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Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog
Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

It had just hailed about an inch of marble sized ice stones from the sky. Heavy rain accompanied the hail shafts. This is a remote meadow near the Montana / Wyoming border. A series of large storms moved through the area. It’s the heaviest rain I’ve personally been in all year. I’m sure it dumped 2 inches of water plus the hail. ALL the local stream were running which is a rare event. I don’t think this particular drenching under this Mesocyclone was particularly unusual but for the drenching. I’ve seen 4 inches and hour before and this one only gave us a couple of inches in the 1/2 hour it lasted.

So all this hail ice is laying covering the surface of the ground up the hill. The sun hits it, evaporation and sublimation (google the latter) occurs and a cloud of cold saturated air off the ice flows down hill like so much water. It ran in rivers from every hill to every adjacent low area in this valley. This is the fog lake resultant in a wide low pasture being fed by dozens of smaller fog rivulets. The low angle lighting adding to the frames unusual nature. Oh yeah, there’s a rainbow up there too lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

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Backcountry Rainbow and Hail Fog

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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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Road to the Rainbow

Road to the Rainbow
Road to the Rainbow

Road to the Rainbow

The intersection of Parks Rd and Trail Creek about 4 miles south of the Montana / Wyoming border is in the distance. I’m about a mile from that crossroads for this shot. The Pronghorn as a matter of principle decided to cross in front of me. They do this to show off. I was pursuing the rainbow the road was leading to. Of course rainbows are tough to catch up to since they move as you move lolol. BUT I find that there are rainbows images and then there are rainbow IMAGES. Gravel Wyotana backcountry roads are always exciting in what you will come across. I had stopped to to capture the rainbow lining up with the road of course for the Close / Far Perspective.

I tend to photographically work my local county roads when it rains. The rain can make driving on trails destructive to the two track roads I typically travel on. Access to the real remote backcountry is extensive if you know the way. County roads take you places everybody goes. The area between county roads to my west is over 100 square miles. This is very big country and I know I have been to places where certainly very few if ANY people have been before. I’m even considering Native American populations. But then again I’ve found traces of humans literally in the middle of nowhere. A cartridge case, a piece of iron artifact from a homestead, some trace. I might take a trip down Parks Road there and try to spy that pot o’ gold before the Pronghorn get it again… 😜 👅 (old narrative).

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

Title: Road to the Rainbow

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Rainbow With Hail Drifts

Rainbow With Hail Drifts
Rainbow With Hail Drifts

Rainbow With Hail Drifts

Mid-day the rainbow arch is very low to the ground. Rainbows late in the day are tall portions of a semi circle arch. Your just seeing the outside top edge of a big circular rainbow if you were in a plane looking from above. This is a pretty low bow…😜

IT looks like a sheet rainbow but that is only because the telephoto lens I’m using is looking at the base of this rainbow about 6 miles out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective by covering a LOT of distance into a small frame. There are a couple of ranch homesteads out in that country but you sure can’t see them from this vantage point. One of my limitations is the actual topography that I am on. I’d love to have a 1000 foot high peak around here with a good road up to the top …..👅 📸

This storm had a shaft of hail that JUST missed us. It did leave obvious drifts of white hail off in the distance. Way out looking across the Montana / Wyoming border just up into Montana from where I stand in Wyoming. The rainbow spans the border between the two states. I’d say the base of this bow is at least a mile wide from my perspective. The further back I get, the wider it will look within the limits of the rain area. So distance is usually your friend with long lenses. (I think that is rule #136 of photography).

Title: Rainbow With Hail Drifts

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Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow
Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow

I recently posted another from this timeline. Real Color. I’ve seen no better red double than this sunset back show capture before. I wish I had a chopper to go up about 300 feet though. Seeing this as a 360 circle would be a bucket list item but only if I have my cameras with me…. Intentionally maneuvered the reflective back of a “Right Turn Clyde” Sign dead center as it was just right to reflect the sunlight directly in the center of the rainbow.

