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Starburst Silhouette Sunset

Starburst Silhouette Sunset
Starburst Silhouette Sunset

Starburst Silhouette Sunset

I’m 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 dried flower moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Any photo is a balancing act inside the camera of just three settings. A good New Years Resolution for many would be to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. I

I find that pointing cameras into the sun gives me several different color casts from burnt Umber to Crimson (Orange here). What I was hunting for here was the dew Reflections from this dried stalk . The Windmill like look was interesting to me in this very intense camera environment. Working outside the envelope is always my goal unless there is something really cool within the envelope. .😜

Disclaimer. I only use Mirrorless cameras where I look at what I point my camera at through VIDEO. A standard DSLR camera I will never use or buy again. There is a BIG difference between the two technologies. A very good present for any photo bug out there is a new mirrorless body to fit their old lenses. They are easier to learn no question. You buy camera backs as disposables but lenses last for generations. Looking at the sun directly through a standard DSLR camera can and likely will blind you. If it doesn’t do that, it could burn a hole in your cameras digital chip. If your camera isn’t rated for this, don’t do it. Be safe out there. Pointing at the sun with a telephoto is OUTSIDE the safe envelope for most cameras.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Starburst Silhouette Sunset

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Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising
Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising

This is the second image from this timeline I finished.

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps. I look at this with awe. It’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows this. Agood moon halo is tough to capture. Dynamic Range is a big deal in cameras if your working in dim light. The ability to see that halo is a direct function of your cameras ability to see the details of the hair on a black cat in a coal bin. Just apply that attribute here.

Photographic Musings: To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto.) Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings you have control of in Manual Mode. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses.

Everything changes if you are using a fast f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. 15 f-stops dynamic ranch in these high end Sony Cameras ….. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights. I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. A 600mm supertelephoto lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either E-bay or Amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated. 🤔👀📸

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

Title: Blue Veiled Moon Rising

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Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers
Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story.

This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

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Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Snowflakes Over Human Hair
Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Fibers in general will catch flakes and often hold them ideally vertically for me. I get into enough Photo-yoga without having to block light to get over horizontal flakes. I can’t think of a better media for this work as it won’t melt the snowflakes. The fibers area wonderful insulator.

Photographic musings:

Just before I started typing this narrative, I was outside with this coat looking for that perfect flake while enjoying a near zero windchill. The gear I use is variable depending on the lighting as I work from several Macro lenses. Each lens you should EVER buy should be a generational purchase. Don’t skimp on your optics… Macro Lens is the search term…

I have lenses I’m still using I bought in the 1990’s and use several e-bay acquired 1970’s lenses say weekly… They made gooooood glass in the 70’s and camera adaptors can put a nikon lens on a canon camera for example easily. On the other hand, I consider camera backs a disposable item after the repair cost exceeds a new camera. I wear a camera back out about every 1/2 year. They are worth less and less each new model that comes out. I haven’t worn one out to the point of not being able to repair one though just yet. What’s good about Sony is that you CAN get them fixed.

Environmental stress destroys complex delicate electronics, LOTS of manual settings, I beat up the settings wheels. They wear out. There is a lot of grit in the atmosphere/environment here too. I find that cameras in this extreme environment stop working in some manner in the 50-100k click mark. I easily take that many photos and more but spread that 8 cameras currently. I send one in about every 2 months or so lolol. I’m surrently back to 7 functioning workhorses for the next month or so.

Being short on cameras is sort of a handy-cap the way I do things these days sadly. Rapaired, they come back like new if History is a guide. If your able to afford it, having cameras and lenses covering all different focal lengths is HIGHLY desirable. I ALWAYS take 5 or 6 cameras and lens combinations with me while working to make what I do. You can sure take good photos with one camera body with multiple lenses though.

Problem is you have to change lenses during a shoot. No one has enough time during a sunset to be changing lenses. For an example: last night I worked 5 cameras for a half an hour last night as the Sun set directly over the Bighorn Mountains. Every camera has dozens or hundreds of images of that event. Changing lenses also introduces dirt and dust into your camera. You can buy cleaning kits on amazon. Not that hard to do. Get the right sized swab kit though…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Snowflakes Over Human Hair

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Chewy Pronghorn Chow

Chewy Pronghorn Chow
Chewy Pronghorn Chow

Chewy Pronghorn Chow

The beautiful little girl was in perfect morning light with a nice morsel to munch on. . She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye.

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “American goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said.

These guys are the sole surviving members of the Antilocapridae family in North America. They have literally been in North America for at least a million years as a species. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal… The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch. This is a female sans the patch.

They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

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

Title: Chewy Pronghorn Chow

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Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line
Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸

As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.

Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.

This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title : Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice
Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice

The 20th annual all Ungulate Barbershop Quartet Competition takes place mid-summer here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. These backcountry stage shows happen all the time but there is no one there to see it let alone hear it. Such vocal performances rank up there with the best ever heard on the ranch, generations of training of their voice. This of course is an all female chorus. Bass Tenor, Alto and Soprano all competing for your attention.

Pronghorn make a surprising number of sounds that most humans have never heard or recognized. I’ve heard a birdlike noise impossible to describe that I finally realized was coming from Pronghorn. That sound uttered when they are just calmly grazing about. They also vocalize a raspy grunting sound, that I call frog croaking. Only the bucks in small groups make this sounds in my experience.

By my observations, Bucks around Does, don’t seem to grunt in this way (it might be just boy talk out here in the backcountry). There is also the noise generated by snorting air through their nose. This sound resembles a deer snort to me. It’s likely a warning used to try to get another buck to move or to warn other animals in the herd (basically an alarm call). They also make the breathing in and out panting noise during the rut when chasing other bucks around. The intensity of the rut makes for entertaining backcountry viewing here in “America’s Serengeti” .

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

Title: Pronghorn Barbershop Quartet Practice,

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Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast
Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point last summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.

Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. This is the second of two finished images from that encounter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

2×3 feet at full resolution.

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

Title: Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

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View from Behind the Jeep

View from Behind the Jeep
View from Behind the Jeep

View from Behind the Jeep

The morning was cold but we are having a bit of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts a full 8 days later lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky with the setting moon above. This is not a composite as if it were it would be in perfect focus. I’m thinking that’s going to hard to do this way. I was 50 feet behind the car to take this with a long telephoto NOT out the window which is WAY easier lol. The red on the right side of the frame is a tail light of the vehicle. Kind of a proof of concept image for me , 👀📸

A Backcountry drive in the borderlands: (This image was of my Jeep)

Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year is hard driving with much snow depth. There are thousands of miles I’ve traveled backcountry when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Vastly limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’ve been off on two trail tracks lately (are you kidding lolol) with my F150 Raptor to work at the moment but photographing remote country roads has it’s advantages. . The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.

The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective way behind the rear view mirror and a moon gives you was worth the effort.

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

Title: View from Behind the Jeep

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Smokey Tree Framed Sunset

Smokey Tree Framed Sunset
Smokey Tree Framed Sunset

Smokey Tree Framed Sunset (Summer Memories)

This is one of the most intense smokey sunsets that I have ever captured. From the summer of 2018, I’m just now finalizing the image. I have a huge back log of about 4000 images that I’ve previous worked on and like a lot. Getting them all finished is job one around here until it isn’t.

I’m standardizing all my frame sizes to be consistent. These days I’m mostly finishing square and 3×2 aspects (landscape and portrait) with ventures into 2:1 diptychs and 3:1 triptychs multiple image scenes. I’m slowly building those “coffee table books”. I’ve got nearly 1200 finished images with 250 – 300 word (or more) narratives attached composed since September 21st 2019. Every day without fail since then I’ve put out an average of 5.7 photos and 2000 words. I’m not sure I can keep this up through the summer but I’ll give it my best.

The light environment here was quite dark with the sun still up. When only crimson hues make it through the gauntlet of smoke, soot, ash plus atmospheric conditions. In other words this was actually a very low light capture, you could easily look at the sun with your frail human optic sensors. This was more like 20 minutes after sunset with a dim moon looking at me instead of a setting sun.

I’ve seen this happen with ice in the air but never this intense. Smoke and other particulates are better at it but suspended atmospheric ice does a wonderful job trapping all the blues greens and yellows.

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

Smokey Tree Framed Sunset

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Mule Deer Big Buck

Mule Deer Big Buck
Mule Deer Big Buck

Mule Deer Big Buck

Boy I don’t get a chance to “zoom into” a big fellow such as this very often. This is after rut so this guy survived the hunt this year. I call this a 4×5 but there are two brow tines you can’t see in this profile that you can sure hang a ring on. There are so many ways to “classify” how “good” a buck is based on his antlers. I tend to focus at the condition of the animal and this guy is one nice buck. I’m thinking it weights 275 pounds anyway.

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mule Deer Big Buck

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Two Bucks in Velvet

Two Bucks in Velvet
Two Bucks in Velvet

Two Bucks in Velvet

With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Two Bucks in Velvet

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Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill
Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill

So many Satire filled narratives apply to this image with so little time/space. I’m thinking several classical themes here. One of Don Quixote in the lead wanting to dual windmills mixed with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The second theme is the Three Wise Deer” out of the east. Boy I sure could get off on a tangent with that one.🤔😜

As it turns out this little group of bucks are brothers from other mothers. The one on the left is a 2.5 year old, the middle a 3.5 year old and the leader a 4.5 year old. Small, Bigger, Biggest and all that. Doing compositions while deer are moving is a matter of anticipating where they are going to be and get lined up before they get there. These guys were definitely walking/moving along which tends to quicken the timeline and the “pressure” to get the shot. I did have the ability to move a little and I was at least 100 yards out. As a result of my position I had about 20 seconds of moving and shooting to get the composition.

Photographic musings: Automatic Crap… (there are still layers of software in a modern camera your using I point out that run all the time).

I don’t use autofocus at all. Nor do I use any automatic settings on my camera as I’ve found they get in the way more than they help. The Dreaded Manual Mode turned on, the auto functions turned off…. 2 times the battery life at least. Image stabilization while nice in theory, is something I seldom use. It is VERY battery power use intensive particularly with the really big lenses/apertures. It is my suggestion to turn off all that auto crap including that hidden adjustment. Automatic White Balance. (Google This).

Square to 18″

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

Title: Three Amigos and a Windmill

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Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

Mule Deer Buck at Sunset
Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

Mule Deer Buck at Sunset (Odocoileus hemionus if you must know 😜) From Fall of 2019

Most of my deer encounters are random. I am traveling backcountry two track roads and I crest a hill only to see something like this. I’m always on the way to set up a landscape somewhere at sunset So along the way….. . I am after all a landscape photographer who likes to specialize in close/far perspectives from the viewpoint of a mouse. Being an opportunist and stingy with my time, I pursue animal photography as it occurs. This is in contrast to trying to make it happen.

Now I have at times known where herds were and with definitely intent drove carefully/slowly into the center of the herds with my Jeep Grand Cherokee. My trick is it takes a while, I stop and start the rig, move a bit, rinse and repeat. Look like another grazing animal. It might take me 30 minutes to integrate but heck, I’ve got tunes going😀. This guy tolerated the Engine running, stinky / noisy Jeep Grand Cherokee. I suspect my new ride is just as stinky but I believe it is much quieter.

This bad boy posed for my telephoto nicely. He didn’t even ask for wages / compensation. On the other hand he didn’t sign a model release. This was just after hunting season in this area. He survived… He likely was an itinerant buck just passing through it seems as I haven’t seen him again or since. Big bucks travel many miles in their wanderings.

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

Title: Mule Deer Buck at Sunset

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Frosty Frame Backcountry Road

Frosty Frame Backcountry Road
Frosty Frame Backcountry Road

Frosty Frame Backcountry Road is a capture initiated by the -2 degree morning, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST coming over the ridge but about 6 minutes after sunrise.

This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit.

The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly yellow color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the White projector screen that this snow is. Alpenglow in the main show is bright yellow light and depending on the timeline, changes from pink to yellow shortly after sunrise. . This color cast is not that un common on local vegetation and is usually only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.

Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Frosty Frame Backcountry Road

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Fall Buck Walking Through

Fall Buck Walking Through
Fall Buck Walking Through

Fall Buck Walking Through. : In winter the Mule Deer bucks will shortly loose their horns. I’d sure like to find this set. The more I go out the more I find. Funny how that works.

Photographic Musings.

I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. This is a 3200mm telescopic shot out of an astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.

They have no aperture adjustment (no f-stop /iris/diaphram as it were). Wide open fast lens, short focal Depth of Field as a result. This is an example of being 300 yards out from this really nice itinerant Mule Deer Buck. He was giving me the evil eye anyway and the group he was with did not know me “vwery well” (Emphasis Slavic / European accent’ on the vwery). Having a stupid long 3 foot lens in your back seat is a problem if your rolling around the backcountry in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Securing it becomes an issue which of course slows bringing it into play. .😜😜📸

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

Title: Fall Buck Walking Through

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Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump
Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump

If you are “stumped” as to how I did this, I assure you it was done in the camera lol. No digital or otherwise magic involved. (well there are some orbital mechanics😜🤔)…. This was quite a ways out from my long lens to get that stump into the infinity focal depth along with the moon. Getting the moon to cooperate with the topography was quite a challenge in this hilly country.

Having terrestrial objects in the same focus as the moon or the sun is definitely an acquired skill with a few requirements for it’s practice. I’m still trying to perfect this kind of work in a variety of ways. Getting only a few opportunities a month to work a full moon low in the sky and still have the sun light up the foreground scene. Wait another 28 days and hope it isn’t cloudy during those days. 6 or 7 times a year in other words do I get a “shot” at this. .

You need at least a 400mm telephoto on a high f number for a deep focal field. You still need to stand way back several hundred yards to enable the telephoto to crush the perspective. Your lighting will change your other settings from what I used but a high f-stop is the place to start.

Perspective: Works like this…

As you step back the stump will get noticeably smaller but the moon stays about the same size. So the further you step back the smaller the stump and the relatively bigger the moon looks. Perspective takes hold….

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

TItle: Moon On a Stump

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Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post
Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post

About 6 months off season, the forest fires to the far west. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky crimson on this tiny portion of the sky placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp. When taking such images, movement of your head fractions of an inch makes a REALLY big difference. The lens is an 18 inch 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔

Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun made it to me though. The pall of smoke trapped all the shorter wavelengths of light from getting to me. I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backcountry Lamp Post

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Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising
Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

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Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter
Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter

Antique Dump Rake with a view…

As hay is cut, it will soon dry in the field. This hay dump rake would gather the dry hay. As the wheels rotate forward, the rake lifts up and dumps the load of hay into narrow rows called “windrows”. This rake can be raised for travel back and forth from the field. This kind of rake was invented back in the 1870’s and was mostly pulled by horses. It replaced hand raking. Gasoline Machinations took off in the 30’s. I suspect some of these older rakes were pulled behind WW2 surplus jeeps for a time.

Hay ultimately must then be gathered into rows, called windrows. This allows for easier loading onto a wagon. The cutting back in the early days of the 1800’s was performed with a scythe and then gathering with a hand rake. This rake was a BIG improvement over that process.

It was the invention of a mower in the 1850s brought with it a demand for a suitable rake. In the 1870s the dump rake that gathered the dry hay from the swath and deposited it into a windrow. Later, a power-lift device was included so that a simple trip lever could be used to raise the teeth using the power of the wheels. These older systems were outdated in the 1940’s. A combined raking and baling machine came into general use as the older equipment was replaced.

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

Title: Grass Rake Sun Filter

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade
Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Up here in the backcountry I use what ever is handy to reduce the glare from that big Light Bulb in the sky.

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings:

The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.

There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass in front of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….

Disclaimer:

Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.

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

Title: Lone Tree Lamp Shade

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Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Doe Fawn Autumn Graze
Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

Watching families of deer grow up is a pass time sub hobby of mine. This doe and her 4 month old fawn is moving along a grassy hill on a parallel ridge to me. They feel safe with me as I’m pretty much just another grazing animal. The group of deer these two belong to are well known to me. IT’s much harder to tell the girls apart than the guys. A three year old doe looks pretty much like a four year old doe. A year difference in the males will be really obvious. Anter size, shape and neck girth are usually unique in the males. The older battle tested males have torn recognizable ears unique to the individual.

My tracking of deer individuals is of course informal and spotty. I don’t necessarily see the same group every day. I do recognize groups though as they move around the ranch from haunt to haunt. There are certain places that each group will tend to hang at. Not reliably but tendency comes to mind. The exception is their daily trek to water which deer being a creature of habit, cooperate in the summer. I’m out more of course in the summer. NIt’s not necessary to

Deer have a gestation of around 200 days, this is not quite rut when this photo was taken so I’ve giving him 120 days since birth. This is probably a yearling doe as older does usually have twins.

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

Title: Doe Fawn Autumn Graze

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Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge
Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge (Cellulose Filter/Tree and all that)

As I’m walking along a parallel ridge waiting for little areas of zen to pop up, I sometimes am satiated. A vision is not an actual manifestation but something that occurs in the mind. An apparition is a physical manifestation of the spiritual object. I’m not sure that the difference is important in the scheme of things eh?

This scene would have given Moses second thought and pause. No human eye could have peered into this lone pine tree filtered glare. You would be blinded very quickly if you tried so don’t.

Lone Tree:

Only a few of it’s pine cones have yielded children. Little pines have started up along this ridge to start the forest back again in 100 years. Most of this country is open due to a big forest fire back in the 1930’s that burned till the snows came. There are treasures here.

Geology Under the tree.

I’ve left this spot untouched paleontologically intentionally. There are copious chunky dinosaurian fossil remains in the rocks in and around this particular tree. It’s on my ground so I own them. The fossils I’m seeing don’t demand my attention as I have a more more efficient/better bone bed to work elsewhere. That tree shelters this bone site.

This site has donated a croc tooth along with some Triceratops teeth off the surface. Teeth and large chunky bone are way different sized/density. Fossil precursors are sorted by cross sectional density. Rivers sort debris like gold pans based on current velocity. I know for a fact there is a tail vertebra about the size of your palm under a rock up there. In my world, I’m not excited by it. As they ran across them. I believe fossil sites had Native American Visitors not and then. Finding huge bird like bones on the surface would have messed with them.

I left it there as a matter of respect for the site. There are many of that particular vertebra in the ranch collection. It’s not scientifically valuable and I can show it the rare visitor that makes it up there as an untouched site letting them find it on their own as a matter of their education. There have been a few. This is near one of our rifle courses so there is relatively easy access to the site. Maybe a dozen folks have been there besides me.

The rocks there are of course Hell Creek/Lance formation. A 700 foot thickness of terrestrial river sands/gravels/siltstones/mudstones etc. All riverine based fossils, fish, turtles, crocs, amphibians, freshwater stingrays, dinosaurs, mammals, snakes, avian dinosaurs, This region has some of the best uppermost Cretaceous rocks exposed in the world. Our ranch has rock containing dinosaurian remains from the end of the dinosaurs reign. Then a meteor came crashing into Yucatan Mexico and changed everything.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands.

Title: Burning Bush Ridge

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Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire

Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire
Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire

Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire (6 months out of season, remember these guys?)

These 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. This guy was jumping around this Yucca Flower frond as seen and zipping about and then back to this place.

He was putting on a considerably good show for me in my portable blind (my jeep at the time) while I had just crested a hilltop in the backcountry. He was flitting around this Yucca like it was a toddler on a sugar high. I just by happenstance had an 800mm camera set up with me that I grabbed off the seat for the fairly close encounter. Several other Males were in the area pretty much just watching the aerobatic display I think as I was … amazed at it’s abilities. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure.

We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.

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

Title: Mountain Blue Bird on a Wire

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Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line
Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line

The sub-zero morning I took this out on a flat covered by geothermal steam. The Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. Long shadows and red light dominate this scene …

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is usually as deep as the backcountry is big. Just a few plowed paths are about to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top. The snow on the flats is unpredictable.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a sunrise session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost plus red morning light. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. This is around 3700 feet. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still awesome. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Hoar Frost Fence Line

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Book of Flakes

Book of Flakes
Book of Flakes

Book of Flakes

No I didn’t write/assemble a book on Snow Flakes yet. But this is a Stack of Flacks like a stack of poker chips. They are all aligned on their center axis. I count at least 4 layers maybe 5 here. Your milage may differ.

Reading a Book of Snowflakes

The temperature/humidity/pressure has to be just so for books to form. They can all crow from the same center ice needle. Each flake of course is unique in the book. Sitting on a coats fur collar, this flake has long since turned to ice in a pile or has sublimated from solid to gas directly. IT’s been a winter so far of mostly ice pellets. About 6 snows in October I think.. Our air is dry here and sublimation is a major source of snow disappearance by a direct phase change. Captured in a tiny tiny moment of time and space. Forever now launched in Cyberspace as once it’s on Facebook, it’s stored until the internet finally crashes lol.

Setting the proper mood:

There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,
unlatching the fortochka in the morning light.
Let’s name them all, love, along the way.

Last night snow danced its boreal ballet
of whorls and swirls, fine arabesques in white—
you know hundreds of names for snow, you say.

Down crystalline paths we slip and spin, surveying
ice falls, tall drifts, single flakes in flight—
my love and I count them along the way.

In my head, sparking visions start to play:
once love’s begun, who knows? Perhaps we might—
There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,

gently, their meanings subtle, hard to convey—
elusive as love’s many meanings last night.
I wait. You walk—silent—along your way.

Feeling foolish, unschooled, I whisk away
a sudden, childish tear obscuring my sight.
You know hundreds of names for love, you say:
I’ll learn them all, love, along my way.

— Katherine E. Young : Public Domain

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

A Book of Snowflakes

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Winter Rainbow over “W” Butte

Winter Rainbow over "W" Butte
Winter Rainbow over "W" Butte

Winter Rainbow over “W” Butte

What’s good about temperature inversions? Rainbows in winter that’s what. Snow below, raining above 👀📷 There is no such things as a snow bow like this. Rain ..

That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The trees in the foreground are well in Wyoming. 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 way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… I also doubt he saw Winter Rainbows over that Butte. I’m still trying to figure out where the 7th’s calvary’s pay (in gold) was stashed.

Sheet Rainbow:

That is a sheet rainbow caused by liquid water drops. They were refracting colors out of the bright sunlight at the end of this winter day. IT was freezing cold at the surface around 20 degrees. suspect it is not a common phenomena as I’ve never seen one before. It had been dark all day and just toward the end we got some sun. I climbed the nearest ridge and dropped my jaw. Good thing I remembered to pick it up and captures those reflected/refracted photons in my photon capture box. (camera).

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

Winter Rainbow over “W” Butte

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Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting
Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting …. Familiar here in the borderlands.

OK, you might ask how do I know this owl was hunting?. Well he is sitting 40 feet in the air above my barnyard well after dusk. 43…. err soon 42 domestic ducks hang out there. This is on top of the big light pole that lights the barnyard. I heard him and got on my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which has two very bright LED light bars that are adjustable. So I slowly moved up to a comfortable distance (for me) and started working the scene. He was rather happy with his roost. I eventually walked all the way around him clicking all the time. It’s all handheld and it was very dark but most of the images are wonderful.

A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common own in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America.

Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!

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

Title: Great Horned Owl Hunting

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Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout
Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. This was specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. I love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. I specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. Love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout