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Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise
Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Boy has this been a long stretch of Smoke Pall Sunrise events. I keep telling myself it’s a once in a lifetime situation. This tends to make me pay attention to the smoke conditions and sunrise times. I don’t always get to see the sun crack the horizon. This is the first light from the actual sun to reach my camera that morning. I knew about where it was going to rise (the notch on the ridge just left/below where it is now). I was there on time but not a photon made it through the smoke gauntlet to my capture boxes. NADA, nothing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above or anywhere on the satellite map. The low smoke on the ground completely occluding the window to our furnace for a good 20 minutes.

The ambient light on the landscape came from the sky above. It was illuminated through clearer air up high and more like a white ceiling than a blue sky in this pall. Chasing color in this lighting is perhaps a waste of time but I am digging the dozens of different colors of green and red displayed here. The fall is well upon the grasses. Brown season started early summer this year. Trees have not lost their leaves yet in this country which missed the earliest freeze by 1000 feet in elevation. (we are higher here so when the cold settles in the valleys freezing everything, not so much here ).

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

Title: Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

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OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama
OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

Corriente’ Cattle have been on the ranch since 2012. We have Black Angus too but these guys are much more photogenic. Something about the horns that gives them a western look.

Fully covered skies where I catch any animal that I can silhouette are automatically better by their inclusion. I would indicate that everybody was looking at this sunset that evening. I’m sure that even the glutton on the right took a few seconds between chews to enjoy this vision. It was hard not to notice this sky show. It stands out in all that I have seen as pretty impressive….

This can only happen during a totally overcast evening with thin / spotty enough clouds to allow the light to get under the canopy. A cool night, this particular evening was very moist with alpenglow rife to provide this colorcast to the show.

Bear in mind that this is a long range telephoto shot so the area of the sky wasn’t as big as this perspective would have you believe lol. Telephotos crush perspective and you never know how big an area of sky you are seeing. This frame covers an area of sky about the size of a postage stamp at arms length at the horizon. It’s a mind bender I think. This was a good night for images as this held on for 10 minutes anyway. That gave me plenty of time to get around… Click …

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

Title: OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

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Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming
Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming

I’m sure your all tired of “Smokey Sunsets / Sunrises by now. I sure as heck am. Except for the amazing sky thing, this is getting old. Snow is coming to the high country of Wyoming and Montana as I type… About a week before this published. Still early September for that storm. It hopefully will shut down a few fires to clear up the air a little. Some individuals with lung ailments are not enjoying this month much….

If there were snow storms incoming I’d be taking photos of it as long as there is light. I have to admit that I’ve seen phenomena that were new to me through the smoke palls. This particular image is a front moving from right to left with the smokey air to the right. The Clear air is to the left. The bank of clouds blocking the sun are forming in advance of the air mass shadowing the sun and providing a projector screen to show the light shafts above.

Photographic Musings:

IT was actually pretty bright out. Cameras have trouble with dark detail when looking into very bright light. Sometimes I can tease out that landscape. This capture didn’t have enough data there to deal with in the digital darkroom. Creating artifacts is not my job… I could actually see landscape detail averting my eyes away from the sun. I was playing the same game with my eyes as was the camera. Dynamic Range of your eyes is better than your camera by the way. Your a better generalist than the camera is. That camera can looking into the furnace though with out any discernable repercussions. Not so much with your eyes lol.

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

Title: Wedge of Smoke Incoming

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Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky
Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky

This subdued sunset brought to you by the soot in the air contributed by hundreds of western wildfires. Hopefully you’ve been off grid and out of the way of these plumes. Such a Pall changes not only the air quality but the amount of solar radiation that makes it to the surface.

This image is my best try to get the scene exactly as I remembered it. The wedge of smoke from various Montana fires were moving this way. The cloud front was forming in advance of the smoke pall with the smoke moving with the front. I have seen this develop before and got the heck up the hill well over an hour before sunset. I figures that as the sun dove behind that jagged bottomed cloud, that shadow would get projected in the smoke below. The result is a fan of crepuscular rays radiating outward away from the sun well above the cloud deck. This is a fairly expansive display. Taken through a very wide lens at 24mm .

This is the second nice crepuscular display I have seen from this years smoke/brown season. They are somewhat predicatable to me but to get the ducks to actually line up is an entirely different matter lol. This would be a nice candidate for a mirror/mirror ART treatment I’m thinking… I’ll have to make a note to reflect this back on itself. I bet a nice face will appear magically.

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

Title: Inverted Crown Sky

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Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn
Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

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Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe
Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe

Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.

Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….

Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.

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

Title: Well Fed Feeding Doe

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Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight
Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Cattle Country:

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

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Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad
Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

(Tad bit of Satire mixed in…)

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

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

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

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

Title: Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

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Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies
Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Springtime Snows Deep Gullies

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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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Windmill with Smokey Filter

Windmill with Smokey Filter
Windmill with Smokey Filter

Windmill with Smokey Filter

The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.

I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.

Photographic Musings.

Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.

Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.

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

Title: Windmill with Smokey Filter

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Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots
Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..

Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.

Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.

This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.

Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.

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

TItle: Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

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Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

Distant Thunder Mesocyclone
Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

When I see these big Monsters on the horizon, heading up to the ridge tops is my destination. I have fairly long views from there. From my house, I might see about 1/2 of this from behind the ridge I stand hon. This prairie Mesocyclone was slowly rotating about 30 miles to our north and east. A Mesocyclone is a Mature BIG thunderstorm. They are HUGE.

I’m in Wyoming for this looking into Montana. This storm was worrying folks along the South Dakota / Wyoming / Montana triple state line. If effected all three states as it moved to the south east during it’s lifetime. I see about 15 of these big storms a summer. I will work all of them with a box-o-cameras given the opportunities lol. They are wonderful ever changing photographic subject that move very slowly. (unless your under them lol).

I’ve always considered Mammatus clouds as evidence that the storm is being deprived. Without daylight heating, the storms cease growing. Thusly it is slowly collapsing. Not clearly defined is the exact causation of mammatus clouds. “When Moist air drops into dry air below.”… Essentially they are upside down clouds similar to a cloud top billowing. Similar to the growing tower of a thunderstorm before the “Anvil” forms from the top of the storm traveling faster than the bottom. The bottom has friction with the ground where as the top not so much.

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

Title: Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

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Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Awkward Fawn Late Spring
Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Awkward Fawn Late Spring

Languishing in my “to do folder” unnoticed from last spring was this little chubby gal fawn. She obviously has a lot of attitude. She was all business with her twin just off frame moments before. Now shes prancing about sticking her tongue out. You will notice the rounded belly of a baby that obviously has spent some time on the spigot. Moms lunch counter the two share. They mix that with tasty morsels from the buffet around them. I’m sure there are many good looking plants that tasted terrible though. Learning quickly is a trait of the species but this one is a mere baby when this was taken.

The deer live on what they forage . They are tougher than cattle with regards to eating certain plants. For instance, deer can eat pine needles and not abort their fetus.The turpentine in the pine needles can and will cause cattle to spontaneously abort.. So certain pastures with pine trees are not good winter pasture for cattle. Deer have a very tolerant system to deal with such things.

This fawn I have followed over the summer. This is miss “Perfect Ears” I’ve spoken of in other posts. She is always lagging behind the other two. More curious of things I believe. She is more than cooperative and tolerant of “Clever Girl” driving around, stopping and sitting with a big eye sticking out the drivers window…. I hope we have a mild wet winter… I miss the spring already….

Have a great night all from my workstation here on ranch 🙂

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

Title: Awkward Fawn Late Spring

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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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Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana
Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana .

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek
Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek

Satire:

Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.

Back to my normal programming.

Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.

Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.

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

Title: Deer Hide and Seek

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Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon
Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

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

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

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

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

Title: Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

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Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape
Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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

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

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

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

Title: Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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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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Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click
Buck Heard the Click

Buck Heard the Click

It took me almost 5 months to collect this image from one of the 29 game trail cameras I keep running in the Wyotana backcountry. They usually take relatively crappy images, blurred, too dark or too light, or just off frame. Each and every image I get off a 150 dollar Game Trail Camera has a host of issues that a 3 thousand dollar camera doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have to leave a 3K dollar camera out in the elements either lololol. I have to fix each game camera image I post within the digital dark room. I literally have to look at 1000 or more images to get one that even has a prospect of making it into my portfolio. This is one such photos. This is very close to the camera for it to be in focus in this moderate light.

I’m thinking he heard the “Click/whir/sound of the camera. This particular camera has a 360 degree circle sensor. If it senses movement anywhere around it, the camera literally swings around inside of the gadget to take a photo in that direction. So it makes a little whirly noise and a click when it goes. I like them because they cover a HUGE area from all angles. I can put one 360 degree game camera out versus 3 or 4 regular game cameras. Humm, tough choice…

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

Title: Buck Heard the Click

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Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact
Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂

The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….

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

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

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Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise
Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

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

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

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

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

Title: Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

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Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Landscape Looking Toward Gillette
Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

Good Morning…
Taken from a high point overlooking the Montana/Wyoming border into the furthest north drainage in Wyoming. The telephoto camera sees a ridge 60 miles to the south. At the left end of that ridge stands a hidden in the mist Gillette Wyoming. Around 20+ thousand people live there. The actual population depends on the time of year certainly. The boom or bust of the local economy there depends on oil, gas and coal. The blue collar guys working the hydrocarbons and the white collars that manage it all live here. Lots of people drive through there on the way to Yellowstone every year. It is the first bigger town in Wyoming on the east side.

At night I can see any clouds over them from all the sodium lights. With time it golden light pollution will turn blue as the switch to LED is underway. That is a lot of ground in between. The road distance is 70 miles but it’s 60 as the crow flies. I’ve taken photos of fireworks from up at this location during a Gillette Wyoming sky show. They would look like a dim dot on this scale of magnification. I can zoom up to show clusters of shells going off but not much detail. It’s a long way to Gillette. Took a two day trip with a buck wagon with a team. I’m sure the local pioneers enjoyed the overnight between here and there. They were tougher back then.

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

Title: Landscape Looking Toward Gillette

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South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer
South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer

Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts

Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)

Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.

This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.

The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.

The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.

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

Title: South End Northbound Deer

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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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Purple Petunia in the Dark

Purple Petunia in the Dark
Purple Petunia in the Dark

Purple Petunia in the Dark

Everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. Here’s my contribution to that fix…..

This summer, the flowers about had a rough time here at the homestead. Normally I have thousands to choose from. The hot dry weather is not a favorite of anything trying to grow. We do water flowering plants around the place fortunately. Unfortunately the early July hail storm mostly broke plants. Even big planted pots were beat to chunks of plastic leaving a mound of dirt with stripped stalks on them. All but a few of hard fought for flower pots were generally destroyed in the swath of that storm.

Add to that fun, the grasshoppers this year have been horrible. Worse, I recently photographed a Mormon Cricket (theirrrrr back!) A few of our planting have survived the summer to fight another day. This is a shot of a recovered survivor of the night after the hail storm. This flower was just about the “last man standing” here on the ranch. After 1/2 an hour of hail, most plants were shreds of leaves in a pile of ice laying on the ground. This one was in the shade of a tree trunk at it’s base.

Taken at night in very dark conditions with an LED ring around the lens. 100 mm macro.

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

Title: Purple Petunia in the Dark

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Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks
Path Through the Rocks

Path Through the Rocks

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

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

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

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

Title: Path Through the Rocks