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Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

Renewables Struggling to Keep Up
Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

The Smoke Pall has shown a short fall of solar renewables to keep up with demand under the significantly lower light levels. ALL the ranchers under this smoke that rely on solar wells to water stock are scrambling if they use solar… (When you have to chain a 12 foot long 6 inch diameter pipe tied to a well casing down to keep it from moving in the wind). There might be some wind loading on this infrastructure lol…

Many ranchers have to put generators on their wells now to pump enough water to keep all the cattle well watered. The average cow drinks 30 gallons a day on a nice day. Hot days…. 50 or more :)… That adds up in a herd with say 400 head drinking 30 gallons each. That’s 12000 gallons they need on an easy day ….. A garden hose at 5 gallons a minute, 300 gallons an hour is only 7200 gallons a day with 24 hour sun………. Hard for any ranches solar well working a it’s highest efficiency to do that much…. This one does 5 gallons a minute in full sun. Maybe 10 hours a day in the summer……

Ranchers aren’t the only one to notice this shortfall I assure you. ANY solar array installed on homes, businesses, and utility based are having performance issues lately due to the western forest fires. This is perhaps biggest problem with solar is that the sun doesn’t always shine and it’s really expensive to store the power (plus inefficient).

Apparently Tesla has recently sold some BIG batteries to England that some hoopla was made that power can be stored then used in peak demand times. I don’t know the specifics but that had to be expensive and will need to be replaced in 10 – 20 years. I read where some body in Tennessee has figured out how to crack ethanol from water using an exotic copper catalyst plus CO2 driven by electricity If that comes to fruition, electrolysis using spare electricity from renewables will change the game. Just burn the generated ethanol to run a generator then…. In the mean time, any scheme to substitute renewables will run into this problem with regional brown outs or rolling blackouts.

Having some background in this…. I have run 18- 200 watt solar panels net metered to the utility since 2005 . Individual solar set ups since 1995. ). I did all the engineering /wiring / installation of the systems. We even had 5 electrical engineers from the power company there for the initial connect. All watching the meter run backwards going ooo and ahhh. We were first to hook up feeding back to the utility in this region according to them in 2005. They were excited.

I was even a member of the Wyoming Wind Power working group upon it’s inception for about a year of monthly meetings in Casper. All of us were “pioneers” doing this. That group was more interested in the big projects unfortunately so I left. I was more interested in what ranchers could do…. Wind, just another renewable that doesn’t work all the time. Interesting hobby if you have the spare money to put into a project that will never pay for itself. The solar well now…. that’s another story since running electricity to this particular spot would be several hundred thousands of dollars. It has paid for itself many times. Solar running a house…. not so much.

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

Title: Renewables Struggling to Keep Up

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Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana
Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Boy the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing on this country. (Except Deep Sea Food lol) . Those swanky Japanese Maples are perhaps more photogenic than the backcountry Jack Pines seen here. But not much. Old growth and 60 feet tall survivors of the “big fire” back in the 1930’s. Here they bask in the colorcast smoke filtered light. The smoke from the fire all over the west. The sun size show the crushing of perspective by this long lens. Those trees are a mile distant.

These survivors dominate the ridge on the Wyoming / Montana border. This ground was more like the ridge behind them 100 years ago. No low branches is an adaptation to range fires. Those trees that loose their lower branches to heat from earlier fires do better the next time around. This growth habit is not reflected in the young progeny around the old still standing soldiers.

Living Hundreds of years on this ridge, the family here is tightly knit. I would imagine they are all related closely from a single pioneering ancestor. No doubt from way back in local early post glacial history. These pine trees of course release their seeds by way of cones falling scattered around their base. Those cones only open in response to a grass fire that is not too big, not too small. When the fire burns past, you get a generation of young pine trees that sprout up afterwards. Unless the fire is too hot. Fed by a century or more long build up of fuel in the grass. Old logs, branches and layers of pine cones.

Facts are that regular fires are GOOD for the ecosystem by regularly cleaning up the forest litter. Preventing HOT uncontrolled fires is a good idea across the board. Those fires burn the seeds they release and set the trunks of the old grown on fire destroying them in the process. Regular small fires help, large hot burns not so much. I’ve fought a few fires during my two decades on ranch. I don’t like fighting back in the woods too much. Not that I like fighting fires at all lol. Controlled burns are a GOOD thing. It spreads out the work over decades safely instead of all at once where you just loose things. This is not new knowledge. Common sense.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana .

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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Smokey Reflections On the Water

Smokey Reflections On the Water
Smokey Reflections On the Water

Smokey Reflections On the Water

The Forest Fires to our west (this publishes 10 days after I wrote it), contribute many things to our environment. The clearing of the overgrowth in healthy ecosystems is certainly positive. When the fires become an issue is when poor conservation (at best) combines with drought to set up a tinderbox. That becomes a negative. Then we build our houses in the trees. A failure to have a firebreak in your landscape is what burns structures. If you live in a fire area, you have to build for a fire area.

The dry year has this lake about as low as it gets. I have seen it about a foot lower but it’s artesian source replenishes it about as fast as evaporation. Normally it is topped off by a storm or two causing surface run off over a few thousand acres. It can get very full very fast. I have a post I placing a game camera a foot above the spill ways lips elevation. Those images will occur late next spring. I hope to have ducks next to the game trail cameras lol.

As a composition: I placed the sun behind the tree for two reasons. One the thing was still too bright to do this properly. It’s hard to get those details in the shadows with a super bright sun glaring at you. Two the water wouldn’t reflect the exposed sun…wrong angle lolol. Give it a few weeks and it will move far enough south (left frame) that it will reflect clear of the trees. Angles change over the year and to follow them is to give yourself possibilities with that photon capture box. Knowing when things align up lets you be there.

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

Title: Smokey Reflections On the Water

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Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise
Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

A second Landscape Perspective this morning. I figure I’m a landscape photographer, I better post a good landscape every now and then lol. This Close / Far capture of the old growth trees about a mile distant, the far ridge at 10 miles with the sun a mere 8 light minutes distant (93 Million Miles).

I LOVE salmon / peach colored skies. In this case it was the smoke between me and the orange source giving what would normally be orange a decidedly grey colorcast. The dirty smoke contrasting the layers of landscape in this multiple ridge environment. I’m standing on ridge one, the sun rises over ridge 5. That’s the first ridge to my east all the way to the last I can see. That last ridge is my effective horizon. I’m not aware of any place high enough for me to see over it short of climbing the big horns. It stands about 200 feet higher than the hill I am on. I have to climb over that ridge to see over it unfortunately. I don’t miss but about 2 minutes of initial sunrise from this position.

Remember when your teacher said you’d use geometry in your lives? I actually do to a degree (pun intended). I have to imagine how this stuff works before I can decide the concept is correct.

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

Title: Smokey Morning Backcountry Sunrise

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Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise
Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise

The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.

So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.

There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.

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

Title: Banded Smokey Sunrise

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Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky
Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky

Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.

Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.

The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.

10mm Full Frame Lens, 130 degrees wide.

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

Title: Massive Cathedral Sky

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Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Good Smokey Morning Sunrise
Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Of course this is very dark. It looked like a refrigerator bulb across the yard. ONLY the red through yellow wavelengths were making it. Not many of those either. This reminded me of the Eclipse we witnessed down at Douglas Wyoming a few years back. The way the subdued lighting had everything awake but on hold. Almost like a pause before the curtain opens for the screen play to follow.

We’ve had smoke for two weeks now and I’ve worked every terminator crossing (look that up if you don’t know it) during that interval. Except this AM as I type this. A small cloud system came in and blocked my eastern view with nothing but a gray slate screen. Sort of like the internet was down in the denial. I was so used to getting up and about, shock to my system…. The nights are very short in the summer. It’s a good thing I don’t need much more than 4 hours of sleep. (as long as I get a nap during the day lol).

I’ve spent a good deal of time doing photography these days. This intense a smoke pall for so long is fortunately a rare event this severe. This plume(s) is equal or in excess of any I’ve experienced in my 20 years living in Wyotana. It’s been an interesting “disaster” year all around now with twin hurricanes landfalling on the Gulf Coast. I did some post-graduate marine biology teaching down at the Gulf Coast Marine Lab in Ocean Springs Mississippi. Those guy are getting clobbered as I type this. (Shaking head side to side).

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

Title: Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

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Smokey Sunrise Over the Border

Smokey Sunrise Over the Border
Smokey Sunrise Over the Border

Smokey Sunrise Over the Border

Having unhealthy levels of forest fire smoke in the air isn’t a good thing generally. EXCEPT for the effect it has on light. I have been working every sunset and sunrise with a “box-o-cameras” since the smoke pall started a week ago. Taken 6 days ago.. (my current click to publish interval) This is one of the first of the SMOKEY timeline to make it’s way to your computer via a whole host of intermediate steps lol. I’d take a photo of a non-smokey sky but I’ve seen things this week that are new to me. That’s saying something as I do this a bit lolol. This is very hard core pollution by mother nature.

The stand of old growth trees remembers the smell in the air from fires to the west. During the 1930’s, this stand survived the “Fire that burned till the snows fell” up in this country. All around this area lie old snags that have not decayed in the intervening 90 years. The area between there and where I stand used to all be heavy pine forested before that fire. Remnants of trunks are everywhere. One has to be careful driving off trail here (private land all). Your likely to take out suspension driving in high grass. A low stump can make you walk miles back to the house lolol. (well there is the radio)…

The old growth trees all have lost their bottom branches. It’s hard to burn those upper branches with such a long trunk above the grass fires.

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

Title: Smokey Sunrise Over the Border

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Sunrise Backcountry Cloud Complex

Sunrise Backcountry Cloud Complex
Sunrise Backcountry Cloud Complex

Sunrise Backcountry Cloud Complex

Good Morning… Right at the crack of dawn, all the colors of this land are popping. From the grey of the Bentonitic soil under a thin coating of grass in front. To the unique blue of the sage brush 50 yards out. Sage being one of the most important keys I use to match camera color values versus reality. I pay very close attention to the hues of the grass in a particular light. Getting colors as rich as this is a matter of timing. As the horizon falls away enough to expose the sun (we’re the ones that are spinning remember), the light was perfect. A reasonably balance of the rainbow was just starting to appear. I find in Twilight captures, there is perfect time for this. A few minutes on either side and the light is gone or not there yet.

Knowing when to leave a scene is a developed skill. I could click away at this sky but it’s going to wash out in seconds from the fully engaged glare of our sun. This is the time when I turn around to check out the back show in the skies over my shoulder here. This was a complex weather system involving some sporty weather the evening before. It’s usually a good bet the next morning after storms move though.

Sometimes it takes me a while to get to some of these backcountry locations I shoot mornings from. I can’t see the eastern horizon from my homestead so travel is always involved. Sunsets are way easier lol. I can work from my porch sometimes, driveway others lol. This was about a mile east but 400 feet higher than my driveway. The ridges here are all more or less parallel to one another in this upper drainage. Having said that we are at 4000 feet roughly which is LOW in Wyotana. The LOWEST spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet not far from here. The LOWEST topography in Montana is 1820 feet. 🤔

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

Title: Sunrise Backcountry Cloud Complex

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Wyotana Dawn Civil Twilight

Wyotana Dawn Civil Twilight
Wyotana Dawn Civil Twilight

Wyotana Dawn Civil Twilight

Some of the coolest pink lighting the next morning after the same color pink moon 7. The same conditions filtering the light occurred in the same air mass as the night before for. I noted the unusual pink color in a recent post with that colored moon rising. Next morning, there it was again. This is not the first time I’ve seen the same atmospheric conditions cause similar photographs from evening to the next morning. This pink that is literally touching the horizon closely matches the color of moon in that timeline the previous night. I will never forget that color. Surprised me it did lol.

To facilitate a long dark drive up on the ridges to get a good view of the east horizon, I have to prepare and travel early. I generally do not work perfectly clear sky sunrises but I can see colors like this very early. The recent hail storm messed up my sunrise camera beyond repair. It totally destroyed it’s protective housing. Then it got flooded. . A replacement for it and a few others is yet to be ordered. I now have some insurance money to replace that tool in my tool chest. It enables me to see over “Ridge One” before sunrise and get a better idea on whether to go our or now. It’s a fairly high priority item for me to work on after all the damage as I used to use it literally every morning.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana) (The left side of the photo is Montana, the right side is Wyoming).

Title: Wyotana Dawn Civil Twilight

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Wyotana Volcanic Display

Wyotana Volcanic Display
Wyotana Volcanic Display

Wyotana Volcanic Display (Satire)

So I wake up 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. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Turtle Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

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

Title: Wyotana Volcanic Display

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Sunrise By the Snag

Sunrise By the Snag
Sunrise By the Snag

Sunrise By the Snag

Finding windows through vegetation is a matter of either finding them randomly or making them for use later. This tree I cleared out some limbs months ago to make a slot just for this week. Fitting the sun into the slot is a whole different matter. First of all as the sun is rising it moves to the right. As it moves to the right, I have to move to the left. Tripods don’t work for this. Handheld will work just fine.

Topography is my master. To align such a vision, I have to be at just a certain x, y, z coordinate at a certain time. The earth has to cooperate with me to give me a place to stand. I have maybe a minute to work scenes like this as the earth will drop away and the sun would be hidden by the horizon. If the ground I’m on climbs, the sun would have to climb out of the bushes it’s resting on. It’s already climbing for the day. Here I caught it being lazy resting before the arduous climb to the it’s zenith that day.

That morning was cool for a early august sunrise. Some morning are in the low 50’s up this high. Nothing like the days I lived in Jackson at 6200 feet where we actually could routinely get some snow in the summer. Not so much down here at 4000 feet in Wyotana.

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

Title: Sunrise By the Snag

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Water Gadgets and Machinations

Water Gadgets and Machinations
Water Gadgets and Machinations

Water Gadgets and Machinations

(Maybe a little silly satire). We are pretty green up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I believe there are 24 big solar panels up and running things like water wells up here. Wind generators 2. Underground and above ground green house. Big windmills 2.

I can only align this the 28th of July and May 15 when the sun rises in a certain position. Otherwise the spacing is all off and nothing is aligned throwing off my OCD (I have it bad) Compositional requirements all amok. There is no alternative to turning the camera mostly off to light pointing a telephoto into the sun. (NO DSLR’s). The background ALWAYS goes to some shade of burnt umber and the sun goes yellow. I must point out that with a telephoto a close / far perspective like this with 4 layers of objects.

“Sneaky Pete” the windmill is 200 yards out. The smaller wind electric generator is 100 yards out. The Hand water pump about 120 yards along with the vent pipe the sun is sitting on. Re: vent pipe, I seriously overbuild my infrastructure up on ranch to support the mass of celestial objects as the sun. Bought that pipe years ago. My comment is they don’t make things like they used to. 😜 📷

I have a habit of catching both the sun and moon being lazy sitting down on the job like this. For all I know the sun is management (sitting around) and the other guys are out there pumping water… Oh wait, that is sort of how business works isn’t it? lololol. The sun provides the power for all these devices, human made (machinations) to run water pumps. Windmills (wind engines) can be used to pump water/air or circulate fluids, the wind is powered by the sun.

The smaller windmill charges a batter bank which is about 10 years old currently and holds a charge well. Still good batteries maintained by that. Runs a small water pump from a cistern Vented with a hand operated cast iron water pump. Good old man power also initially powered by the sun. 🤔 Getting all these actors to line up is like herding cats. The pipe is leaning from all that weight….. 👅

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

Title: Water Gadgets and Machinations

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Backcountry Wyotana Mayan Sunrise

Backcountry Wyotana Mayan Sunrise
Backcountry Wyotana Mayan Sunrise

Backcountry Wyotana Mayan Sunrise

Mayan Pyramids on the Montana border…. Perhaps but the geologist in my pulls my imagination back in lol. Timing and position is a critical factor in this kind of image. The hill top is over a mile away with me watching the sun slowly rise while climbing up its left side. You see the sun moves up yet but it always moves to the right horizontally as well. More “Diagonally” up the sky than straight up.

So I started vividly imagining this unfolding stage play of the Mayan King awaiting the mounting of the sun god on the great pyramid. This “pyramid” is literally located 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. 45 degrees North Latitude about where that tree stump is on the left. This must be a far northern suburb of the Chacchoben, Place of the Red Corn in Yucatec. But wait, the Hill seems to have fossil turtle remains, and dinosaurian parts and pieces in consistently sandstone/mudstone sequences. It is/was not built by stacking man made blocks as ancient cultures were so adept at constructing. Shape is a poor indicator of what things are. As we Pariedoliacs well know eh? The substance has to be there…

Photographic Musings:

The area around the sun is VERY bright. You will need a mirrorless camera as looking into the sun through a DSLR camera could blind you. It’s a direct light path from the sun to your eye. I look at a video screen inside my camera so it’s impossible to blind yourself with one of the mirrorless cameras out there. However I suggest you check with the manufacturer to see if your particular camera can take this kind of abuse. A good use of negative space I think…. 😜

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

Title: Backcountry Wyotana Mayan Sunrise

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Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole
Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole

The morning that showed me this view was 14 hours earlier than when I typed this narrative. It’s rare that I take a photo and schedule it to be published the same day. Sort of like being a bouncer choosing who gets to enter a nightclub. If your a “looker”, you go right to the front of the line. There are several thousand images for me to finish at the moment lolol. They are sitting in a folder on my workstations desktop called “Images to finish”. Job security 📸

The texture on this wonderful old snag from 100 years of exposure to the elements. It is harsh here in Wyotana with hot high altitude sunny summer days and terribly dark cold winters. Wood rot here take a LONG time as 14 inches a year average of precip tends to reduce rot. There are a LOT of “Snags” around from the 1930’s fire that “burned until the snow fell” up in this country. This one developed even more character as those orangish spots are bruises from the hail storm that threw up to 3 inch ice balls at it. The Mountain in the knot hole is known to me as “Turtle Butte”. It is precisely on the Montana/Wyoming border about 1/2 and half. 🤔

This is the second of a series with this Snag. I worked it a few years back as well. The lighting was entirely different then and it hadn’t hailed lol. The old masters would go back to the same place again and again to get different light. It was harder to travel then. I just work a very large area of backcountry photographically.

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

Title: Perspective Through the Knot Hole

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Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise
Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.

I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.

This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.

Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.

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

Title: Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

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Something Fishy Here

Something Fishy Here
Something Fishy Here

Something Fishy Here

Most of you know I maintain a network of Game Trail Cameras across my ranch. Various trails and natural choke points are favorite places of mine to plant them. I have to decide WHERE to put them. This is based on WHERE the unknown creature destined to walk in front of my automatic cameras will inhabit eventually. I noticed a well used path down near a local lake where small animals obviously had tread prior to my discovery of the local highway. Out comes a game trail camera with a view of the path.

Of course I have no control over environmental lighting. Moving animals at night are hard for Game Trail Cameras to freeze. This one did pretty well but at 5:15AM, just a bit before sunrise that day, there was enough ambient light to freeze this little canid (I think a Fox of some sort). What was REALLY interesting was the breakfast it had in it’s mouth.

I wish I knew the back story of this. I can only by implication assume the fish was dead on the shore. The other alternative is he did some early morning fishing which would be different for sure lolol. The Fox may like his sushi from a gas station refrigerator next to the automotive fluids aisle. You know, a little past prime perhaps?? There was a pretty good grass fire here on ranch lately so maybe he had that fish cooked first. Back to reality, the lake is getting lower and a fish may have been trapped in the shallow. At any rate, caught him with his breakfast. Yumm. 😜

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

Title: Something Fishy Here

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Crack of Dawn Sunrise

Crack of Dawn Sunrise
Crack of Dawn Sunrise

Crack of Dawn Sunrise

Summer sunsets happen early. This one at 5:31AM. The ridge I wanted to work for this had a good view of the crescent moon. Working the crescent moon from 5 AM until it was lost in the haze. Keeping busy with cameras is a good thing. I was loving the roiling distortion around the edge of the solar disk. It’s a result of the atmosphere distorting the shape and the details. The sun is ACTUALLY below the line of sight (below the horizon). The atmosphere is bending it’s image around the corner for a few minutes at the rise.

Jammin….

I have Sirius XM radio plus a reasonable audio system in the Raptor. This has been a good thing up here. I went out doing backcountry photography for years on an open ATV with my cameras in a open basket. No tunes…. I’ve work open ATV’s to -30. Having had cameras literally not work from the cold…. I put 3500 miles on that ATV one year doing backcountry photography only in this area.

Better ride:

This year, I’ve accumulated 1300 miles of only backcountry driving. In the Ford Raptor’s first 6 months. The Raptor is an all weather, all terrain, comfortable photographic studio for me to work from. There are not many places it would not go within reason up in this region if I asked it to. Think of it as a “Free Runner” which is a truck built for racing courses like the Baja 500. So far, it will do anything I ask of it that I’m not afraid to do. 📸 🤘 More hail dents than I like on it though….. ☹️

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

Title: Crack of Dawn Sunrise

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Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte
Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Taken from “Sunrise Ridge”. That is a magical place that gives me view to the east as varied as you can imagine. While the area I work hard photographically has is long list of beautiful things, I lack waterfalls, huge mountains and National Monuments/Parks in the front yard. A flowing river has always been a dream. But here I am stuck on a dry ranch.

Dryland ranching sounds romantic because it’s ranching of course…. Dryland when it’s actually really dry… not so much. The Dryland part is a quirk of fate. I ALMOST bought a ranch way across the state at Clark Wyoming right on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone river there. I would have ended up doing similar “hobbies” there as well. No matter where you are, there you are I have found in my travels. No dinosaurs in Clark but that area of the country is somewhat complex geologically. Interesting stuff laying around everywhere. Yellowstone right over your shoulder. Good seat if it blows too…. I digress..

Silhouettes of trees with just a bit of green showing in the shadow nether world. The ability of the camera to look into the sun AND see detail against the brilliant sun is blocked by technological limitations. I could set the camera so that it COULD see the detail in the silhouetted areas (dark areas) OR detail in the sun but getting both is beyond most technology requiring only one shot. Stacking multiple images with different settings can give you the best of all the worlds. That is a process that I don’t like for it’s complexity certainly but more importantly

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

Title: Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

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July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set
July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set

This is the first image from the July 2020 full moon from this timeline. I’m still down loading images from the last 2 photographic trips into the backcountry. In the last 15 hours I’ve taken photos of the moon, rainbows, lightning, and (rainbows with lightning in the photo too). I’ve been very busy.

A significant portion of the twilight this particular morning provided obscured (at best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over sun illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. THe moon disappeared as it touched down into that slight white hazy layer above the ridge. Show to the west over…now back to the east.

What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.

I still have to fly by the seat of my pants when the sun is rising behind me with a beautiful sunrise. Simultaneously this moon is going to disappear in a few minutes. Storms were going through the area. Best possible photographic conditions in my opinion. 😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: July Buck Moon Set

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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