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Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters
Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.

I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.

Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.

If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

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Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama
Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

This is landscape close/far perspective version of a similar image I have in portrait image aspect. It was taken at a different place in the timeline. These skies morph by the minute. I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow.

Created is a classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun was over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This was the longest day of the year.

It was a beautiful morning. Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of.

I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.

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

Title: Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

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Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

Summer Solstice Sunrise Show
Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow. A classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun is over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This will be the longest day of the year. It was a beautiful morning.

Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of. I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.

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

Title: Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

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Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals
Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :

So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….

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

Title: Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

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Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice
Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

I sense the turning of the wheel again. Living here for 2 decades now, makes me ponder those that came before me. Loving the land as I do all.

There are so many ranch stories from any one particular spot that will never be told or known by the public or for that fact history. Some epic, standard stuff sure and most were. But stories of sweat, toil and hard work by generations of cowboys and cowgirls in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

I look around at all the fence posts set deep in the ground on my ranch, I just shake my head in astonishment at the work. If anyone hasn’t hand dug a post hole, raise your hand, you know who you are. This is true cowboy country. There is a huge cattle culture in this place complete with the uniforms for such.

The both counties my ranch spans have WAY more cattle than people living in an area the size of a small state. Ranches can get large up here, not as big as some of the historic ones though. There are still a few 100000 acre outfits (outfits as they call ranches locally 🙂

This IH/Deering Seed Drill was certainly used in the 1920’s and 30’s maybe into the 40’s. There are several old homesteads from the 20’s (ish) within 3 miles of my place that I know about. Somewhere back then, the owner parked this complex machine meant to drop seeds with some precision into a prepared field. It was the last work it did…

Planting Hybrid Grass seed was it’s primary job. I’m not sure what pulled it, maybe both horses early on and then the rancher got a tractor or a WWII surplus Jeep and pulled it with that. Many surplus Jeeps worked fields here in the west during the 40’s and 50’s. So many stories not told…. I even find fragments of historic leather harness “tack” for horse teams here along with the iron skeletons of old 2 seat carriages and abandoned buck wagons here on ranch. (The black-smithed iron is fantastic.)

There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over that century, many residents threw broken items “over the bank” and out of mind. So the steep/deep gullies near old collapsed sod houses are prime hunting ground for iron antiques, glass bottles etc left over from previous lives. There are even a handful of car/truck skeletons from the 1920’s around and even some in the backcountry. I have a “Small” eclectic collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty all.. 📸

Round and round the Wheel It Comes…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

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Turtle Butte Volcanic Eruption

Turtle Butte Volcanic Eruption
Turtle Butte Volcanic Eruption

Turtle Butte Volcanic Eruption

A volcano blows up on the border of Wyoming / Montana. Here we are 40 miles from the closest historic Volcanic Field and those haven’t gone off for a LONG time. I wake up to shaking the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away… Back to my normal programming: OK, this is NOT a volcano.

A simple sedimentary sandy remnant, Turtle butte has great aspirations. But Alas I suspect turning into a cinder cone volcano is not going to come about in the scheme of things. If this were really a volcano, I’d set up an outdoor hot dog and marsh mellow stand for the tourists. I mean based on buffalo encounters at other volcanos, they like to get close to things a tad out of their league.  I wonder why it’s called “Turtle Butte”? 😜

The Volcanic Fields regionally are several and spread in various time periods. Some being of serious world wide significance. Yellowstone of course is widely known as a “Super Volcano” the explosion of which would create a rough few centuries afterwards. There are many smaller volcanic complexes of various ages around the region. A pipe here, a sill there. The 16 or so million year history of Yellowstone starting out in Washington / Oregon culminating with a hot spot in Wyoming/Montana/Idaho. The Snake River Plain showing the path of the hotspot and a sequence of volcanic calderas across the continental scale landscape over that interval. That is a whole different scale of event for another time.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Butte

Title: Turtle Butte Volcanic Eruption

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High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire
High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire

Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. Those tree branches are very close for a telephoto perspective. I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy feathery cloud color gradient already on a remote high ridge.

