The moisture in the air was thick (as in still falling lol) The Devil’s Tower National Monument 40 miles distant from my camera took on a “Marcel Marceau” face for an hour. Timing and Topography combined here for a nice dozen “rung” landscape ladder.
I had followed this storm for several hours that afternoon. Following it over towards Rockypoint Wyoming just a few miles south of the Montana border. High up on the local Pass over what I call ridge 5. It was muggy hot in the mid-80’s, with a huge Mesocyclone moving just to my homesteads south about 20 miles. Sundance Wyoming caught some national media attention for this storm. Not too many folks got to see this spectacle from the north west. The hail is covering the ground below the tree line.
I have never seen such a thing in years of watching this “Volcanic Neck” weather geologically slowly. Or course most of you know the Devils Tower was our first national Monument. The generally dark surfaces of the porphyry volcanic rock formed in gigantic columns totally coated with slushy ice by all appearances. The causational event for this odd face on the Tower was in Mid-July 2020..
My view here is not your typical tourist’s view point. That is unless you are an adventurous spirit with good tires and a spare that travels backroads of Wyotana. When you get into parts of the country that is sparsely populated, Triple A (AAA) is not going to be easy to get to respond. You have to have a cell signal first lolol.
I worked the storm that led to this photo for almost 3 hours. “Devils Tower” here is Hail Covered White. This was taken about 10 days ago when Crook County Wyoming made national News with it’s weather. I doubt more than a few dozen people saw this phenomena from this direction or at all… Sun only lit it up for a few minutes while I was working this storm over volcanic neck complex with several long lenses. I have never seen the Tower covered in hail before. I believe this is as white as I’ve ever seen it. The storm that dropped all this ice clearly visible on the three Missouri Buttes too was a big one. It ran east to west about 20 miles south of where I was observing it from.
I’m just starting to work this timeline finishing the images and writing appropriate narratives for each. Lots of lightning captures from this storm. This capture is at the end of the timeline.
Remember these posts are all book pages in my eventual coffee table book. Currently it’s over 1800 pages long about life and times up here in Wyotana. Admittedly the tower and the Buttes are all Wyoming. I’m standing about 4 miles south of Montana in northernmost Wyoming. I consider about 10 miles either side of the border (Wyotana).
Bear in mind this in early August, not winter. It was 80 degrees when I took this. An ice covered national monument is always an interesting image I think lolol. At the time I actually said “WoW out loud. Slathered with hail appears to be the towers fate . I hope no one was on the trail walking around it. If so they saw it up close and personal. All the while “slathered” too lol.. Hopefully no one was hurt. Hostile Environment sometimes up here. 📷
Location Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, Campbell County Wyoming.
I like to look back 6 months or so every once in a while. It reminds me how much I enjoy the season we are currently in lol.
A January Full Moon Setting (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020). Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages. A few definitions that apply to this moon….
A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history.
The Blood red that month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔 Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.
Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon last January. Most of my images are posted about a week after they are finished so this posts the 24th of July, taken the morning of the 10th of January. IT takes a while for me to dig back into my “Images to finish folder” sometimes. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 4 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore lolol. 📷📷🤘
Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.
I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘
Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️
Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.
Almost all of northern Crook Co. is shown in the photograph. It is a VERY wide panorama done with high end cameras. A lot of time carefully stitching 3 images, left, center, right into place. Carefully match the images contrasts / colorations as there is always differences even with adjacent photographs. All done in the digital darkroom not the camera. I’m not sure but my Sony Alphas MIGHT be able to do a hand held panorama like a cell phone. I never use that automatic crap, it uses too much battery power lolol.
This is a “TripTych”. That is a good google word for you if you’ve never heard it before…. The left panel frames the horizon…the Bear Lodge Mountains are the last ridge at about 70 miles distant from my camera. Beyond them is South Dakota. Closer in the center panel of the “Triptych” is the first National Monument (Devil’s Tower). The tower is about 35 miles from my camera in this capture early after sunrise that snowy morning. The right “Tryptych” panel contains the three volcanic cousins of the Devil’s Tower. Those called the “Missouri Buttes”. They were all part of the same volcanic system closely related in time and space. The Devil’s Tower had a better advertising agency than the Missouri Buttes. AKA known as the “Three Sisters”, the wagon pioneers knew them as a way point on the 19th century GPS they used.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that morning was climbing up the back of the peaks. Those clouds well past the 130 mile distant 13,000 feet high PreCambrian Cored, uplifted Mountain Range. Parts of Montana and Wyoming in this photo.
It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this photon trap. The sun was JUST rising over my shoulder. I was standing in the long shadow of the ridge I live on.
Getting to see weather move over those high ridges is a rare treat from this far away. These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide “Orogeny”. (Google Word of the day) Cloud peak is 13,175 feet. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east toward my camera. This deep basin is called the Powder River Basin.
The Powder River basin is a major source of clean burning coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns.
Those long fans of sand/gravel/silt and clay, dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. The first two sets of ridges are all Tullock, as are the hills behind them out to the Mountain range. They are all made of sediment that traveled from the Big Horns when they were MUCH taller.
Major Mountain Chain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from continental wide compressional forces. Huge were those forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks weathering to sand and clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed all the way… well just about to my front door.
I captured this in my photon traps RIGHT at sunrise May 11th, 5:36AM. Pre-Civil Twilight each morning I evaluate as to whether to take a box of cameras out into the backcountry. I take many sources of information into consideration. Sky above was over cast solid, it was deeply dark. You understand I can’t see the eastern horizon from my house due to a 400 foot tall ridge that way. Plus it was TOTALLY overcast and lightly snowing around 5:15 am. That’s pretty much a no go signal.
Fortunately, I have a camera sitting up high on the ridge with an east view. This is a good thing sometimes. I don’t get color in it during early twilight but I can see the horizon. The sun slit of light with a cloud deck above was enticing. Up to the top… There were many good captures from this timeline. All those back at the homestead had any idea the morning was beautiful over the east ridge.
I have to be timely to get a high enough position to line up another hill top over a mile away with a ridge behind over 6 miles out. The rising sun behind. This is just a thin slit of color on the horizon. A huge long lens looking through a snow squall filter made for a nifty morning. I am able to do this alignment two times a year from this location. Strongly controlled by topography, my angles for photography are. I’m slowly building a good map in my head where to be and when…
So this was taken through a snow squall right at sunrise. The sun mostly unfettered and very bright for about 4 minutes. Sol was just starting to ascend into the cloud deck above as this was taken. Obscured by that cloud deck for the rest of the day. Snowed most the morning amounting to not much. .
This was a phenomenal scene viewing through my optics. The human eye has no chance to see such a thing. IT would be blinding to watch. Only with technology can we reach our mind into such a furnace. Hold your thumb out at arms length. The thumb would easily cover the area of the sky that this whole image encompasses.
If you look carefully/closely at the “glare” under the rising sun / falling horizon, you can see the individual snow flakes frozen in space and time. This is a case where I could see the phenomena better in my camera’s viewer than here on the final image. In the view port, areas that are in focus have white highlights on them which makes them stand out.
In a huge battle many many years ago in a world far far away, someone lost their head….This did actually roll down the hill from whence it came…. It must have taken a heck of a sword to lop off that noggin. This is way bigger than I am lol.
If you’ve ever watched the spoof movie “Space Quest”, you might remember the “Rock Monster” that was chasing Captain Jason Nesmith. Some of these B sci-fi films have followings that create an entire world around the film. What follows is a short trip into that world…
Describing the creature this head obviously came from:
Gorignack is “Rock” in the language of Blue Demons) is a Biolithic species native to Epsilon Gorniar II
These creatures were known to be extremely violent. They were angered greatly by vibrations in the ground and sounds. Angry so much so that it goes on a rampage when provoked in a significant manner. The creature seems at least partially sapient as it has some form of language, the only words known “Trakahau gra fuyter!”, which means “Tranquility at last”.
It is unknown how this creature is held together, but it is a mass of many stones in a roughly humanoid form. It seems to be able to withstand the extremem conditions of outer space (at least partially). One here was obviously beheaded. Only for me to find some years later…
Back to my normal programming 😜🤘
You might note that the image has been rotated a little off normal up / top.
I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a flat. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 70 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year. The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years at least for this isolated survivor. The county road continues for miles on in this huge backcountry. Traveling interstate makes you miss scenes like this. With a 45 mph rural speed limit, you might take a while to do the cross country on these roads so plan accordingly. 😀👀
A Cottonwood Tree grows in a wet area but will put roots deep into the ground. I haven’t done a ring count on this tree but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Cottonwoods here are easily hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge Cottonwood, about 40 feet high but very wide for it’s height. It HAS to be lonely in it’s obscurity along this long passage in the fabled middle of nowhere. The nearest stoplight in any direction to this spot is around 65 miles.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1900 when this area was first settled
Standing strong against the elements here on the Mt / Wy border the Tulips expect there to be hard times. They store reserves in their bulbs and are tolerant of the stress to a “degree” or so lol. It will be close to the last day of frost here in zone 3A on May 15th a few days after this posts. We have planted vegetable starts a month ago in the ranches underground Walipini Greenhouse. I have hundreds of starts to plant. But they are NOT outside just yet. I have preying mantis eggs in the refrigerator to keep them from hatching just yet. In about a month I’ll buy about 20K lady bugs for the developing gardens….
The weather this spring has been variously warm and dry. There is not enough water so far based on my observations for the last 2 decades. I’d even take a few inches of snow at the moment though leaves on the trees and bushes are seriously starting to bust out of their buds. Hopefully, this trend will change at least back to the normal of 14 inches of rain a year or more.
Our latest gardening project has been 10 new 8’x4′ raised bed gardens and a roof rain water collection system with a 1000 gallon water tower. I’ll have images of this as it is finished about a week from when this posts. Unlike some places, there is not regulation of water collected on the roof in Wyoming or Montana. I’m still scratching my bald head over that reasoning. Now you know why I’m mostly bald with all the things I’ve seen in my travels…. 🤔👀
Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.
Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.
But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.
Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.
(Frank Bliss 2019).
Snowy landscapes with patchy cloudy sky…MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle deep focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have the foreground out of focus.
So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a lot of light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.
This is an antique Plow. Abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. A horse team pulled plow, never saw more than a few horsepower. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. Used turning over centuries old sod. All to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .
Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020.
I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera). Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop.
Rockypoint was located 52 miles north of Moorcroft and 57 miles northeast of Gillette. I’m not sure at this point where “Rockypoint “is” but I know where it was. About 4 miles south of this Wyotana structure that serves as a Community gathering point.
I’ve seen over 100 people crammed into that building eating some of the best pot luck dinners that rural Wyotana communities can put on. Everyone brings their best dishes for all to enjoy. I’ve been to dozens of dinners there. Locally, there is no better place to catch up on local news and gossip. Not that anybody here gossips much. We are naturally remote with a population density of less than 2 per square mile. Folks from 20 miles in all directions show up for Christmas, Thanksgiving and any other purpose those in charge decide to celebrate with a community meal. I’m thinking for the next year, it might be a little slow up there…. 😔
This was built by local families on donated land to serve just this purpose. The local ladies club that “runs” this building have fed folks remotely for numerous activities to raise the funds necessary to keep this all up. Feeding booths for rodeos, funeral dinners, and celebrations of all kinds have been served by this group. Everybody does something but hats off the the roughly dozen ranch wives that have for decades, served the community. Nothing from the gov’t here, all local.
Location: Rockypoint Wyoming, (Wyotana) about 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border.
Spring leaves a few nice winter “like” scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have many choices where to point my cameras.
There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow in composing images.. I am always trying to adhere to those rules except when I don’t 👅. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and pretty well vertically.
The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. There are two Visual tunnels in this capture. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”.
We actually have no snow cover as I type this. Late April 50 degree temps took care of that. This early April Storm was a Busy one and this is the morning after the storm at first sun cracking through the cloud deck. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface.
This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is pretty close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.
Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)
There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.
You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…
Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.
Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.
Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these
Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.
Jumping into my photo, “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill provides a close for this “Close / Far” perspective
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
Gotta love Yellow/golden Alpenglow. A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The Bighorns look pretty close in this image. But its taken by a 1200mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns look huge, way larger than they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. The area of horizon can be covered by your thumb at an arms length.
The Big Horn Mountains are indeed distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Enjoy your “time off”, make the best of it you can. I’ve been working every day as hard as ever up here in the middle of nowhere. Be safe all.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
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:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. 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. 📸
That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️
So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.
Custer certainly saw that Butte on his travels through this high country ridge/stream valley country.. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though…. he was distracted it seems. I’m still trying to figure out where the 7th’s calvary’s pay (in gold) was stashed during that journey. Such speculation can drive people wild. What they ignore in their madness is that the treasure in this country is the land itself. ⚒🤔☯
The highlights around everything is the result of a fine coating of Hoar Frost and Rime Snow. Everything facing or exposed to the wind was covered that morning. Fog covered the valley floor below this high ridge overlook.
It’s always a challenge to capture one of the moments when a tree hangs a lightbulb down from it’s heights to light it’s way in the dark. Humans have flashlights. Trees… well…🤔😜 Those Ent’s are getting high tech….
Perhaps this capture is more symbolic of the tree plugging into our furnace for all things that keep it alive. Energy flows freely in this image. Heat transfer makes everything possible. For without that furnace we would be in a cold place on a frozen rock. All life relies on this warmth. Have hope though… if the sun suddenly disappeared in a senior Sci-Fi moment, there would still be microbes surviving deep in the earth. Warmth from below, geothermal and chemical energy providing the basics for life even then. I’m not so sure sentient life would do very well under that scenario. I might be wrong…
Bright as heck scene. IT’s hard to get much more detail out of the shadows with out technology with a higher dynamic range than I have. Right now I’m working with have the ability to resolve 15 fstops of dynamic Range . Most cameras have 12 f-stops or less. The human eye has 21. D.R. is the ability to see the brightest lights AND the darkest darks at the same time in the camera. It’s easy to adjust most cameras to do either, but not both.
The mist over the water in this remote backcountry wetland was wafting slowly with the below freezing breeze above. This mid-spring Wyotana wetland capture was taken right as the sun cracked over the far ridge to the east shadowing this ground about 15 minutes longer than sunrise. Sunrise time depends on if the horizon is above you topographically or not lolol.
A snowy/frosty/blowy storm came through after a week of thawing weather melted most ice on local ponds. Rime Snow coated most exposed objects but the mist from the water definitely hoar frosted the far trees totally. Wind blowing that mist that refroze on the trees in the distance. I probably should have taken a walk over to those trees with a few good cameras but the aforementioned breeze with below freezing weather dissuaded me. Wind Chill cutting through the cracks in my cold armor is always a consideration in cold weather.
I see much wildlife in and around these lakes but they were no where to be seen this frosty morning. I suspect they were bedded down somewhere close by staying out of the cold breeze. Sheltered (lower) areas like this are an oasis from the blowing and drifting usually. The trees and topography “helping” with the natural wind break. A source of open water in places due to the spring fed nature of the lakes, many local animals winter over here.
Spring in Wyotana is a fleeting season. I think it was on a thursday last year. Winter usually lasts until May 15, then it’s green season. Green season is variable depending on the rains of course but Spring…. it’s usually about a day long. 🤔😜📷
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
No this is not just outside Sanford and Son’s and no fake heart attacks here (Do you know the classical reference?)
So Game Trail Cameras play an important role in my understanding of game and predator patterns of movement. I have discovered that every canid that goes by this stick either pees on it or chews on it lolol. Apparently it is a community boundary between Coyotes and Red Foxes. I see Coyotes coming in from the east and these guys from the south. There may be some overlap in their territories but I suspect the two different species are NOT the best of friends. Top of that stick is definitely chewed on by many animals.
These Remote auto cameras definitely clue me in to behavior that I would normally have NO chance in capturing. I could sit down in this gully in a regular wildlife blind for days without any activity with a regular camera. Not that I have anything better to do on any particular day lolol. I think I’ll let the auto cameras do the work. These two were definitely on the hunt though. They just had to pay homage to the marks other left behind as a matter of due course I’m thinking.. 👀😜
Night images via Infra-Red flash are all to capture grainier than daylight images. The quality is more like a well printed newspaper than a high quality/resolution capture from a 5 thousand dollar camera rig. They may be grainy but they sure are Candid!. This is an 18 inch by 18 inch aspect final📸📸📸
Catching any wild animal groups bedded on an early winter morning is a worthy attempt. Usually someone stands up and ruins the thought. I moved on after a few clicks and no one bothered to get out of their “warm” spot.
So can you see all 5 deer? I didn’t see them at all and I randomly stopped at a location. Looked down hill and there they were. I wasn’t being particularly stealthy at the time crunching snow with a big Black Ford Raptor. It might have stood out against the snow. Hard to know what these guys were thinking. I could have stayed there for 20 minutes. Well, I was in a warm truck and they were not so I probably could have out waited them lol.
Actually Staying for more than a few shots might have made them get up. It’s not a good policy to push deer out of a comfortable lounge chair. If someone did that to me, I’d be REALLY iffy about letting them get within camera range of me. I’m thinking they felt pretty good about their camo. I do have one good eye at least. They were invisible to me while I was moving. The minute I stopped, they stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice change really… usually I see something and HAVE to stop quickly with things rolling around the vehicle. Here I stopped oblivious to them lolol.
I was on a mission communicated clearly/assigned to me by my dogs. It was of their need for an “urgent trip” to “Go Outside” This little 220 pound Corso Mastiff had the look of a 5 year old on stage that “has to go”. He was sure he was going to “make a mess” and definitely went through the his “get my attention” routine. So while they are genuflecting to my greatness in operating the door, I was trying to get my coat on and gather a camera. The latter activity is a standard procedure along with strapping a good side arm.
So I get outside with the 2 dogs that claimed they “had to go”. Well they sort of said that. At any rate, the Male heads out and spies one of our ranch cats outside. All pretense of “I gotta go dad” when right out of the discussion. The cat was post holing across the yard occassionally shaking a paw with ice where it isn’t supposed to be. Suddenly the sat spies the dog that was already at speed moving in his general direction. The Female could have cared less and actually had “to go” oblivious to the chase just beginning.
Now if you consider this big fellow like a bear, you know to run downhill and turn at the last second. That strategy worked pretty well until it made the decision to climb up the tree to get out of reach. I caught the scene at the final standoff. I think the cat came out of it pretty well considering 😜📸
It seems to me that his is a pretty good actor. Had to go huh???.
Now you see why I maintain a network 29 game trail cameras. It’s a lot of work lolol. Well worth it. Every once in a while, I get an up close and personal face that I could never get at distance. Long lenses are one thing, getting close to a wild Coyote in the backcountry is not going to happen very much. I occasionally run upon a Coyote that is curious about my rig with my yellow flashing light running. (2 times).
The captures I get from these automatic cameras never fail to amaze me in their candid nature. Natural faces doing natural behavior. I’m thinking this male heard the 360 degree camera rotate into position to capture him. He turned in curiousity to see what the noise was. Flashing in an image balloon over his head popped up a “breakfast” as a vision…. I’m sure he was disappointed, continuing on with his Coyote business.
The quality of Game Trail Camera captures varies widely. This one is only an 18 inch square aspect. I usually don’t take them larger… Running these game trail cameras all year long, I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is the issue . They keep on recording/clicking though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off repeatedly wearing down the battery. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them. Location:
Living in a remote secluded ranch for 20 years, I’m sort of used to isolation. Many of you are battling this “stuck at home base” period of our lives feeling alone. If you feel you are battling the elements here, you know, swimming upstream, up the creek without a paddle or are just plain isolated, I understand trust me. There are not enough hours in the day as it is up here, just add more on top lolol……
To keep my equilibrium, I try to put my world into perspective daily then isolate each problem I come upon placing it into it’s own little box. Take those boxes off the pile one at a time to deal with it. Funny how some boxes disappear on their own… This lovely flower, at the prime of it’s labors, covered by an overnight chill and snow trying to kill it. Just one little box in it’s life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 👀
The ability to shrug off these burdens that we usually put on our own back is a learned skill. It’s easier to sit back and analyze arm chair quarterback others but we sometimes drift to our own foibles under this assault around us. That is a mistake and causes depression. I find it’s the second guessing that causes the most stress in life. Regret, buyers remorse…etc. So I try like heck not to do it. Worrying about something that has past is a waste of energy. The Flower took the insult shrugging it off knowing that it would be warmer later. The earth relenting to the innate ability of the species to know when to hibernate and when to grow. Like most things that seem terrible as they are happening. The tulip somehow understood the melting snow and the warmth would be coming that morning.☯
“May you live in interesting times. ” variously attributed to: Chinese Curse? Austen Chamberlain? Frederic R. Coudert? Joseph Chamberlain? Diplomatic Staff? Albert Camus? Arthur C. Clarke? Robert F. Kennedy? Hillary Rodham Clinton?
WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.
I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.
The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.
Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.
I’ve pretty fast with a long lens but keeping ahead of these canids is a job best left to the Road Runners. Occasionally I catch them with great lenses/cameras, other times I catch them with a game trail camera. The best game trail cameras I use are in the 200 dollar range. The best Sony Mirrorless with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens is in the 6000 dollar range. Both cameras take images of what is in front of them if the operator knows how to set them up, quickly I point out, and get the shot. One might get this either way. Humm, I wonder which system took this image? Under the right conditions, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.
Quality of game trail cameras is not the subject of this post as much as this hunting coyote is. I know he is hunting because he is awake. Generally they wake up with a “Coyote Breakfast”. Such menu is widely understood as a Coyote relieving himself next to a tree. No actual food for breakfast involved usually for such a creature. They are always chasing road runners fictionally but it real life, it’s all about the next meal. They do chase the original fast food….. Mostly mice and small mammals but they do get into trouble with ranchers and growers of any livestock. Baby livestock is a favorite snack for a pack of these guys.
Snowy days on the high ridges of the WY/MT border lands are rarer in the spring than mid winter. We do get some interesting snow squalls and falls during the spring. Winter storms in the spring impact right during calving season here in cattle country. This can be less than convenient to the rancher with new born calves falling out into snow covered frozen ground.
Your all mostly aware I have this photobombing windmill that gets into my landscapes now and then. Just ignore him. He’s handy for scale here though I must admit. The snow was obscuring most of the horizon coming down in shafts of different opacities. Overall it was an amazing sky but it was not very long lived with the sun setting within the minute. Without the direct flashlight beam, the sky shows intensity fell drastically over time with the set. It was very dark when I took this shot with just the yellow rays of the sun making it through the atmospheric gauntlet.
As I type this, a spring storm dumped about 5 inches on us last night. We needed the moisture badly as it has been a dry winter and particularly a dry spring. Receiving only 14 inches of water a year in this high almost desert land, we appreciate most precipitation event and await them eagerly. I seldom complain about rain or snow…
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, both sides of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)