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Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride
Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride

As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.

Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.

I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.

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

Title: Taking Life In Stride

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Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Long Landscape to the BigHorns
Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Close far perspectives are always a favorite to bring to completion. Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘🤘

For me to publish this, I take an average of 1.5 hours per image. I then have to study that timeline to pick this photo. Then there is the small amount of digital darkroom time maybe 10 minutes.. then I have to write / type the accompanying narrative… I start at 250 words for an image. I could write 250 words about a clump of dirt these days after the last 6 months writing over 1500 narratives to accompany my portfolio images. Each post I publish on line, is an e-version of one page out of that eventual book. For now it’s all free reading lol.

So just ignore “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Any recognition by the public makes him insufferable. He’s been photobombing my landscapes for years up here in the high ridge lines of the Montana / Wyoming. The narrative is years long and “Sneaky” gets his share of recognition. Some fans instantly know him versus other less gregarious windmills. He is a notorious photobomber in the local tales of lore.

SOO, “Sneaky” here is the Close part. The 130 mile distant peaks of the 13,000 foot high BigHorn Mountains loom on the horizon the far…. The Windmill is 1/4 mile out, the first ridge 10 miles. The valley under the treed second ridge / mountain slope is the “Little Powder River Valley. Finally stand at 40 miles distant are the Red Hills, made of sediments from the BigHorns far distant. (Google Alluvial Fanglomerate).

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

Title: Long Landscape to the BigHorns

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Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords
Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

These 3 younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. Taking turns with male aggression. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner taking all in the long run.

These Bucks actually get along pretty well in the “Boys Club” they hang in most of the year. But this is as close to a full blown organized training session I’ve seen this year. Getting ready for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, annual Pronghorn all male review for a party of just the Does. Hot and heavy in the fall, it’s a yearly thing up here… So turns the wheel of life. 🤘📸

So on an overcast tuesday HIGH up on a backcountry Ridge was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut. It can really be violent when big Pronghorn Bucks cross swords. It’s all fun and game until someone puts out an eye!.

. Probably 4 year olds. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred. All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment.

They all migrated over a month ago from about 30 miles south from the Thunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds with thousands in the larger Grassland area where they overwinter. I once had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here for the last 2 years. . He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as a pronghorn can be tolerant. Grunt was a nice buck too. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

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Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex
Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex

We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.

These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.

“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘

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

Title: Powder River Training Complex

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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light
Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light

A little Science this PM..

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Slit Islands of Light

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Red Dragon Fly

Red Dragon Fly
Red Dragon Fly

Red Dragon Fly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies (they don’t bite you). That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare.

Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic Period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water. They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

Title: Red Dragon Fly

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French Poodle or Gorilla ?

French Poodle or Gorilla ?
French Poodle or Gorilla ?

French Poodle or Gorilla ?

If you look at the left side of this and let your imagination go… a french poodle begging… On the right side, a Gorilla looking fierce. Or if you want to really let your imagination go. I see 11 other faces in that rising cumulous cloud. (soon to be a thunderstorm as there was a LOT of lift in the air that day. Many of these thermals grew into big storms that hit to our east. .

Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it for facial recognition purposes. Making familiar patterns out of random data is a common “affliction”. It’s not just clouds of course. Hearing hidden messages in music is a similar effect. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic.

Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. I consider them sprits in the sky. This was caught glancing back behind me to the south won a warm evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision working sunsets and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. I suffer horribly from this mental disease seeing faces and animals in almost every scene I look at. Some days it’s worse than others though lolol. 😜👀📸

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

Title: French Poodle or Gorilla ?

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Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening
Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Literally playing “King of the Hill”, this American Eagle had quite a view. This hillock is one of the higher Buttes about (erosional remnant sometimes called “Monadnock” which is a good google word for the morning). Several hundred feet above the surrounding terrain is a good spot to look for game without all that effort of flying etc.. I’m going to have to take a climb up there as this is a hill I haven’t been up yet. It’s a little scramble to climb sandstone buttes and not without some challenge. I might put a game trail camera up there just for kicks… See what flies by…

I saw the “silhouette” of the bird from a LONG way out. Way out in the hilly backcountry, it took me about 10 minutes to get THIS close. All the while this sharp eyed bird was watching me bounce around the backcountry well away from the closest “smooth” two track trail….

The whole game was trying to get into position to take the sun RIGHT behind the bird setting on the peak. The sun was actually above the bird just off frame. IF I could have maneuvered for another few minutes, he would have been in the crosshairs between sun and my lens. No such luck as he flew away seconds after this capture. I’m not sure why he flew but I wasn’t being subtle trying to get into the right position. I always stop in intervals while approaching wildlife. Get the shot, move a little closer, get the next shot, rinse and repeat.

