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Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge
Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky
Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

This Crown Sky during mid-civil twilight (about 15 minutes after the sun went down that night) is a pretty rare sky event. I’ve only been able to photograph a half dozen crown skies this good in 30 years. This is the second from mid -twilight with the sun well below the horizon by a few sun diameters by the time this was taken.

It was dark. I didn’t enhance the colors, this is a time exposure of about 3 seconds which tends to enrich colors a bit. I adjusted them to where I remembered them. This is a night sky after all… I will work a “promising” sunset from early Golden Hour to late Civil Twilight. Longer if the sky show lasts longer. Reverse that for morning / sunrise. Sometimes I work from my yard, other times I’m way out in the backcountry. Hard to know what the skies are going to do.

Science Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments not you. . Try manual mode sometimes…… You do the work…. Only three main things to learn….. Just saying. (ISO, F-STOP and Shutter Speed)

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

Title: Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

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Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter
Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter (Sunset middle of the summer so a tad out of season)

Geum triflorum is a perennial native to North America. This flower seed head pictured here have a host of nicknames. These include: Long-Plumed Avens, Three Flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens and Red Avens. This is actually a rare plant across it’s range as naturalized invaders are out-competing it. 😕 I only know of a few spots on my place to find them. They are only 5 or 6 inches tall and not particularly obvious. They aren’t really an evergreen. Their leaves can last through winter turning red and crimson. This is easier for me to find than in the spring. I just make mental notes where I see them.

The Native Americans used an infusion of the roots , crushed seeds or pulverized roots as a kind of eye-wash, a tonic for menstrual Cramps, a gargle solution for sore throat and general stomach complaints. You will need to research further to get the processes involved in those uses. I only see them a few times a year during the late spring and earliest summer. Spring was on a Friday this year as I remember our yearly spring day. 😀

There is a little belly time involved in pursuing this kind of cellulose filter. I way prefer natural cellulose filters rather than glass filters. The Bokeh show us a sunset view . Rolling around on the open pine forest these are thriving in, has it’s host of risks. This is cattle country after all. Then there is Prickley Pair Cactus How else am I supposed to stay in shape? Rolling around in the woods.

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

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

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Grass Sunlight Filter

Grass Sunlight Filter
Grass Sunlight Filter

Grass Sunlight Filter

Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.

To use the head of a shoot of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass 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 fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You onlyhave 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: Grass Sunlight Filter

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Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun
Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun

This is a wonderful place in the world. I’m standing there on this toe of a long ridge with 130 mile long views across all those other ridges and ranges of Mountains. The air is crisp, a good breeze cutting into the chinks in my weather armor. Your fingers get cold working metal cameras and lenses. 

These pines were enjoying the last of their bath in the late day mid-winter sunlight. One even hugged the celestial object with affection but you have to keep a little distance from that hot old thing… 

This high backcountry ridge shows you clearly the parallel ridges I work photographically every day. Working the shadow line gives you amazing opportunities for photographic compositional creativity. Little areas of Zen are everywhere. I walk long distances up in the trees as it keeps me healthy. All I have to do is avoid falling on my A**. Now that has happened more than a few times. Usually when I’m looking through a camera and moving at the same time. A piece of sage brush is usually the culprit. An occasional stray piece of barbed wire mixed in brush can also mess up your day lolol. 

Ridge tops exposed to wind become scoured of snow. All the while, surrounding hill slopes become buried by wind driven powder.. At these low temperatures snow in the deep gullies under trees is still fresh. The snow on the ridge tops exposed to bright sun becomes crusty/icy. Traveling in the backcountry during mid winter is wrought with pitfalls. Low areas drift over concealing the threat to stick the rig your riding on. My old Jeep avoided snow deep enough to stick it over it’s 15 year tenure . 

Location: Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Embracing the Sun

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Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry
Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.

Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.

This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.

Location: Ridge 1, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

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Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns
Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns

Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana.

I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 1200 mm long focal length to have a sun that large. on a range so far away. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing.

This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.

Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys). DSLR’s need not try this with a really long lens. That sizzle sound is your eye ball cooking …..

The lower shadow of a mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper. Amazing geology of a very large scale up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Sunset Over the BigHorns

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Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink
Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Sunsets up here are an unfettered bright environment photographically. Using a lake as a reflective media just about doubles the light intensity. So walking down range of such things is a rough road to a good image. TOO much light…..

Photographic Musings: 3 things to adjust in Manual Mode (because your cell phone isn’t going to take this shot) Easy as 1,2,3….📸😀

Turn that top big dial with the M on top of your camera. Turn it to M. (Manual Mode)

1: F-Stop: For this bright environment, you really have to turn UP the F-stop to about as high as it will go for your particular lens. This gives you a very deep field of focus where the grass up front is sharp as well as the cattle and sky. High fstop also cuts out light. (High F-stop = Little pin Hole as an aperture. . Low F-stop = Big aperture (pupil) in the lens.

2: Shutter Speed: You also have to turn up your shutter speed to a very fast shutter which cuts off some of that light. Say 1/2000th….. (variable), A faster shutter will let in less light. A longer/slower shutter lets in proportionally more light. 1/100th of a second lets in twice as much light as 1/200th. A little speed change can make a big difference. Your using shutter speed to adjust exposure usually last but here I’d use ISO as the last variable and keep it a fast shutter.

3: Camera Sensitivity (ISO). A low ISO number is used for Bright daytime. So ISO 100 or lower if your camera will go there is usable. Really low ISO introduce noise into the image though just as High ISO. Native best choice for daytime is ISO 100. ISO 800 for dark rooms. ISO 3000 or higher depending on your camera will introduce grain and noise.

Your priorities are deep focus, and proper exposure. Set your first priority first which is F-stop for the focus and cutting light. Just two left.

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

Title: Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

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Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire
Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire

Twilight to me is a night sky in this case, late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Horn Layers of Fire

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Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising
Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising

Musings: How I worked this Scene

This is tough capture that your not going to get on your cell phone lol. Let me set the stage for this stage play beyond most of your picture taking experiences.

To have this melodrama unfold in your mind, please understand that that silhouetted ridge is 40 miles from my camera. The sun a bit further. With the prodigious size of the optics, a significant wind cross section can be a factor moving your camera about. Not so much for this bright light capture. Shutter speed will dampen that motion. You need to use a fast shutter 1/2000th sec or higher so as not to gather too much light. Also LOW ISO numbers (camera sensitivity).

The most important thing is setting your camera to a HIGH a f-stop number as you lens will go. If you don’t, this WILL cook your camera’s sensor if your not working through a pin hole sized aperture. Talk about a bright scene….. The human eye has no right to be looking into such a harsh environment. (Disclaimer below)

Working from a high ridge helps get above the hazier air (at times) closer to the ground out of the picture. It improves the angle. Position is everything. Now I’d love to have a cell tower or a building for scale. Alas, there are not many up in this country with no cell service lol. Those are full sized trees and they are really REALLY far away👀 3200mm lens involved in this. Tripod for sure lol.

I remind you that it’s not the sun that is setting/falling here. We live on a spinning ball with the horizon actually doing the rising thusly slowly covering the face of the sun. The “Sun Slit” under the thick cloud deck above was just a sliver. Only allowing this fleeting scene to penetrate the space between the cloud with the opaque earth.

Disclaimer: Do not point your camera at the sun without knowing that DSLR’s have a direct light path that can and will blind you if you watch the sun through it. I use mirrorless full frame technology and watch scenes on video. No direct light path AND

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Hills Ridge Rising

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Beer Bottle Sun Filter

Beer Bottle Sun Filter
Beer Bottle Sun Filter

Beer Bottle Sun Filter

So I’m driving around the backcountry . This old piece of Drill Stem Pipe was 10 foot high off the ground with this wonderful sun filter on top. No way a person that wasn’t standing on a horse to get this up there. It’d take a heck of a toss to place that bottle up there so high. At least a 3 pointer I’m pretty sure if so thrown.

I’m always looking for sun filters of any kind but glass in front of my lens. This of course is a notable exception. Usually I shun “Screw on” UV filters, Neutral Density filters and glass in general as they leave ghost images of the sun when pointing into the sun. This amber glass was the perfect solution to how to take the sun without blinding yourself or the camera.

Can anyone ID the Bottle as to what brand of beer? I don’t drink it so I’m clueless.

Photographic Musings:

This was done with a canon M50 consumer level camera. Maybe 600 bucks on Amazon, get a used one. It’s a small sensor Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera that held up to me pointing them into the sun just fine. I can testify it can do this kind of work lolol. If you want a good mirrorless camera to start with fairly cheaply, I suggest that model. I’m not saying you couldn’t destroy the camera looking into the sun with a telephoto with no filter, you could.

Disclaimer, this kind of photography CAN damage your cameras and your eyes so use only mirrorless cameras rated for this work. Never work sun under f22 or even higher if your lens can stop down more.

Square to 18 inches

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

Beer Bottle Sun Filter

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Sunrise Through Natures Eye

Sunrise Through Natures Eye
Sunrise Through Natures Eye

Sunrise Through Natures Eye

I see this capture metaphorically as closing one eye to observe the view through this ocular shaped frame. Eyebrows above and a bright pupil from the sun rising behind a deep veil of clouds. The illusion was complete to me. The colors were marvelous. I worked this sunrise hard for about an hour from twilight to mid-golden hour.

When I’m walking around the backcountry, I try to see natural shapes that mimic familiar shapes. Commonly those are anthropomorphic reminding me of human attributes. Here I was looking through Natures eye actually feeling like I was looking through one 👀

This scene was spectacular for that imaging/seeing. I’m pretty much standing on the Montana/Wyoming border with “Turtle Butte” to the left. Several layers of trees constitute the rest of the frame. I call that hill “Turtle Butte” because it has a wonderful turtle silhouette on it’s top from the right angle. This late in the year, the sun is rising so far south, that angle is a few months around the corner.

This is one of the last photos I will have obtained from my old Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in on a new truck. My angles will change with the new ta;;er vehicle. Modified is the way I see those little areas of Zen. By over 2 feet, my viewpoint should be elevated. Hopefully this vehicle will ride better, and go where ever it needs to. My Jeep would go anywhere my Polaris Ranger could more or less. It would just throw me around the cab doing so. A properly built Ford F-150 Raptor is a bit longer than either of the previously mentioned vehicles. The tendency to “high center” more easily is a characteristic of a long truck. By the time you read this, I will be driving it. First new vehicle in 15 years. Finding myself stuck is the backcountry has never happened to date.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Through Natures Eye

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Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

It appears (to me anyway), like a skull looking up/left. What do I know as I have an overactive imagination. Great image for Halloween or just the 2nd day of January when this first posts lolol.

Heres an image from April of 2018 that I just finished. There wasn’t much to do to it. This shot is an interesting distortion by the 400 miles of atmosphere the setting moon light has to travel through to get to my camera. Changes in air density and humidity make for surfaces that refract/bend light just a little bit. This is metaphorically an imperfection in a glass lens.

Your actually looking at the moon when it is geometrically below the horizon as that same aforementioned atmospheric lens is at work. The atmospheric lens bends the light so that the sun and the moon actually set a little bit after the scheduled time for setting. They also rise just before they are scheduled to do so because their image is bent around the planet.

Waxing Gibbous Moon leans to the right as it sets. The little crater dot on the 3 o-clock position is a moon setting position. That crater, (Mare Crisium is it’s name) will be positioned at 12 o-clock for a rising moon image/scene. Keep your eye on that little Mare next time you see a photo of the moon situated on the horizon.

The ridge in the foreground is about 1000 yards out in this 3200mm telescopic shot. It was quite pitch black when this was happening.

Good Evening All and be safe in what you do.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

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Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree (with all due respect to Mario Lanza I changed the title to my image to Oh instead of O….)

Even the Wildlings way out in the backcountry have decorated trees to enjoy this Christmas day. A trillion of these moments in space and time happen all the time. It is a matter of realizing the possibilities and having the technology (in your hand) to capture the image.

Each and every one of these trees was casting a hugely contrasting shadow. I just had to pick the place where I could see the whole shadow. Again topography controls / limits my photography. That gravity thing is also a problem.

This well blown snow accumulates around the Yucca Plants. While where I’m standing is only about 6 inches, there are places in the hollows where it’s knee deep. Getting here was half the fun of this photograph 📸🎄 I’m locked out of most of the backcountry now. I have to plow a road if I want to get up on the big ridge. A couple of miles of plowing but I like to wait for a big storm to come through and blow around. Let it drift abit before I take the time and diesel fuel to clear a path.

Hope Christmas morning was blessed with family and gift giving to all of you. It’s right around noon as this posts and it’s gonna be time for a nap sometime soon lol.

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

Title: Oh Christmas Tree

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Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral
Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

6 months ago during the summer solstice of 2019, a BIG 100 mile across mesocyclone moved over us right at sunset. Of course “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill jumped into the photo as he is a terrible attention hog. I have no control over his actions. Windmill Wednesday AND Christmas Wednesday. , Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘

Satire:

I do understand through a third party that “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill wishes all of his fans a very very Merry Christmas. He has this insecurity problem where he wants to solve through fame and fortune acquired via his exposure in pictures. So he rushes into my images. His brother “Re-Pete” I’m sure also has Christmas wishes but he couldn’t be present at this photo taking session. He was over the hill out at his hangout during this storm.. Hard to get a family together portrait of the two brothers. They can’t move easily through the timber. I suspect they haven’t seen each other for a long time. I’ll have to see if I can arrange a digital family reunion someday…. 😜

I’m not sure what his New Year resolution. I’m pretty sure it has to involve photobombing more and injecting himself into my landscapes.

My new years resolution is to catch more skies like this and finally get all these images I’ve got stored away up on my web gallery. That will take a “while”. I consider it job security.

From all of us at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, all of it’s creatures mythical and otherwise , Merry Christmas and a Happy/Safe New Year. 2020 is going to be an interesting year to be alive.

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

Title: Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

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Snipe on a Post Silhouette

Snipe on a Post Silhouette
Snipe on a Post Silhouette

Snipe on a Post Silhouette

The Old World Native bird, the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is often “hunted” in lore and legend. You take the “new guy” out hunting Snipes after all. If you didn’t, you were raised in another country than I was lolol.

Well this is a silhouette of a real Common Snipe bird. They are of course considered a wading bird but I’ve seen them in my yard numerous times.. I catch them digitally in our barnyard pond as well as the wetlands here in the borderlands. Home on the range here in the side yard lolol.

Catching silhouettes against a beautiful twilight sky isn’t an easy or common thing to do. I’l like to have more of these. Snipes are fairly tolerant of my vehicles but they don’t like me getting out at all. I was trying to walk up slowly to one and it didn’t stick around. It wouldn’t have left had I not gotten out of my ATV. They tolerate vehicles pretty well but not the human shape was the lesson I got out of that lolol. I’ll use my portable blind/vehicle. I don’t seen them too much so I hate to loose them to being seen 👀

Under Twilight conditions, you have to be really lucky not to have the bird move for this 1/2 second exposure. I get a lot of chances to shoot birds on posts but this early in twilight is really dark.

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

Title: Snipe on a Post Silhouette

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Sunset To Be Remembered

Sunset To Be Remembered
Sunset To Be Remembered

Sunset To Be Remembered
The mountains 130 miles away under the setting sun is a section of the northern BigHorn Mountains as seen from my ranch. The blue above grabbed my attention at the time.

Such abrupt contrasts are difficult to find but fun to catch. The mountain ridge in the distant are huge in the 9,000 foot range. The bigger peaks of the Big Horns are to the south. The mountain ridge up close are a silhouette of the “Red Hill” a 4000+ foot high ridge.

Smooth gradients and a really long perspective with the dark ridge being 40 miles away from the camera. Long telephotos crush perspective bringing things that normally look far away closer. The relative changes in size mess with our sense of perception. Moving back 100 miles from the mountains make the mountains look small. Moving another 100 miles from a sun that is
Mid-summer provided the atmosphere for this deep image.

The image of the above sun shows it setting at the furthest north point of June 21st 2019. It set the furthest south two days ago on December 21st. The Winter Solstice presents the south pole to 24 hour light and the North Pole to 24 hour sun. The arctic and antarctic circle are the lines demarcating the start of 24 hour sun in the summer as you approach the poles.

Now the day are getting long and longer. My personal nights are getting shorter and shorter between sunrise/sunset.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title:. Sunset To Be Remembered

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Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter
Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Forest Fires hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image. Various levels of smoke from burning forests give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact. I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels.

I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses. When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have lefts a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄

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

Title: Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

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Cellulose Filter Sunset

Cellulose Filter Sunset
Cellulose Filter Sunset

Cellulose Filter Sunset

I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lenses. They sometimes give me ghosts that are virtually impossible to remove. My alternative is to use what ever cellulose that is hand. I present a couple of nicely filled out grass seed heads for your filtration enjoyment…..

I find a lot a beauty in simple things. There is never a lack of something to focus on I find. As long as there is light, a piece of nature and a good camera, anything is possible. Making a crescent sun out of a cellulose fan…. not as straight forward as you think but worth trying sometime. Be careful not do this with a DLSR camera as you’ll likely blind yourself. I only use mirrorless removable lens cameras for such “into the sun” images. I watch the image on a video screen in my camera. There is no chance for me blinding myself looking at video. I point out AGAIN that regular DSLR cameras have a straight light path to your eye. You really can do damage.

Some mirrorless cameras are not made/designed/ able to look into the sun directly. You will burn a spot in your cameras sensor chip on smaller sensor cameras. You might check with the manufacturer to see if this kind of ultra bright work is safe with your particular camera/lens combination. Not all cameras are. The larger sensor cameras spread the image out over a much larger area and thus the temperature on the sensor is reduced.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cellulose Filter Sunset

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Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire
Prairie Smoke and Fire

Prairie Smoke and Fire

Geum triflorum is a perennial native to North America. These “Three Amigos” pictured here have a host of nicknames. These include: Long-Plumed Avens, Three Flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens and Red Avens. This is actually a rare plant across it’s range as naturalized invaders are out-competing it. 😕 I only know of a few spots on my place to find them. They are only 5 or 6 inches tall and not particularly obvious. They aren’t really an evergreen. Their leaves can last through winter turning red and crimson. This is easier for me to find than in the spring. I just make mental notes where I see them.

The Native Americans used an infusion of the roots , crushed seeds or pulverized roots as a kind of eye-wash, a tonic for menstrual Cramps, a gargle solution for sore throat and general stomach complaints. You will need to research further to get the processes involved in those uses. I only see them a few times a year during the late spring and earliest summer. Spring was on a Friday this year as I remember our yearly spring day. 😀

There is a little belly time involved in pursuing this kind of cellulose filter. I way prefer natural cellulose filters rather than glass filters. The Bokeh show us a sunset view . Rolling around on the open pine forest these are thriving in, has it’s host of risks. This is cattle country after all. Then there is Prickley Pair Cactus How else am I supposed to stay in shape? Rolling around in the woods.

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

Title: Prairie Smoke and Fire

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Perspective Border Fence Line

Perspective Border Fence Line
Perspective Border Fence Line

Perspective Border Fence Line

This fence is parallel with and pretty much directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. Precisely 1/2 way between the North Pole and The Equator. 45 degrees north Latitude. You are looking West for the Sunset.

At the Spring OR Fall equinox, the sun would set straight to where the fence line is headed off in the distance. (Straight West) This alignment says somewhere in Late July or Early June. The sun is setting WAY north of the 1/2 way line. They were getting 24 hours of sun north of the Arctic Circle about the same time this photo was taken. The tilt of the earth with the northern hemisphere facing more directly at the sun will result in this alignment. You can’t believe the timing involved at getting the sun inside of a little peep hole like that wire . Hand holding a camera, moving your lens a millimeter in any direction and it’s out of alighment.

Same type type peep site on an old Shiloh Sharps 1873 model rifle. If you know what I speak, I could be your friend.

Photographic Musings

The twisted wires gate, made of stainless wire, is a highlight monster. I really like finding shiny metal gates. I make a note of where they are and head there under the right sky conditions. No matter where you are looking to take pictures, a good portion of what I do photographically is based on awareness of various interesting/complex’Foreground objects”. I have a map of them in my head. I look at the sky, where the sun is setting/rising, often then deciding what I’m going to be doing that photo session. Picking my targets, using my time effectively. (Plan what you do before you go out but be flexible and adapt.).
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Perspective Border Fence Line

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Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise
Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise

Pareidolia:

This phenomena is the ability to see faces in common objects. The scientists say it developed in our species due to infants need to smile when they see a face. The smile engenders loving care in return. The babies (a million or so years ago) that smiles more, were cared for better on average. They grew to adult hood and reproduced. Rinse and repeat cycle over and over and over. We are teaching computers to do facial recognition using essentially the same process. The ability to see shapes out of random data is a survival skill.🤔 This “ability”/curse used to be considered a sign of psychosis “back in the day” before it was recognized as being absolutely normal lolol.

Taa Daaa. (or un taa daaa? which is a classic reference), This captures was during a wonderful morning of bronze mottled/rippled cloud deck with the sun just cracking the horizon. IT was dead calm on this ridge top which is not that common for me.

Trees Beard here is of course a distant cousin of the Ent’s of Tolkein’s masterpiece. (If your not a geek and don’t know). They were walking/talking tree creatures of great age that watched over the forest like shepherds. That’s all within the frame work of the Two Towers book out of the trilogy.

At any rate:

I also see a wolf’s head outline in the negative space the trees provide. Some may see a horse. Something else?

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Beard at Sunrise

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Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral
Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Photographic Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments. Try manual mode sometimes…… Only three main things to learn….. Just saying.

When ever I try to capture a fairly bright sun, I actually use no lens filter in front of this or any other of my sun shots for several years now. I use mirrorless camera gear that shows me the image on a video screen. This prevents me from being blinded doing this twice a day when I’m working photography a week at a time. DSLR cameras in contrast to Mirrorless Cameras have a direct path for light to your eye. Yup, you can blind yourself doing this once.

With the right gear rated to do this, turn down your ISO to 100 or lower if your camera will go lower), turn your fstop to the highest number of the lens your using has. (this closes the “pupil of the lens to a pin point). A LOW F-stop will open up the lens and you’ll have overexposure PLUS the tree will be out of focus). High f-stop numbers give you a long depth of focus. As well high f-stop reduces light. (sort of important looking into the furnace).

The last of the three things you adjust in manual mode is Shutter speed. This last setting is your variable with the first two setting taking priority in getting this image. It may take everything your camera has for a fast shutter say 1/3000ths of a second. My Sony Alphas will hit 1/8000th of a second for a LOT less light.

Many consumer entry level cameras don’t have enough dynamic range built in. The ability to shut down light enough is part of that.. Then you use a screw on glass filter in front of the lens. Called Neutral Density filters, available at any camera shop for your lens. Coming in different degrees of darkness, they cut down light. In my experience, they give you ghosts to deal with in the image. This is why I don’t use them..

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

Title: Etherial Light in the Cathedral

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Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night
Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night

It was around 11pm and my Mastiff’s wanted out. It was the beginning of a 24 hour snow but it was still rain at this point. The drizzle covered anything exposed. That is a 400 watt LED stadium light. It is as bright as the sun versus the total black here in the backcountry. According to nasa, when it’s dark here, it’s as dark as the north Atlantic Ocean. I can see lights effecting the sky from towns hundreds of miles away. Particularly if I go up high and look around. (Billings, Gillette, Sheridan for starters). You can’t see the actual city lights but you do see the glow in the sky on the horizon. The cities light pollute the local “seeing” and not at all here, 70 miles from the nearest town.

I don’t do much dark night photography these days. I’m not sure why but I do need some sleep sometimes.

Photographic Musings:

I did this without a tripod as I was only hunting for the highlights in this image.. Negative space here is as important in the composition. I wanted to razor edge the settings. So you need light in the camera AND a fairly deep focus. Compromise. ISO 1000 for sure. (or a tripod) and minimum handheld shutter speed of 1/50th. That only leaves f-stop to set. . If your far enough away, you’ll have some leeway in f-stop. F-stop primarily going to be set low numbers here to gather light, damn the reduced focus depth of field as a result of the low f-stop setting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Reflections: Ice Covered Night

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Sunset Up Close and Personal

Sunset Up Close and Personal
Sunrise Up Close and Personal

Sunset Up Close and Personal

When the trees on the ridge 40 miles distant from my lens are in focus (more or less for the distance), the sun is scalloped and crushed The hundreds of miles of atmosphere the sun is filtering through, is distorting the suns edge. I get to watch those scallops move in real time when I set up shots like this. Big long lenses are necessary to do this kind of work.

When present, heat shimmer will create optical distortion that will diminish the quality of medium and long distance photos. trees at 40 miles is pretty hard to focus with moving air caused by heat islands in between my camera lens and the ridge. There is some distortion of those trees by the intervening atmosphere as well. Imaging anything over 20 miles I find you start running into distortions of various kinds. It’s not the lens, it’s the atmosphere.

What can you do about this distortion problem? Heat waves in the landscape are an image quality factor that you generally can’t spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to remediate the problem. . Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image. Low angle moon and sun images are going to have differential heating between you and the moon/sun. Fact of physics and the environment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Sunset Up Close and Personal

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Spring Time Heron Rookery

Spring Time Heron Rookery
Spring Time Heron Rookery

Spring Time Heron Rookery is a capture from Late Spring (May) of this year. I know it’s a little out of season but I think a little green is good now and then.

There are 6 Great Blue Heron Nests are 50 feet high up those Cottonwood Trees. (Can you find them?). There were sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action. This was a sunset looking north. Early in the year the sun is still way to the left and has just set. There is NO blue shadow under the pink that would represent the earth’s horizon’s shadow. If the sun had been down for 15 minutes, there would be a large wedge shaped blue shadow low over the distant hills. The pink band moves above as the red light is reflected by the ice in the atmosphere becomes blocked by the horizon.

As I said, any darker and the bird would have blurred. This is right on the edge of catchable in the camera. I would love to see green grass sooner than May. That isn’t happening up here lol. These 6 nests have been productive this year. The species as a whole haven’t been seen here for months now. They move south as the lakes they feed on freeze over.

This is a spring (and runoff of course) fed lake from an aquifer 500 feet below by a crack in the ground. (a fault). This crack allows water to seep up to the surface because the “hydraulic head” is higher than 500 feet at this place. The sandstone that provides this lakes source is literally a water tank full 500 feet higher than the sandstone is at this location..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Spring Time Heron Rookery

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Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry
Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.

Years ago I used to think this was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.

This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting. This reminds me of a shower glass door for some reason lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

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Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect
Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

Capturing Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect is not an easy settings combination to figure out on your camera. It is counter-intuitive to say the least and a cell phone isn’t going to catch this image. The layers of ridges , the sails blur, the rising horizon (setting sun)🤔

Montana skies on the right. Wyoming Skies on the left. Living on the Montana/Wyoming border has it’s little spiffs lolol.

There are 3 things you have to set to run a camera on manual:

1: Your first priority here is to catch a blurred windmill. The only way to do that is to set your shutter speed to a very long 1/15th of a second to facilitate the blur. That makes a longer time for the windmill sail to blur the whole disk. Your kind of stuck with this first setting priority.

2: So then you have a VERY bright sun on the left of the frame. …. …. Your f-stop will reduce light so automatically you turn it all the way to the highest number the lens will go (this was f64). I was about 300 yards out from the windmill. 800mm telephoto.

3: You will still have to turn the last thing you have to set to run the camera on Manual. ISO or Camera sensitivity . I would think not many cameras can do this because they don’t have enough built in dynamic range . I use ISO 80 for this and the camera will go down to 50. Yours will probably go down to ISO 100.

This was done WITHOUT a glass neutral density filter in front of the camera but that might help some of you that cant turn your ISO any lower.

Disclaimer:

Now you know everything I know about trying to take one of these except, don’t do this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye will blind you. I look at a video screen to do this using mirrorless cameras. Also, make sure your using a camera that can take this (is rated for it). a direct sun through a long lens can and will melt some sensors in cameras out there. Don’t melt your camera please.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

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Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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Channeling Japan in the Backcountry

Channeling Japan in the Backcountry
Channeling Japan in the Backcountry

Channeling Japan in the Backcountry is a capture that brings the orient to mind. Classic Pines, striking sunsets, sloping ground. I’ve never done an “Uphill” on the sun’s side before. The extra negative space somehow balances this equation of light and time.

This was a cold morning and I had been looking for a place to do this as the sky was phenomenal. A veiled sun is always a good subject to work on Parallel Ridge. Follow the shadow line and see what lines up. Get some trees a few hundred yards out, turn up your f-stop and see if you can get them in focus with the background. A long focal field utilizing a telephoto lens is possible. But only at the great cost of a loss of lighting getting into your camera. You have to turn light gathering ability up in your camera by either increasing your camera sensitivity(ISO) AND OR use a longer exposure to enable light in over a longer period of time.

So distance from your forground object is your friend. Don’t forget to look behind yourself when you “step back”. The few times I’ve fallen with camera gear were ALL walking backwards. I’ve stumbled a few times doing other things but falling on my ass….all walking backwards. Save the cameras though lolol. Scrambling around the ridges and hills covered with sage, yucca and other low bushes is challenging for vehicles AND on foot. Loose rocks. I’ve put a few miles over such terrain. Sure footedness is a skill I have been lucky enough to develop.

It’s the camera’s I’m worried about lolol. I drop or somehow ding one about once a year. Fortunately I’ve only ever damaged camera bodies. The lenses have done fine. I watched a long lenses 3K dollar rig bounce off the ground

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Channeling Japan in the Backcountry