I have this thing for holographic red dot sights on carbines. Not that that tendency had anything to do with this composition lol👁 . If you’ve ever used a good Trijicon™ holographic rifle sight, some of the reticles look just like this. The reflective sign is exactly at the “Antipode” of the sun’s position in the sky behind me. Good google word for the evening… 🤔 👀 📷

So why is a “Red Rainbow” rare. Well it can only occur at the perfect time of the day under specific circumstances. Mere minutes maybe if the photographer is lucky. I worked this with 3 cameras in those few minutes. Water can only refract (not reflect) a rainbow using the color of light the situation provides to the rain fall curtain. At the trailing edge of that larger area of rain, the deep cranberry is also rare. The partially occluded sunset behind me is acting as both refraction plus reflection here. The 22 degree rainbow is obvious but the other red is reflecting off the water falling directly coloring the clouds and sky. Both phenomena are involved here.

Really it’s all about the source of light which traveling through dirty atmosphere (not implying pollution, could just be moisture). The red light is the furthest traveled light through our atmosphere. The cranberry color is literally my favorite. This is as close as I can get this to how I saw it. I could have easily lightened the lower grass in the digital darkroom. That’s not how it was. It was very dark just like this with just a spotlight of light for me to capture. Thank you mother nature.

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

Title: Double Red Rainbow

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Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow
Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow

This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.

As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘

I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.

The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.

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

Title: Red Double Rainbow

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Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign
Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Talk about a busy photo. I swear rainbows and lightning in the same image together is not a common thing to happen in front of your lens. You have to hunt this stuff and then set up the possibility. It was very dark but I could see the “Right Turn Clyde” sign to align it with the the blurred windmill. (you remember those two Shows 1978 and 80 right). The Windmill had a great view of the rainbow that had formed with a faint compliment secondary rainbow. This was very late and the only light left for the rainbow was the long traveled pink light. Normally you see this as a pink Belt of Venus on the frozen atmospheric ice.

Here the “Belt of Venus” pink backshow light was all that available to the rain droplets to refract back to my lens. The pink color being as strong that night as I have seen it in a summer evening. I’ve seen it WAY stronger in the winter. Winter of course is the time of year to watch Alpenglow in the Wyotana skies. All the ice makes for amazing shows. The same light reflects in a much darker shade off of water droplets than ice crystals. Light to amazing pink in the winter is standard, this openly cranberry color is an odd one for me to see. Thus it is my gold standard to finish the image. It made a huge impression on me at the time.

Obviously I have several finished images from this timeline. Each a little different in it’s coloration as the sequence of events played out in front of me. There are times I REALLY love doing this.

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

Title: Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

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Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Red Rainbows Rare Appearance
Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Technically this is a backshow of a spotlighting veiled sunset passing Belt of Venus Pink light. Such being refracted back as a red rainbow. The lower dark blue shadow through the curtain of precipitation, is the shadow of the horizon. I am in that shadow as is the ground going up the hill. (The sun had set and the only light was from other twilight lit clouds) . So this 2 second time exposure shows the dark landscape as you would suspect after sunset. Photorealist photographers are like that lol . The pink light spotlighting is above the horizon line on this east view. The rain curtain acts as a projector screen with the rainbow aligning with the 22 degree arc from the center of the rainbow.

Of course you know all rainbows could be complete circles if viewed from the air…. I’ve never seen one except by others. I don’t fly very well with an overactive inner ear.

SO, a very specific sequence of event have to occur for a red rainbow to form. A regular rainbow with a standard ROYGBIV light color spread. Therefore the water droplets there have a full spectrum of light to refract back at you. Each light color bending a little differently than the one adjacent on the chart. This spreads out the white light into it’s individual hues into the rainbow.

At this late point of the night, only pink light survives the long gauntlet through the atmosphere at the earths surface. The low angle light being without most of its GVIB portion of the spectrum. With only red light to refract, you get a red rainbow. The timing of the precipitation falling has to coincide with the exact timing of the sunset to get these. This is by far the best red rainbow I’ve ever seen even in others photos. I’m sure they are out there.

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

Title: Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

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Rainbow with a Bite

Rainbow with a Bite
Rainbow with a Bite

Rainbow with a Bite

This was the last of the last light of the day making it’s way to the storm. I was using time exposures AND a lightning trigger to make my life easier catching both phenomena in the same frame. Mostly rare Red Rainbows are only formed by the long traveled “Belt of Venus” pink light. Hundreds of miles travel through the low blanket of air surrounding the earth prevents longer light wavelengths from passing. To quote a literary Grey Wizard (at that time) “You Shall Not Pass” (classical reference).

This one was just a quick 50,000 amp or so discharge in the hills back to my southeast. I always go up those hills the next morning to look around. I have to verify there isn’t a fire smoldering in a log somewhere.

Photographic Musings:

This storm system was late in the day for me to see this much. I mentioned time exposure but it was only about 2 seconds. Camera work is all about balancing light between the three settings you need to understand in manual mode. Shutter speed you have control of as one of them. A longer shutter gives you more light to play with. It was very windy at this capture with the truck (my tripod) was shaking. Much over a few seconds was impossible. Faster shutters than 1/2 second and you might miss some of lightning with often ripples through clouds over 1/2 second.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Rainbow with a Bite

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Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset
Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Just a tinge of double on the Wyoming leg (right) of this late day backcountry scene. In the scheme of things, this rainbow spans across the border to Montana on the left. Looking slightly south east from my viewpoint just barely in Montana. Hanging out on the border watching a string of storms move just to my east is a good use of time. Strings of storms happen up here occasionally. None of them individually amount to anything serious typically but together someone got some good rain. I found this particular afternoon quite a target rich environment for landscape photographer. Lots of interesting things going on with the weather around here this time of year. (WIDE angle lens).

These were not severe storms during this timeline in early July, 2020 . They were much needed bringing precipitation to a drought stricken area. Last year, a time a plenty, this year…. not so much. The grass was beaten down by the July 5th hail storm. IT’s going to be a hard year on many things. Hard to find rainbows too in a drought. I like the metaphor though. Searching for “Rainbows in a Drought”. Sort of like “finding solutions in a desert” if you tend toward the punny side of life. It’s a genetic defect in my family but I try to stay away from puns too much in these musings. Please don’t get me started…. 😜

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

Title: Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

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Lightning and Rainbows

Lightning and Rainbows
Lightning and Rainbows

Lightning and Rainbows

In another 15 minutes this would have been a red rainbow. Considered Rare as they only happen RIGHT at sunset. I know this as it did in fact turn red later but for at this click was still orange. The sun was setting over my right shoulder. It was partially obscured by various clouds at various sections of the timeline here. This series of storms like a train trailing cars ran just to our east giving me wonderful views of the activity sunlit by the colored light. That light reflecting off the storm back to my optics. The long waves surviving the low angle ridge through the curved atmospheric lens.

The sunset ongoing over my right shoulder was in fact quite a good show. It takes a good main show to give me enough light to see the back show during storms. Only a very complex atmosphere could give me the proper conditions for this unusual capture. That is my communications tower just to the right of the bolt. It has been hit hundreds of times. Ummm… working from up there takes larger stones than I have to be up there in a serious electrical storm. I’ve spent a few episodes up there. Grounded all that gear is. Talk about a target lolol.

It is my understanding that Lightning AND Rainbows in the same photo are also unusual as the conditions that cause each are unusual together. I don’t have a lot of the two of them dancing in my portfolio. This storm train provided me with many examples. Before this timeline I may have had one or two in my lifetime. It’s probably just me, I miss things all the time lolol.

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

Title: Lightning and Rainbows

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Seeding Morning Rainbows

Seeding Morning Rainbows
Seeding Morning Rainbows

Seeding Morning Rainbows

Planting Skittles™ for the future, this old antique friend of mine is blessed with a monster view. He can see in many directions on that high ridge. Here I am below his position looking up to the skittles seeds falling from the heavens. Now the old Deering Seeder has a seed box filled with the tasty candy seeds. Maybe I can hook my Raptor to this. Thusly zip around the ranch planting a crop for the rare unicorns that hang around Wyotana. BTW, I’ve seen WAY more Jackalopes than I have Unicorns up here. I have yet to get a less than blurry game trail camera for either. Always in a hurry at night they are.

Back to my normal programming.

Photographic Musings:

Close far perspectives with long lens telephotos are a matter of recognizing that distance is your friend. Everything in focus with a telephoto…… You can get both foreground AND background with a telephoto in the same focal plain. But you need to be back about (lets say) 80 yards per 100 mm focal length back from your foreground object. Your distances will vary. Depending on how high your f-stop will adjust in your particular lens and your total focal length of your lens. This perspective is a 1200mm lens at about 650 yards from the seeder. Topography of course controls your ability to magically have the rain bow in the proper position And be able to get far enough away to get the illusion all in focus.

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

Title: Seeding Morning Rainbows

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Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft
Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Please take this full screen as it is one of the most complex storm systems I’ve ever photographed. “Holy Crap” came out of my mouth watching this along with a few other interesting mixed metaphors.

Starting with the Lightning bolt, it actually started up higher in the next deck up where it dives through the cloud onward toward the ground. It is following the same rain shaft that is causing the slightly visible rainbow. This was at sunset, more clouds behind me hiding the sun from the ground I stand on but not the high clouds. It was fairly dark being under this monster.

I could clearly see air rushing up that tunnel/horn funnel (above the bolt) up and left into that billowing cloud mass above. A giant vacuum cleaner in effect. This seemed to be as a very large storm though the worst of it went east of us. I had good elevation during this lightning storm which of course is hazardous duty even in a vehicle. Being up on the ridges is why I have such a good view. I am not on the “highests” ridge around if you understand my logic. When I eventually get struck, probably the truck will protect me though vehicle wiring has been known to be damaged by electrical strikes.

As pictured, the weather looks nuts over there in and past Rockypoint Wyoming. The continued north into Montana the night of the 5th of June. HOWEVER, just the apron of this storm covered well over a 100 mile diameter circle so it effected a huge area. The apron of this monster was as big as I’ve seen. I watched this big spinning top of a storm on radar moving here all the way from Casper. It took about 8 hours to make the trip. If it had been 15 minutes later there would have been more sunset colors in this up higher in the clouds.

I have never seen weather like this in my life. Cloud shapes I’m very much into . I am a long term Pareidolia endowed artist/photographer with a Paleontological background. Looks like a Bellerophon snail crawling around to me. To say this was impressive watching this up on the ridge tops there would be an understatement. 📸

Title: Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

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Sunset Red Rain Bow

Sunset Red Rain Bow
Sunset Red Rain Bow

Sunset Red Rain Bow

I saw one of these Red Rainbow featured on the web famous “Drudge Report” one day recently. I had to snicker when it happened. I’ve got at least one other red rainbow somewhere but this one was July 4th 2020 in the late afternoon. Right at sunset as the red light from the setting sun behind me color cast the back sky and earth. The precipitation acting like the “Belt of Venus” reflecting the red light that made it through the atmosphere to here. I’m usually getting this in the winter but we had storms everywhere at the moment.

I’ve heard red rainbows called rare. I would say I’ve seen them a few times in my travels but only one other time with a camera and I’d have to search for it as it was years ago. Rule number one in photography is “Have a camera with you”. I like to add “at all times”. It’s much easier to take a photo if you have a camera I’ve found out. Wisdom of being old I suppose.

A train of storms moved just east of us where climbing a 400 foot high ridge give’s one a “viewpoint” that few enjoy. This particular timeline of July 3rd- 4th gave me lightning bolts, numerous rainbows, full moons and sunsets all in the same 12 hour period. Marvelous photographic environment to say the least. I was out with a box o’ cameras for hours during the 4 terminator crossings of the 3rd and the 4th of July 2020. I really was hoping for a lightning shot in this red-bow. It wasn’t to be. You can’t wish things to happen. I was set up for it. Just didn’t occur. I have other rainbow shots with lightning from that afternoon but not with the red bow. Lightning in rainbows is not easy. I’ve gotten several captures from this sequence of storms. 📸

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

Title: Sunset Red Rain Bow

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2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush
2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

Good Saturday Morning

The Pronghorn Pirates herd heard … there was a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. So off they ran in the rain. Its no wonder that I never found any treasure when I navigated to these spots in the past. These guys easily beat me to it. Laughing all the way no doubt. It’s no wonder they are all jumpy creatures Pronghorn all. They have something to hide. Like the location of all that loot they have collectively been finding over the generations. Here I caught them in the act of getting there first. They would be long gone by the time I get there in my slow Ford F150 Rapor. After all, they are the fastest land animal in North America. (The Pronghorn not the Raptor… ) I wonder how with all that gold’s weight on board though?. Such quandaries of life. 😜

Musings on Landscape Photography:

Composing such images are a fly by the seat of your pants operation out in the backcountry. By necessity really. Only seconds to adjust to events reactionary of the animals behavior. Sometimes you can get animals to cooperate in the composition like this and other I get to move my position to properly compose the image. Then one just lines up the shot and leave to the next random event. Here the Pronghorn did the lining up for me. Seeing where they were going, I just had to wait for the right moment lolol. It’s a lot easier when local wildlife do line up with the domestic ducks I actually try to train daily. Actually I think “Sneaky Pete” had something to do with this…. I never know what that guy is up to. 🤔 👀

Faintest Rainbow ever. If you zoom up on the full resolution copy we use print on archival paper from, you can see rain streaks in the air. Social Media sized files of my images are not meant to be high resolution. I keep the high resolution images with no signature on file.

Be Safe all.

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

Title: 2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

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Nature Obeys Traffic Sign

Nature Obeys Traffic Sign
Nature Obeys Traffic Sign

Nature Obeys Traffic Sign

I have to admit that I need to pay more attention to that sign. All that bird poop on the top of the post is relevant to a photographer. It tells me I need to park nearby with a big long lens for an hour. I bet meadowlarks hang out here.

This is a member of my “Right Turn Clyde” series. These all have a right turn sign involved and nature cooperating with it. The name of course is a reference to the 1978-80 Clint Eastwood movie’s. Those are “Any Which Way you Can” and Any Which Way but Loose”. The Orangutang “Clyde” when told “Right turn Clyde” signals with is huge arm. This usually busting someone in the chin that needs a good punch. Set in Jackson Wyoming at times, a great film but I digress.

So the rainbow was a vibrant one for sure lol. If I ever talk about ridge 2 that is the place I’m referring to. It takes me a few miles of backcountry travel on two track roads to get up there. There must be that pot o’ gold around somewhere…. 😜

The path to the top of that ridge is tortuously bumpy. IT’s not a good path just after it rained either as this rainbow implies. There is too much bentonitic mud (“gumbo”). I try not to destroy two track paths if muddy. I just don’t go out off county roads or well graveled private roads after a rain. Nothing like driving on a knife edge ridge in a pickup after a rain lololol.

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

Title: Nature Obeys Traffic Sign

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Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall
Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

I watched the TV commercials very carefully. Just like the internet, it was on TV so it must be true….🤔

Based on Media Learning: I’m pretty sure that there is a BIG pile of “Skittles™” behind that hill top. The shafts of tasty fruity candy falling from the sky will definitely liven things up. That’s a lot easier than milking a Giraffe for the same candy. (If you know what I’m talking about, I’m worried about you 😜. ) I actually do like skittles. There might be a few too many there for just little me to deal with. I wonder how long they will keep? We only get 14 inches of precip a year… Imagine if all those melted into one big lump…. Skittles Butte…😜 😜 📸 So many strange phenomena these days

Back to my “Normal” programming…

IF I was on that hill top, I’d be looking at a full rainbow. This far back, I only get one bit of one leg. The lighting was VERY late in the day. Tall Rainbows are late or early (low sun). Really wide rainbows low to the ground are high sun mid-day rainbows. This sheet rainbow is simply one leg of what would be a HUGE rainbow if there were rain drops higher. Being surrounded by rain in an airplane is the best way to see a completely circular rainbow. I’ve never seen a completely circular rainbow let alone photograph one.

If I would have driven quickly up to that ridge top I would have left a muddy track so I stayed where I was. Knowing where to drive up here is a big deal as “Gumbo” is about in random places. Gumbo” which is Bentonitic Clay turns to slick mud that will stick a D-10 Bulldozer. I generally don’t drive off known trail after a rainstorm. That way I avoid having to use my trucks winch and ground anchor to get out of the mud… I’ve never gotten stuck….soooooo close though lolol.

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

Title: Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

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Fully Involved Morning Twilight

Fully Involved Morning Twilight
Fully Involved Morning Twilight

Fully Involved Morning Twilight

The Poetry of the moment is often hard to quantify but as poetry it does qualify. The color of the scene is a result of the cold hard physics of the world. The light proceeds on it’s path until some substance acts either to block or bend the dual nature of particles and waves. (This is a wonderful concept and worthy of an extended google search this AM). Light acts sometimes as a particle but also has wave like properties. Scientific wisdom everyone needs in their daily life but is beyond the scope of this narrative 😝 🤘

Turtle Butte from this angle is often confused with a volcanic cone (and even volcanic during a few of my journeys into satire). Maybe it’s just me. Impersonators are everywhere in geology. Things that “look like”. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about those volcano’s. FYI, they are sedimentary remnants. Hard Cap Rocks protect the sediment below… . It’s all in the details, not the shape.

Humans are generalists. We miss details but do gather a wide interpretation of scenes at first. Shape! Then we slowly start focusing on details like composition and color. The color here is spot on to the original scene. I take great care in this exposing the highlights such that detail is still visible in them. If you’ve never spent twilights in Wyoming or Montana, you’ve never seen skies like we have. My job is to climb the 300 foot high ridges in the dark to get into position before this amazing show of artistry by mother nature. My photography is resultant of the various to and fro journeys pursuing those dual nature particles. (Photons).👀 🤔 📷

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

Title: Fully Involved Morning Twilight

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Rainbow Road to the Storm

Rainbow Road to the Storm
Rainbow Road to the Storm

Rainbow Road to the Storm

This road actually does lead to right about where that rainbow touches down in a round about way. I followed this storm for some time. It’s actually a double rainbow but you have to look. The orders of colors reverse themselves in a double rainbow. This is all about the composition though having the rainbow is a nice spiff eh? 😀 📷

There are literally thousands of miles of backcountry county roads here. County road surface upkeep is highly variable from place to place. Some roads in this area are better maintained than others lolol. The quality of the roads certainly depends on how much revenue flows to the Road and Bridge Dept. in the particular county your driving through. Within 15 miles of my ranch I can drive into 2 different states and 4 counties. (2 in each state). Each has it’s own road department and quirks of road quality.. I haveexperience on my own ranch buying gravel for driveways. A single semi pulling a trailer full of gravel is expensive. Delivered to my place is around 900 dollars. Most of the expense is the distance. Imagine how many truck fulls of gravel it took to cover thousands of miles of roads here in the backcountry.

This is a road that is indeed very well maintained. Advice to the wise planning on driving off the Interstate onto the back road system of Wyotana. Have Tire repair kits, good spare(s) lots of steel in your sidewalls of your tires, lots of gas, supplies for a week and generally a hard map, GPS and satellite phone in your kit. Go nowhere without several days of water in your vehicle. That is if you get off the highways. You need to add a lot more defensive gear these days to drive on the Interstates lolol.

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

Title: Rainbow Road to the Storm

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Looking Into the Rainbow

Looking Into the Rainbow
Looking Into the Rainbow

Looking Into the Rainbow

Normally when you look at a rainbow off in the distance, it is actually way out there. Well if you get a 1200 mm lens and point it into the base of the rainbow, you might see something like this. That far ridge is at least 3 miles away with the closest trees at a mile. Telephoto images are notorious for having distance perspective crushed. You might think I’m standing at a normal 55mm just a few hundred feet from those closest trees. As I say… they are a mile out. Crushed is good for getting the proper look for this kind of perspective.

Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. You can move a rainbow to align it over what you wish if there is enough rain shaft plus you are mobile. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena. If looking at the sun, you see a “rainbow” like phenomena like 22 degree halos and a host of others are on the sun side of the sky. The other side of the sky is strictly rainbows.

Photographic Musings: Manual Settings… Only three settings.

Distance is your friend. OK, another F-stop discussion…. High F-stop numbers take away a LOT of light from your light capture boxes. (camera). The higher the number, the smaller the hole in the lens for light to travel through. At the same time you make that hole smaller by turning up the F-stop number, you are thickening the “depth of field” focus depth. F-stop becomes a double edged sword. You can open up the aperture (turn down the f-stop number) and get a lot more light versus a pin hole at maximum F-stop setting. But you loose depth of field/focus depth) So Bigger hole in the lens= shallow depth of field but a lot of light. A smaller hole in the aperture means less light but it gives you the ability to focus on things close AND far at the same time. SO, you have to compensate for HIGH f stop numbers by adjusting the other two settings. Turning up camera sensitivity (ISO) boosts what little light that comes through a small hole in the lens. IT’s a double edge sword too though. More Camera Sensitivity (higher ISO) will give you a grainy image and introduce color noise. Speckles and big grain are not desirable so moderation is necessary. Lastly you have shutter speed. Slower than 100th of a second you risk blurring moving objects. Any movement from anything would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto to 400mm (rested).

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

Title: Looking Into the Rainbow

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Mitten Rainbow Tree Frame

Mitten Rainbow Tree Frame
Mitten Rainbow Tree Frame

Mitten Rainbow Tree Frame

I find you are where you are when rainbows pop out of the sky. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun as they are reflective. The light hitting the water droplets in that rain shower reflected back to my camera in a classic ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet) order.

Finding a frame that “fits” the situation is of course always the problem. It’s easy to take a photo of a rainbow. IT’s harder to take a frame around the rainbow when there are two trees within a mile radius… Spring green grass below mixed with the golden stalks remaining from last year. Soon the green will overtake the gold with the grasslands brown season ending. The Cottonwood Trees in this small draw frame “Mitten Butte”. Famous in my world, the Monadnock / erosional remnant is 300 feet higher than the surrounding ground. I’ve been over it and on top of it a few times. The view is good up there but it’s a long stairway to be at just at the right time for chasing light. It’s a long walk down in the dark and then there is the 2 mile two track road to/from it lol.

Mitten butte has been famous in my narratives having been a volcano a time or two, a local Mt. Fuji in geofiction. Backdrops for hundreds of images. Here it’s accumulating Skittles™ in it’s saddle or so it appears… 😜🤔📷

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

Title: Mitten Rainbow Tree Frame

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Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow
Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.

I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.

I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..

This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷

You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.

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

Title: Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

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Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts
Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀

This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.

The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.

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

Title: Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

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Rainbow Nested Circles

Rainbow Nested Circles
Rainbow Nested Circles

Rainbow Nested Circles

Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are only 2 arcs in this image. I have a very similar shot from last fall 2019 that has a much deeper vibrant rainbow. . I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has 2 nested within 👀📸

IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. It is less than desirable to squish around in the fresh mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit back to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol. I have a map of such things and assemble composition opportunities in my head. So when X happens I go to Y location and so forth.

Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow” Rule 1 of photography is “Always have a camera with you”. I prefer about 5 as a minimum though I could get by with 2 in most cases…. With the right 5 camera/lens combinations I have access to every possible focal length from 10mm to 1200 mm. Just grab the right camera. The camera backs are all the same brand (work the same)……. 😜😜

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

Title: Rainbow Nested Circles

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SunDog High Plains Sunset

SunDog High Plains Sunset
SunDog High Plains Sunset

SunDog High Plains Sunset

Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020. 

I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…

Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright. 

A tad of Photographic musing: 

Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera). Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop. 

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

Title: SunDog High Plains Sunset

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Rainbow over Parks Road

Rainbow over Parks Road
Rainbow over Parks Road

Rainbow over Parks Road

The intersection of Parks Rd and Trail Creek about 4 miles south of the Montana / Wyoming border is in the distance. I’m about a mile from that crossroads for this shot. The Pronghorn as a matter of principle decided to cross in front of me. They do this to show off. I was pursuing the rainbow the road was leading to. Of course rainbows are tough to catch up to since they move as you move lolol. BUT I find that there are rainbows images and then there are rainbow IMAGES.

Gravel Wyotana backcountry roads are always exciting in what you will come across. I had stopped to to capture the rainbow lining up with the road of course. I saw this Pronghorn, anticipated her path and waited patiently as she took her sweet time wandering across. There is a HUGE network of gravel backcountry roads in this country. The closest asphalt road to that intersection is about 9 miles to the right (looking south east here). The setting sun was REALLY low on the horizon for this capture as I initially working the sunset of course. I randomly run into animal encounters regularly in this country. More pronghorn per square mile than people here.

There is no hurrying mother nature or for that fact, mother Pronghorn (pregnant this time of year of course). Besides the fat belly, you can tell Pronghorn sex by looking for a black cheek patch which this gal doesn’t have. The males have a big black splotch under their ears / behind their eyes.

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

Title: Rainbow over Parks Road

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Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm
Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm

Upcoming in the next few months…. (from late last summer 2019)

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this storm sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. YGoing up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice if you look carefully….that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rainbow in the Storm

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Campbell County Memorial Hospital

Campbell County Memorial Hospital
Campbell County Memorial Hospital

Campbell County Memorial Hospital

This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. Gillette”s Hospital Complex up on a high hill overlooking the city. Rainbow’s from above appeared to me. Might have just been me ….Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day.

I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover. I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel.

I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away… Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…

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

Title: Campbell County Memorial Hospital

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Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Sunny Sundog Icy Morning
Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Commonly known as a “Mock Sun” or “Sun Dog, this is a Parhelian or “Mock Sun” It occurs at 22 degrees angle from the sun. There are many manifestations of this. I’ve only seen one better Parhelian off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area. At the Village in Jackson Hole mid winter back in the 90’s. This capture was a few miles back in the backcountry while I was driving parallel ridges for that mornings sunrise. This images sits on the border between Montana and Wyoming with both states ground and sky in the image. I never know what I’m going to run into when I go out.

Caused by Reflection and Diffraction is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object. In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles – most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark, or colored bands. Here Hexagonal plates of ice are falling actively from the sky. You can actually see some of them like white dots on the image. Ice Hexagonal plates Frozen in Space and Time as they fell (literally and figuratively).

It was a cold subzero morning for this sky show. This ice was hazing up the whole sky but I actually drove into this from an area with no falling ice. POP and there was an entire Parhelion right in front of my camera. Slide to a stop, enjoy the view while the camera comes out of sleep, compose, set the final settings, focus and click. The image is about 60 degrees wide overall. Love the Lone tree sun filter.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

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Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation
Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

The Big Horn Mountains 60 miles to the west supplied the sediment of this exposed section of Tullock Formation (Fm). Tullock Fm. consists of alluvial fan and swamp deposits all the way back to the mountains. Sediments washing off the newly risen peaks were filling up the coterminously formed sedimentary basin (Powder River Basin). The huge coal mines we have here are mining the coal formed in those swamps at the base of the Proto-BigHorn Mountains. Those mountains were much higher when they were young plus the basin was deeper.

Huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted and correspondingly downwarped during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.

My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.

Understanding the geology here takes many books to read, its a long list and growing 🤔😀📷

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, WYoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation