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Reflections Off the Windmill

Reflections Off the Windmill
Reflections Off the Windmill

Reflections Off the Windmill

The Blue Sky of up high fame is positionally just right to be in relatively unfiltered light. All the clouds below are SATURATED with the reddish / brown color I call “Burnt Umber”. A filtered window to the sun off frame to the left let in enough light to reflect off “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill who appropriately was showing off his shiny surfaces. A matter of pride in a windmill. His older brother “Re Pete” lives about 3 miles further into the backcountry. Not as shiny, the 80 year old wind engine is. It was DEAD CALM or I would have captured that sail a spinning.

This night’s air quality wasn’t as bad as some lately. The cloud deck was a good projector screen for the smoke filtered light that night. This is of course a close / far perspective with the sky being the far part. Both in focus. Easy with a cell phone, tough with a manual camera. I was moving along the trail by this veritable legend in his own mind wind engine. I have no control over his actions but I saw the glint(s) off the side, stopped, backed up and composed the shot. Click. He was so becalmed, I think it was sort of a windmill nap. So I finally snuck up on “Sneaky Pete”… It has taken years….. Proof there are periods of no wind up here ……

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

Title: Reflections Off the Windmill

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Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked
Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

A close / far perspective is never very far from my mind when working the backcountry. I often go places on ranch that I haven’t been for years. Sometimes that pays off in unusual ways. I really don’t find a lot of Pronghorn Skulls here. They are particularly rare here (anyway) with the horn sheaths still attached. Those fall off very easily as they are shed each year. To find a pretty well preserved skull already cleaned by the local insects…. it was a good morning lolol. I have a suspicion that when I get just the right place, I’m going to have this out at 100 yards with a HUGE sun between it’s horns due to the perspective. Stay tuned, it is riding in the back seat of “Clever Girl” until I find just the right composition for it.

I had been driving hills of late often going into 4 wheel low. The Raptor doesn’t have much trouble with the terrain. It takes me where I ask it too regardless of the smoke conditions. It seems to be able to breath just fine with it’s twin turbos lol. . Me I don’t like the air much, a little asthmatic from it, a slight cough. HEPA filter in the dash of the Truck AND in my living room at the moment. I keep the windows closed and limit my on foot time during this “inconvenience”. I normally drive TO the ridge and walk around. These smokey days, I’m driving all over the ridge and walking very little. Seems the smart thing to do. I’m also not putting my Mastiffs in their kennel. They hang out next to the HEPA and air conditioning vent.

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

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Forest Light Through the Pall

Forest Light Through the Pall
Forest Light Through the Pall

Forest Light Through the Pall

So I’m out “enjoying” the smoke in the air and I see this. Click. It was thick and a knife might cut it. But only if it were a big knife. lol

The shadows and the light are always interesting back in the pines. We have about 3 hundred acres of Jack Pines and Cedars on ranch. Most of the rest of this place is either gully, ridge top or grassy flats. All of it is good for cattle grazing at various times of the year . I’m not sure this air is good for man nor beast. I had asthma as a child but this hasn’t given me much trouble “yet”. I’ve fought quite a few forest fires and have been in much thicker. I might start wearing a mask up here just for this.

On a good note, the recent freeze (last week) has let the fighters catch up locally. The whole nation is getting seriously smoked with 90 major fires in 13 states. An area the size of Connecticut has burned in total I understand. That’s 5,500 square miles or there about… Wow. To put that in perspective: Campbell County Wyoming where I live spans 4800 square miles and this is just one county in Wyoming. That is a very large area to burn I point out.

God Bless to all those displaced by these fires. Be safe all and get ready to move fast if called to.

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

Title: Forest Light Through the Pall

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Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

Landscape Funnel to the Sunset
Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

I’m always riding parallel ridges working the shadow line. I see some amazing silhouettes daily. The peculiar red light affiliated with forest fire smoke is characteristic. The low ground effect slowly giving way from yellow tinted clouds to white tinges on the clouds straight up. This is sort of a gradient with a broken projector screen only reflecting parts and pieces of the smooth transitions of color. If you see the “All Seeing Eye of Provenance” that the sun creates here, consider yourself in good company. You Masons out there should pick that right up on this lol. All it needs is a triangle around it.

The smokey sunsets of late have been a boom for me with orange color. If you’ve seen the orange skies making national news a week back, There have been some afternoons around here where it was indeed VERY orange. The crowd in the big west coast cities just aren’t used to it so it’s news there. Being under smoke, one experiences very subdued lighting. A LOT of ranchers are discovering the weakness in solar voltaic water pumps with this sky. Also the renewable crowd in California are figuring that out as well. If a smoke Pall covers the sky, solar panels won’t run much. I’ve had a 4000 watt solar array feeding my electric “cloud” and sending back to grid for 20 years. I bought my first solar 30 years ago. Some of that is still running but not as well under smokey skies.

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

Title: Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

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Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End
Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End

I came over the top of a hill giving this Mule Deer Doe a start. Ever had the arms and neck go prickly before? A little adrenaline, a little furtive movement…high alert. She settled down in a few minutes and resumed grazing in the small group near her. This time of year everything is getting aware of the seasons change. Usually long before human are. The nights are getting longer now. The fall equinox is but 6 days away from this post. I see the change in their coats starting. They are starting to get a little bushy. Sort of like me not visiting a barber for 6 months. (I actually cut my own hair lol).

The does ears are big and sensitive but a ridge can muffle the sounds coming up the other side if the wind is up. Just appearing 50 yards out, I definitely got inside her comfort zone too quickly. Fortunately I managed to photograph her quartering off to me.

Boy if I was hunting…. meat for the taking for a landowners doe tag. It’s getting close to October when the serious hunting starts in this area. I personally don’t hunt unless we are having a population problem that needs thinning. I’d just assume play “counting coup” with my camera on the deer.

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

Title: Hair Standing on End

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Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies
Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

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SmokeBow Over Wyotana Backcountry

SmokeBow Over Wyotana Backcountry
SmokeBow Over Wyotana Backcountry

SmokeBow Over Wyotana Backcountry

Probably the last serious rainbow of the 2020 was this late “Golden Hour” spectral display a few weeks ago as this posts. The Sun over my shoulder was HEAVILY Smoke Pall filtered giving the marked color cast displayed here. The total lack of blue light being obvious in the refracted spectrum. All of that was absorbed by the smoke. Missing the blue/indio components gives a very odd feeling to the scene live real time. I’ve said before it reminds me of the solar eclipse in 2017 that went through the area. This is certainly one of the more extreme rainbows I’ve ever seen. There will be more of this event as it flows through my workstation.

This capture of course is a long telephoto image right into the left leg of a very tall rainbow. Late day rainbows are closer to a perfect 1/2 of a circle. From the air rainbows are circles with your shadow in the center. On the ground though, your limited to half of the circle at most. But as such sunset rainbows are relatively HUGE compared to mid to afternoon rainbows. Mid-day rainbows are wide but not tall. This one was wide AND tall. This was right at the height of the smoke generation from the west coast fires as seen here almost exactly on the border of Wyoming / Montana. This rainbow’s leg itself spans the actual borderline from my perspective lol. Exactly 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator it’s marks the spot.

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

Title: SmokeBow Over Wyotana Backcountry

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Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter
Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite…..

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Smokey Sun Windmill Filter

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What Was That Noise

What Was That Noise
What Was That Noise

What Was That Noise

Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.

Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.

It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……

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

Title: What Was That Noise

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Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape
Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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

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

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

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

Title: Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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Smokey Reflections On the Water

Smokey Reflections On the Water
Smokey Reflections On the Water

Smokey Reflections On the Water

The Forest Fires to our west (this publishes 10 days after I wrote it), contribute many things to our environment. The clearing of the overgrowth in healthy ecosystems is certainly positive. When the fires become an issue is when poor conservation (at best) combines with drought to set up a tinderbox. That becomes a negative. Then we build our houses in the trees. A failure to have a firebreak in your landscape is what burns structures. If you live in a fire area, you have to build for a fire area.

The dry year has this lake about as low as it gets. I have seen it about a foot lower but it’s artesian source replenishes it about as fast as evaporation. Normally it is topped off by a storm or two causing surface run off over a few thousand acres. It can get very full very fast. I have a post I placing a game camera a foot above the spill ways lips elevation. Those images will occur late next spring. I hope to have ducks next to the game trail cameras lol.

