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Burning Barn Sunrise

Burning Barn Sunrise
Burning Barn Sunrise

Burning Barn Sunrise

Looks like the aftermath of Captain Kirk having used his phaser weapon on my Morton Building. …. Actually a rising sun through HIGHLY Turbulant clouded air mass that got creative with the actual round shape. Since the sun is still below actual line of sight, the light being bent around the planet by the “atmospheric lens”. Red and Yellow light the only to arrive at my photon traps.

Certain Atmospheric Conditions create very unusual distortions of the sun. I watch somewhere around 500 sunrises/sunsets a year up here in my work. Give or take according to weather window whims. Now I’m counting a sunrise and 1 and a sunset as another one here. I work the light when ever it appears to need working lolol.

The number of distortions I see this severe is a few every other year or so. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building shape. If you look really hard…I imagine an RV moving away right in the yellow shape but that is pushing it lololol. The sculpted edges were moving real time though the lens live.

The atmosphere was absolutely “ROILLING” boiling, distorting, mirage (ish). Looking at an area of sky smaller than your thumb on an outstretched arm, this 1200 mm magnification image is a very small portion of the sky. The sun, on the other hand, subtends an angle of approximately 0.52° (31 arc-minutes) to an observer on the Earth. It’s amazing and a striking coincidence. By sheer chance, it is almost the same as the angle subtended by the moon. I digress, this image is 1.5 degrees wide. It’s a pretty small slice of a 360 degree pie that morning 😀👀📸📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Burning Barn Sunrise

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Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky
Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.

The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise.

Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight. In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. .

Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

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Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky
Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

A remote backcountry gravel road leading up to the sky in the distance sets the stage for this Sky show that morning. Actually I had worked this sunrise over that hill with a box o’ cameras for the previous 2 hours. It was an AWESOME twilight leading up to this “don’t forget to look back” shot. I was heading back home when this vista appeared in my mirror. 📷

Late Winter up here in the borderlands of Wyotana harbors a problematic lands use discussion. My access to the backcountry pretty much limited. I only allow myself on county roads for general photography this time of year. I don’t want to RUT up the trails. UGGG to people that do it. The spotty snow is interesting but the fact that it is melting makes MUD. Mud will keep me out of the backcountry. There are areas of very slick when wet Bentonite. Bentonite is known as GUMBO and will stick a loader with tire chains never to be recovered in this country. You don’t want to wander onto ground you don’t know about as you might not drive out. I’ve found areas that I was very lucky to get out before so I avoid it now. IT’s VERY soft at the moment …..😔

The red crushed “clinker” roads we have here are best photographed wet as it darkens/reddens them. They do add some character to the image. The clouds this particular AM were all subject to under lighting while the sun was effectively filtered to my camera by the thick cloud band obscuring those fleeing photons. I’d say I’m a mile from the crest of the hill.

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

Title: Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridge tops. The main sunrise show over my right shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this back show is Lavender/Pink/Orange. This back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise. You miss this show if you don’t look behind once in a while … Several image from this particular morning timeline made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to this rare Lavender at times up high. 

The red/pink will often work down on the tree top tips as the surviving red rays project off the ice on them. The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. 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%. T

he 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 2.5 inches long. 

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Frosty Perspective Snaggy Sun

Frosty Perspective Snaggy Sun
Frosty Perspective Snaggy Sun

Frosty Perspective Snaggy Sun

In a Star War world with Double Suns:

A harsh desert/arid world orbiting twin suns in the Galaxy’s Outer Rim, “Tatooine” is a lawless place ruled by “Hutt” gang lords. Many settlers scratch out a living on moisture harvesting farms. Mean while spaceport cities such as Mos Espa and Mos Eisley became as bases for smugglers, criminals, and other rogues from the surrounding galaxy. Law is what the “Hutts” say it is. This is the polar region of “Tatooine” where there are rare trees.

Back to my normal programming…

It was cold, near zero when this was taken mid-winter 2020.. This posts in late winter. The Environment in the borderlands can be harsh and beautiful simultaneously. Fall was on a Tuesday last year it has been confirmed. ❄️

The sunrise here was a clear sky with white/blue ice show which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide over 90 degrees so. . Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol. RegardingFallen logs:

“Snags”

Each has it’s own character and personality. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. I know it when I see it though

Orientations to the sunset/ sunrise change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree. The air is full of ice, turning the sunset low sky yellow. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing. Particularly on these wind blown slopes. Soon this fairly recent tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes. Thusly then to graduate to full fledged “wildlife tree”.

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

Title: Frosty Perspective Snaggy Sun

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Frosty Echinacea Sun Filter

Frosty Echinacea Sun Filter
Frosty Echinacea Sun Filter

Frosty Echinacea Sun Filter

Lone against the elements, unaware of the battle ongoing around it by other plants, this Echinacea hybernates with it’s deep tap root. The winter sealing it off from the stimulus to grow.

A good source of “Anti-oxidants”. There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds . Noted are claims of effects on other viruses. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. Other say this link is unclear. It is claimed by “test tube studies” to have anti-diabetic properties. Thus lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. A good bet is claims of relieving anxiety are whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀 They are quite a hardy plant living freely out in the backcountry. Widely distributed here in the high country. Ubiquitous anywhere out of the boundaries of our monoculture yards

Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. Known as the “Coneflower”, their purple crown of petals is ubiquitous in the region. You might say: they are native/common/widespread “in these parts”. This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Frosty Echinacea Sun Filter

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I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry
I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry

What are the chances of finding a heart in the barbed wire miles from anywhere?

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Catching a virtually veiled twilight took considerations for the conditions. . The horizon dropping, exposing the sun with time. It’s civil Twilight still.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded). Twilight is by far the best time of the day for photography. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings.

I’ve seen few aurora but I’ve seen so many twilight sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green at 557 nanometer wavelength. There is little of that hue in any twilight that I have ever seen😜

Twilight gives me a huge variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol. This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Title: I Love the Backcountry

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Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise
Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

Toward obtaining an image at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.

This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/8 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 pink color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the sky opposite the sunrise. The “Belt of Venus” which is a very pink Alpenglow phenomena reflecting said pink light back. Pine Needles coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This pink color cast is not that 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.

2×3 aspect to 3 feet

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Frosty Pine Bough Sunrise

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Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

Sunrise Through Frosty Fence
Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, 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. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow can be as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths 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. Stuck is not good up here.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here.

The highest ridges locally are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. 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. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. 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. (Wyotana)

Title: Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

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Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired
Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired

During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.

Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.

We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.

Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Perspective Bracing and Wired

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Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective
Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

This is indeed what a flat tire looked like 100 years ago. This old solder is tied along a fenceline high in the backcountry I suspect it’s 1930 vintage or before. The cattle every year rub on this wheel. Over the years this old wagon has had thousands of cattle rub and scratch on it. Wood rots very slowly here with 50 to 100 year old items like this still just looking like barn wood. Steel however will last a very long time.

I’m not sure what happened in the history of this device but I suspect the wagon it was supporting was overloaded and a rock appeared to start the dimple in the wheel. Once started the collapse cascaded and stopped the wagon in it’s tracks. This particular wheel was about 5 miles away from the nearest general store of the era so this might have not been a terrible thing. I suspect the 5 mile walk must have occurred in nice weather without wind, rain or snow to hinder the now on foot traveler to get help. There was no AAA tire service to come fix the rig either. No cell Phone, no landline phone, no radio. Word of mouth carried by hoof was the high technology of the day in this remote backcountry.

The red light from the JUST rising sun over my right shoulder is bouncing back off the projector screen the hoar frost on the trees provides. This is a common color I see when the “Belt of Venus” pink light comes down on the high ridge tops.

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

Title: .Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

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Morning Windmill With a View

Morning Windmill With a View
Morning Windmill With a View

Morning Windmill With a View

Windmill Weekend!!! Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘

We do get some wind up here now and again. One breezy morning with the wind over my left shoulder, the sun was rising over my right shoulder. Emitted from the sun, my back was bathed with un-impeded infra-red heat. The wind was certainly not moderated by any but that on my back.

In case any of you have never tried photography under high country wind conditions, consider the weight of your tripod. My Ford F-150 Raptor weighs around 6000 pounds and isn’t that terribly large so it is a pretty good tripod. Better pointed into the breeze lol. Working from inside your vehicle free handed if you have the light to perform such stability magic. Resting the long lens I’m using for this on the truck window. If you use a window mount, I’m thinking it’s a matter of WHEN you break your tempered window with the leverage of the system. You have to not jostle them. 🤔📷

10 miles out are the “Prairie Dog Hills” and looking across the Wyoming/Montana border are the Red Hills off in the distance. The border is where the line of trees in the center running right to left. All the grassy area this side of those trees is is corner of our place. Past that mark is as I say, another state. I own land in Montana but not that particular direction. More over my right shoulder lol. Most of my photos have both states landscape or sky in them somewhere.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Morning Windmill With a View

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Sunrise over NE Wyoming

Sunrise over NE Wyoming
Sunrise over NE Wyoming

Sunrise over NE Wyoming

The Three Missouri Butte volcanic neck complex to the right horizon, Add the Devil’s Tower and the Bear Lodge Mountains to their left. This early morning shortly after sunrise on the Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming was clear sky. I’m less than 4 miles to Montana over my shoulder.

Alpenglow was lit up by the low angle far traveled light. Those colors surviving surviving the atmospheres gauntlet are yellow and reds. They are the only light to make it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Only then they refract off ice to my camera. Resultant this color scheme. . A yellow sky in the morning is a VERY common thing in the winter. This is a view toward the south west . From a high overlook for sure. Light snow this spring so far as is evident.

This wonderful location which overlooks MOST of northern Crook County in Wyoming with the Bear Lodge Mountains coinciding with the South Dakota border. A REALLY big area covered in this wide image. I must admit that I like panoramic cell phone camera images very much. Handy as heck. However they will not quite be the file size that these Sony Cameras give me up to 60 meg jpg’s. This is close to a 90 degree arc in the corner of the county so this is pretty much about 1/2 of the county under this photo. The Bear Lodge range is around 80 miles distant from this spot. This is still big country out there.

The air was crisp and clean as can be.

Location: Trail Creek Road, The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming.

Title: Sunrise over NE Wyoming

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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

The stripe of orange Alpenglow under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the cloud deck This image was taken ON the border line of Montana / Wyoming.

The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. That is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀

I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.

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

Title: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Winter Twilight North View

Winter Twilight North View
Winter Twilight North View

Winter Twilight North View

This a view northeast from one of my favorite overlooks just in Wyoming looking across the border north into Montana. Sunrise is seconds away to the right of frame. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, the snow is melting with a 50 degree day and melt water is running in the fields. The winds are blowing and the cold front is incoming. The next time I go the three miles of drifted two track roads, it will crunch along the way from the ice patches.

This image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. The Montana / Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before. So many things appear around the next bend that are photogenic every time I travel backcountry.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. The ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formation and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: Winter Twilight North View

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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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First Post of the Day

First Post of the Day
First Post of the Day

First Post of the Day

Things I “see” as I travel the high ridges.

Here in the backcountry of the Montana / Wyoming border region, the approaching dawn takes away from the night. The night is fleeing the scene at a discernible pace. Heavily weathered, a corner brace supports tons of force pulled by 6 pieces of tight wire. This one is part of a very old border between an adjacent ranch any mine. It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. I have photos of deer slipping through this brace proper lolol. It does a good job of keep adult cattle out though. It has served it’s purpose for at least 50 years and probably much more. There is no oral history regarding this or that fence line that I have gathered over the decades I’ve lived here.

There is 30 miles of fencing up on this small ranch alone. Imaging how much work that was over the decades to 1: install and 2: maintain BLOWS my mind. 99 percent of the fence posts were hand dug. If you haven’t dug a 5 inch post hole 2 or 3 feet deep, you haven’t really experienced life. Trust me on this. I’ve had numerous first time newcomers that are not ranch wise get fairly well educated by handing them a t-post pounder/driver and a t-post to put in. There are 10,000+ t posts in 30 miles of fencing. I’d estimate there are hundreds of corner braces anyway. A hundred year old ranch has generations of little (and big) jobs invested in them. Black holes for work they are.

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

Title: First Post of the Day

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Windmill Pond Mid Spring

Windmill Pond Mid Spring
Windmill Pond Mid Spring

Windmill Pond Mid Spring

An 80 year old AERMotor Windmill watches over the domain it has observed for many decades. It has a perspective of day and night cycles. Longer still, winter spring and fall cycles. Solar Cycles and seeing generations of ranchers maintain the wind driven water pump. If it could only talk. I wonder how many cattle in 80 years have watered as a result of it’s labors.

This bloom is purple mustard I believe my allergies don’t approve. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.

Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.

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

Title: Windmill Pond Mid Spring

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Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise
Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

The Backcountry sparsely populated now in mid winter. Few animal are about. The odd Jack Rabbit living mostly random grass left over from the summer cattle. Mice and Pack Rats round out the majority of the mammal population in this region. There may be a few deer about but they tend to stay near the forest not the gumbo covered flats. The grazing is sparse in Bentonitic (gumbo) clay rich soils.

Most of the Pronghorn which frequent this area all summer have migrated south. They move down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. This is down the road in Wyoming about 30 miles. So this land, dominated by fox, coyote is overseen by birds of prey. Those masters of the sky dominate the hierarchy of predators for this targeted population of small mammals.

It has been cold of late as I type this a week before it posts. Forecast is for snow moving in a few days before. Hopefully not so much but we do need the moisture. IT’s the snow that makes that spring/summer grass for the grazing of all species. We get most of our yearly 14 inches of precipitation from snowfall. Last year was exceptional exhibiting a wet summer and fall.

It’s still REALLY early for calving but it won’t be long. Ground like this opens for grazing mid-spring around May. In the summer you can see hundreds if not thousands of cattle on this same ground.

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

Title: Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

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Up On a Backcountry Ridge

Up On a Backcountry Ridge
Up On a Backcountry Ridge

Up On a Backcountry Ridge

This kind of 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 coated pine needles “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit. Add a fence for the far vanishing point due to the distance and we’re good to go 🤘

The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly yellow color cast on this particular morning. The Yellow light projected through the Alpenglow phenomena low on the horizon shows the color of light refracted by the ice suspended there. Transmitted to the local objects, pine needles and fences coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This yellow color cast is not that common on local vegetation. Usually it presents 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 borderlands (Wyotana.

Title: Up On a Backcountry Ridge

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Twilight Crook County Overlook

Twilight Crook County Overlook
Twilight Crook County Overlook

Twilight Crook County Overlook

Crook County Wyoming has the 3rd lowest population of all other Wyoming Counties. A grand total of 7083 a decade ago which seems to be the most recent number out there. The area of the whole county is 2854 square miles and this photo covers about 1/2 of that quite literally.. It’s about 100 miles to the horizon which is in South Dakota partially.

On the left horizon is the Bear Lodge Mountains pushing up into the cloud bank. That range has a mountain up to 6480 feet above mean sea level. In contrast the lowest point in Wyoming a few miles away. Located where the Belle Fourche River crosses the border into South Dakota at 3099 feet above mean sea level. That river bounds those mountains to the north with most of the drainage from those mountains west side draining into same.

The Bear Lodge Mountains are geologically related to the Black Hills Uplift. They are actually governed as part of the Black Hills Ranger District. Exposed on the high peaks, a few deep sourced igneous rocks outcrop there. This testifies to the scale of the upheaval geologically. To the right, both Devil’s Tower peaking up center of the horizon along with the “3 Sisters” otherwise known as the Missouri Buttes. These both are volcanic rocks. These formerly deeply buried volcanic pipes/necks intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary rocks stand above the plains. The softer sedimentary rocks being removed by the LIttle Missouri Drainage and the Belle Fource Drainage one sand grain at a time. Such things take a while.

Location: A high ridge standing barely in Campbell County looking east to almost straight south with this 90 degree wide image.
Title: Twilight Crook County Overlook

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Backcountry Peace Sign

Backcountry Peace Sign
Backcountry Peace Sign

Backcountry Peace Sign (Hoar Frosted to heck).

Yup, a good fence is a good way to keep Peace between neighbors. An example of a serious border fence built by a local rancher keeps the peace for sure. It surrounds his whole property of many square miles.. it’s 8 feet high, high tension and virtually impenetrable by ungulates that use to eat part of his grass crop. He even paid for double wide cattle gates on the road to make it harder for game to get in there. I suspect the math worked out. It was cheaper to build a fence than put up with the damage to the grass crop the antelope and deer do every year.

Now I have an 8 foot high electric deer exclusion fence that keeps deer out of the 10 acres around my homestead’s infield. My yard fenced/surrounded by a similar barrier. Deer, 99.99 percent excluded from entry, watch from the outside. .. I let them play on the other 3490 acres of the ranch at their leisure. I understand his frustration with deer. They were causing tremendous damage to the ornamental plants and even shelter belt trees were feeling the deer pressure. Damage ornamental plants mounted into the thousands of dollars some years done by deer. New plants in my homes landscape were abused badly. It took me personally months to construct the 200+ section buck rail/electric hybrid fence surrounding my yard. The only way now to get in to my yard is through a gate which is where they occasionally penetrate my defenses.

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

Title: Backcountry Peace Sign

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Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Sunny Sundog Icy Morning
Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

Commonly known as a “Mock Sun” or “Sun Dog, this is a Parhelian or “Mock Sun” It occurs at 22 degrees angle from the sun. There are many manifestations of this. I’ve only seen one better Parhelian off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area. At the Village in Jackson Hole mid winter back in the 90’s. This capture was a few miles back in the backcountry while I was driving parallel ridges for that mornings sunrise. This images sits on the border between Montana and Wyoming with both states ground and sky in the image. I never know what I’m going to run into when I go out.

Caused by Reflection and Diffraction is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object. In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles – most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark, or colored bands. Here Hexagonal plates of ice are falling actively from the sky. You can actually see some of them like white dots on the image. Ice Hexagonal plates Frozen in Space and Time as they fell (literally and figuratively).

It was a cold subzero morning for this sky show. This ice was hazing up the whole sky but I actually drove into this from an area with no falling ice. POP and there was an entire Parhelion right in front of my camera. Slide to a stop, enjoy the view while the camera comes out of sleep, compose, set the final settings, focus and click. The image is about 60 degrees wide overall. Love the Lone tree sun filter.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunny Sundog Icy Morning

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Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast
Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

I do see some RARE colorcast Twilight situations now and again. This is real color I swear. The red light making it to the clouds above totally saturated the snow below with the same color. Like a projector screen reflecting the red to my camera. I am very accurate in my highlight colors and this is as I remember the scene vividly. This is actually the West view/back show with the eventual sunrise 20 minutes later than this capture.

I have one other similarly colorcast dominated image with a more yellow color. It was too a morning early Civil twilight even . I have just finished it’s image which is waiting in the wings to post here in a few days perhaps. The yellow colorcast image was a different twilight entirely. I’ve experienced only a few occasions of this kind of lighting in several decades of watching sunrises/sunsets. . It takes a very specific series of conditions to make this kind of twilight illumination. Catching and reproducing color accurately in my images is what I try to do. If it weren’t this way and it was a normal twilight, I would have removed this color from the image (which I could easily do). But this was the scene as I experienced it. Dramatic as heck to be honest.

Being there with a camera is the hard part in mid-winter. This particular occurrence happened in December 2018. I kept the camera busy that morning lol. 📸📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

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Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains
Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains

The Journey we are on is varied in the paths we take. Many roads traveled and many not. Some choices were made to get where we are. Many were correct in the decision. Others might have been best remembered as a detour along the way.

As travelers, often we must choose between two bad choices others times the choice seems clear. I’m my journey, I have seen the best laid plans fail, and the least anticipated outcomes prevail against all logic. I’ve learned not to swim upstream. I try to float with the current that tows us all along with it’s inexorable pull.

Time and space occupy my thoughts some of the time. Oh not outer space but inner space. For I feel our understanding of what is “without” will be found from “within”. Much of what I observe externally conforms to my beliefs on how the mechanics of the universe I learned from my teachers. Their thoughts gathered from their professors and handed down thusly. The understanding of generations of observers of the natural world painstakingly and sometimes erroneously recited. There is a loss of information in the game of telephone.

The one truism I have learned during my many steps. Things are the way they are, not the way you are told or what you think. I always re-evaluate and modify my path to conform to the values that I have accepted over those miles. Just like taking a path down an untraveled snowy two track off into the distance. One must choose ones’ path carefully.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming

Title: Road to the Misty Mountains

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Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show
Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show

Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.

I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.

The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.

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

Title: Crimson Morning Sky Show

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.

Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.

This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow
Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.

These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.

The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.

True Story here on ranch…

I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.

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

Title: Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

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Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise
Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.

Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.

This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.

This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

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Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass
Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.

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

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

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

Title: Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass