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Sunset Snow Squall

Sunset Snow Squall
Sunset Snow Squall

Sunset Snow Squall (2:1 Diptych is 2-20″x20″ images) A snow filter to the light…..🤔👀📷

This might be a little abstract for my normal viewers. I like the artistic swash of color making its way through a tremendous dumping of snow locally. This was a wonderful moment of orange snowflakes falling heavily everywhere. They were big clusters of merged flakes the size of quarters some were. It was a very wet dump from above. Transitory as such things usually are, lasting about 10 minutes. Then moved on as it was getting quite dark. Time to go home. This storm left an inch on the ground in a very short period of time. Those dots in the sky here are ALL snowflakes from close to infinity frozen in their travels for this moment in space in time.

Here we are mid winter and the snow pack could be deeper. We have been having some smaller snows that are slowly adding up in accumulations. We have indeed had a strange weather year. All climate is local as the world has NO climate. It has ALL climates. Our climate this year started out with a month short summer. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July this year. Oct 1 is when winter started in 2019. It really hasn’t been cold here yet though. Most winters we see 20 below actual temps several times, not yet this year however. We have been below zero one period so far. This has been a pretty mild winter by local standards…. So far. (mid-february 2020)

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

Title: Sunset Snow Squall

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Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past

Winter sets in deep during mid-February. The cycle of the year repeats over the century this ground has been settled/worked.. This tractor first chugged along in 1939. The first year of the International M tractor. I need to change the tires on it but it runs if I add gas and give it a jump. It has a crank on the front but I’m not as strong as I used to be. (or foolish). I’ve driven this around pulling this and that on the ranch over the time I’ve had it. Lost a tire a year ago and have to just cough up the cash lol. A big ranch operation takes time and money spent fixing things. 😜

The long late day winter sun throws deep shadow casts on the ice crystal projector screen the surface provides. The contrasts present were 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 into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not look directly at the sun with them. Mirrorless cameras have significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this.

Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR 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 cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Shadows of the Past

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Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych
Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych (2- 20″x20″ images)

That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.

That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.

Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.

Title: Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

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Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych
Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych (3 – 20×20 inch images. )

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. For this Phenomena to occur, big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

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Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge
Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge (Rare Halfie

The “thin layer” of Yellow Alpenglow colors the floating ice above the rising horizon covering the sun. This sets the stage across the middle of this “halfie”. I maybe take 10 ‘halfies” where the horizon is 1/2 way up the frame a YEAR. This capture won over my better instincts as it has such a big perspective. Leading lines are incoming in all directions. I think all the good things compositionally in this image over come the general rule against “halfies”.

“There seems to be no doubt that the vast quality of mutton can be grown here, pound for pound, as cheap as beef; and, if so, then sheep-raising must be profitable if cattle-raising is.”

Silas Reed, surveyor general of the Wyoming Territory, from his report for 1871.

It took a while for the notion of raising sheep to catch on out on the frontier. Eastern states and Ohio raised most of America’s sheep early on in the migration west. . Small numbers of sheep arrived in Wyoming as early as 1847 according to Levi Edgar Young’s The Founding of Utah, a Mormon pioneer company that left Omaha in July 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 19 included 358 sheep.

Back to the present. The stone Sheepherders Cairn just to the right of the sun has stood perhaps for 100 years acting as a marker or boundary point . Sometimes they were a place for a supply drop for the backcountry solitary herder hanging out with the sheep. The herder protected the sheep of course from coyotes/lions/other predators. They usually lived out of a covered wagon for months at a time literally alone with their flock.

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

Title: Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

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Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post
Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backcountry Lamp Post

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Bighorns Golden Hour SideShow

Bighorns Golden Hour SideShow
Bighorns Golden Hour SideShow

Bighorns Golden Hour SideShow

Always aware of glare effective my images, I not that this particular night was very very golden from the ice projector screen floating in the atmosphere. This is a side show well to the side of the sun which is off frame hard left. It won’t be long until the sun sets in that V-notch as the sun sets a little further north each day on the Big Horn Mountains. Standing at Ridge one on my ranch, The last “Ridge” seen here 130 miles away. That ridge has several 13,000 foot peaks seen her

Photographic Musings focusing on :

Shutter speed:

When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim or very bright. Slow speeds let in too much light. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring plus you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and use a rested camera.

My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…

Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..

Walking human 1/200th.

Running anything 1/800th

Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th

Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th. Looking into bright scenes? Try 1/4000th…

These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀

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

Title: Bighorns Golden Hour SideShow

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Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss
Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

(ART… Did I mention this is ART?? ). a mirror/mirror reflection.

All work and no play makes frank a dull boy. So Every once in a while I will do create one of these works. One needs to have just the right image. I actually look for scenes that lend themselves to this. But I often don’t take the time to do the work being busy with photorealism instead.

Dramatic sunset through the eyes of a all seeing creature? Perhaps a Butterfly with two yellow spots on it’s orange wings. The original photo was a good image to say the least. I figured two image for the price of one would be an appropriate response. Some may see a malevolent eyes here. Rorschach would be jealous of this one. A nearly 3 dimensional Ink blot in full color courtesy of mother nature is a lot of fun to create.

I always like to enlarge / zoom in to the image to look at the “totem pole’ that runs up the center of the image. There are always a host of creatures that develop as a result of the mirroring. Human brains associate bi-lateral symmetry with creatures of all kings. We see two glowing dots in the dark, our mind fills in the blanks. Seeing patterns in random data is called Pareidolia. 100 years ago such tendencies might get you put in an asylum as a psychotic. Now we are training computers to do facial recognition all over the globe.

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

Title: Crimson Butterfly by Frank Bliss

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Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight
Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Remember F-stop?

It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

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

Title: Bucks Grazing at Twilight

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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.

From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:

Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.

I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.

I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge
Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge

Looking Northwest overlooking a 50 mile wide valley during the golden hour. The snow was not quite a foot deep. The ridge line road has better summer sunsets to the north west. The low angled sun cutting across the bath. The Day only has minutes left. Setting up for the sunset will take a minute. Interested I am in the lines and the shades of this Golden Hour. Long shadows stretch nearly to infinity at this late hour of the day. My ford has 13 inches under the lowest part of the drive train. A foot of snow is not even close to a problem. Now if it was drifting…… That’s a whole another problem.

A few days before, plowing this road helped this morning. Easy driving is a good thing. Winter this year has not been harsh YET. (Bad Luck saying such things). This really improves my time on target and make the ride much smoother. Bumpy snow and ice is always less than desirable. Now surfaces like this can be icy but not so here. Shoe Chains are a viable option in this country. There are some places on this ridge where I can see the Bear Lodge Mountains 100 miles to the east AND the Big Horn Mountains 140 miles to the west. That is a 240 mile horizon to horizon. I think that is under Websters under the definition of BIG Sky. Wyoming Shares the big sky with Montana, just not the slogan lol. I live in Wyotana so there is no difference for me. lol.

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

Title: Rim of the Ridge

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Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset
Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset

2×3 portrait orientation

Veiled sunsets as this are best viewed from high on the ridges here in the Wyoming / Montana borderlands. I travel deep into the high ridges to find views like this. A visual alley appears in front of me, I crunch to a stop and line up the composition. I find it’s easier for these scenes to find me than me to find them. Give the ridge a walk and see what pops up is one method I have used with some success. Of course getting up there is another discussion all together lol. It’s been muddy lately so I haven’t gone up the hill until tonight. It’s frozen up there now. There is no reason to tear up the turf that took hundreds of years to stabilize. It’s one thing to drive over grass when dry, it’s another thing leaving ruts in the ground. Ranchers are the best caretakers because we don’t want to hurt the productivity of the ground. I seldom drive off the two tracks and usually dismount to walk the scene.

Of course my photo timeline is governed by where I am and what the sky is doing so I’m pretty versatile. My rig will drive across most things but snow drifts will stop me. So far this year drifts have been far and in between with the deep snow being on slope sides. Stands of Yucca brush will trap deep snow and stick the unwary backcountry traveler. I drive a very agile new Ford F150 Raptor. Built/configured just for this. It’s a wonderful upgrade to my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I carry a radio anyway 🤔📷

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

Title: Notch in the Trees Sunset

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Stark Stoney Sunset

Stark Stoney Sunset
Stark Stoney Sunset

Stark Stoney Sunset

Sheep Herders Cairns from a day that Sheep Roamed this country more than a few years back. I find these piles of flat sandstone on hill tops here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana. Literally found in the middle of nowhere typically miles from the closest inhabited ranch. Somebody spent a lot of time gathering flat sandstone from far and wide. You see sheep wander the hills and herders would stay with them to protect them. They had some spare time.. The stone cairns were markers. They marked places to meet, places to drop supplies or a sign post marking borders..

The ridge tops are the highways of the backcountry. While forested ridges certainly exist, long grassy ridges generally cleared of pine by past fires provided easy walking for the Indigenous Americans. There is a documented “Clovis” tool site within a 20 minute radium of my place. I’ve never found Clovis artifacts on my place as of yet though I do find man made stone tools. I wouldn’t call them common up here on the high ridges. Only hunting camps were summer inhabited in this country. It is too high and too dry to sustain population very long. We do find “TeePee” rings now and again. Both springs by my homestead have teepee rings about them. Summer quarters this spot was.

I’m not sure If I could have found a flatter light than this. Occasionally I’ll look at a heavily veiled sun with no colors in the scene and instantly start with high F-stop close / far perspective anyway. This one was worth the effort. It was windy and cold up there. The bunch of grass in the mid-distance testifies to this.

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

Title: Stark Stoney Sunset

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Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset
Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset

Close / Far perspectives lend themselves to clear skies. The details up close are of course my subject with the sunset only being an extra “hero” of the image. The totality of these landscapes in this country is staggering in their vastness and variety. Every hill crest has an entirely new world just over the top. All the hill sides are different in the angle and orientation of the vegetation living or laying. I keep a map in my head of the snags (fallen trees) that sparsely litter the hills. Treed pastures are prime hunting grounds for me photographically. The joy of being a landscape artists is I don’t have to pay models or deal with crying moving toddlers. No diaper changes mid shoot up here.

The “Golden Hour” (said with reverence) is that time of the day and hour after sunrise or and hour before sunset. The distance through the atmosphere that the light travels get greater the higher the horizon rises. Of course the sun doesn’t set, the horizon actually rises to cover the sun. Remember that things are as they are, not as you have been told or casually think about them.

I always try to keep narratives in the perspective that I’m trying to capture. Understanding how things work is key to working those things with cameras or any other way for that fact.. Knowledge is power and gives you the ability to anticipate outcomes of what ever process your involved with. Having done this a few times, makes the next one usually turns out a little better using the knowledge you have acquired in the past. Paying dues of course is the key to acquiring that knowledge.

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

Title: Golden Triangle Sunset

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Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset
Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset

Simple perspectives are my stock and trade. I have tried to make an art out of using the things that nature provides for me to photograph. There are so many little area of zen popping up everywhere I glance. The problem of course is there are so many and so little time so I just concentrate on the obvious stuff. Trying not to stand on my head or bend in a direction my design specifications don’t conform to. Fortunately this process involves a lot of walking on uneven ground carrying some camera weight up top. It keeps me in shape but more important it keeps me connected to the earth. Walking about is how I hunt dinosaurs in this country. Watching the earth is what I do.

Being very earth centric, I’ve spent my whole life considering geologic processes. Most are unaware of them and “blissfully” so. As a student of paleoenvironmental analysis, I see below this landscape and imagine the world that laid the sediment that eventually became those boulders. Clues in the rocks tell me books of information by their presence/characteristics. Geologists see past the beautiful sunset (enjoy those too). We imagine what processes leading to that rocks formation. I have a 3 D map in my head of the orientation of the rock layers under my feet. A useful thing to keep handy at times ….

It is somewhat complex to figure out what processes worked the sands these rocks are made of. That Hell Creek/Lance formation sand was deposited 66 +million years ago according to MANY scientists…. That’s 48.3 billion sunsets/sunrises. Actually numbers like that easily flow into my understanding of things when I imagine the inside structure of the earth, processes that occur now occurred then as well. You might say the perspective I have goes a bit under the surface of what I “look at”. Time is a 4th dimension to me. I don’t just look for fossils here, I look at the rocks to see if they are likely to have fossil in them first…..

Speaking of time, enjoy the snowy sunset and the Close/ Far Perspective.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Winter Prairie Sunset

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Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill
Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill (Headline of the news story).

A tad bit of Satire if you don’t mind …. (It’s an old narrative if your new to my world 🙂 )

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite: 😜🤘

Crushing Perspective with Telephoto lenses is a very good pastime. I find that certain objects lend themselves to Close/Far work which of course is quite challenging to line up just so…… “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill here lends himself more than not to photography. He sites pretty well, much better than most kids anyway. The durn sun is always moving. It worked it’s way from the “trap” by slipping out the back door…….😜

Sneaky has his job on the ranch pumping air into a barnyard pond to keep it freezing in the winter and destratified plus the O2 thing. He is an aquarium pump lolol. Just a really small duck pond. He’s close enough to my house to be the first thing I run by on my way out to backcountry photo locations I visit.

So Sneaky is a notorious photobomber of some ill repute. He is always popping into my landscapes as I obviously have no control over his actions. Only Timber slows him down as he gets tangled… He only lets me live here as he’ll be here long after I’m gone. Sneaky is quite a character, I’ve seen him hang around those innocent Mule Deer and Pronghorn. He lives of course near a running water hydrant so the local wildlife is usually negotiating deals between the various characters that live around here through him. His deal is all about publicity.📸📸

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

Title: Sun Trapped by Windmill

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Sunset South of the BigHorns

Sunset South of the BigHorns
Sunset South of the BigHorns

Sunset South of the BigHorns

Late January is when this image was taken. The sun is slowly moving north each place and time it sets. Each night it will get closer and closer from my vantage point to the Range. Still north of the sun’s setting current locations are the Big Horns Mountains. They will for the next month come closer and closer to the sun setting in that big notch. Only once or twice in the last 20 years has the weather window cooperated with that occurring. Naturally this is all from my vantage point. I live/work across the 130 mile wide Powder River Basin. It lays between me and the 13,000 feet high Big Horn Range (the last ridge).

The ice in the crisp air was thick at sunset. Including the sun into the image would have been too much for the scene that presented itself to me. The landscape ladder that was resultant from the powerful gradients thus created by mother nature. It’s all very difficult to catch with our current technology. The cameras don’t yet have the dynamic range necessary to capture this scene without the negative space lower right. Don’t get me wrong. I actually like that dark space. Someday cameras will be up to the task without bracketing exposures and having to composite HDR.

If you are new to my narratives, I live up on and around the Montana / Wyoming border. Most of my work it north of Gillette Wyoming to Broadus Montana. We have a 50 mile view to the east from the first of 5 ridges I have easy backcountry access to that I hunt light on. I actively work both sides of the border virtually daily. As a landscape artist I primarily work light but if some of the wildlife locals jump into my frames I will allow it. Some of my narratives are years old and have taken on a life of their own. Please excuse my occasional forays into wild imaginings and fantasies both mine and more classical.

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

Title: Sunset South of the BigHorns

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Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset
Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

That Ridge is indeed 40 miles distant from my camera. Those fully grown 50 foot tall pine trees . They exist on that high ridge called the “Red Hills” that the sun is “setting” behind. The “Red Hills are the highest point between my ranch and the Big Horn Mountains.

Don’t forget now… This is not a sunset but a ridge rise .. Actually the ridge is rising in front of the suns face. We are the ones that are moving not the sun in this relative geometry any how. 🤔 You know, the earth is spinning like a top….

The swirl of clouds and mists were heavily blocking the sun until it broke through at the last second saving it’s best for the last light of the day. Once your on stage, you want it again. The sun must like it because it seems to keep coming back over and over for more …. 👀 I’ve been up on that ridge a time or two and it’s about 500 feet over the surrounding ground to the west and has BIG views of the BigHorn Mountains just over its shoulder. Big Views!

Pointing Really long telephotos at really bright sunsets is an exercise in very high f-stop in the 70 (ish) range depending on your rig. You want a pin hole aperture as a wide open lens would cook your camera’s sensor chip. Shutting the camera down to light has the benefit of silhouetting everything but the bright stuff (highlights). By the time you see a yellow sun versus a white sun in my images, I’ve turned the shutter speed fast enough to only let that light register with the sensor.

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

Title : Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

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Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Twilight Fully Involved Windmill
Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Windmill Junkies Unite: Windmill Weekend🤘

The higher you go in the sky, the longer the light had to travel to get there. Therefore, the atmosphere itself is the filter here for me. I couldn’t boost the saturation if I wanted to in this image. The yellow light down low is mostly due to Atmospheric Ice and the “Alpenglow effect it generates. So the Big Projector Screen In the Sky as certainly fully involved on this night.

The Peaks of the Big Horn Mountains off over to the right of “Sneaky Pete” the Photobombing Windmil are 130 miles distant. Rising 13000 feet above sea level. The Big Horns have two peaks over 13K ft and are certainly two of the highest peaks in Wyoming. Here as viewed from the Montana/Wyoming border lands nearish to Biddle Montana. Just ignore Sneaky, he’s just in it for the publicity. He’s notorious for working his way into my landscapes. His older brother is the same way (Re Pete the windmill) but lives a couple of miles into the backcountry. It’s too muddy at the moment to pursue his cooperation under skies like this. I would damage too much turf to get there.

As I type this (one week before it posts), we have a winter storm incoming. We need a series of 4 inch snows over a month to catch up on the snow debt I perceive ongoing up here in the borderlands.

Title: Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

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Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon
Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

My view from “Ridge 1” looking at the sun rise on “Ridge 4” which is about 10 miles distant. Working on Parallel Ridges gives you landscape ladders automatically.

The world we are living on is spinning like a top in space. Rotating around the earth the moon is albeit relatively slowly to our eyes. The appearance of the moon “rising” is an illusion. The Horizon is actually falling away fast enough that it makes a difference on long range rifle shots.

If you shoot a hypothetical “average” bullet at a 1000 yard target straight to the east, you better aim low…. say about 6 inches . If you aim to the west, you should aim high since the target is rising under your bullet. . You see to the east the target is dropping. Thus I’m saying that the horizon travels about 6 inches during the time a bullet travels 1000 yards. (over 1/2 mile). 6 inches is arbitrary as your bullet will act differently than my hypothetical one.

So the next mind game is to shoot straight north or south. You have to shoot neutrally, neither high nor low. Really long range rifle shooters use this in their calculations. Nothing like having your target rise or fall depending on the direction and distance the bullet travels over time. I’ve been involved in professional shooting for decades, trust me on this. You have to compensate at distances much over about 700 yards a little bit more each yard the bullet has to fly further. Most sportsman don’t shoot that far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor
Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor is a capture from earlier this winter. The orange/peach colored alpenglow accented by the cloud blush off the snow in the foreground.. This was a very good year for snow early but not so much now. This was a standoff. Me versus her. I just look brave as there as a cattle gate between us as I got down on my knees looking for the reincarnation of the Egyptian God Hathor.

The orange Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I very carefully expose in the camera that sky to match what I saw at the time. The cow here is 100 yards out for my telephoto to get both the cow and the sky in the same focal field.

This Cow is NOT a Bull, just having horns does not a Bull Make. This is a mother I’ve had 5 years on ranch. … Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early winter day.

If you don’t have a 100-400mm lens in your weapons chest, you need to consider it. You guy lenses for generations while fancy camera backs last a few years. I’m still using regularly a lens I bought in 1995.

Tip of the day:

You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

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Antique Lamp Shade Spotlit

Antique Lamp Shade Spotlit
Antique Lamp Shade Spotlit

Antique Lamp Shade Spotlit

Handed down over at least 3 generations this early antique electric lamp was enjoying a sun beam spotlighting it one late afternoon. It’s position in the world is way deep in our living room. A sun beam fought through the gauntlet of trees, walls, house windows, and “Stuff” to hit a ring of 100+ year old cut glass tear drops. I walked into the room to witness them just glowing. I’m sure the inventor of this style had visions similar to the scene I experienced. The bulbs originally used were not quite in the same league lolol. . So this is Late afternoon low angle golden light reaching as far into the relatively dark recess of our living room. Little areas of zen are everywhere…..

Spotlighting against dark surfaces are just “focusing” on the highlights. High f stop numbers will let you get the foreground objects in focus as well as the background. Here I set the exposure to ignore the shadow detail though I could have brought out details of the plants, the door. Interested in just the highlights, I ignored the darker details and in fact was dropping them out. . Dropping out shadow detail is all about exposure. Usually all you have to do is JUST expose the highlights properly using shutter speed. Everything else should fall into place. It’s nice of the light to cooperate so. So often I have to move something but here, it volunteered to sit for me. 😜 I wonder what the union rate is for lamp models ?

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

Title: Antique Lamp Shade Spotlit

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Wagon Box Full of Sunset

Wagon Box Full of Sunset
Wagon Box Full of Sunset

Wagon Box Full of Sunset

The closest “General Store” to this old buck board wagon was 15 miles. I wonder how many times this wagon was used to drive back and forth across the backcountry all the way to Biddle Montana or to Rocky POint Wyoming. They were about equidistant from our ranch headquarters.

A drive to supplies from here in a modern Car at 60 mph car is about 20 minutes. to drive the 15 miles to Biddle Montana. There has been a “General Store” there since the first settlers moved in. There were dozens and dozens of smaller ranches settled in the early 1900’s. When little chunks of land were available for settling.

Wagons like this were the main way that good made their way from civilization to the backcountry. A couple of good carriage horses should be able to convey a carriage 20-30 miles in an 8 hour day.. Carriage horses trotted but horse pulling loaded couldn’t travel as far. Trotting wasn’t an option with a heavy load of flour, beans and oils. Don’t forget cattle supplies and machine parts for fixing broken farm equipment. This wagon made many day long round trips from dawn to dusk. Probably 12-15 hours. Rough on the team plus rough under the Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) weather.

Weather up here is dangerously changeable. I’ve seen it drop 40 degrees in 24 hours. Dust storms, wind storms and worse lightning storms. (a place called “Lightning Flats” is 20 miles east of here lolol) You and your cargo is at the mercy of the elements. I’m trying to image getting a winters supplies of food (months anyway) in this wagon.

Heck, the supplies themselves where hauled to the general store from the rail head by horse and wagon. Early trucks certainly started up hauling that 50 miles as the technology because affordable and available. The roads then were not concrete stretching across the country. Those roads were rutted 2 track roads. Most of which were originally game trails following the easiest path.

This place is a living museum. I’m always finding old technology discarded here. Old plows, discs and a long list of old grass machines found in the “bone yards”

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Wagon Box Full of Sunset

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Wind and Solar Power

Wind and Solar Power
Wind and Solar Power

Wind and Solar Power

Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite :🤘📷 Don’t let your mother know you look at subversive material like this….🤔😜

Veiled sunsets make it much easier for me to point a long camera lens at the sun. The glare blocking ability of clouds combined here with a photobombing windmill effectively reduced the stress on my gear. This night was a pretty one. Veiled suns are by far the best background for me to take a landscape with… If I could only keep “Re Pete” from moving into my scenes. I have no control over these windmills actions.. 😜😜📸 Attention hogs all how they work into my landscapes.

Silhouettes of trees which are much closer than the windmill which by the way is a tad close than the sun is. This windmill hangs out about 3 miles away from my homestead and is a rare shot in the winter. I don’t get over in that country much particularly now that mud season is “spotty” with days being above freezing and nights crisping up. Morning is way less muddy than evening. I way prefer winter weather in the high 20’s than the low thirties. I will not drive a pickup truck over saturated old Prairie. Ruts are damage to turf that has existed for several hundred years at least. The roads are almost as bad at the moment but at 32 degrees, it’s snowing as I type this.

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

Title: Wind and Solar Power

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Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Snowy Spotlighting Sunset
Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Looking westward across the 40 mile wide Little Powder River Valley , a cloud bank will snuff out the light within minutes. I am often sent home early with no “photos in the can” by cloud banks shrouding the horizon. When I head off road to climb up ridges chasing light, the mid-winter wins sometimes. This night I went up hill. Over 300 square miles of landscape presents here, all covered by this snow blanket. We get most of our 14 inches a year of precipitation during the winter.

You will note how effectively Yucca plants have a tendency toward collecting their own stash of water. The result of this is to soak the ground around them. The Yucca is a great plant up here providing food to the deer all year long. Deer from both species eat the seed pods from Yucca which grow in significant quantities up here. Yucca flowers are edible too I ‘ve seen ungulates take advantage of them every year. The deer grow fat on them. Already eaten, mostly deer have consumed the seed pods. By Mid-Winter, the deer have consumed much of the food reserves on this ridge. They have moved on to other pastures. Typically they head to sheltered gullies with water near by.

If it’s going to be winter, I wish it would freeze the backcountry ground. As I type this it’s been staying around freezing and just above for weeks. Mud in the backcountry completely blocks me from access as I don’t want to rut up my two track trails.

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

Title: Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

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Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter
Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter

Antique Dump Rake with a view…

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

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

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

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

Title: Grass Rake Sun Filter

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Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid
Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid

Satire: (Did I mention this is Satire?)

I see lots of things on the “way up the hill” to photograph sunsets. Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill photobombed my divergent shadow landscape yet again! (exasperated look on my face). He hangs out (mostly) about 1/4 mile up that hill I often travel to. I’m not sure how he manages to get into my landscapes but he seems to. I have no control over his actions…. 👀

Stories about “Sneaky Pete’s” accomplishments have spread far and wide. He has his legend and then there is actually living in the neighborhood with the guy. What happened here is he got a BIG idea about a Wind/Solar Hybrid invention and I think he was trying to communicate the specifics to me. I’m not good at translating him being much better with deer translations of stories than “windmillian”. Tough to communicate with him, he speaks faster or slower depending on the wind speed and that throws off my cadence…. 🤔😜😜📷 I have so much to learn…. I speak geology not Windmill…..

He is such an attention hound. In fairness though he is known as a skillful negotiator with the deer. He’s helped me before with various “deals” with the various herds to get them to sit for me I’m sure of it.😀

Windmill Weekend, Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘😜

Back to my normal programming ….

So I was actually surprised by this capture. I technically was working those aforementioned divergent shadows with a high f-stop on a wide angle lens. The high contrast environment lends itself for a good perspective image. “Sneaky Pete” provides scale for the foreground which was my interest. Winter in Wyotana..

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

Title: Windmill and Solar Hybrid

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Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes
Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

The 3 Missouri Buttes (the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The wagon train pioneers called them the “Three Sisters”. They were a major sign post along the way to all places west. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View to the southeast (the side the tourists NEVER see). That is all northwestern Crook County.

The weather during this sunset over my shoulder was a tad snowy. Those were all falling ice plates (Diamond Dust). The next morning I went up on that pass and worked that fresh snow as well. Lots of good captures on this timeline). Taken up on the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Road). The view is to the southeast. This is off the beaten path a tad lolol.

Geologic Musings:

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 3 (actually 4 but you can only see the 4th from above), peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck cooling slowly being insulated by the surrounding rocks. . We know this was deep as the columns of rock in the Devils Tower nearby cooled VERY slowly. This allowing the columns to crystallize in the eroded tower that the National Monument is famous for. Lots of material around them washed down the river to expose those necks. All that sand/mud is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Location: about 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

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Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade
Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade

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

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

Disclaimer:

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

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

Title: Lone Tree Lamp Shade

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Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset
Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Really wide lenses give a feel to an image that is hard to describe. All encompassing I’m thinking on several levels really. I’m always looking for visual tunnels particularly on clear Alpenglow only winter skies. Close / Far perspectives magically appear as I walk from place to place. This old growth stand of trees survived the summer/fall long fire back in the 1930’s around here that cleared so much timber out. It burned from summer till the first snows I understand. Islands of trees surrounded by a sea of grass is the rule up in the borderlands north of Gillette. We still find snags left over from that fire not decayed into dust yet from a 90 year old fire.

We were wet all summer but currently (as I type this (in Mid-January). IT’s been dry since about mid November. There wasn’t much snow in December and January has been dry. It has not been particularly cold yet either. Kind of a mild winter in my opinion. We need a bit (key word bit) more snow. Say about 4 inches a week lololol.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder lol. I might go find this very spot again under different conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

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

Title: Perspective Pine Stand Sunset