Getting around in the backcountry during early twilight: Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation here. Everything else locally is lower. Having said that, we are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). I have to leave considerably before sunrise to get up to an eagles view location as this.. I extend my horizon to 50 miles to the east if I climb the right peaks. This ridge named by me as “Sunrise Ridge” but usually because I’m taking pictures of the sunrise OVER this ridge. Not FROM this ridge as this captured moment in space time presents. IT’s a way’s out from my homestead driving 2 track roads in the dark. I have excellent lights on my F-150 Raptor though.

The Dark Orange Alpenglow is caused by ice that like a gel filter on a theatrical stage, colors all behind it. This is the cause of the color reflected of those feathery wisps of a cloud deck. Photography from the remainder of this timeline was equally as good. Eventually, most twilights gradually taper to a blue morning as the suns light was higher and less filtered by the atmosphere. Blue light invades, shadows ignite with detail and dynamic range. This was early in twilight, about 20 minutes before sunrise that May morning.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: High Country Sky on Fire

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Sunrise Window Diptych

Sunrise Window Diptych
Sunrise Window Diptych

Sunrise Window Diptych

I like to use negative space (the dark area) to divide up an image and provide a frame for the composition. Constantly living under the specter of the “Rule of Thirds”, I give into this old wisdom. This 2:1 image aspect diptych (meant to be 2 separated prints separated in the middle). Feeling a gravitational pull of the golden light flowing through the nature’s window frames. The golden hour Alspenglow sky provided under the low limbs of this tight to the ground pine was magnificent that morning.

I stopped in my tracks to put the camera in the shadow of the substantial trunk. I find it unusual for local large pines in this country to have low branches as the cattle tend to remove them. Rubbing Cattle Pressure is the cause. In places the cattle don’t roam very much, the trees might grow it’s branches that are close to the ground. Fires will usually take care of those…. So this tree has been growing a long time taking it easy with the threats it faces in it’s travels. Lightning, Wind and Bugs are the other nemesis that confront this old neighbor.

Compared to the tree, I cover WAY more ground than it does.😜 Humans are generalists, having covered much ground with many complexities. Trees are rather pretty much of a specifistic organism doing what little they do, they do very well. But only what they do… Having said that, I suspect that tree knows the ground it inhabits better than I do though. It shapes the environment under it tremendously. Trees are very much in tune to their world. How ever they perceive it. All these great creatures I photograph, both plant and animal all have their “senses . Humans have either 5, 9, 21, or 53 senses depending on which psychologist you talk to. I’m pretty sure plants have a few that we know nothing about. I probably have a few I don’t know about lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Window Diptych

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Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette
Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette

All you Windmill junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal … I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Re Pete” the windmill surveys his domain with an unusual mostly blue twilight morning sky. Being a control freak, “Re Pete” here is intent to keep things around him in line. Little does he know that the crafty old sun will just sneak up over the hill and spoil his mood. This image is just a snip of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers Windmills for you their loyal followers. (You know who you are😜 )

I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol). Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of the still standing windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost around a 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘

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

Title: Blue Windmill Silhouette

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Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island
Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standing up in Wyoming looking over the border up into Montana as the sun rises to the east/north east. The trees in the distance are in Montana. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana. The Islands of old grown trees on the ridge lines are testimony to their tenacity against fire/wind and lightning. The snag on the right lost it’s battle with lightning it seems.

So perspectives and warm mornings go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the “close” details with a falling horizon exposing the sun.. All caused by the icy atmosphere in any of the fall winter, summer OR spring. We have alpenglow most of the year. There only has to be atmospheric ice suspended between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that crimson/orange/gold light at this point. Earlier in twilight a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight with crimson being the dominate colorcast that morning.

I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷

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

Title: Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

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Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light
Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Morning BigHorn Light

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One Mornings Twilight Dance

One Mornings Twilight Dance
One Mornings Twilight Dance

One Mornings Twilight Dance

Captures like this really wide angle twilight melodrama are always a welcome eye opener . Treated to this wonderful show I was. As it turns out it was just a promise of things to come. In my travels, I’ve experienced occasional morning light worthy of capturing in my photon traps last several hours as did this show. Well into the “Golden Hour” this play continued. Unfortunately there is no universal/international rating system of the various iterations I experience of twilight beauty. I might have to come up with one some day.

Taken a full 15 minutes before the horizon dropped away. Thus exposing our star in it’s full brilliance. The attenuation of it’s glare not as intense filtering through the veil of clouds on the horizon. The withering gauntlet experienced by the light on it’s path to the cloud deck above kept the shorter bluer wavelengths back. Only the strongest waves survive natures filters. True of light as it is ourselves. Nature filters out those things that can’t, won’t or are ignorant of adaptation to the conditions that prevail up on them.

The promise of a fully involved twilight sky is of a better day to come. Though sailors are to take warning so goes the wisdom of the ages. It’s a good thing living about as far away from the ocean as we do as such rules do not apply here. (We live 80 miles from the geographic center of North America). This was a wonderful day with more images from this timeline to come.

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

Title: One Mornings Twilight Dance

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Crack of Dawn Trees

Crack of Dawn Trees
Crack of Dawn Trees

Crack of Dawn Trees

As I point cameras directly into the sun I usually get either Crimson or Burn Umber colors depending on my exposure. I’m not one to argue with my cameras on this point as I can’t look into the scene without blinding myself. I have no choice but to trust the full frame chips that Sony uses in their various Alpha 7 series camera backs used in my work.

Getting up an hour before sunrise in the summer takes some doing to motivate at times. I usually worked the sunset 6 hours before. IT takes a while to wind down after photographing sunset so the night is really short. I usually only need 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night (if I get a short nap mid day). Historically I will work 7 or 8 sunsets or sunrises in a row. In my old age wisdom, I might not work certain types of skies. Clear skies are way common and difficult for me to justify taking the time to work them. Obviously I don’t work heavily overcast sunrises.

My day revolves around photography so if I’m not taking care of ranch business and chores, I’m working images. Either taking photos up on the high ridges or going through the timeline of files picking winners/loosers. Then there is the time to finish. The hard part are these narratives. The photos are easy 😜🤘 In full disclose, I’m also looking for fossils and artifacts as I go……

Full time photography is not for the computer challenged these days. If you don’t work 3 to 4 hours a day in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would be surprised.

Title: Crack of Dawn Trees

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Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise
Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

It’s called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle (not this angle) looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle shell fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not as much as on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the very remote borderlands I find a variety of interestings things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Numberous native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.

There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

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Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise
Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

On the crest of this backcountry ridge, trees grow out of boulders. This hill top has a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy but trees must penetrate them. Close Far Perspectives are worthy of working I think …

The Cretaceous rocks are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming. Differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. The cattle don’t like the footing on this hill top knob.

Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

I digress, Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang.

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

Title: Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

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Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light
Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light

A little Science this PM..

This silhouette “halfie” (almost) caught my attention for the extreme stepped gradient around the sun. I call these bow waves and don’t see them live real time very often. They are in reality natural diffraction artifacts from the thin slit in the clouds that the sun light is passing through. Ripples…. When light (or electromagnetic waves) passes through a thin slit shaped window, lightwaves ripple like water. The Physics of this moment should not be discounted. The slit was very thin, precisely what one needs for this natures “experiment”. The mind of the guy that figured this stuff out (Huygen) was right up there with the best. “Huygen diffraction” would be a good google search for you for continuing education on this. Constructive/Distructive interference of waves is the discussion which is lengthly. I’d never get it past my grammer checker (Nazi SS training in that program trying to explain all that) lololol.

So the bow wave here is literally Ripples around the Island of Light that the Sun’s Disk represents in this metaphor. Capturing ripples of light that are natural is hard and fairly rare. Note: I could do this in the digital darkroom very easily but this one is the real thing. Not a digital color shadow radius artifact. The whole discussion lies about the cloud “slit” which is the initiator of the diffraction process that provides this variable gradient around the sun. If you have a gradient like this with a complete sun, it’s the result of an artifact within the digital dark room treatment the artist (at that point) is using on his previously raw photo. (unedited photo=raw photo out of the camera). This capture is entirely unedited or I would have had landscape detail down in that black negative space.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Slit Islands of Light

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Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline
Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is no snow or mud on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrived this morning, it was still Nautical Twilight with maybe 30 minutes to go till sunrise. The sky starts to light up quickly from here on. , the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife.

There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken in early May. Dry year so far but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops. Looking up this hill for proper perspective, no lower yellow band yet. The yellow hasn’t made it this far yet.. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting. It’s below the camera’s threshold of Dynamic Range. My eye’s could see landscape here. Not the camera though… 👀👀📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree
Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree

The lighting was so unusual I pulled up and pursued it as hard as I could. The heavily veiled sun was peaking through up the hill. But not where I was standing hundreds of yards away. The angles were unusual. I was sun shaded but bright spotlights shone through the veil. This high lighting the hillside. This sunrise was a nice variation of the many themes I have experienced. Lots of contrasts and highlights are a good thing lol.

There is a fossil site below that tree… I haven’t really dug much there, just scratching the surface. I know there is a caudal vertebra from some dinosaur sitting up there under the edge of a boulder about a foot from where I initially found it. It’s only a few inches across. There are also a few bone cross sections (outcrop with bones sticking out) under the cap rock. I don’t believe it is worth my time to dig there as it’s likely just a few random individual bones. They are likely NOT bones from the same individual. Bones soon to become fossils were washed into that spot by the Cretaceous Age rivers. (End of the Dinosaur Era). 53 percent of the fossil record is composed of pieces and parts of Triceratops… They were the cows of the day..

Everybody on two legs (theropods like T-rex) at them. The more things change, the more they remain the same. 2 legged creatures of today eat those modern day cows too.

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

Title: Three Angus and a Tree

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Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter
Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

This is the second finished capture of 3 from this sunrise stage show. The play started at 5:15 AM when I had a 5:36 appt at sunrise. There was very little indication at my homestead that this would be such a show. Taking in the information from a remote ridge lined camera I have looking east, I jumped into “Clever Girl” my Ford F-150 Raptor and started gaining altitude. A sunslit window to the light was showing…might have amounted to nothing…. I never know for sure if I’m wasting my time before I commit to an hour at least watching sky plays…

Our ranch is on a high ridge but I have to climb higher ridges to actually see sunrise. There is a 400 foot high series of parallel ridges to my east which effectively hides my east view. I see 130 miles to the west and 50 miles both north and south from my homestead. I see about 1000 yards east without climbing to the top of Ridge 1 to the east. The actual time AT my homestead I see the sun is about 1/2 hour later than what ever time the sun actually rises.

The Snow squall that was ongoing at the time (taken the first week of May). We are used to a late frost with the “last” frost being May 15th…This posting on May 20th, 2020… A very wet cold weather descended on us after this sunrise. Certainly the completely overcast (thickly so) cloud deck was quickly obscuring the solar disk at this capture. There was less than a minute of light left before the day turned to a gloomy lack of interesting light morning. Wet and rainy for a week thank god as we need the moisture.

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

Title: Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

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Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall
Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

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. 

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

Title: Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

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Dock of the Lake

Dock of the Lake
Dock of the Lake

Dock of the Lake

With all dues to Otis Redding…

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watchin’ the ships roll in
Then I watch ’em roll away againI’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Looks like nothin’s gonna change
Everything seems to stay the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the sameI’m sittin’ here restin’ my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
This two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home
Now I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay

This capture is at the entrance to our dock on a small pond on ranch. IT’s a floating dock so the widely variable lake level is always a few inches below the top of the dock. I love my floating dock on this pond. If Im’ not hanging out there with cameras, the ducks often sit on it, leaving gifts for me to step in and collect eggs on occasionally. It was a little frosty this morning with the leaves in the foreground bearing evidence of the chill overnight.

The Herringbone skies were inviting to the photographer in me. The close / far perspective in the frame speaks volumes with the safety rope, the posts, the leaf litter, are all telling a story. Each story adds to the other to make up the book of this moment in space and time.

Title: Dock of the Lake

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Late Spring Snow Storm

Late Spring Snow Storm
Late Spring Snow Storm

Late Spring Snow Storm

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.

2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Late Spring Snow Storm

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Perspective Through the Lens

Perspective Through the Lens
Perspective Through the Lens

Perspective Through the Lens

Taken 8 days ago as this posts, the snow is melted, the 60 degree days of late spring have won. The mud season has relented for this morning and I was able to ascend to a high ridge. All without damaging the two track trail along the journey. The sun rose at 6AM for this capture. My itinerary for this trip up to the local roof of the world started 1/2 hour before at 5:30. I usually leave early to get most of Civil Twilight in my photographic timeline. Working the ridge all the wayThis particular morning was a 700+ image morning. I worked 12 scenes over all that will end up as final finished prints in my portfolio. From Twilight, to sunrise, to meadowlarks, deer and Pronghorn all morning. This timeline ended up with a rainbow from the storms incoming from the west this day.

I was working out of my Ford Raptors drivers window as the wind was kicking up. There was a bit of buffeting of the camera ongoing but with this much light, a little camera movement isn’t much of an issue lol. I don’t like to have a heater on as the heat waves against the cold outside can significantly distort the image coming into your camera. I try to keep the vehicle at ambient temperature unless that is just stupid to the mission. I’ve seen a few days like that at -20 or 100 plus outside. I find my tolerance of distorted images increases at those envelope edges. Perhaps it’s just old age creeping up and I’m getting wussy… 😜👅

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

Title: Perspective Through the Lens

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Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Mitten Butte Tree Frame
Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Locally this “Pyramidal Hill” is called Mitten Butte. The orange Alpenglow behind on this Frosty Morning was saturated. Taken a more than a week ago.

Tree frames are elegant in their forms. Smooth curves mixed with contrasts and details. The landscape curves blend themselves into the frame with the silhouettes / negative space bordering the color from the long traveled sunlight. Dropping away to expose the sun rising up, the horizon moves closer to the light.

The actors of this stage show had only one in the audience. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Only 3 or 4 images from this twilight my be worthy of finishing from that pile… None the less, you have to be there to capture the image.

More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are not rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt”. It’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory with short existence on earth (It’s comprehension might be a bit challenged though lolol). The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension. Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that.

There is much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.

Twilight Landscapes are all dark…because they were/are 😁

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mitten Butte Tree Frame

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Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show
Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. This was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold. It was “breezy” this morning few weeks ago (as this posts). At 15 degrees F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50 and CAN be t-shirt weather. A Jackson Hole “Ex” resident, I’ve literally walked around in -20 on a calm day in a t-shirt.. I dress in layers and it’s a “dry cold” lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Working in really cold conditions with cameras:

I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now. I’m getting wussy in my old age 😜

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.

I even had my Ford Raptor to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.

Working out of a car window in the cold:

You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

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Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley
Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

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.

Title: Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

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Equinox Sunrise East Fenceline

Equinox Sunrise East Fenceline
Equinox Sunrise East Fenceline

Equinox Sunrise East Fenceline

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. 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Equinox Sunrise East Fenceline

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Sunrise Over the Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over the Foggy Valley
Sunrise Over the Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over the Foggy Valley

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…

Photographic Musings:

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunrise Over the Foggy Valley

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Wonderful Winter Wetlands

Wonderful Winter Wetlands
Wonderful Winter Wetlands

Wonderful Winter Wetlands

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)

Title: Wonderful Winter Wetlands

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Five Deer Winter Bedded

Five Deer Winter Bedded
Five Deer Winter Bedded

Five Deer Winter Bedded

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.

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

Title: Five Deer Winter Bedded