It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations
in the last 500,000 years) the series of advancing glaciers stopped their advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.
About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (The first 60 degree day this year as I type this narrative).
Boy this is a classic Pastel Western Mountain Scene. The Big Horn Mountain Chain rises from the between basins on either side of the huge tectonic uplift. A 130 mile long landscape with the first ridge past the trees being 40 miles away from the camera. Take in mid-twilight about 15 minutes after sunset. It was quite dark considering how well this came out.
Perspective’s with a little foreground bokeh (google this) is unavoidable working low light twilight conditions. This pastel scene was difficult to get as I didn’t have a tripod with me at that time. I was just resting them camera on a vehicle body.
The only ways to gain light in your camera working in low light is, to either 1: turn down your f-stop numbers (open the aperture up which as a side effect, reduces your depth of field), 2: longer exposure (I was rested only, no tripod so 1/10th of a second is about as long as you can do rested. That is holding the back of the camera while resting the lens on something. OR 3: Turn up camera sensitivity which will give you lower quality grainy images to gain light by a Higher ISO number. Lower ISO’s will give you a fine grained image but it takes more ambient light than this to use.
I had to give in somewhere, f-stop it was. Turn it down to f11 on this 400 mm telephoto lens capture.
These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” from my position. There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. This the third capture finished from that encounter last spring. They were quite close when I caught these three moving out. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee (At that time). . I had been watching the group on a hill top 300 yards away for a while. They all ran toward me in an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a dozen images from this close encounter.
The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them. When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal would move. Stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. Say 15 minutes.. and it always doesn’t work…
I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults. This group ran by my Jeep within 20 yards. Now could get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns.
If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. One time I was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me. I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their (2 animals) hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.
Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss (This is an ART/PHOTO Hybrid)
Do you see things in Clouds? 👀📸 What do you imagine here?
Now that I mentioned this is art, I would point out that only 1/4 of it actually is art, the rest of it is a 100 percent real image. All work and no play make photorealistic Frank a Dull Boy. I like to follow up on the potential for this kind of work on a particular image if I get the time/chance. I usually have to make the time in the middle of an otherwise photorealism filled day. In the world of the digital darkroom, I get to play a bit. This is a slightly modified Wyotana borderland sunset from last week. One week is my turn around time now from taking an image to possibly posting it.
To create this, I took the original image which just didn’t have the left side eye. The nose is a real lens flare which I carefully lined up in the camera to the 12 o’clock position. The flare was in the original capture. So I mirrored the right eye and the clouds onto his left cheep from the original side. Then up high I mirrored the outline of the head right to left. So the left eye/cheek, part of the clouds up high. Nothing else was messed with other than color a bit. But this is art and all rules go out the window. As I was taking this, the possibilities were obvious to me in the composition stage of this capture. Long before the click.
Two Track to the Red Hills (Late fall 2019) Rain shafts right sky 📸 The horizons shadow just left lighting up all the landscape behind me. So I turned and CLICK.
Wide landscapes of a sunrise backshow are one of my pursuits as really pretty ones are not that easy to run into randomly. . It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of mostly un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east (to say Illinois) , I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. In this country, it’s a post here, a fence there with some trails disturbing the landscape. Closest ranch house (help) to this scene is about 2 miles.
The population density of our 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol. I am standing in Wyoming but the Mountains on the right are in Montana. Thus borderlands lol….
Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Musings on Deep Backcountry Travel
Some times I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up in this high country above the drainage anywhere. Pretty well maintained gravel is our country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there lol. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).
A summer image from here on ranch for those of you with cabin fever here in mid-March. Can you feel the warmth of the summer evening?. How about the smell of pine and sage wafting in the breeze. Cotton wood pollen makes me sneeze as does grass pollen. It’s pretty humorous I choose such a place to regularly keep Kleenex in business. .
In the remote borderlands area of Wyoming and Montana I live on, we have fairly severe winters plus they last till May. Fortunately I have the perspective of living 10 years in Jackson’s Hole Wyoming. I used to get 6 feet of snow flat in my backyard every winter in Jackson. My drive way was only a few hundred feet to the plowed road. I had an Chained up 4WD ATV with a snow blower on the front. Much Less wind in Jackson…🤔 I’ve done -40 in Jackson Hole but only -30 down here 2000 feet lower topographically. I’m over 400 miles crow flies to Jackson up here in the N.E. Corner of Wyoming/SouthEast Montana.
Here in the borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming, we deal with drifts some of which are significant monuments to the ferocity of the breeze about at times. Way more wind up here on the high ridges of the western most Wyoming Black Hills. Unfortunately my drive way here is 1/4 mile long. It’s also warmer here. Jackson is 6200 feet above mean sea level, we are 3730 to 4055 feet elevation above sea level at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch homestead. That’s a little over 300 feet of difference in elevation in the topography here.
Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record. A shadowed backcountry with my head/camera JUST in the light above the far ridges shadow.
This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special for a clear sky evening. . There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore.
Forest Fires hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image. Various levels of smoke from burning forests give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.
I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels. I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses.
When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have lefts a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄
I pay a lot of attention to Close / Far perspectives when I am out with a box of cameras. So many choices, how about a telephoto at 800 mm at 150 yards out from the branch. Such lighting only possible by parking an off road LED light bar close to the branch in question and start walking down hill until you can get both objects in focus. There are equations to figure out your focal distances but it depends entirely on your f-stop setting and particular lens. The higher the fstop, the less light into your camera BUT you get a deeper depth of focus. (i.e. both objects at infinity).
Mostly, completely missed are a million of these moments in time depending on the angle and time you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. Steep slopes help align a low moving terrestrial object with a terrestrial object (hint). 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 100 percent of the photography game. Time in important, knowing when to leave a scene is as important as anticipating a scene.
The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning yourself before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. If the moon is rising, I have to walk closer to the hill to keep the perspective. If I move forward about 20 feet, you can’t see the branch . Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a small chasm. I wonder how many photographers have walked a little more back, a little more, and more. Only to find out that there wasn’t any ground there. 😔
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. Gillette”s Hospital Complex up on a high hill overlooking the city. Rainbow’s from above appeared to me. Might have just been me ….Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day.
I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover. I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel.
I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away… Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
I had a lot of “conversations” with “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. He is now famous (in his mind). Even though he is a “country innocent”, he is taking on habits of the young “indestructables” among us. 👅. He once gave up smoking years ago but somehow. Somehow he got all the gear to vape. Caught on camera here as he snuck up the hill to catch a “smoke” thinking that no one could see him. Telephotos have special powers that he is unaware of obviously 😜👀🤘
Now it is a Windmill Weekday and Windmill Junkies must Unite! I’m worried now about “Sneaky’s” general health and well being. What is a good friend to do when someone develops a “habit”. I might have to do an intervention of some kind. Poor “Sneaky Pete.
Boy I miss summer here in mid-winter. We are dead center of ice/mud/ice/mud season. We need 4 inches of snow a week with melts on the weekend every week till mid-may. I hereby formally make a request for such weather as long as the winds are kept calm for the baby wildlife and livestock populations that will start appearing in the next few months here in the high ridges of the area. For that fact here we go again with the cycle of “rebirth” that is the spring. We’ve made it past what is supposed to be the worst of the winter . This period of wet soil over frozen frost line saturates the upper crust. Daily thaw, freeze cycles churn and break down cobbles into pebbles, pebbles into sand, then silt, clay finally. My problem with this is the mud keeps me out of the backcountry.😔📸
Whimsical: First of all, I’ve never seen a group of boys hanging out on the corner that didn’t bring an “oh oh” to my mind lol. The big guy (second to the right) is actually pretty big as a Mule Deer’s ears are 22 inches roughly across. I’ve certainly seen bigger bucks. Overall a nice Muley Buck I thought.
OH, I forgot, I’m suspecting they were about to drag race here . My presence shut it down as if by a switch. Instead they walked off slowly with casual glances over their shoulder. More or less continuing to move from one of my water tanks to their grazing areas. By the looks of those bellies hanging down, the food supply is doing well. Yup chubby future hubby for some lucky girl is.
The 35 mph speed limit is just suggestion as maximum speed to them I suspect though it’s the law up here on ranch. There is about 3 miles of county road that crosses across our ground. It makes it MUCH easier to get from one end to the other for everybody up here includeing this batch. They had just left the cleared gravel
I watch well known places of wildlife activity such as watering holes we keep open all year just for wild life. (4). Usually one of them will have stock on it but it’s still open for the deer and anybody else around to use. Everybody needs a place to drink. Wildlife tend to be hard pressed in the winter to find open water.
The stripe of orange Alpenglow under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the cloud deck This image was taken ON the border line of Montana / Wyoming.
The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. That is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀
I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.
This is a diptych left right pair image consisting of 2 – 20 inch squares. I really adore natural pastel colorations when they occur in Alpenglow. This is a north view looking across the Wyoming Montana border (trees are in Wyoming, mountains in Montana). Posted as second image of this mountain chain through these trees that I posted today. Please take the time to look at the other one and compare.
Most of the Great Master Painters of their day composed their art redoing over and over many scenes they discovered in their world. Say painting Big Ben in 20 different lighting conditions. I am BY NO MEANS a master painter. That is up the big guy upstairs who is responsible for most of the color work. My job is as a stenographer taking down punctuated moments in space and time. I don’t make this sky up lol. Thusly I will follow in those painters footsteps (err, brushstrokes). If their experience continues to be the teacher that I have learned it is over the years.
Those master painters of the 16th-19th century were more or less isolated by the transportation of the day. They were where they were so to speak. I consider each photo I take of the same scene but under different light and environmental conditions, a study of the natural perfection in that place. The framing doesn’t change much from study to study but the background morphs with the time of day, the weather and the yearly cycles. I try hard to stay in tune with all this. The complexity of nature is something that I’ve slowly started to realize as I spend more and more time in it.
Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms any light from the silhouetted areas.
Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.
Apologies: I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. Mud keeps me off the trails so as to not destroy them. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges. Froze then melted off in the afternoon resulting in more mud and soupy soil frozen below, wet above . My rig (Ford Raptor), can easily do mud but I haven’t gotten it into the gumbo yet. I would only do so by accident of course as Gumbo (Bentonitic mud from clays derived from geologically processed volcanic ash. ) will stick a bulldozer let alone a baja truck no matter how well built.
In a few more years, I’ll be showing you images with branch shadow details with the full sunset behind . Cameras will then exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction. Dynamic Range of camera versus eyes is a good google search.
This from early spring 2019. The grass is growing, the hair is shedding off this Young Pronghorn Buck. They shed in clumps giving them a haggard / mange look. He’s perfectly healthy for a young un…But WHAT is going on with his horns… You have to look very carefully lolol. These guys will be appearing here on ranch within weeks of this Mid-March Post.
Pronghorn Spring Migration:
The Pronghorn are migrating shortly but I’m not seeing them up here just yet as we have snow cover high. Moving through here from the south heading through up to Montana. They are following ancient migration routes that the cowboys used to move cattle in the late 1800’s from Miles City Montana down to Newcastle Wyoming. The local version of the “Texas Trail” runs right through the western side of our ranch. Fences are little obstacle to these animals which play the “limbo game” effortlessly. They usually do go under but I do have a few photos of Pronghorn going over fences.
I figure MOST of those animals that lived on ranch all last summer are mostly 10 -20 miles south. They are working their way to the ThunderBasin National Grasslands where they have moving water (not frozen) and good feed for the winter. There are only a few roads through a pretty big piece of remote real estate between the Powder River Basin and the Wyoming Black Hills. Many Hundreds of square miles for herds to congregate in. Many ranchers maintain water stock tanks during the winter. This helps more on the margins but water is a rare thing up here when it’s been 30 below for a week.
Snaggy Silhouettes are fodder for my photon capture boxes. (cameras). I always like snag silhouettes but when a sky is fully involved showing off to me, it’s enough to get my attention. (I’m spoiled) This is not an easy tree to be at right at sunset as it takes a little travel to get there in the backcountry. All two track trails suitable to 4 wheel drive only most of the time. To find standing snags on ridges isn’t as common as you think. Lots of snags standing in sheltered from the wind areas. This is fully exposed and will be laying down pointing to the south (ish) sooner or later. The prevailing winds from the north west will eventually win the battle with this old soldier.
Such organic forms are rife with smooth curves, contrasts against colors of a veiled Wyoming Sunset. The sun JUST peeking around the trees / snags base. Raw organic. Rainbow gradients are always to a one beautiful. I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. 📸 Always expose the highlights correctly. Worry about the shadows later. 📸 We call fallen trees “Snags” because as you walk, they will Snag your leg and trip you. Pines die here mostly due to lightning strike or wind damage. Igniting from a lightning strike, they may burn for days if not extinguished (usually by the rancher).
I have maintained a 5 ton truck just to fight fires up here for 12 years now. If you get too many snags in your “woods”, your going to have a hot fire. In their defense, they provide homes for wildlife. I call them wildlife trees myself. Woodpecker holes abound in them.
I attend virtually every interesting sunrise/sunset that occurs up here on the high ridges along the Wyoming/Montana border. The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch has about an equal amount of land in each state. Most of my images have parts of the scene either the sky or the ground of each or the other state. (now that’s a sentence lololol_😜
I see a lot of heavily saturated sunsets on forums and I see them too occasionally. I record them accurately. What I’m saying is.: This is the actual scene as it occurred without any highlight/color tomfoolery. I love this image as it is with detail in the colored areas, not solid color. My technique is all about exposing the highlights correctly. I’ll worry about the shadows in the digital darkroom. I left the landscape silhouette without bringing out what detail exists there. I seldom molest highlights.
Recording then presenting them exactly as I experienced them. I about said “Catch them on Film”. ……. I paused and considered the accurate replacement phrase. What exactly am I doing with this Mirrorless Digital Camera. No film here. These things use a digital chip inside to record the image in Red/Green/Blue dots. Technically it’s recording a series of 1’s and 0’s in sequence that when run through first Sony then Apple’s machinations via software. Of course Adobe had a hand. Then Facebook attacked what I uploaded with a compression process. The resultant jpeg/file quality drives me crazy sometimes. The full sized files are amazing. Full screen is a must here for sure as this is an image that needs to spread around your field of vision. 📸👀
I’ve mentioned several times in previous narratives, that I got lucky on an e-bay auction. I managed to acquire the original “Way Back Machine” from the 1959 cartoon of “Peabody’s Improbable History”. That nifty show was embedded within the larger “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I enjoyed each and every episode after school each day. Any precocious child would thrive with all the imagining. We had 3 channels on the TV at that time… 🤔
So, I won the auction, 6 days later, unpacked, dusted off…. IT was functioning after an initial clean up. I had to replace some vacuum tubes and solder on some replacement electrolytic capacitors into it’s build. After all it’s a 70 year old time travel machine. Electronic components “dry out “over the years.
So every now and then I turn it on. When you see your lights dim, it’s probably me.
Here I picked April 1805as a time to travel to. Late in that afternoon when off in the distance over that far ridge, Lewis and Clark were canoeing up the Missouri into the Yellowstone River just north of here. A time before fences, telephone lines, electric wires and buildings. Landscape before European Man. I only allow myself a few moments to click a little bit and then I head back. Don’t want to take the chance of stepping on a cockroach and changing history into the future as a result. I figure a few photons captures then carried through time won’t effect the universes time line too much. Such things can have cascading consequences.
Owning such a machine is a great responsibility of course. Imagine going back into the Paleozoic and changing the course of things from then on because you swatted at a 6 foot dragon fly. 🙂
I did say it was satire: 😜😜
This if you like layered landscapes… Boy are those long shadows and remember green season? 📸
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)
With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)
So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸
This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.
I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point last summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.
Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.
There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. This is the second of two finished images from that encounter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.
This 220 pound “King” Corso Mastiff is one of 4 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). He was walking away from a a cool bath under that spigot after the last run of the day. (I have that bath on another similar image) The cowgirl gave the short haired dogs a few minutes to dry in the summer air and off to bed. Living with mastiffs has it’s big rewards with just a few detractions.
The Drool Thing:
As a rancher wearing ranch cloths, I don’t mind so much the drool issue.. If you’ve never been around Mastiffs that were bred by the Romans for war (not table manners), you haven’t experienced living with a salivating horse before. Generally they are clean enough for dogs but the strings of drool are impressive. I should have waited until after he drank to show the foot long strings that occur after eating or drinking. I bet there are some patentable characteristics for the sticky, stringy properties of Mastiff Drool.
So I’m sitting in my computer chair working while my wife is feeding the mastiffs. (they eat outside but we hand feed them meat rolls about a pound each. ). She let the dogs right in and the first thing the big one does is come over laying his head on my arm. I almost had to take a shower lololol. The command is now, “Wipey Wipe” after feeding BEFORE the dogs come back in. They don’t like their face wiped but they let us do it lol.
Window to the Moon (Take you back 8 months for this one)
In my side yard is a wonderful old tree that I seldom work with cameras. I had to get enough distance away such that the camera could focus on both the foreground / background. Then I had to find a very rare hole in the canopy to set up the composition. This photography stuff is tough to get all the angles and distances to overcome the limitations of the technology we use.
Close / Far perspectives such as this are indeed a sub-hobby of mine within the larger world of photography I immerse myself in.
You’ll need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera.
A short 1/2 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. You need a Longer exposure… That means more light into the camera to compensate for the high F-stop’s little pin hole aperture. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). Around ISO 500 should get you close with these other settings and a long lens. There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.
I’m not sure what it is about this capture. It is a low light image. It just stood out to me for some reason. I finished it bringing all the detail out of that cows hide that I could without introducing artifacts to the mix. I always expose highlights properly in the camera. Then I have to deal with the darks/shadow detail in the digital darkroom. This capture destined to become a silhouette image I thought. The detail that was hidden in the shadows yielded to my gentle coaxing. I think I really like the highlights on the cow itself. Certainly I like the whole mix lolol.
The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲
Backcountry Windy Day Windmill (A little summer storm off in the distance, might be some wind )..
Windmill Weekend: Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Kids, don’t let it out that you look at images like this, it might get back to your mom and dad. If your parents find out, your likely to get grounded.
Soooo, that is actually the red gravel backroad curve all landscape photographers love to have in their green spring image. The storm to the south darkening the horizon. Delineated by a spot lit stripe of full sun. Those hills are about 8 miles distant from my camera’s lens. The row of trees is 3 miles out.
Telephotos Crush perspective and bring things otherwise separated objects into the same focus if you use the aperture correctly. This Windmill is about 200 yards out. This is far enough from the camera to be in it’s infinite focus zone as is the sky in the distance. In manual mode you have to use a high f-stop number for this. Close far focus perspectives from me are ALL f22 or higher depending on the lens. Really long telephotos might go f74 which is a pin point hole in the lens to let in light. ). You get some diffraction effects at high fstop if looking at bright point light sources like a starred sun. High F-stop use will also reduce the amount of light into the camera. You have to compensate by using a longer exposure or a higher camera sensitivity, or both.
Spotlight Through the Storm (2:1 Diptych) Full screen is a must here.
Someone looking over the land. This is the “Eye of the Sky” If I have ever seen it. I am certainly going to mirror this image as artwork soon. . It’s almost a perfect face now just with the right eyelid closed.
Musings about World Events:
We find ourselves in turbulent times of strife, loony political debates, pandemics, and the economic misery sure to follow. I try to observe such from as far away as I can in my daily work on the remote prairie.. The uncertainly of the change in lifestyle we are about to undergo is staggering in and of itself. It is likely that our reaction to such dangers is worse than the dangers themselves. A paraphrase of “the only thing to fear, is fear itself”.
I suspect that the general order of things will change abruptly this spring as a result of the country mobilizing to reduce the threat from this newest latest danger to our way of life. Getting prepped this ripple in society is a good idea. It “might” be about to get real. Worse prolonged.
I look at scenes like this above with the awe it deserves from my insignificant viewpoint on the planet. As a nation, we are watched over much as here from above. In the scheme of things, this societal stress is but a bump in the history of the world. I see a future historians looking back at this time as one of two narratives, two worlds and one supply chain.
Hopefully our little world is sheltered somehow by our remote location. There is certainly “some” societal stress to come. It is my hope to avoid most of the mess but it is my prayers to all in the major cities for the coming year. It’s going to get interesting. Let me know if it get’s sporty out there.
This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local deer are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol.
This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.
We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
A capture from directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.
Its called “Turtle Butte” for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. Scattered dinosaur chunky chunks are present. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands, a variety of things are found just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. No big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken 6 months ago. The grassy remote ridge top I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Little Powder RIver Valley and the Powder River Basin lie between the Mountains and my ranch. Geomorphologically, I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day until June 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
The morning was cold but we are having a bit of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts a full 8 days later lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky with the setting moon above. This is not a composite as if it were it would be in perfect focus. I’m thinking that’s going to hard to do this way. I was 50 feet behind the car to take this with a long telephoto NOT out the window which is WAY easier lol. The red on the right side of the frame is a tail light of the vehicle. Kind of a proof of concept image for me , 👀📸
A Backcountry drive in the borderlands: (This image was of my Jeep)
Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year is hard driving with much snow depth. There are thousands of miles I’ve traveled backcountry when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Vastly limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’ve been off on two trail tracks lately (are you kidding lolol) with my F150 Raptor to work at the moment but photographing remote country roads has it’s advantages. . The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.
The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective way behind the rear view mirror and a moon gives you was worth the effort.
Devils Tower Landscape Ladder (7 months ago for Wayback Wednesday)
There are some contradictions in this image of the landscape leading up the the Devil’s Tower. Viewed from the northwest, this image has green fields with cut hay bales on top. This last fall of 2019 capture resulted from a very well rained on summer. Wet late in the high borderlands of MT/WY.. Captured in August, it ALL should be brown. The grass was a green as the spring in the sub-irrigated fields overlying the Fox Hill Sandstone aquifer . Usually the sub-surface geology controls the vegetation on the surface.
That 5112 foot tall Devil’s Tower National Monument is standing 1267 feet high above the surrounding ground. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty distant/ big. The Tower buried by thousands of feet of sediments, stands unsupported. Those rocks surrounding them and supporting the hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River plus the Belle Fourche River Drainage. Those two drainages providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.
The Devils tower about 40 from my vantage point on the Pass to Rocky Point Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. I’m standing Campbell County Wyoming.
This is the view that tourists never see as they are all on the other side of those hills. You can see South Dakota from this site on a very clear day…completely across Crook County Wyoming. That is a BIG county 80 miles wide anyway.