard. )

Back in the cold January of 2020, we had a little more snow on the ground that we do now in Mid-March 2020 as this posts. This is a corner of our corral system from just inside the fence of our front yard. Looking west this small part of the corral system. This enclosure was being used to keep some 1200 pound hay bales. Safety from the small herd of Corriente’ Longhorns we keep about. Corriente’ cattle are seriously able to take care of themselves in the winter. Like Bison they paw at the snow to expose the grass under the blanket. Angus and most purebred domestic breeds lack enough instinct to perform this task.

The mountains in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. The Little Powder River Basin between myself and the Red Hills. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming ridge.

This Waning Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. This was a full moon a few short days ago. I chase the moon from time to time. Here such that it is in the same image as the Pink Blush from the “Belt of Venus”. A variety of Alpenglow . Sunrise over my shoulder with a pink back show. If your going to be “Stuck” in a corral as stock, it might as well have a great view. 😜📸

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

Title: Corral with a View

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Lone Tree Full Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon
Lone Tree Full Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon

When I get a Full moon setting close to the horizon and JUST enough light, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon).

The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The moon is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings: There were heavily banded clouds with the moon mostly filtered out behind the veil through the twilight.. In an out of view over it’s last hour in the sky this morning which I observed. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges.

I work the “Shadow” line on the opposite ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A partially veiled moon behind this tree is a common occurrence. This is low low light to catch that tree pre-sunrise in mid-civil twilight.

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

Title: Lone Tree Full Moon

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Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting
Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

I have very carefully keyed/ID’d this bird out with Audubon’s guide. It is a straight necked (characteristic of the species) Whistling Swan. They are seldom seen mid-continent away from the great lakes. They breed in the Arctic then winter all along the east coast, but not in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. I have never ever seen a swan in the deep backcountry. A random encounter of a rare species in these “here parts”. I could have said to it, “You ain’t from around here are ya?”.

This was last summer early to mid warm season. It was a wet summer too so the lakes were full. . I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sneak up on a wild swan on a small lake but trust me on this. It’s not easy even with a long lens. This was a long lens by the way coming in at 2400mm. This guy had something white on his beak. This is not your basic tame swan on a city lake lol.

Now I also have this guy on game trail camera captures over the next few weeks. He/She was probably nesting in some of the remote lakes up here in the borderlands. Most of this country doesn’t get much human activity. Human activity would certainly spook this wild bird. They tend to scoot off if your spotted. Getting this surprised me. I guess a little stealth paid off here. If it was nesting as I suggest, it was a few thousand miles south of it’s ancestral breeding grounds. It is a rare sighting according to the books..

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

Title: Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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Pronghorn Under the Sun

Pronghorn Under the Sun
Pronghorn Under the Sun

Pronghorn Under the Sun

Musings on lining up Pronghorn with ANYTHING:

It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations

in the last 500,000 years) the series of advancing glaciers stopped their advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.

About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (The first 60 degree day this year as I type this narrative).

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

Title: Pronghorn Under the Sun

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Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss
Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss (This is an ART/PHOTO Hybrid)

Do you see things in Clouds? 👀📸 What do you imagine here?

Now that I mentioned this is art, I would point out that only 1/4 of it actually is art, the rest of it is a 100 percent real image. All work and no play make photorealistic Frank a Dull Boy. I like to follow up on the potential for this kind of work on a particular image if I get the time/chance. I usually have to make the time in the middle of an otherwise photorealism filled day. In the world of the digital darkroom, I get to play a bit. This is a slightly modified Wyotana borderland sunset from last week. One week is my turn around time now from taking an image to possibly posting it.

To create this, I took the original image which just didn’t have the left side eye. The nose is a real lens flare which I carefully lined up in the camera to the 12 o’clock position. The flare was in the original capture. So I mirrored the right eye and the clouds onto his left cheep from the original side. Then up high I mirrored the outline of the head right to left. So the left eye/cheek, part of the clouds up high. Nothing else was messed with other than color a bit. But this is art and all rules go out the window. As I was taking this, the possibilities were obvious to me in the composition stage of this capture. Long before the click.

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

Title: Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Title:Protective of the Sun

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Backcountry Wildlife Tree

Backcountry Wildlife Tree
Backcountry Wildlife Tree

Backcountry Wildlife Tree (Home Sweet Home)

IT’s obvious by the wear and tear on the wood under this hole that it has been landed on thousands of times. The relentless job of feeding young, the coming and going of small but strong claws grasping for purchase there. Someone took the time to hollow out this hole and I’m betting on Common Flickers being involved. That species is by far the most active Pecking bird that I see here in the borderlands.

Close/Far Perspectives are my stock and trade with cameras. I really enjoy working wide angle close focus lenses. Using natural lines drawing your eye to the vanishing point it a long used technique in both painting AND photography. I can think of no finer subject than a majestic tree that gave it’s life to become a home. I’m sure this abode will be here 20 years further on down the road as the tree itself is sound yet. Unprotected wood can survive perhaps 100 years in this dry climate. We have ranch / farm implements that old with wood parts remaining but that was hardwood. This tree is pine.

This tree has several other shelters contained within it’s natural architecture. Several other similar entrances grace it’s remaining substantial bulk as a 15 foot tall standing stump. It’s top laying off to the side bleaching in the summer sun, it’s branches slowly being rubbed off by cattle pushing against to scratch an itch. Wildlife trees are special places providing food and home to a host of backcountry creatures.

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

Title: Backcountry Wildlife Tree

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Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

Golden Triangle Frame Sunset
Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

Golden Triangle Frame Sunset (This shot from last year but the snow conditions are identical at the moment)

I love to use natural cellulose filters to reduce the glare from the overly bright disc of ol’ Sol. There are all sorts of photographic accessories you can screw onto the lens of a DSLR camera. Same with a Mirrorless Removable Lens Cameras. I find myself becoming more of a purist all the time and revert to natural filters leaving the glass ones at home. For years I’ve excluded them from my kit. I don’t like extra glass of any kind in front of my lenses.

This photo drives me crazy but it is too fun not to share. A primary motivator and one of my true talents is my OCD. It drives me to want to align very precisely terrestrial AND celestial objects for the camera. Being off “Just a Little Bit” turns on that switch. . OCD needs no reason, OCD is a reason unto itself of course… 😜 This is a natural align so I would have loved for the sun to have been just a touch to the right and the tree wasn’t just so. I saw the possibilities, held my breath, click. Actually I was machine gunning the shots as the grass was moving..

Thus the requirement for timing involved here as the tips of the grass were swinging to and fro in the light breeze. The wind is a constant companion on these exposed hill slopes far above the Little Powder River Drainage here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

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Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus
Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus

This is a deep photo lol. The Depth of Field (DOF) is very thick. Getting all this in focus is a technical thing that can be done in Manual mode as long as your camera is capable of the dynamic range required to get all this detail. These Sony Alpha 7R series have silly good ability in low light as you might have noticed following my work.

I always rant and rave against deeply blue snow which is (in my opinion) a very very very rare natural color only in EARLY civil Twilight.. Pink however does reflect off ice like a movie projector screen even after sunrise.. Pink is common relatively IF you have a set of mountains named (for real) the “Red Hills”. I wonder why they are called the “Red Hills”. 🤔

I see pink Belt of Venus” (BOV) Alpenglow light hitting the ground “Fairly” regularly in the winter. Normally at sunrise you just see the BOV as a pink band in the western sky just before sunrise. The shadow of the earth’s horizon being a shrinking with the rising sun, blue wedge under the pink band. With the sun arisen behind the camera above the horizon, that red light surviving traveling hundreds of miles through low angle atmosphere. It is the camera that is in shadow of the horizon. That shadow was moving at close to 1000 miles per hour toward me. (25,000 miles around the earth, 24 hours in a rotation = 1000 mph. Chasing the sunrise is a fools game unless your in a supersonic jet.

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

Title: Moon Set Belt of Venus

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Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart
Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Way Back Wednesday: Back in early June of 2019 (or fast forward 3 months) this scene appeared in front of me. I often walk around our ranches “compound” . We have an electric fence around it precluding deer from entering. So we actually have landscape plants and flowers that survive. You can’t believe the amount of work that fence took lolol. It was absolutely necessary however with the average lifespan of a freshly planted tree being measured in days before the fence. Deer cost me many thousands of dollars before I spent more on the fence to prevent the former. 😔. It was a good project to complete…

Setting the stage:

It had just rained, everything was green, a smell of ozone was in the air, almost a chlorine smell it was so clean. After the long “Slog” through mud season, the ground started to firm, the plants start to grow. The average last day of frost here is mid- may. A lot of the perennials here come up earlier than that last frost. It was very late last year with Lilac blooming into July 4th (noted specificially).

Here in early March 2020, a blizzard just came through. When this posts, we have just had a warm week with all the snow melting and starting that mud season. The cycle repeats….🤔😀

The Iris is Native to Croatia. The Bleeding Heart is a form of Poppy native to Asia. Both hanging out on the Montana/Wyoming border. What are the chances…..😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

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Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill
Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill

From the Summer of 2018 which had a variety of smoke effects that I observed. This Red, White and Blue themed July Sky was appropriate for Wayback Wednesday as well as Windmill Wednesday…. Oh wait:

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite : 🤘🤘🤘😜📷 Don’t let your mother know you look at “stuff” like this 👀👀

I’m trying hard to mix up what I’m posting daily OR going thematic like Moon Monday. As I am finishing my portfolio, working on images, I sometimes do a search of my files for a particular Subject) say “windmill”. I get several 1000 images across my entire computer but on my “to finish” drives, I have narrowed that field a bit. Only several hundred to go there lolol. Of course I have to deal with all the currently taken images daily too lol. I ultimately posses pretty a “set job” security just finishing images I already have taken. Literally there are years of work just finishing images.

Getting a digital camera capture/file ready to print means it has to be “Clean” with no sensor dirt allowed so to speak. Ideally I don’t have any “artifacts or false gradients/colors/hues and or any other thing that detracts from photorealism of the scene. This image is so close to the right colors of Old Glory. . It killed me that the orange wasn’t crimson but hey, I try to leave colors as I saw them. Close enough for “government work lolol.

Taken mid-civil twilight.

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

Title: Twilight Patriotic Windmill

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Gate Framed Setting Moon

Gate Framed Setting Moon
Gate Framed Setting Moon

Gate Framed Setting Moon

Done in the camera (not a crop), I call this what I consider a “formally” framed image.👀 I took a great deal of precious time to precisely alight that gate with the edge of the frame. Hard to do with the angle I had to acquire to line up the banded cloud veiled moon. Camera lens distortion and other laws of physics applied. It was pretty dark too I point out as the sun hasn’t risen just yet that morning. Taken later in the fall after the first snow. All melted in this particular capture. It’s all covered by the white stuff at the time I post this in early March 2020.

There are only a few days a month when the full moon is still up while there is enough light to capture a landscape. A significant portion of those morning have obscured (as best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.

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

Title: Gate Framed Setting Moon

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Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

Devils Tower Landscape Ladder
Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

Devils Tower Landscape Ladder (7 months ago for Wayback Wednesday)

There are some contradictions in this image of the landscape leading up the the Devil’s Tower. Viewed from the northwest, this image has green fields with cut hay bales on top. This last fall of 2019 capture resulted from a very well rained on summer. Wet late in the high borderlands of MT/WY.. Captured in August, it ALL should be brown. The grass was a green as the spring in the sub-irrigated fields overlying the Fox Hill Sandstone aquifer . Usually the sub-surface geology controls the vegetation on the surface.

That 5112 foot tall Devil’s Tower National Monument is standing 1267 feet high above the surrounding ground. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty distant/ big. The Tower buried by thousands of feet of sediments, stands unsupported. Those rocks surrounding them and supporting the hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River plus the Belle Fourche River Drainage. Those two drainages providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

The Devils tower about 40 from my vantage point on the Pass to Rocky Point Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. I’m standing Campbell County Wyoming.
This is the view that tourists never see as they are all on the other side of those hills. You can see South Dakota from this site on a very clear day…completely across Crook County Wyoming. That is a BIG county 80 miles wide anyway.

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

Title: Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

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Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts
Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the mid-winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining at the time about 30 minutes after sunset. It was overcast. Quite dark thus the long time exposure. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm in the “open” is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… No definite formula here…. You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your settings will vary based on lighting.

The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol. Lightning Triggers are not necessary with a time exposure.

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

Title: Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

Twilight Tree Trunk Frame
Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

Twilight Tree Trunk Frame (Summer)

Wide angle perspectives (Close / Far) are fun to find. When I finally locate the visual tunnel of the sun through the parallel tree trunks, I’m looking to compose something very close and still focus on the very far. The edge of the trees are tough in this light. Acquiring this kind of image is an exercise in high f-stop numbers. Boy are those f-stops exhausted from the exercise 📷😜

Photographic Musings: More Manual Camera Strategy…

The only way to capture this is with a camera set to widen it’s depth of focus field. To be able to resolve the wonderful lichen on that boulder AND still have the clouds and the sunrise in the same field is the ballgame. Shadows are long the first 5 minutes of a sunrise so time is of the essence. I get out and walk along the spines of high ridges. I find /walking looking on the back side of a ridge from the sunset exposing these little areas of zen just as I walk along.

Here I spied a “visual tunnel” worth of my limited time. The number of textures and different objects in this image is just an example of the intensity of some of these scenes. Winter adds yet another dimension to this capture. I work this spot when ever I’m on that part of the ranch at sunrise (in this case). I call this ridge “Sunrise Ridge”.

F-stop is one of three things you adjust in Manual mode. You know, the M on the big dial dominating the top of that Removable Lens Camera. The one that you run on automatic mode most of the time if not all the time…. Turn it to M.

You need to adjust each in accordance to your priorities. In this case I needed a deep field of focus. Remember if you need to focus BOT the lichen up close AND the horizon at infinity, you need high fstop. Priority ONE.

Priority two is Speed of your shutter. Notihng in the frame. was moving very fast here. . Minimum handheld shutter speed with a wide angle lens is maybe 1/80th of a second. faster takes away light from your camera.

The last adjustment is ISO (Camera sensitivity). Left over to adjust for your first and second priority. Use it to add or subtract light/ overall exposure live in your view screen (on a mirrorless camera), or afterwards with a DSLR. Spin ISO around to finalize the exposure/balance the light equation. Each setting has it’s own spinny wheel on the camera. Learn what does what on your controls.

More later…

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

Title: Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

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Wildflowers Get Bugged Too

Wildflowers Get Bugged Too
Wildflowers Get Bugged Too

Wildflowers Get Bugged Too

It’s only 3 months till I can go to this spot again. Covered in wild Lupine, these remote hillsides are well worth my drive and time to visit every late spring. There is of course a mix of other wildflowers. Such places tend to be remote and further aways than closer as a rule. Early June is when this action “Springs” to life in it’s showy display to attract pollinators. It is mid-May in this country before the “last frost” threatens our plantings. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July last year.

The differences in relative scale of the tiny inhabitants of this image is just amazing to me. On the furthest right flower stalk, near the bottom, are two intrepid climbers. Relative to the plant they are scaling, have their work cut out for them. I’ve seen 6 foot tall humans climbing the Devil’ Tower National Monument 50 miles southeast of here. The relative size difference is essentially the same. We humans tend to live in a 1 level horizontal world. (split level houses aside) Gravity matters to us.

Just to remind you all, there are thousands of little areas of zen happening at all times all around us. We just have to tune in and “see” what is happening instead of being the generalists we are. Generalists look at a scene to get an overview. I’m trying really hard to train myself to see the world from the viewpoint of the smallest among us.

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

Title: Wildflowers Get Bugged Too

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Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset
Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Walking along the ridges, I experience many different weather scenarios. Liberally exposed to the 14 mph average windspeed up on the hill tops the vegetation that lives there is either very flexible or tough as wood. When the wind speeds approach 40 mph, grass will lean over pretty far. I’m not sure what the exact wind speed was but it was buffeting me fairly hard at this time. Wind in the summer is benign mostly with only dust and pollen being carried along. With a Heavy wind at this temp (about 10F) , you feel EVERY crack in your armor.

In the winter the “feeling” of the wind has a different feet entirely. I spend a great deal of time walking ridges looking for tiny areas worth of your/my attention. Toward my “cold armor” I have chosen particular clothes that protect me from the elements carefully chosen over the years. I have winter layers plum figured out having worked this extremely variable environment for decades. Sure I have snow mobile suits and Carharts. I Way prefer insulated Goretex™ pants over merino wool legs, with 4 layers up top. From Synthetic to wicker to Goretex™. If you get too hot, you just peel a layer. If you get too cold, you freeze your ass off until you get back to shelter lolol. Goretex™ boots and good socks occasionally with gators over my calves depending on the weather. I use Wiggys parkas out on top of my normal gear for sub-zero work down to -20 most winters. Usually Bombers Cap with Coyote fur for really cold weather.

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

Title: Windy Bent Grass Sunset

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Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post
Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

All these backcountry Lamp Posts have defective photocell switches. They never work more than a few minutes plus never at night. I need to talk to the management about this issue. I bet they have the parts at home depot to fix them…. Just saying 🤔😜😜 High Contrast eh?

Working/driving backcountry parallel Ridges in the winter is an exercise in getting home without pulling out the snow shovel. This is miles off the nearest county road. If you travel on the ridge tops, I find I don’t find deep snow too much. It tend to blow off the ridge into the surrounding lower areas. Found some deep snow the other day with my new rig. I did manage to drive out of it without having to dig it out. Took a few minutes of trying though…. Close….Because the snow tends to blow off of the ridge tops providing potentially miles of clear travel. Of course someone thought to put fences up. There never seems to be a gate on the ridge line. Thusly I’m forced to travel between ridges through the deeper snow regularly to travel any distance. . This is the most likely areas to stick you.

We’ve had a light snow winter though some of the local mountain ranges are 100 percent pack or there about. I can only hope we get a series of regular and not too severe snows over the next few months. Winter ends here in May.

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

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post