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Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show
Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on my driveway probably 15 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were windy that night, this would have been a reflective mess. I know the bottom here 😜.

This low area is part of the drainage inside my compound however . I’ve seen 4 inches of water flowing through this spot before during the spring melt. It is the secondary water course through my property. When the primary water channel is full of ice, this part of my driveway is a run off channel. Plan B as it were. lolol. My buildings foundations are a foot above this. I did the surveying for many of the structures here. I taught surveying to collect seniors in the Horse Creek Area east of Dubois.

Reflections from calm water are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.

This location is directly on my gravel driveway. Sometimes I don’t have to go far to chase the light. . As this posts the sun is setting further to the north or straight west each night after the March 19 Equinox at 9:50 PM MST. It set at 270 degrees that day. The sun is setting/rising north of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.

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

Title: Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

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Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset
Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily Sunset

Sego Lily’s are not uncommon in the backcountry. I think this is a correct ID with this flower but I’m a terrible Flower Identifier. This one was closed up for the end of the day as the setting sun through a slit in the sky. I find one can only photograph what is in front of him. I would take photos of plunging high water falls or some exotic Asian scene if I were younger and able to travel far. I’m fairly tied down here on ranch because I’m the repair man here.

When in the middle of nowhere, you have to find beauty in what is at hand using the resources available. We have a log of high ground with a lot of living things that cover that landscape. On this particular trip out into the backcountry I was hoping for a magnificent crown sky to fully involve the sky show in front of me but no. All I got was a thin slit in the clouds late. Mere minutes before the sun would slide below my line of sight to the horizon. My day working cameras into the light was about done. What to do, what to do???. My mind screams “Close / Far” perspective!!!.

What is available miles from the nearest building surrounded by prairie grass. I was moving but this last summer was wet. Most things that could bloom, did bloom. This was early in the summer around early May. Our last frost is mid may and it was cool that night. The LED lightbar on the front of my Polaris ATV provided the illumination for the Crocus. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

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

Title: Sego Lily Sunset

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Sunset 40 Mile Ridge

Sunset 40 Mile Ridge
Sunset 40 Mile Ridge

Sunset 40 Mile Ridge . The Sun becomes stuck in a rut occasionally as well. 😜

The solar disk was occluded by thick clouds before this. I thought I wasted my trip out. This last minute break/slit occurred . Then it slipped under the cloud deck which allowed this very small portion of the far horizon.

Looking into the setting sun from 40 miles distant. That Ridge is in the “Red Hills”. (Their name.) The horizon rising to cover the globe of fire so delicately veiled by the shroud of clouds close to the ground this evening. The nuclear processes emitting photos traveling 93 million miles over about 8 minutes of travel time. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second so I am actually looking back in time and Space by 8 minutes.

Awkwardly, I remind you that the sun is not line of sight here but actually below the horizon. The image of the sun is bent around the earth. RIght around the curvature a bit. Distorted from below the line of sight into my view. Its a phenomena that is always happening as the atmosphere acts like a lens and bends the image. When ever light travels through medium(s) of different refractive index(s), it get’s bent. The various different temperature layers of the atmosphere work in a similar way to a glass lens of the same curvature. does with the light. It’s not until a few minutes later that line of sight catches up with reality as the sun rises above the atmosphere.

The Deep Yellows and Reds of this Image are the only colors to reach my photon capture devices (cameras). The atmospheric moisture and dust is the gauntlet to all shorter wavelengths. I carry a variety of these photon traps with me most times I venture out into the backcountry. This one was a Sony Alpha 7RIV, 600mm G Series Sony/Zeiss Telephoto with a 2X focal extender by Sony. 📷

Metadata : ISO100, f64, 1200mm, 1/500th. 3’x2′ aspect.

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

Title: Sunset 40 Mile Ridge

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Antique Plow with a View

Antique Plow with a View
Antique Plow with a View

Antique Plow with a View

With the weather getting a little milder here late-winter, Crunching out through crusted snow becomes slippery at time. . Crusted snow is a hard surface on top of softer snow underneath. Occasionally ICE under it. I typically fall through somewherelol. This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana Abandoned many decades ago, this plow wheel (with the rest of the plow off right frame) was a very high technology gadget when it was forged. State of the art. They have changed a bit since with hydraulics and size, but the basic tool remains for the same task. Somethings are hard to improve on. A fine 1911 Pistol comes to mind instantly…. maybe it’s just me…

Photographic Musings:

Disclaimer:

The contrasts present were staggering, the light blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting golden light into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not and should not peer directly at the sun with sunglasses or non-mirrorless cameras.

New Mirrorless removable lens cameras have a significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. None pass directly to your eyes. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. I’m watching on TV effectively… Click… You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this. Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR camera as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series mirrorless cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

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

Title: Antique Plow with a View

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Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising
Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising

Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .

Magical things often appear in the clouds in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.

I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras. My best camera (a Sony Alpha 7R4) has 15 fstops of dynamic range. My only good eye (I’m close to blind in one eye from an injury) has at least 21 f-stops of dynamic range. Far greater ability to see a black cat in a coal bin in a dark room and see the detail in it’s hair. Like seeing the tree silhouettes here under the very dark blue clouds. This was a tough shot to get :).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Dragon Cloud Rising

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Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset
Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset

Married since they were seeds from the same pine cone (likely). These three have survived a hundred years of exposure to Wyotana weather and sun.

Musings: 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 in and among the trees lining remote ridge is the way to set up compositions like 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. There is SO much going on in any edge of a forest with a view of the horizon. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” of small creature, a mouse, a cat but what to level?….

The far horizon which indeed is fully involved with a setting sun. Perhaps the three’s travels through the endless sun rise and set cycles moving as in HG Well’s many movies of the “Time Machine”. What a life they have see but if they could tell the stories. I actually like the really wide angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon not level with the image’s floor.

Technically:

Getting detail out of the shadows in the foreground while looking at really bright backgrounds is a major goal of mine. Got this one 👀📸

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

Title: Tres Hombres Sunset

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Right Turn Clyde

Right Turn Clyde
Right Turn Clyde

Right Turn Clyde

With full reverence to the classical reference to a Clint Eastwood movie in Jackson Wyoming. You might remember the Orangutan that liked to use hand signals?. Having done traffic stops as a police officer I assure you such things have happened in the real world lol. I think I’ve seen it all at this point lol.

So.

Perspectives using leading lines to draw the eye to the focal point in the distance is a trick as used by the old masters. The trick for us modern photograhers using cameras is to see the frame as those master painters would. It’s hard to improve on their senses of perception from the 3D world to the 2D frame of an image. The more I do this photography thing, the more I believe I’m thinking like a painter.

Of course I don’t get to choose my color pallet. I am only what is provided by the grand designer of such things. I watch what is going on around me. To where my eye is drawn, I often follow physically. Then evaluate/ compose if appropriate. Click.

There are SOOO many little areas of Zen. Spread about the remote backcountry they are randomly.. I just haven’t noticed them all yet. I’ve driven the same paths for decades to get from point A to point B. I strongly suggest getting of the beaten trail, look at where you are versus where you’ve been before. Go to somewhere you haven’t been.

In the 20 years I’ve been intensively driving the 5.5 square miles of my ranch, I still haven’t seen everything. Not even close. My nephew and his brother in law were driving around the ranch and found an old 1920’s truck 1/2 buried by time and blowing sand. I had never seen it before and have yet to make it to that spot.

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde

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Veiled Sunset Tree Frame

Veiled Sunset Tree Frame
Veiled Sunset Tree Frame

Veiled Sunset Tree Frame

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Lone Tree Sky Show

Title: Veiled Sunset Tree Frame

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Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water
Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water

On a glass Melt Water Pond, high on a ridge that straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, this water from a nearby grassy field. Formerly snow earlier that morning, this melt accumulated very quickly. Nearly 60 degree days lately. Over several hundred acres covered by a foot of snow will fill a good sized pond lol.

So the wind was becalmed and the correspondingly glassy surface of the melt water provided an amazing mirror. It would have faithfully reflected what was beyond for the cameras. So I decided to drive my new truck into the pond and mess up the surface. (I know the bottom). One shot is all you get at this…

Driving through water:

I’ve never had a wheel slip in mud with this truck. As all 35 inch tires are in various 4×4 driving modes. Ford F-150 Raptors are complex and amazing to this old school 4×4 driver . If there is a cooler factory Baja capable truck made anywhere, I’d love to drive it. It’s perfect for what I require to get me into places where most vehicles won’t AND keep me fairly comfortable. My old Jeep Grand Cherokee would get me anywhere. It would just throw you around inside lol.

I like the view this ground has of the horizon. It has a very thin lake shore making it’s horizon band across the image. I’m very aware this is a “Halfie” which is like photographers rule #237. Never have your horizon across the Center. At least it’s level and I never worried much about rules. It’s best not to know about them sometimes as you can’t break them if you don’t know about them…. Right? 😜👀

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

Title: Reflections Over Melt Water

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Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset
Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.

The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.

Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.

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

Title: Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

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Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky
Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky . (ART, Did I mention this was art. Made by mirroring a real sky onto itself.)

The Spirits in the sky here in Wyotana linger and only show about 1/2 of themselves . So I help… 😜👻👀

From Top to Bottom: (A totem is the sum of it’s parts)

An Owl overlooks the scene on top.

Riding on a Swallow for speed,

standing on the Raven’s spirit for wisdom

The Raven relies on the Bat

to see things that other cannot perceive.

The Bat resides over the Cat

The Cheshire(is) cat as a base. Cats are widely regarded by many cultures past and present as fully capable of magic. Some consider it good magic, others not so much. All agree it’s magic…

All rely on the cat as the base of the totem of sky spirits in this capture. Of course there is the big snake face the whole image makes 😝

I find that I can see/visualize these results as I’m photographing skies. It’s not that I see shapes in clouds or anything. Certainly I do lolol. Habitually so… But I can fold the image back on itself inside of my head. I see these live as I examine the thousands of images that go past my computer desktop each week. I pretty much know as I’m taking the image that I’m “using this one for ART”.

So this image stood out to me It only took a bit over 100 clicks/clones to make this. It’s pretty photorealistic except for a few things. It is VERY close to the way I visualized it out in the field through the lens. It is art did I mention?👅 I did squeeze the image a tad as well. The left 1/2 of the image is a full 3×2 scale photo. Mirrored back on itself.

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

Title: Totem Pole in the Sky . 18 inches square aspect.

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Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset
Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

I’m walking along this ridge line way back up into the borderland backcountry of Wyotana. I see this scene developing. That is NOT water dripping off that injured pine tree. That is pine sap and it is dripping in SUPER slow motion at these temperatures lol . The Pine Sap extrudes on any external injury by the pine. This will keep out insects from penetrating the wound.

This of course is part of the process insect/pinesap to Amber made famous in the Movie Jurassic Park. Tree resin traps insects, it gets hardened by heat and pressure over time and you get an insect in Amber. Fossilization requires specialized conditions. Amber formation must occur in a wet low oxygen environment. Something like an estuarine, swampy or even a marine environments. (chew on that last one for a while). 😜🤔👀

Stripped of bark, this injury caused by a Porcupine will likely not heal. Particularly if it is deep enough an injury. Porcupines strip bark off Pine trees. Porcupine is from the french translation of “Thorny Pig”. They eat roots, stems leaves of many plants but definitely consume and even kill trees by girdling a trees bark. I have seen numerous trees killed by porcupines. The mountain men used to not bother them. Being slow moving, easy to catch animals, as such were easy pickings. So the mountain men saved them for Hard times and emergencies. Porcupines are greasy when cooked I understand. I’ve never wanted to skin one lolol.

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

Title: Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

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Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples
Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples

I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled into the glass surface of this lake in my truck. the ripples were just moving smoothly across the glass surface. The sun was setting in classic “Golden Hour” colors when the unfettered light reaches my camera. The already bright scene amplified by the extra light from the reflection. If your chasing light this bright, you better shut your camera down to light… (High Fstop, fast speed and Low ISO). Don’t point a DSLR camera at this scene, only a mirrorless camera. That is if you’d like to keep your vision… Don’t blind yourself.

Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. Plus it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific. This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Ripples

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Looking into the Furnace

Looking into the Furnace
Looking into the Furnace

Looking into the Furnace

I was hoping the sun would set on the fenceline but my directions and timing were off a few degrees/seconds…. The sun will always appear to move from left to right as well as downward as it sets. Of course it’s the horizon rising but you already know that. (The sun isn’t moving here, the earth is spinning) . The earth is tilted on it’s axis .

Science Factoid: That tilt is relative to the solar systems flat plane called the ecliptic. All the planets are circling the sun on that plane. The earths north/south axis Currently, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its path/orbit around the sun. But this tilt changes/wobbles like a top. Wobbles during a long wobble cycle that averages around 40,000 years. (Based on good scientific work eh? 👁 )

The tilt of the axis varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Because this tilt changes, the earth is exposed to differing amounts of energy from the furnace over that interval. Paleoclimatology is something I have dabbled in with an advanced degree in Paleo stuff… . I will tell you the sun is the driver of our climate so one would assume that global changes occur as the way you face the sun. Yup, the climate has been changing since it all started as a pool of molten rock accumulated in a gravity well lol.

SO back to Looking into the Furnace : This time of year, sun sets dramatically from left to right as the horizon rises here. But it rises from left to right at sunrise. (The phrase to google here is Ecliptic solar system). So tracking this and watching it change by the minute was very impressive.

Photographic Musing: Bright bright bright stuff. Shutting the camera down to light ALMOST taken with the lens cap on (it’s that bright lolol)

You only have 3 main things to set on your camera by working it on manual mode. They are: “ISO” (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (aperture or pupil size of the lens) and Shutter Speed in parts of a second (s). Figure out what is important to you (deep focus or freezing motion?). You set f-stop high for deep focal field . F-stop low for shallow depth of focus field. F-stop takes away light so high f-stop (small hole in the lens) is good for high light situations.

Priority 1 taken care of. Your next priority (2) is ISO (camera sensitivity). Low ISO is ALWAYS best because High ISO give you too much light AND a grainy appearance in the image. So LOW camera sensitivity (or slow ISO 100). High ISO is best for LOW LIGHT situation. Really HIGH ISO over 2000 is for the dark if you need it only. I consider ISO evil to go high with. Last thing on the list is shutter speed which is your variable to adjust the total exposure. You adjust until you get the result you desire.

On an older DSLR reflex type camera, you look at the image on the LCD on the back of the camera body AFTER you take the photo. With a Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera though, you get what you see on the screen INSIDE the camera, WHILE you are moving the dials the image reflects the changes you make. What you see is what you get. Instant feedback, MUCH easier for you to learn on.

So if you made it this far in my text, and your looking at cameras, pick a mirrorless model, preferably a full frame/large sensor camera. Full Frame cameras have higher dynamic range than smaller sensor cameras. 📸 Disclaimer: Don’t USE a standard DSLR camera to take sun photos and YOUR camera may not be rated to take this heat. Large sensor cameras spread out that light and don’t melt like some smaller sensor cameras would here. More important, don’t blind yourself in a DSLR even trying this. Seriously!👁 Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Looking into the Furnace

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Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks
Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks

These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.

In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Illuminated Bucks

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Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox
Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox (Today is the Equinox or old Pagan “Ostara” in the Wheel of the Year)

I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.

Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.

On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.

Close far perspective:

That nail on the post just made this photo for me lolol. 👀👀 totally am into close detail in the shadows. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. Anyone notice the mustard weed highlighted on the bottom 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title : Perspective March 19th Equinox

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Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Reflections Melt Water Sunset
Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on ranch probably 50 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were not windy that night, this would have been a very nice mirror. I know the bottom here and have driven into this pond before to work it from the center. This is an ephemeral pond that will dry up in the summer. The bottom is firm thick grass.

Reflections from lakes are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.

This location is for all intents and purposes, directly on the Montana/Wyoming border looking almost straight west. As this posts the sun is setting closer and closer to straight west each night until the March 19 at 9:50 PM MST. It will set at 270 degrees that day but just a tad earlier lol. I will be working long east west fence lines for the next few weeks with out a doubt. The sun will be at the end of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Sunset

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Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset
Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset

To capture this image, I luckily figured out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

I usually get a few attempts at ridge lining a deer or a group of deer right at sunset. The problem is always how to keep up with the moving sun. The topography controls the success or failure of such adventures.

Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Buck and the Sunset

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Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere
Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

I have enjoyed having this optic glass sphere for the last couple of years. Generally I don’t carry it with me. Occasionally I will give in and throw the thing in my camera box.

Sitting on top of a hard steel Oil Well Drill Bit. The close/far perspective is a tough one for depth of field. Even at maximum / highest f-stop for the lens, the close part of this focus was too close to ALSO focus the background. I think a cell phone would have done this better but what’s the challenge in that lol. Really close / far shots are difficult to get both objects in the Depth of Focus field. At least with most lenses I’ve ever used. I’m sure there is one out there that will focus at 8 inches all the way to infinity. I Certainly haven’t found it yet lolol.

Now that drill bit…. Oil, discovered in the 1960’s, provided a lot of cash flow to the ranch.. . A lot of drilling ensued with a few of the wells producing a significant income to the rancher/owner at the time. As all good things come to an end, the oil companies removed about 1/2 of the oil. The rest remains in situ. That percentage is about all the technology of the time could remove. There will be some point in the future where that oil will get recoverable and drilling will start again. More efficient processes now to squeeze the remaining oil to the well head.

50 years after drilling. There are very few indicators that 3 oil production platforms were up and running for almost a decade. There are vague topographic changes in the landscape where a dozer cleared off the pads used for the drilling. Some small containment berms near each pad. But collected carefully and put in a pile in out ranches bone yard. At least a 1/2 a dozen of these big heavy drill bits lay. I’d say they weigh 100 pounds each or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

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Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke
Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then. Forest fires up wind veil the sunsets as this and give the whole world an eclipsed feeling. 🤔👀

Geologic Musings:

This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the Artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface.

Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book. The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Cretaceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly un-fossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀

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

Title: Wetlands Sunset Through Smoke

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Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss
Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss (This is an ART/PHOTO Hybrid)

Do you see things in Clouds? 👀📸 What do you imagine here?

Now that I mentioned this is art, I would point out that only 1/4 of it actually is art, the rest of it is a 100 percent real image. All work and no play make photorealistic Frank a Dull Boy. I like to follow up on the potential for this kind of work on a particular image if I get the time/chance. I usually have to make the time in the middle of an otherwise photorealism filled day. In the world of the digital darkroom, I get to play a bit. This is a slightly modified Wyotana borderland sunset from last week. One week is my turn around time now from taking an image to possibly posting it.

To create this, I took the original image which just didn’t have the left side eye. The nose is a real lens flare which I carefully lined up in the camera to the 12 o’clock position. The flare was in the original capture. So I mirrored the right eye and the clouds onto his left cheep from the original side. Then up high I mirrored the outline of the head right to left. So the left eye/cheek, part of the clouds up high. Nothing else was messed with other than color a bit. But this is art and all rules go out the window. As I was taking this, the possibilities were obvious to me in the composition stage of this capture. Long before the click.

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

Title: Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Title:Protective of the Sun

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Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

Backcountry Meadow at Sunset
Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

A summer image from here on ranch for those of you with cabin fever here in mid-March. Can you feel the warmth of the summer evening?. How about the smell of pine and sage wafting in the breeze. Cotton wood pollen makes me sneeze as does grass pollen. It’s pretty humorous I choose such a place to regularly keep Kleenex in business. .

In the remote borderlands area of Wyoming and Montana I live on, we have fairly severe winters plus they last till May. Fortunately I have the perspective of living 10 years in Jackson’s Hole Wyoming. I used to get 6 feet of snow flat in my backyard every winter in Jackson. My drive way was only a few hundred feet to the plowed road. I had an Chained up 4WD ATV with a snow blower on the front. Much Less wind in Jackson…🤔 I’ve done -40 in Jackson Hole but only -30 down here 2000 feet lower topographically. I’m over 400 miles crow flies to Jackson up here in the N.E. Corner of Wyoming/SouthEast Montana.

Here in the borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming, we deal with drifts some of which are significant monuments to the ferocity of the breeze about at times. Way more wind up here on the high ridges of the western most Wyoming Black Hills. Unfortunately my drive way here is 1/4 mile long. It’s also warmer here. Jackson is 6200 feet above mean sea level, we are 3730 to 4055 feet elevation above sea level at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch homestead. That’s a little over 300 feet of difference in elevation in the topography here.

Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record. A shadowed backcountry with my head/camera JUST in the light above the far ridges shadow.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special for a clear sky evening. . There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore.

Title: Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

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Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill
Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Forest Fires hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image. Various levels of smoke from burning forests give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.

I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels. I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses.

When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have lefts a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄

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

Title: Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

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Sunset at the Water Engine

Sunset at the Water Engine
Sunset at the Water Engine

Sunset at the Water Engine

Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms any light from the silhouetted areas.

Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.

Apologies: I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. Mud keeps me off the trails so as to not destroy them. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges. Froze then melted off in the afternoon resulting in more mud and soupy soil frozen below, wet above . My rig (Ford Raptor), can easily do mud but I haven’t gotten it into the gumbo yet. I would only do so by accident of course as Gumbo (Bentonitic mud from clays derived from geologically processed volcanic ash. ) will stick a bulldozer let alone a baja truck no matter how well built.

In a few more years, I’ll be showing you images with branch shadow details with the full sunset behind . Cameras will then exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction. Dynamic Range of camera versus eyes is a good google search.

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

Title: Sunset at the Water Engine

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Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook
Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook (Brown Season)

I am literally shooting across the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. The trees in the foreground are in Wyoming. The range to the north in Montana. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first range north of my ranch across the Ranch Creek Drainage.

Called the “treed” pasture this fraction of the ranch is about 2 square miles of grazing patch of mixed pine trees and grassy hills and gullies. It is a land of many uses: Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July.

We move cattle out of this pasture in early July. This facilitates the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship courses 3 and 4 use. This ground has been home to a nationally ranked Team Tactical Rifle Championship for 18 years. Almost 4 miles of groomed rifle courses in 16 shooting stations. All exposing 150 fixed reactive steel Targets out to 1200 yards. This location is the last (or first) station on course 3 lolol. Snipers nest with literally thousands of precision rifle shots at those reactive steel targets down range.

There are a few dozen locations (I’ve found so far) within this “Pasture” that has Hell Creek/Lance Formation. These rock contain dinosaurian (and others) fossils. I found my first dinosaur tooth in this pasture 18 years ago. I knew they were here, I just didn’t know where. You do have to look though occasionally I stumble on dinosaur bones laying in the grass. Just like any other stone in the middle of the prairie lol.. I have found several fossil locations that way. You can’t find them if you can’t see them lolol.

We even have had a nationally released 4×4 video in 2008 filmed here. Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Magazine filmed part of their “Ultimate Adventure” video series here that year. It’s out there if you want to watch several high end jeeps flip over. All trying to climb out of some of the soft sandstone lined gullies. As I say, a land of many uses…

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

Title: Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

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Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water
Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Veiled Sun begun, the waters of life in it’s various forms all in this capture. Vapor, Liquid and Solid all co-exist under the moderating winter up here on the high ridges. Phase change occurring live real time in this “Action” photo lolol.

Currently we are loosing snow pack and the ponds are filling. Not all melts as much snow directly sublimates (google this) in this dry climate. Melting of course accounts for much snow pack depletion in the spring.

Here it undergoes a temporary pause on a long trek to the sea. Melt water ponded up in our front yard along it’s normal course through our homestead’s compound. The snow pack preventing normal contours from flowing water to the water ways on the ranch. Remaining still is about a foot of snow covering the ground. This after a long period of 50 degree days in Late February / Early March 2020. We are low on snow this year locally. I’d like to see a few more feet till early May but at 4 inches at a time from 30 degree windless storms. I’m sure I’ll get that wish…. 😜😜👀

Living up on a high ridge mean we often have snow when at lower elevations there is no coverage currently. Drop 500 feet off our plateau to the adjacent lower drainage is instructive to the paucity of accumulated frozen precipitation this year. This situation is what I call mud / ice season, sort of a sub category of white season. Green Season is 2 months away yet. Last freeze is mid-may. The mud effectively keeps me out of the backcountry 😔📷

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

Title: Homestead Reflections Melt Water

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High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight
High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

Snaggy Silhouettes are fodder for my photon capture boxes. (cameras). I always like snag silhouettes but when a sky is fully involved showing off to me, it’s enough to get my attention. (I’m spoiled) This is not an easy tree to be at right at sunset as it takes a little travel to get there in the backcountry. All two track trails suitable to 4 wheel drive only most of the time. To find standing snags on ridges isn’t as common as you think. Lots of snags standing in sheltered from the wind areas. This is fully exposed and will be laying down pointing to the south (ish) sooner or later. The prevailing winds from the north west will eventually win the battle with this old soldier.

Such organic forms are rife with smooth curves, contrasts against colors of a veiled Wyoming Sunset. The sun JUST peeking around the trees / snags base. Raw organic. Rainbow gradients are always to a one beautiful. I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. 📸 Always expose the highlights correctly. Worry about the shadows later. 📸 We call fallen trees “Snags” because as you walk, they will Snag your leg and trip you. Pines die here mostly due to lightning strike or wind damage. Igniting from a lightning strike, they may burn for days if not extinguished (usually by the rancher).

I have maintained a 5 ton truck just to fight fires up here for 12 years now. If you get too many snags in your “woods”, your going to have a hot fire. In their defense, they provide homes for wildlife. I call them wildlife trees myself. Woodpecker holes abound in them.

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

Title: High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

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Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

Golden Triangle Frame Sunset
Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

Golden Triangle Frame Sunset (This shot from last year but the snow conditions are identical at the moment)

I love to use natural cellulose filters to reduce the glare from the overly bright disc of ol’ Sol. There are all sorts of photographic accessories you can screw onto the lens of a DSLR camera. Same with a Mirrorless Removable Lens Cameras. I find myself becoming more of a purist all the time and revert to natural filters leaving the glass ones at home. For years I’ve excluded them from my kit. I don’t like extra glass of any kind in front of my lenses.

This photo drives me crazy but it is too fun not to share. A primary motivator and one of my true talents is my OCD. It drives me to want to align very precisely terrestrial AND celestial objects for the camera. Being off “Just a Little Bit” turns on that switch. . OCD needs no reason, OCD is a reason unto itself of course… 😜 This is a natural align so I would have loved for the sun to have been just a touch to the right and the tree wasn’t just so. I saw the possibilities, held my breath, click. Actually I was machine gunning the shots as the grass was moving..

Thus the requirement for timing involved here as the tips of the grass were swinging to and fro in the light breeze. The wind is a constant companion on these exposed hill slopes far above the Little Powder River Drainage here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Golden Triangle Frame Sunset

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A Time Before Fences ART

A Time Before Fences ART
A Time Before Fences ART

A Time Before Fences ART

(Satire)

I’ve mentioned several times in previous narratives, that I got lucky on an e-bay auction. I managed to acquire the original “Way Back Machine” from the 1959 cartoon of “Peabody’s Improbable History”. That nifty show was embedded within the larger “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I enjoyed each and every episode after school each day. Any precocious child would thrive with all the imagining. We had 3 channels on the TV at that time… 🤔

So, I won the auction, 6 days later, unpacked, dusted off…. IT was functioning after an initial clean up. I had to replace some vacuum tubes and solder on some replacement electrolytic capacitors into it’s build. After all it’s a 70 year old time travel machine. Electronic components “dry out “over the years.

So every now and then I turn it on. When you see your lights dim, it’s probably me.

Here I picked April 1805as a time to travel to. Late in that afternoon when off in the distance over that far ridge, Lewis and Clark were canoeing up the Missouri into the Yellowstone River just north of here. A time before fences, telephone lines, electric wires and buildings. Landscape before European Man. I only allow myself a few moments to click a little bit and then I head back. Don’t want to take the chance of stepping on a cockroach and changing history into the future as a result. I figure a few photons captures then carried through time won’t effect the universes time line too much. Such things can have cascading consequences.

Owning such a machine is a great responsibility of course. Imagine going back into the Paleozoic and changing the course of things from then on because you swatted at a 6 foot dragon fly. 🙂

I did say it was satire: 😜😜

This if you like layered landscapes… Boy are those long shadows and remember green season? 📸

Location: Photo: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: A Time Before Fences ART

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Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches
Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches

Rarely do I get home from a photographic excursion to have the sky “re-light up” after it had “finished” it’s show earlier. Here is a good second act from that evening. I bet I don’t have 2 architectural/buildings in my photography a month even just in silhouette lolol. I love this tree…..

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 (Wyotana)

Title: Twilight Through Branches