The spring Alpenglow was rife with orange gradients. The suspended ice in the air is responsible for the orange color. If you haven’t experienced a deep orange late evening sky before, you need to spend some time up here in the winter… I was miles out into the backcountry minutes before sunset. It was a long clear sky sunset drive back…….

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

Title: Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

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Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline
Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches
Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches

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 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 yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Two Bucks Through Branches

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Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun
Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun

When ever I point a really long lens directly into the sun, I’m going to get either Burnt Umber or Crimson colors. The latter was gifted to me here. You have to realize that no one knows what this would look like because you would be blinded to stare into such a scene. Using a 28 inch long lens to crush the perspective of about a mile distance from the tree pair. Shutting the camera down to light leads to all sorts of interesting effects. (mostly diffractions).

Obviously those two trees (Ents) were up to no good. Catching the sun like that trying to keep it all to themselves. Fortunately the sun had the state of mind to sneak out the back and disappear behind the ridge. The two didn’t have a clue how it got away but no matter how many times they try this, it never seems to slow down the sun very much. IT still rises more or less on time every day. Imagine if a whole forest did this at one time… think it might slow it down?

I work in a wondrous world of parallel ridges that when very mobile, allows me to find events like this to point my camera toward. By being able to move up and down topography quickly extends my ability to find such scenes. It is a truism that topography is my master. 10 feet lower, and the sun would be below the horizon, 20 feet higher and it wouldn’t be in the trees but above. Location, Location, Location…

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

Title: Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing
Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing

The Cotton Wood Trees are freshly leafing. Still some cold days to come and the Cottonwoods flowers were out a week ago. About to test the thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds are roughly 5 pound, 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Herons. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right. Sometimes dramatically from the wind that afternoon.

This female had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, she had to land on a moving target. She nailed the landing as she was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. These Avian Dinosaurian descendants are AMAZING masters of the sky. This a shift change with a neighbor watching..

I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building a nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. Identification is usually because the male carries sticks to the nest and I’ve never seen a female do so. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.

I’ve seen them land and take off in all wind situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down as delicately as spider silk in the breeze. It’s amazing to watch a fine motor skill control stall speed in the single mph digits.

Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Heron High Jinx Landing

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Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree
Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree

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

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

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

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

Title: Three Angus and a Tree

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Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts
Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

The Rain Shafts over the Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . Weather over the far ridge. The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out.

This is about 4 miles from our ranch. That direction is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles from my homestead.. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here. The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Historic Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association. It is managed under the Trail Creek Grazing Association. Old original buildings out here. In this remote backcountry were certainly built out of locally milled wood. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand. The 1950’s marked the last updates to the main house. Still utilized for hunters with year round caretakers living on site. That barn is classic.

Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

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Back Gate View North

Back Gate View North
Back Gate View North

Back Gate View North

This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. End of the electric, end of the phone and the last internet source lol. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile. Most of my images have both states in them (Wyotana) .

In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set 15 minutes before to the left side of the frame is still barely lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Raptors drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.

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

Title: Back Gate View North

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Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt
Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸

SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.

Photographic Musings:

Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…

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

Title: Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

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Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun
Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.

The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….

She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…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 yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

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: Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

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Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour
Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

The mountain range on the left Horizon is the 90 mile distant Bear Lodge Mountains laying on the border of South Dakota and Wyoming. The 4 peaks on the right are the three Missouri Buttes with squarish Devil’s Tower between the Bear Lodge and the Buttes. Essentially your looking at the northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming in this image as I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming by about 1 mile.

This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow. Well you know those distant hills as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains.

The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there.

Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns.

Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol. The Bear Lodge Mountains are known as the Wyoming Black Hills and are indeed related to the geologic dome that is the Black Hill Geomorphic Expression in SD and WY. My ranch is on the farthest west edge of that uplift.

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

Title: Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

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Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze
Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it is hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the tippy top. It was variously gusty / windy that morning at 5 AM.

These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are truly AMAZING circus actors. As far as I can tell they are total masters of their environment!📸 This bird was sitting about 150 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by gaining elevation up to them. Leaves will shortly be getting in my way of seeing into their cloistered world.. Soon the curtain will be drawn except for the coming and going of the birds from the rookery here on the ranch.

The rookery/colony is only a 6 nest group along a remote backcountry lake. The only visitors to this place are me and who ever hays the ground around the lake that year. 99 percent of the time no one bothers this area. I have a game trail camera under their nests but I won’t get there for some time as disturbing the nests is not a good plan. I won’t get out of my truck if I’m within 300 yards of these guys.

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

Title: Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

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Two Bucks for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light
Two Buck for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light

With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. Spring 2019… Bedded Deer Bucks chewing what ever goodies they regurgitated. … yumm… The grass that time of year is a wonderful brown/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens.

F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings (ISO and Shutter Speed) compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Two Bucks for the Light

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Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall
Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

I captured this in my photon traps RIGHT at sunrise May 11th, 5:36AM. Pre-Civil Twilight each morning I evaluate as to whether to take a box of cameras out into the backcountry. I take many sources of information into consideration. Sky above was over cast solid, it was deeply dark. You understand I can’t see the eastern horizon from my house due to a 400 foot tall ridge that way. Plus it was TOTALLY overcast and lightly snowing around 5:15 am. That’s pretty much a no go signal. 

Fortunately, I have a camera sitting up high on the ridge with an east view. This is a good thing sometimes. I don’t get color in it during early twilight but I can see the horizon. The sun slit of light with a cloud deck above was enticing. Up to the top… There were many good captures from this timeline. All those back at the homestead had any idea the morning was beautiful over the east ridge. 

I have to be timely to get a high enough position to line up another hill top over a mile away with a ridge behind over 6 miles out. The rising sun behind. This is just a thin slit of color on the horizon. A huge long lens looking through a snow squall filter made for a nifty morning. I am able to do this alignment two times a year from this location. Strongly controlled by topography, my angles for photography are. I’m slowly building a good map in my head where to be and when… 

So this was taken through a snow squall right at sunrise. The sun mostly unfettered and very bright for about 4 minutes. Sol was just starting to ascend into the cloud deck above as this was taken. Obscured by that cloud deck for the rest of the day. Snowed most the morning amounting to not much. . 

This was a phenomenal scene viewing through my optics. The human eye has no chance to see such a thing. IT would be blinding to watch. Only with technology can we reach our mind into such a furnace. Hold your thumb out at arms length. The thumb would easily cover the area of the sky that this whole image encompasses. 

If you look carefully/closely at the “glare” under the rising sun / falling horizon, you can see the individual snow flakes frozen in space and time. This is a case where I could see the phenomena better in my camera’s viewer than here on the final image. In the view port, areas that are in focus have white highlights on them which makes them stand out. 

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

Title: Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

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Crook County Wyoming

Crook County Wyoming
Crook County Wyoming

Crook County Wyoming

I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. This is a rare sunset early golden hour photon hunt. I’m not usually headed this direction in the afternoon with a tendency to go deep backcountry. This hunt was a road trip mostly watching the storm move through. My bucket list is to get a rainbow against this scene….

Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument is on the left. The “Three Sisters” (right) as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic necks. Exposed by eroding the material away from above/around them.

Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed on sand grain at a time. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. Rivers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin. The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).

The lighting this evening was spectacular. I find you are where you are when the “Golden Hour” hits with it’s long shadows and rich earthy tones. This is big country here in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana (looking southeasterly into Wyoming). Thousands of square miles of less than 2 people per mile population density.

Location: Wyotana

Title: Crook County Wyoming

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Landscape Ladder Sun Showers

Landscape Ladder Sun Showers
Landscape Ladder Sun Showers

Landscape Ladder Sun Showers

There is a huge amount of detail down in that dark with the misty transition to the backlit rain shafts, I had to publish this. It is very simple but the layering of the landscape was such a attraction. I really don’t post a lot of colorcast orange / yellow images but there is enough umber backlight to suit me here lolol.

This is a look west with the sun setting behind the rain bands. The closest ground to the camera is 10 miles out in the distance and the far ridge is 40 miles out. The weather this time of year is confused typically. I never know what I’m going to see when I drive the two track roads up to the high ridges. I’m as high up for this shot as the largest far hill. Your looking across a wide river valley occupied by the “Little Powder River” that is about 20 feet wide this time of year normally.

Oh, that little river is responsible for removing all the material between where I’m standing and that high peak. Geologists see things as happening one sand grain at a time. Each being moved down a little river over time. Given enough grains moved, mountains are formed by just being left behind.

The many layers of this landscape ladder with such subtle differences of tonations just stopped dead my scrolling through the dreaded “Photos to finish” folder… Taken a few weeks ago as it posts. April 2020.

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

Title: Landscape Ladder Sun Showers

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Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass
Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….

I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.

Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.

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

Title: Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

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Deer Jumping Across Wire

Deer Jumping Across Wire
Deer Jumping Across Wire

Deer Jumping Across Wire

Here we are at the 20th annual fence jumping try outs here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. It has become an annual affair since I moved here. We have a good attendance at the event. Jumpers high and last minute crawlers rule the field. Being a tight new fence, most chose over as their path.

They weren’t panic’d, Taking their time, waiting patiently one, then the next. All walked away when all had cleared the obstacle. These same deer have seen my rigs all year and could care less if I was there as long as I stay in the vehicle lolol. A few minutes later the sun would have been setting behind where they were but alas the timing was not to be.

They don’t like the human form much..🤔 I’m trying to decide who “Won” the height title over the timeline of all of them jumping, I think the deer in this image wins…. The smaller deer left of the jumper likely to got a rash from the last jump. She was very hesitant to go and balked several times lolol.

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores so they are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch about 50 feet from the Montana/Wyoming border

Title: Deer Jumping Across Wire

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Heron Egg Sitting Swap

Heron Egg Sitting Swap
Heron Egg Sitting Swap

Heron Egg Sitting Swap

The Cottonwood Trees were not even leafing yet. The trees flowers were out. The thinest branches are tested at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds weigh 5 pounds and grow 5 foot tall. Names “Great Blue Heron”. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. This Male had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. The Female got to leave with the male settling in to sit on the eggs. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery.

These guys are AMAZING masters of the sky. I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building your nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.

I’ve seen them land and take off in all situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down like a single feather. He had to land on a moving target with a slight wind. This landing was “nailed”. He was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. Taken right at touchdown. What grace !

Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Heron Egg Sitting Swap

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Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette
Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

(May 2020, third/last supermoon of the year) I was fortunate to have worked them all. This month I only had one opportunity to work it against the landscape. I have 4 quality images from this month’s full moon which is about par for the course. Without a doubt this image is the best one I have obtained from this combination.

This one is somewhat similar to others I’ve taken and I’ve shot this tree many times as it’s only a mile from my driveway. However the burgundy (muted pink light) alpenglow, details in the dark and the dynamic range of this one makes my heart pitty pat… 📸📸

I’ve taken a few photos of this tree in front of various astronomic occurrences. It is indeed a lone tree on that position about 1000 yards away from where I took this image.

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon. This makes using Tripods very difficult as you have a moving target. Maybe a monopod. This however was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree.

Practicing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other tripping over sage. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.Bear with me as capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a serious challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this. This composition is a tough one to capture in this low light/long focal field combination. 📸

2×3 aspect to 3 feet. Rested 1200 mm lens on “Clever Girl’s” drivers window.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

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Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice
Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice

It took me about 10 minutes to drive up this close once I crested the nearby hill exposing my self. . When I approach this area, I slowly encroach in steps. It’s comparable to imitating a grazing animal. The Raptor is pretty quiet. Particularly when compared to my previous clinking rattleing Jeep Grand Cherokee. This new rig is also very Black, dark and stealthy in it’s appearance. Lots of black animals walking around the hills (angus cattle). So my new rig is working very well to integrate into the scheme of things up here.

The various creatures on ranch will become accustomed to that new Ford F-150 Raptor with time. I also worked a herd of deer this same evening getting very close for this early in the season.

The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of nesting season. I have only seen 8 Herons actively nesting so far. There may be some others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 7 nests in the trees across the lake from where this guy stands here. (one newly built this year) The male here did just fly up to the nest greeting it’s mate with a 3 Musketeers sword/beak swish caught here. They didn’t care about my approach and were fine in my rear view mirror when I backed up and away to change the scene. (got enough photos lolol).

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

Title: Heron Fencing Practice

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Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870

Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870
Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870

Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870 (I think)

There are actually several models/makers of this and similar vaneless windmill that this one could be. I’m not sure which it is positively…

Windmill technology had been around since 200 BC in China. By the 11th century with big mills in Europe. To grind grain and drain swamps were their main use. The technology brought into Europe by the Crusaders returning home. By the 1700’s the industrial revolution using water and eventually steam power reduced their use considerably. (Notable exception for the dutch). But in the Early 1800’s the new settlers to the Great Plains of America had a use for the wind engines. The Emigrants from Europe brought wind power with them. The western frontier provided a crucible. Upon which the technology constantly proved it’s merit. Pumping water was it’s task.

In the American West, settlers used wind to do work and conquer the land that otherwise would be marginal without a water source for stock. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, small wind generated water wells were ubiquitous across the country. Almost as numerous as the mills were the companies manufacturing them great and small.

As rural electrification proceeded the number of Windmill’s declined starting in the 1930’s. We used a windmill in a remote pasture until 2006. We ran a water pipeline from an electric well about 2 miles to it. There is also a solar powered well on our ranch.

Location: Northeastern Wyoming (Wyotana)

Title: Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870