As a composition: I placed the sun behind the tree for two reasons. One the thing was still too bright to do this properly. It’s hard to get those details in the shadows with a super bright sun glaring at you. Two the water wouldn’t reflect the exposed sun…wrong angle lolol. Give it a few weeks and it will move far enough south (left frame) that it will reflect clear of the trees. Angles change over the year and to follow them is to give yourself possibilities with that photon capture box. Knowing when things align up lets you be there.

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

Title: Smokey Reflections On the Water

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After the Hail Storm

After the Hail Storm
After the Hail Storm

After the Hail Storm

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

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

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

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

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

Title: After the Hail Storm

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Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

Last Thing a Rabbit Sees
Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

So I’m collecting game trail camera chips, replacing batteries on 29 planted cameras out on the ranchlands. I have a habit of placing a good camera on fence braces which stick up above the wire being the highest things around. Then I take into account the amount of bird poop on the post. I have my own scale for such things as I have many more fence braces than cameras lol. Most big birds flare out to burn off speed just before they land so aim lower than the top of the post. I split the difference and give myself a “halfie where the image is 1/2 horizon, 1/2 grass. (shaking head side to side).

This has to be the single best game trail camera photo I’ve collected in years of images from my network. The Prairie Falcon volunteered for this one. An event like this is strictly random on the birds part. Setting the camera up just right is about the only control I have over the daytime operation of these things. I had 780 images on this particular chip. I pulled a few Pronghorn images, I was just about done with the batch, this popped up. My eye’s popped out and I started laughing. In the scheme of things, I will be hard pressed to get luckier than this. The Raptor was captured landing August 28th at 4 pm by the automatic Game Trail Camera.

Now if you say this looks pretty good for a game trail camera. It took me an hour in the digital dark room to clean up most of the problems affiliated with such cameras. They make a very messy, noisy, artifact covered image to my standards. Now this is an 18×18 inch file after I finished with it. :).

The word is “Tickled” ….

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

Title: Last Thing a Rabbit Sees

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Storm over Volcanic Necks

Storm over Volcanic Necks
Storm over Volcanic Necks

Storm over Volcanic Necks

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

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

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

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

Title: Storm over Volcanic Necks

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Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset
Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective
Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Smokey Sunset Perspective

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Twin Pillars at Sunset

Pine Pillars at Sunset
Pine Pillars at Sunset

Pine Pillars at Sunset

Looking into the furnace is a hazardous thing to do with most cameras. I don’t suggest pointing a camera with a telescopic lens into the sun unless you really know what your doing. This was very bright of course going to places the human eye can only glance into for fractions of a second. More and your doing damage to your eyes. Don’t…I use gear that is good with this.

The old growth pines on this ridge, married a long time living together. Roots intertwining for well over 100 years. Sharing the same ground will tend to put everybody on the same page. The metaphor here leads to the conclusion that common interests exceed differences. The trees work together blocking the wind and gathering the light most of the time. Here they are cooperating with me making a nice frame for my sunset that evening. The have both survived decades of grass fires burning to their base. Survivors both.

The Yellow surrounding the sun is where the term “Golden Hour” comes from. What I’m after is the smooth yellow to blue gradient here with every color variation in between the two end members. Needless to say this is a wide lens involved to fit all of this in the frame lol.

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

Title: Pine Pillars at Sunset

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Jane Doe Just Amazed

Jane Doe Just Amazed
Jane Doe Just Amazed

Jane Doe Just Amazed

Or “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”.

I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.

The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔

While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.

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

Title: Jane Doe Just Amazed

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Summertime Albino Devils Tower

Summertime Albino Devils Tower
Summertime Albino Devils Tower

Summertime Albino Devils Tower

The moisture in the air was thick (as in still falling lol) The Devil’s Tower National Monument 40 miles distant from my camera took on a “Marcel Marceau” face for an hour. Timing and Topography combined here for a nice dozen “rung” landscape ladder.

I had followed this storm for several hours that afternoon. Following it over towards Rockypoint Wyoming just a few miles south of the Montana border. High up on the local Pass over what I call ridge 5. It was muggy hot in the mid-80’s, with a huge Mesocyclone moving just to my homesteads south about 20 miles. Sundance Wyoming caught some national media attention for this storm. Not too many folks got to see this spectacle from the north west. The hail is covering the ground below the tree line.

I have never seen such a thing in years of watching this “Volcanic Neck” weather geologically slowly. Or course most of you know the Devils Tower was our first national Monument. The generally dark surfaces of the porphyry volcanic rock formed in gigantic columns totally coated with slushy ice by all appearances. The causational event for this odd face on the Tower was in Mid-July 2020..

My view here is not your typical tourist’s view point. That is unless you are an adventurous spirit with good tires and a spare that travels backroads of Wyotana. When you get into parts of the country that is sparsely populated, Triple A (AAA) is not going to be easy to get to respond. You have to have a cell signal first lolol.

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

Title: Summertime Albino Devils Tower

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Windmill and the Rainbow

Windmill and the Rainbow
Windmill and the Rainbow

Windmill and the Rainbow

Late afternoon Rainbows are steep and tall. So is “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill as he photobombs my Rainbow capture. I have no control over his actions. I find that “Sneaky” is disproportionately present as a foreground object in my “Close / Far” perspectives. Part of that is he hangs out about 100 yards behind my north fence. It is the closest working windmill to my place. Secondarily, he really likes the publicity or so I have heard. But don’t let it go to his head. Being famous someday is his goal. I just capture photons in my traps.. 👅

This was actually a big storm so I was staying off the muddy two tracks. Trucks destroy two tracks if it is wet out even light trucks like “Clever Girl”. If it rains over a 1/10th of an inch, I stay on the trails limiting myself to better trails that have been graveled or the county road. I maintain a mile or so of graveled road that I have in various places on the ranch. Those will get me far but not necessarily up on a ridge. Only ridge one (the ridge behind the windmill) has a gravel road to it’s peak.

You can see from the color of the grass how frickin’ dry it is up here at the moment. It’s wetter just east of here. It’s dryer to the south. These summer storms either hit your or miss you. Four possibilities when summer Mesocyclones come through the area. Your getting nothing but a show. One, it might squash you with hail. Two, your might just catch fire from the electricity . The forth possibility is you get a nice shower but those have been rare on the roulette wheel of precipitation this summer. I got a some water, a rainbow and some wind out of this storm. Fair deal… ☯

Windmill Junkies Unite: Windmill Weekday 🤘

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

Title: Windmill and the Rainbow

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Sunrise By the Snag

Sunrise By the Snag
Sunrise By the Snag

Sunrise By the Snag

Finding windows through vegetation is a matter of either finding them randomly or making them for use later. This tree I cleared out some limbs months ago to make a slot just for this week. Fitting the sun into the slot is a whole different matter. First of all as the sun is rising it moves to the right. As it moves to the right, I have to move to the left. Tripods don’t work for this. Handheld will work just fine.

Topography is my master. To align such a vision, I have to be at just a certain x, y, z coordinate at a certain time. The earth has to cooperate with me to give me a place to stand. I have maybe a minute to work scenes like this as the earth will drop away and the sun would be hidden by the horizon. If the ground I’m on climbs, the sun would have to climb out of the bushes it’s resting on. It’s already climbing for the day. Here I caught it being lazy resting before the arduous climb to the it’s zenith that day.

That morning was cool for a early august sunrise. Some morning are in the low 50’s up this high. Nothing like the days I lived in Jackson at 6200 feet where we actually could routinely get some snow in the summer. Not so much down here at 4000 feet in Wyotana.

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

Title: Sunrise By the Snag

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Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese
Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

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

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite) 🤘

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

Photographic Musings: (Long but instructive)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Backcountry Windmill Cutting Cheese

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Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising
Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising

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

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

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

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

Title: Sturgeon August Moon Rising

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Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines
Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines

I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee

Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.

The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.

From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…

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

Title: Sunset View through the Pines

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Right Turn Clyde Meadowlark

Right Turn Clyde Meadowlark
Right Turn Clyde Meadowlark

Right Turn Clyde Meadowlark

(This is one of a dozen image I consider a “Right Turn Clyde” series.) If you remember the 1978-80 movie by Clint Eastwood “Any Which Way But Loose” and his Orangutan “Clyde”. Upon being told “Right Turn Clyde”. The great ape would throw his massive arm to the right. This action usually punching someone in the jaw that needed such a thing. (deserved). Filmed in Wyoming on location in Jackson Hole back in the day. Those were the days back in Jackson Hole. I started experiencing JH a few years after that. Lived there for a decade. I digress…

So the Meadowlark singing has no concept of the sign he graces with his presence. Even so his presence is often left on the sign. If you get my drift 😜 Golden Hour Lighting….

Meadowlark Encounters are all to a one a random event. I wander from project to project up in this remote country. In this grass sea we inhabit the shore of, anything above the ground level is a perch for a bird here. It’s the high rise of the prairie and premium real estate. I swear I’m going to dedicate an afternoon photographing/ staking out a particular Right turn sign I’m aware of. You could mine Bird Guano around that sign and use the soil there as fertilizer. IT must be a very busy place on the planet but I only get short glimpses of it drying by. Observe and Investigate. (Rule 211 of Photography)

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde Meadowlark

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Catbird Up Close and Personal

Catbird Up Close and Personal
Catbird Up Close and Personal

Catbird Up Close and Personal

“Grey Catbird” is the common name. Scientists call it Dumetella carolinensis. What a brazen little fellow this one was. Thrashers tend to be a bit forward with their behavior being a bit cocky so to speak. Medium robin sized birds with an attitude.. They possess a very harsh “mew” creaky call. Usually they deliver their complaints from thick bushes. This one was fairly forward. His presence to be well known was his goal. They are mimics picking up other species calls too. It is unique in North America with it’s uniform dark gray color with the black cap.

I have never seen a bird be so little afraid of our cats. To the point of landing near a group of sleeping cats on cushions and raising the dead with complaints. The ranches barn cats are very adept with birds. This seemingly suicidal all grey entry in our world just didn’t care. It’s been around for weeks now and still bothers the cats who I think try their best to ignore them. He obviously wasn’t scared of the big one eyed photographer. All the while advancing. Pointing a 28 inch long lens at him.

Talk about eyelashes. You can not see them on it’s right eye but it’s left eye’s lashes through the open beak says it all lolol. This fellow has made me laugh more times than I can count. He is predictable and consistent in his behavior toward anything in his domain. We just are staying here by his permission I’m pretty sure.

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

Title: Catbird Up Close and Personal

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Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Comet Seeds Falling from Above
Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Yes, Comet Neowise images continue to make it into my work flow. It takes me a week from click to publish minimum these days. I suspect there will be a few more posted as I get to them.

A favorite Antique piece of farm history on ranch is the Deering Seeder. I’ve taken many twilight and sunset/rise photos with this customer. It sit’s very well for photos. Nothing like a toddler. Patient it is. It has been sitting here since the last naked eye comet passed by in 1996. It’s probably 80 -100 years old. It’s seen a few Comets in it’s day. I’ve worked 4 photographically but this is the first one with digital cameras. The others were all film camera work. This is the only comet I could see the two tails with.

I worked this “out of nowhere” new comet for many hours over several nights and morning. That is a long time but these exposures take my gear about a minute each to take. With 30 second exposures and 30 seconds of processing time in the camera afterwards, a minute length each photo session is a long slog.

Photographic Musings:

I’m really fond of close / far perspectives. Here 40 yards and 68,000,000 miles are the close / far figures. The lighting for this kind of work is delivered by painting the scene with flashlights over the period of the exposure. With 30 seconds to sweep the beam around, you can fill in all the important foreground objects. Getting both close and far in focus means high F-stop numbers. The result of high F-stop is deep focus yes. But: It’s a double edge sword taking light making it into the camera away. But then you have a long exposure to compensate for that. Edge of the possible photographic envelope. That is unless you are star tracking…..but how do you keep the seeder from blurring ????? 😜 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Comet Seeds Falling from Above

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Windmill Hot Feet

Windmill Hot Feet
Windmill Hot Feet

Windmill Hot Feet

There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀

I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.

The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).

Photographic Musings:

Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill Hot Feet

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Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise
Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.

I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.

This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.

Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.

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

Title: Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise