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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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Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset
Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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Twin Reflections Mesocyclone Mirror

Twin Reflections Mesocyclone Mirror
Twin Reflections Mesocyclone Mirror

Twin Reflections Mesocyclone Mirror

I had to think a little ahead this evening to get to this particular pond as the sun was going down. Timing… I became aware of these about an hour and a half before sunset. All the way (about 10 miles of gravel backcountry roads) to this little pond with somewhat of a north view. I would have liked to have had a reflecting pond on that ridge top but I’m thinking that would have been too much to ask for lol. They look like at atomic bomb cloud and actually have as much energy wound up as a small A-bomb.

This is just a small stock pond below a water tank up high in the backcountry. . I’ve seen lots of wildlife and Angus here historically. This evening was not a busy one for the critters at dusk. I figure they were up on the higher ridges getting a look at these two Massive storms off 85 miles North. I’m standing near the Montana / Wyoming border but those storms are 80 miles north and slightly east. This places them across the Montana, South Dakota/NorthDakota Triple border area. The two storms covering parts of 3 states.

The sunset that night was perfect for these storms to light up with the plethora of orange light we’ve been having of late. The fires west of us reddening up the already color cast nature of the “Golden Hour”. I worked this storm system from afar for about 2 hours. We have had our share of bad weather this year. Hopefully late summer and early fall will be more gentle.

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

Title: Twin Reflections Mesocyclone Mirror

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Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising
Sturgeon August Moon Rising

Sturgeon August Moon Rising

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

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

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

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

Title: Sturgeon August Moon Rising

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Reflections Forest Fire Plume

Reflections Forest Fire Plume
Reflections Forest Fire Plume

Reflections Forest Fire Plume

In this high country, a spring fed pond is a rare thing. To find one with a reasonable view of almost straight west is a tall request. Not quite as tall as the smoke plume from this fire. My personal estimate is that thing is 40-50 miles straight west. I’m also thinking it is miles wide at this point. I had just spied it 5 hours before when a neighbor called me as to “what was burning on my side of the hill and where was it.

Spending the next 5 minutes to go up to a high ridge it was instantly obvious mid day. Fast forward to the “golden hour” and driving to a spot where I have a huge smoke filter to photographically work the sunset with. I called back the neighbor to let him know. Short discussion I had to zip off to intersect some other trucks headed this way. All of the ranchers in this region are on a hair trigger about responding to a spark. There is no worse feeling than watching a dry thunderstorm travel over an area only to see a smoke plume.

That fire is located pretty close to the Crow Reservation very near the border so your looking across from Wyoming to Montana here. We were covered by a pall of smoke all afternoon today (as I type this a week ago). I’ve had 2 sunsets to work from this fire so far. I bet it’s going to burn awhile as that is mountain goat country.

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

Title: Reflections Forest Fire Plume

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Reflection of Comet Neowise

Reflection of Comet Neowise
Reflection of Comet Neowise

Reflection of Comet Neowise

The wind was very low but the 30 second time lapse here showed clearly any water movement with the slight blur. It was pitch black with the only light being the Comet Neowise and the star field to the north. I couldn’t have set up my tripod close to this pond if I wanted to. It’s hard to find standing water high enough these days to do this. I had to travel to make this happen. I worked this comet for 3 hours this night traveling backcountry under “fairly” low light conditions lolol.

You can clearly see the ion trail tail pointing directly away from the sun . THe chunky particle trial is leaning off to the right on the outside of the race track orbit it’s on. It will be back in about 7000 years so you better enjoy it now lol. By the time this posts it will no longer be naked eye. Binocs will work though.

Coincidentally I lined up the light pollution from the town of Broadus Montana 45 miles distant on the horizon. This kind of photography is WAY outside my normal operational envelope. It is REALLY dark out here. I essentially can not see ANYTHING in the camera eyepiece when I do this. Mirrorless cameras do this a little sloppily yet and I’m tempted to use an old DSLR for kicks to compare. Time exposures are tough on so many levels.

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

Title: Reflection of Comet Neowise

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Sunflare Sunset Pregnant Pronghorns

Sunflare Sunset Pregnant Pronghorns
Sunflare Sunset Pregnant Pronghorns

Sunflare Sunset Pregnant Pronghorns

It sure seems that all the Pronghorn Does are pregnant. This group of 6 were hanging out on the MT/WY border with apparently nothing better to do. I was able to drive by these and then come in from the other side of them for some close ups. I was actually on the road for this capture. Having a group of pronghorn already familiar with my Black Ford F-150 Raptor (Clever Girl) this early in the year is a very good thing. I actually circled these guys, got much closer and left them not the other way around. Until they get familiar with me, running away from a vehicle is the standard response.

By late summer, I’ll have these guys thinking I’m just another cow. They will pass this on to their fawns (due within the month certainly). The lack of fear for this particular truck already This will hopefully turn into many close photos of the actors in this group. This last year was a very good wet year so I expect at least several sets of twins out of this group. Six adults turn into a family of say 14 or so… The nursery is going to be busy very quickly. So turns the wheel of life.

The males are mostly off in little groups but the male that was bossing these girls around is just off screen. I’m not sure of his relationship to the developing young. I’m doubting he had control over the group all winter while they were migrating. I’m thinking he’s probably not the father…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunflare Sunset Pregnant Pronghorns

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Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond
Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.

So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).

I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.

These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.

About this photo:

The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

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Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond
Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

Taken about 12 days ago from this post, narrative written 8 days ago.. Such is my work flow these days. Present future and past reflections a this remote wetlands echo back to us in time and space. A Cottonwood Tree covered dam built many decades ago. A spring fed pond is home to many a gorgeous vista. It will have many more. Each sunset/sunrise is a new pallet of color for me to explore.

I have so many choices of where to pursue the limited time I have to chase the light. Because the wind was dead calm at the homestead. The flags were slag. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the investment of time and gas. .

“Backcountry” …. I’ve defined the term before and for all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This little “Heaven on Earth” is 2 miles of bumpy two track dirt/grass road from the nearest county road. That county road is crushed red scoria (“Clinker”) gravel. Generally local gravel travel over well maintained roads is a dusty pleasure. I point out that these roads are fodder for “Clever Girl”. She eats them up. 🤔👀

So… upon gaining the county gravel, it is 14 miles of curvey / hilly 1.5 lane road to the closest asphalt paved two lane highway. . It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. 2 people per square mile density in this area while there are several hundred cows in the same area. Cattle Country with Dinosaur Bones. …. There certainly are more remote areas of North America but not a lot of difference from those to the lifestyle of living in the “backcountry”.

This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the image as do most of my photos.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

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Reflections Bee on a Flower

Reflections Bee on a Flower
Reflections Bee on a Flower

Reflections Bee on a Flower

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more bee photos incoming lol. I’ve actually seen a few bees about but it’s 37 degrees as I type this and it snowed today.

Its nice to keep the spring season in perspective. Looking ahead 1 month is healthy if you have the images. The limitations of the technology I use are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically. Bumblers are still sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I was able to photograph bumbler since then. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys as they start appearing again. 🤠

The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on Ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which, by the way actually exist ).

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

Title: Reflections Bee on a Flower

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Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset
Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wonderful Golden Hour Sunset that night….

The science of this pond.

A lowly pond deep in the backcountry flats below the ridge my ranch is situated on. About 300 feet lower than my homestead where the Artesian Waters from rocks 250 feet underground. This water works it’s way to the surface via cracks…faults… My homestead gets water from the same formational source. But it only rises from it’s source 500 feet deep in my wells to 250 feet up the pipe. Down low topographically though, there are quite a few ponds up on this particular area as the Fox Hill Formation below is a wonderful Aquifer under pressure from up dip of the formation. Geographically, this unit stretches from Alberta to northern Colorado with analogues/ similar depositional environments further south. The western interior sea during the latest Dinosaur Era (Cretaceous) provided the barrier islands/beach for this grey sandstone with shale interbeds to accumulate.

Fox Hill Formation is a MAJOR source of ground water around big cities. BUT the water from the Fox Hill is typically diluted. IT takes purer water as it is very high in total dissolved solids (TDS). Drinking high TDS water is a good way to get kidney stones. We use reverse osmosis filters for all our drinking water. The animals drinking this are on their own and generally do OK. I did have a wonderful 7 year old quarter horse die of a kidney stone. The complications probably from drinking this water. Most animals do fine.

As the Fox Hill unit is dipping about 50 feet per mile toward the west (towards setting sun). This means that to the east it is higher giving a “hydrologic head” . The miles to the east the formation is physically a lot higher. So if you have a water bearing sandstone higher than you. Plus a crack between it and the surface, you get “spring fed ponds”. Artesian simply means that water is flowing from underground. The water flows upward to the surface because the water bearing sand is WAY above this location miles to the east. Just because water is “Artesian”, doesn’t mean it’s safe or much good to drink. It just means it’s flowing on the surface…

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

Title: Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

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Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus Reflections of the Storm
Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus clouds tend to indicate that there’s a thunderstorm about. Certainly linked with heavy precipitation some where, mammatus are very impressive at times… Particularly when back lit by the sunset (slit) over my shoulder. That precipitation doesn’t always make it down to the surface before evaporating or sublimating. (Virga). Other times it dumps several inches…

The difficulty of getting enough warm air aloft means that a thunderstorm has to be rather strong before it can form huge mammatus. Often read as a harbinger of strong oncoming storms. I find they are usually a sign of one that has just passed. Aviators taught cumulonimbus cloud avoidance live longer. Particularly with Mammatus about. Notoriously, associated with severe weather, mammatus certainly mark turbulance.

While they look impressive, they have very little impact on life at the surface in my travels. . Mammatus are merely the messengers of their bigger, tougher clouds about the area. Having one pass over RIGHT as the sun passed under the cloud deck to the west

As mammatus clouds don’t usually do damage tohumans directly. They can occur around a very hazardous environment however. Scientists really don’t know much about them. While they’re not that uncommon, it’s difficult to get scientific data back about exactly what’s going on under the thunderstorm’s anvil. They certainly reflect a density change between the air below and the cloud itself. Puffy surfaces like that would indicate micro circular flow environment of trought troughs. It’s a 3D thing going on up there. Very complex as I visualize what is ongoing under there.

Meanwhile, their striking appearance and relative rarity make them good targets for conspiracy theorists. Some believe that they’re the result of weather modification programs. As most conspiracy theories, they don’t hold much water…. or maybe there is some “water” up there lolol I consider this one of the best capture of the species of cloud that I have done to date. Next summer is a whole new set of sky shows.

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

Title: Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

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Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar
Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well but not usually in a lake. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere of course . A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling like parachutes hexagonal plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about twice the angle of your normal vision.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required for this to occur. The crystals, flat 6 sided plates all. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that a pillar 5-10 degrees pillar is not unusual. This is silly tall. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

I arrived at this remote location about 5 minutes too late to get the sun on the lake. Mapped in my head now… 👀📸.

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

Title: Reflections Sun Pillar

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Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

Bridge Over Mirrored Waters
Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

I went to Gillette two weeks ago (now as this posts) to deliver ammunition to a local gun store. (as I build such under Federal License) Heading back from ONLY the gun store and a fast food joint….. Any how I had a stash of McDonalds Double Cheese burgers (perfect for freezer implantation for later) in the back seat under a coat. (Somethings you don’t want to go through a global pandemic without ). All warm and snug there there were .

.So I had the bright Idea of taking a backroad loop I had never been on before on the way home. It’s was a 50+ mile addition to my 70 mile trip home (burgers were fine). They were still pretty warm as the down coat was effective as an insulator. That and the back seat heat vent driving with the windows open lolol. I digress….

So I’m driving along in undiscovered country with ranch names I’ve heard of but never seen before. Most roads in this country parallel drainage. Certainly crossing small creeks presented engineers with various problems. I was going 45 (which is the gravel road speed limit). Driving past the small groups of Pronghorn and mule deer . I didn’t see any White Tail or Elk on this drive. Moving along to actually cover a lot of ground. Saw this…I tried to lock up all 4 wheels but the antilock breaks got in the way again. I’m a purist and really enjoy simple cars with real feedback but that’s another narrative…..

Anyway, this scene stood out like a diamond in a very late brown season rough. The old roadway paralleled the existing road for hundreds of feed only to cross at this point. SOMEONE was the last personal to drive a vehicle over that thing. A student of water flow and drainage, I imagine , how many spring floods or flash floods from a summer thunderstorm this old infrastructure project has stood up to. Still here!

Routing: Random… Basically, drive 30 miles north of Gillette. Turn right at Weston… drive 30 miles out of my way, turn left 30 miles, turn left 30 miles…. (Basically my itinerary for this trip) lolol.

Location: Heald Road, Campbell County Wyoming. 30 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

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Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Blue Heron Launch Paddy
Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Well, sort of a Paddy lol.

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. This gal was shore wading out 150 yards out, the sun was setting. You know, a classic wetland scene. Really not common up in this high dry ridge country….. Seeing a Heron out on the ranch is rare unless you go to where they hang out. They are not known for hanging out on the high dry ridges of the grasslands. Fortunately we have several small lakes on the ranch. This lake is a spring fed OLD man made lake dammed up around the turn of the century. Early cattle drives watered here even before the dam was built.

These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus performers. Being total masters of their environment, they have superpowers!📸 I observed this one through a 1200mm 28 inch long lenses while I was on an adjacent shore across the lake. Watched it for about 20 minutes, finally it took off tired of watching me I suspect lol. The light was fading fast, I’m trying to get detailed shots of a still bird so the camera settings were not quite fast enough to totally freeze in ice the wing tips. Getting at lake level while a spooky bird watches but doesn’t fly way is a good thing :). The rules of Physics and technological limitations again demonstrate they are my masters. (along with topography if you follow my narratives 😜. )

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

Title: Blue Heron Launch Paddy

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Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon
Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon

A magical “Belt of Venus” evening up in the eastern Sky. . The sunset was 10 minutes past behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the far horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the western/opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens.

This ground is relatively easy to get to in the summer and fall as it’s on a local county road lol. This was taken spring 2019 as the snow pack started to melt into ponds as which provided the mirror for this capture. .

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the technical basics a few times. I would entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others. Just a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Title: Melt Water Evening Moon

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Dual Nature of the Twilight

Dual Nature of the Twilight
Dual Nature of the Twilight

Dual Nature of the Twilight

Sunrise, Moon set. This remote backcountry road here in the late Wyotana spring is easy to get around on. As I type this a spring storm dumped 6 inches on everything but the light has been flat. Six or more inches of snow that did blow around graces our backcountry drives now. At least for a few days we will avoid the mud season with 8 degrees on April 2nd, 2020. Winter comes late to the high ground of Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana).

The look back and the sky beyond is a technical challenge I’ve been working on for years. Occasionally I get one just as I remembered the scene. The inadequate technology in the cameras is unable to overcome the limitations of the physics of the moment. With a removable lens camera, this is the technical walking a tightrope. You can only capture deep focus images like this in Manual mode with a really good DSLR or mirrorless camera. It would be way easier I believe with almost any cell phone in the country. 🤣

I miss the familiarity/control of my old Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was under me for 15 years in this backcountry and never got me stuck. Of course I traded it in back in December, 2019. Last Truck sold by the local Ford Dealer that Decade. … The Raptor I drive now is WAY better but not as familiar yet. Knowing where the wider vehicle is…. tough… I digress. What a sky 📸👀

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

Title: Dual Nature of the Twilight

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Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Ripples Caught in Space and Time
Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.

So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).

I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.

These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.

About this photo:

The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ripples Caught in Space and Time

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Down Feather Sun Filter

Down Feather Sun Filter
Down Feather Sun Filter

Down Feather Sun Filter

Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.

To use randomly obtained feather to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a bullseye into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷

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

Title: Down Feather Sun Filter

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Reflections Melt Water

Reflections Melt Water
Reflections Melt Water

Reflections Melt Water

A little wind that night but it was spotty. The sky show was muted at first.

This capture was well worth of hazardous pay. The particular camera rig I use for this kind of work is about a 5500 dollar outfit. (lens and camera body). When you literally touch the water with the camera, there is this reflexive pucker of certain gastro-intestinal muscles that occurs. I instinctively pull back from such threats to beloved gear. I had Goretex™ lined boots on as I did wade in a bit for this. Never got wet feet though. I’m not sure when putting electronic gear this close to destruction bothers me but it does lolol. 🤔📸

The sky this night actually went full involvement with this sun a little later on in the time line and those images will be posted as I finish them. I actually spent a lot of time with a nearby herd of buck deer all but one sans antlers (a stag) this night.. I left here shortly after this. Worked them for 10 minutes and proceeded back to here for the rest of this show off this reflecting mirror.

Yet another Blue Image from me. I have done 3 in the last week which is virtually unheard of. Not sure if it’s a mood thing or not but it’s definitely happening.

Be safe all and enjoy all the TV time.

Gear (Sony Alpha 7R4, Sony 28-135 G series lens. ).

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water

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Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset
Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.

The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Reflections at Sunset

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Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show
Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on my driveway probably 15 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were windy that night, this would have been a reflective mess. I know the bottom here 😜.

This low area is part of the drainage inside my compound however . I’ve seen 4 inches of water flowing through this spot before during the spring melt. It is the secondary water course through my property. When the primary water channel is full of ice, this part of my driveway is a run off channel. Plan B as it were. lolol. My buildings foundations are a foot above this. I did the surveying for many of the structures here. I taught surveying to collect seniors in the Horse Creek Area east of Dubois.

Reflections from calm water are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.

This location is directly on my gravel driveway. Sometimes I don’t have to go far to chase the light. . As this posts the sun is setting further to the north or straight west each night after the March 19 Equinox at 9:50 PM MST. It set at 270 degrees that day. The sun is setting/rising north of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.

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

Title: Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

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Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond
Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond

The ephemeral wetlands of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, entertain many reflections every day but you have to be there at the right time to capture those photons that are worth catching…. The winds were somewhere else as the water here was mirrored as smooth as it gets. Dead calm air is quite unusual up in this high ridge line country. The ice floating on the surface of this rapidly depleting due to the warmth… Melt water pond will be here but a few more weeks. This water level is quickly dropping soaking into the Hell Creek Formation sands underlaying this spot.. There is NO snow left to melt up the hill from it. Nothing to feed it further so I’m expecting it to disappear shortly.

This nearly full March Worm Moon that evening a few weeks ago was a beautiful sight rising just a few minutes before sunset. I worked it with 4 cameras/lenses over about 30 minutes. I have a few photos to finish from the “sitting” lol. The “Golden Hour” lighting tinting everything an orange hue that is classic for the timing of the sunset ongoing over my left shoulder. The sky show there is a subject for another post another day. Seeing the full moon while the sun is still up only occurs for a few days a month, perhaps 4 chances during the month.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (pretty much directly ON the Montana/Wyoming border, the 45 parallel, precisely 1/2 way between the north pole and the equator. Exactly🤔

TItle: Reflections Moon Icy Pond

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Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Reflections Butterfly Sunset
Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Simple is usually better. I seldom do blue sunsets but here is a recent result. Something got into me here. It’s probably just me. A perfect calm water mirror present is unusual needing camera attention in my world. I would have liked to off set the sun. The composition destined to center the bright eye. The “Butterfly” on it’s side became apparent to me in the camera. I collect all sorts of frames on this timeline . This one survived the selection process to finish the image. It’s pretty rare up here to have glass flat water considering the 12 mph average wind speed enjoyed locally.

Any particular image that I post here is written for my eventual hard copy books. Amazingly, not every morning/evening sky in Wyotana is a fully involved brilliant Crimson/Yellow . Most are subdued and more like this. The Melt Water Pond here hosted the markedly subdued evening. The sun just popping out from under that dark cloud. When I invest rare spare time into travels to locations like this, I leave often when there is an obscured sun. I find being able to “read” the sky to as the future movement of large cloud bands / banks to be a useful skill. The sun slit here happened JUST in time to provide me with ample photons to acquire this image. A minute or two later, the horizon rose to cover that bright disk. The twilight show afterwards was a fairly subdued stage show as well.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Reflections Butterfly Sunset

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Tire Tank Frost Feathers

Tire Tank Frost Feathers
Tire Tank Frost Feathers

Tire Tank Frost Feathers

I was checking stock tanks the other day. We had just enjoyed 4 days of overcast foggy AND windy conditions, all below freezing. There was a lot of moisture in the air freezing on what ever it contacted. Where ever there are disruptions in air flow, Hoar frost forms under these conditions. These are 3 inch long feathers which rank among the largest I’ve seen before in person. The tank water is flowing ground water. It’s 50 degrees versus the 20 degrees or lower of the surrounding colder dry air. You can watch the water vapor stir off the top surface of the tank in calm wind.

Here it attached to the thick rubber Equipment tire’s cut edge. These Coal Mine Truck Tires wore out, time to repurpose. Cost maybe 12 grand or more new. I bought one recently installed for 700 bucks. The thick rubber tire is laid down on prepared ground. Powdered concrete under the center drain PVC pipe already in place. This seals the tank upon filling the first time. These tanks will last a century and are a one time installation for me. They would be virtually impossible to hurt. Your truck would bounce off of them if you ran into it. Might break the seal lolol. Occasionally one will spring a leak, just drop some powdered concrete over the hole and fill it up with water will usually patch it. Repurposing is a ranching tradition.

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

Title: Tire Tank Frost Feathers

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Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water
Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water

On a glass Melt Water Pond, high on a ridge that straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, this water from a nearby grassy field. Formerly snow earlier that morning, this melt accumulated very quickly. Nearly 60 degree days lately. Over several hundred acres covered by a foot of snow will fill a good sized pond lol.

So the wind was becalmed and the correspondingly glassy surface of the melt water provided an amazing mirror. It would have faithfully reflected what was beyond for the cameras. So I decided to drive my new truck into the pond and mess up the surface. (I know the bottom). One shot is all you get at this…

Driving through water:

I’ve never had a wheel slip in mud with this truck. As all 35 inch tires are in various 4×4 driving modes. Ford F-150 Raptors are complex and amazing to this old school 4×4 driver . If there is a cooler factory Baja capable truck made anywhere, I’d love to drive it. It’s perfect for what I require to get me into places where most vehicles won’t AND keep me fairly comfortable. My old Jeep Grand Cherokee would get me anywhere. It would just throw you around inside lol.

I like the view this ground has of the horizon. It has a very thin lake shore making it’s horizon band across the image. I’m very aware this is a “Halfie” which is like photographers rule #237. Never have your horizon across the Center. At least it’s level and I never worried much about rules. It’s best not to know about them sometimes as you can’t break them if you don’t know about them…. Right? 😜👀

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

Title: Reflections Over Melt Water

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Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples
Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples

I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled into the glass surface of this lake in my truck. the ripples were just moving smoothly across the glass surface. The sun was setting in classic “Golden Hour” colors when the unfettered light reaches my camera. The already bright scene amplified by the extra light from the reflection. If your chasing light this bright, you better shut your camera down to light… (High Fstop, fast speed and Low ISO). Don’t point a DSLR camera at this scene, only a mirrorless camera. That is if you’d like to keep your vision… Don’t blind yourself.

Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. Plus it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific. This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Ripples

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Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox
Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox (Today is the Equinox or old Pagan “Ostara” in the Wheel of the Year)

I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.

Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.

On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.

Close far perspective:

That nail on the post just made this photo for me lolol. 👀👀 totally am into close detail in the shadows. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. Anyone notice the mustard weed highlighted on the bottom 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title : Perspective March 19th Equinox

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Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting
Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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

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

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

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

Title: Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke
Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then. Forest fires up wind veil the sunsets as this and give the whole world an eclipsed feeling. 🤔👀

Geologic Musings:

This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the Artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface.

Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book. The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Cretaceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly un-fossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀

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

Title: Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke