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Shadows in the Fog

Shadows in the Fog
Shadows in the Fog

Shadows in the Fog

To me the ultimate perspectives are the foggy ones. Shadows within frame set up by the sun presented themselves to me. Foggy sunrises are not a common thing up here in the high country. There is a lot of topography here. Differences in elevation a mile apart can be 3-400 feet in this backcountry. Big Long ridge tops tower over the surrounding drainage. In order to see the sun in this area, one has to be on a ridge top. Fog is not as common on ridges. When It is, I try to be there.

I’m trying to remember how many of this kind of photo I have…. errr,…. none but this one I think. Foggy shadows are rare in my world of backcountry ridges here in the highlands. I see fog in the valleys rarely, 5 or 6 times a year. More likely, the cloud deck moves down with no mercy over us with 100 yards visibility at a bright LED Bulb. Totally obscuring all but grey flat light.

I’ve been OVER a cloud deck like this only few times up here. I got lucky anticipating the clearing above the Inversion layer, I went outside and saw a few stars break through a small window. On that, I took a trip to the highest point I can drive to around and instantly was in the clear. This is one such time. There were just wisps of moisture pushing over the ridge top this unusual morning. It was fully overcast flat light down in the valleys lolol. 👀📸

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

Title: Shadows in the Fog

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Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour
Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

I can count the number of Blue Sky Background images I produce a month on both hands. I have been finishing 150 -180 images a month for the last 7 months. I’ve got 1300 pages finished on my future book (s) project. My tendency is to have a definite preference away from the longer colors of the spectrum. Robin’s Egg Skies are ubiquitous up here at certain times of the year. This visual tunnel with the anastomosing feminine form of the snag caught my attention driving along that late evening. The shadows were very long in the late golden hour low angle light. The Fallen snag in the foreground frames the bottom, the surrounding pine boughs frame the sides.

Telescopic perspectives are always worthy of the attempt. This is a 600 mm 28 inch long lens with me standing down this hill hundreds of yards. These long shots are deceptive in how they treat relative distances. That plus the lighting on this scene drew me to stop my rig and set up to take this cornucopia of textures and contrasts.

Taken late fall 2019, it’s just making it’s way into my workflow. I have the job security of 3800 portfolio images left to finalize lolol. Finishing more than 5 a day is hard work. These days are warming so that might have to go to 4 a day over the summer. I get distracted by fossils and ranch chores during the warmer days. I’ve finished 1300 since Sept 21, 2019. It’s be easy if I also weren’t finishing new material as I take it lololol. 😜📸

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

Title: Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

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Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag
Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag

Looking From Under a Snag, I see the world from an entirely different perspective. The Detail exposed as the bark falls away from hundred year old pine trees is remarkable. This “Driftwood” of the Prairie has been treated to very little water in this almost-desert arid environment.

The perspective here was obvious to me which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide. The detail of course is the target of my glass.

Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo but your opinion may differ lol.

Musing on Fallen Logs on the Prairie:

RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.

The little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Any shelter in a storm as they say. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing up in the grasslands. Soon this tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes before it decays to dust as all things do with time… 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tree Textures ala Snag

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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridge tops. The main sunrise show over my right shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this back show is Lavender/Pink/Orange. This back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise. You miss this show if you don’t look behind once in a while … Several image from this particular morning timeline made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to this rare Lavender at times up high. 

The red/pink will often work down on the tree top tips as the surviving red rays project off the ice on them. The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. T

he formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2.5 inches long. 

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset
Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset

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

Musings: I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol.

Working in and among the trees lining remote ridge is the way to set up compositions like I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. There is SO much going on in any edge of a forest with a view of the horizon. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” of small creature, a mouse, a cat but what to level?….

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

Technically:

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

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

Title: Tres Hombres Sunset

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Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset
Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

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

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

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

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

Title: Porcupine Damage Sappy Sunset

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Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter
Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Pine trees, once they loose their bark to weathering and decay, show their grain. This snag might be 50 years dead stil standing by habit after it stood here for several hundred years living. This hillside that it is on protects it from as much cattle pressure (rubbing/scratching) as it would get on a valley floor. The spiral grain is the tree being twisted by the winds pushing unequally on the sunny side versus the less dense shady side of the tree. The winds will gradually turn the tree into a corkscrew. Inexorable force over a long time is the reason for the spiral growth. I point out that the ground UNDER the tree has worn away on this slope which is testimony to the rate of erosion of Cretaceous age sand off this 45 degree slope. .

Nature does many things we don’t think about unless we look below the trees skin (bark) to it’s structure. I know of quite a few of these trees. Usually they are broken up pretty badly. This one is “well preserved”. I’ve tried this angle a few time. It’s pretty difficult to get the close far perspective to work on this hill slope.. I still needed a sense of the 40 foot long snag. I did have to wait until the sun went behind that little cloud to take the edge off the lighting. This was still pretty early a few minutes after sunrise. Blocked mostly from the sun I usually work with doing perspectives. This cloud comes along and makes it all possible 😜📷

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

Title: Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

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Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting
Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

I have very carefully keyed/ID’d this bird out with Audubon’s guide. It is a straight necked (characteristic of the species) Whistling Swan. They are seldom seen mid-continent away from the great lakes. They breed in the Arctic then winter all along the east coast, but not in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. I have never ever seen a swan in the deep backcountry. A random encounter of a rare species in these “here parts”. I could have said to it, “You ain’t from around here are ya?”.

This was last summer early to mid warm season. It was a wet summer too so the lakes were full. . I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sneak up on a wild swan on a small lake but trust me on this. It’s not easy even with a long lens. This was a long lens by the way coming in at 2400mm. This guy had something white on his beak. This is not your basic tame swan on a city lake lol.

Now I also have this guy on game trail camera captures over the next few weeks. He/She was probably nesting in some of the remote lakes up here in the borderlands. Most of this country doesn’t get much human activity. Human activity would certainly spook this wild bird. They tend to scoot off if your spotted. Getting this surprised me. I guess a little stealth paid off here. If it was nesting as I suggest, it was a few thousand miles south of it’s ancestral breeding grounds. It is a rare sighting according to the books..

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

Title: Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon
Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon

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. 😔

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

Title: Perspective and the Moon

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Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook
Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook (Brown Season)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

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High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight
High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

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

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

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

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

Title: High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

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Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches
Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches

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

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

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

Title: Twilight Through Branches

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Window to the Moon

Window to the Moon
Window to the Moon

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.

Photographic Musings:

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.

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

Title: Window to the Moon

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Full Moon Tree Trap

Full Moon Tree Trap
Full Moon Tree Trap

Full Moon Tree Trap (Precision Framing)

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 which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod. This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. 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.

Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this 📸

It takes a Manual Mode setting to do this folks. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of F-stop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitivity) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 It takes a lot of focal length in your lens to do this.

. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet wide from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Not a crop.

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

Title: Full Moon Tree Trap

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Perspective Deeper than the Sage

Perspective Deeper than the Sage
Perspective Deeper than the Sage

Perspective Deeper than the Sage

I find interest in simple things, some sage brush a fallen snag across the path I was considering traveling afoot. I consider this natures way of telling me to either detour or stop and observe the scene more closely. Looking into a scene to see that which is fleeting within moments. I often do pause with my photo capture boxes (cameras) trained one the action before me. Winter on the high ridges of the Wyoming / Montana borderlands is a tenuous existence.

Trees are subject to lightning and wind attack. When an old veteran as above falls, it gives me a moment to pause to thusly consider the past. Geologists as myself tend to see under the ground with sort of a mental x-ray vision. It’s called 3 Dimensional Spatial Visualization. (good google phrase for you). This ground has more going on than just on the surface.

Random Geologic Musings:

Below this Sage Scene exists Dinosaur fossil rich bedrock. All underlaying this vegetative cover. This image was taken at a good fossil microsite where there are literally fossil dinosaur teeth discoverable if you look hard (very hard). I have a theory that many Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Cretaceous sands) fossil sites have a tendency to have a locally scarce tree growing very close to the site more often than not. I find either a Snag or a living tree at them 80 percent of the time. In a grassland country that is sparse of trees on many hill slopes, it has become a repeated observation by this scientist. It be a good thesis for some researcher.

I believe the soil type that has developed from the particular river deposits that contain dinosaur bones in this country has something to do with this. I’m thinking permeability and moisture content of the soil derived from the bedrock due to the sedimentologic origin. Fossil sites tend to be a mix of sediments in a sand gravel mix. This is different than the pure sands surrounding them with no fossils.

I have also noticed with certainty (franks law), that if there is a tree, it will not provide you any shade if you are working on a hot day on that fossil microsite. Think hot beach sand…. 😜⚒⚒

Location: Bliss Dinoaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Deeper than the Sage

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Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset
Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Walking along the ridges, I experience many different weather scenarios. Liberally exposed to the 14 mph average windspeed up on the hill tops the vegetation that lives there is either very flexible or tough as wood. When the wind speeds approach 40 mph, grass will lean over pretty far. I’m not sure what the exact wind speed was but it was buffeting me fairly hard at this time. Wind in the summer is benign mostly with only dust and pollen being carried along. With a Heavy wind at this temp (about 10F) , you feel EVERY crack in your armor.

In the winter the “feeling” of the wind has a different feet entirely. I spend a great deal of time walking ridges looking for tiny areas worth of your/my attention. Toward my “cold armor” I have chosen particular clothes that protect me from the elements carefully chosen over the years. I have winter layers plum figured out having worked this extremely variable environment for decades. Sure I have snow mobile suits and Carharts. I Way prefer insulated Goretex™ pants over merino wool legs, with 4 layers up top. From Synthetic to wicker to Goretex™. If you get too hot, you just peel a layer. If you get too cold, you freeze your ass off until you get back to shelter lolol. Goretex™ boots and good socks occasionally with gators over my calves depending on the weather. I use Wiggys parkas out on top of my normal gear for sub-zero work down to -20 most winters. Usually Bombers Cap with Coyote fur for really cold weather.

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

Title: Windy Bent Grass Sunset

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Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season
Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season

I am literally standing on the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first Mountain range north of my ranch. It sits across the 10 mile wide Ranch Creek Drainage. We call this place the “treed” pasture as it’s about 2 square miles of mixed pine trees. There are many parallel ridges/grassy hills with deep gullies between.

A land of many uses:

Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July. We move cattle out of here in early July to facilitate the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship. Courses 3 and 4 use the borderland areas of our ranch. .

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

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

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

As I say, a land of many uses…

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

Title: Middle of Brown Season

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Perspective to the Sunset

Perspective to the Sunset
Perspective to the Sunset

Perspective to the Sunset

The Deeply Veiled mid-winter moment presented above was captured walking along high ridges in the backcountry. The Montana/Wyoming borderlands is a target rich environment. Nobody but myself, some wildlife and some cattle pass this way. A rare mounted cowboy or a chaser on an ATV may pass a stones throw away. But to notice the symmetry that nature presents to us is my greatest challenge in my work.

We all walk past little areas in our world that present us all the beauty that we need. It’s easy to see this when you walk upon it. The trick is to determine where to walk ahead of time of course. Seeing this stuff from across the ridge is “anticipating the frame” which I believe is an acquired skill. I hope I get better at it lol. Walking with a gear load post holing snow on even surfaces has benefits. I stay in shape, I get to see magical and miraculous things daily, and I get to explore a world in the borderlands that even after 20 years of educated observations, continues to amaze me.

This is a land of many uses. We ranch, raise fossils, run a national level tactical Rifle Championship, and do some photography from these high ridges now and then. Our Ranch was even highlighted in a nationally 4 Wheel Drive video (2008 Petersons 4 Wheel and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure”) . The photography aspect is certainly pervasive.

So Who out there has seen me on America’s Funniest Home Videos where I won second place with a funny 4 Wheel Drive Video Driven by another local wheeler. ? Flew us out to Hollywood they did, won 2500 bucks… 🙂

The Wyotana area is indeed a nice place to spend a late afternoon with a good camera.

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

Title: Perspective to the Sunset

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Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar
Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective is indeed was a really cold morning but it was a pretty sunset. Crawling out into the pines seemed like a good idea at the time🤔 We actually have 2 fresh inches of snow on the ground here today (as I type) and expect some more of it. The scar on the tree is from a lightning bolt exploding the layers of wood with water in them. The heat from the bolt flashes the water to steam and boom. This old soldier survived it’s wounds.

This gloomy day with VERY flat light wasn’t that inviting. Anything exposed to the wind because coated by hoar frost. The temps were around zero with some light wind. T-shirt weather without the wind up here. Add some wind, put on the three layers under the Parka. I get out and walk around up on the forested ridges to see what I can see. I use these locations for many of my images. From the POV of field mice.

Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019 . Winter came early, rinse and repeat to mid-February. Last spring, Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was late starting by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal. All climate is local I point out. . Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. It’s just mid-February too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.

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

Title: Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

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Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree
Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree (moon Monday all day)

Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.

Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔

Back to my normal programming:

Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Nesting in a Tree

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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset
Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset

2×3 portrait orientation

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

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

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

Title: Notch in the Trees Sunset

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Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise
Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Alpenglow such as this occurs when there is a LOT of ice in the atmosphere mostly during winter. . I’ve also seen smoke do this kind of scene in the summer. Here on the high ridges of the borderlands, I get to look at parallel ridge tops like this 40 miles away to the east.

After passing through a gauntlet of filters in the atmosphere, crimson/orange/yellow are the survivor hues. Absorbed/blocked/refracted away are the shorter wavelengths of color. Can’t trap them in my photon capture boxes (cameras) if they don’t make it to me. Passing that gauntlet to blues/greens and indigos consists not only of hundreds of miles of low angle atmosphere plus all the dust and the dirt suspended within.

The sun isn’t actually occupying the line of site where it appears to be here. Because of atmospheric “lensing”, the sun is actually still completely below your eye to the horizons line of sight. It just looks like it’s up. This accounts for several minutes of differences from rise/set charts versus the observed sunrise with the day always being longer due to lensing. The atmosphere literally bends it’s light around the curvature of the earth thus the “lens” part of atmospheric lens. This courtesy of inversions and thermal-clines. The path this light took was at least 300 miles of low angle air. The higher I go topographically, the longer the light I gets path. The redder the alpenglow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

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Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill
Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

There is more science going on here than you might suspect. First of all it’s about 8 minutes after sunset here. I can tell from the blue area under the pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow. The moon sits in the blue. That color is the SHADOW of the horizon. The long traveled red/pink light above the moon is the reflected light from the sun that made it back to my photon capture boxes (camera). The horizons shadow on the atmospheric Ice floating acts like a projection screen for the only color to make it that far. Ligh raveled hundreds of miles through air/dust/moisture/inversion layers bending and filtering out shorter wavelengths by those obstructions.

Photographic Musings:

Long telephoto captures CRUSH perspective. Low light after sunset starting civil twilight is one of my favorite times to practice my long range skills. This was done with a fixed 400mm lens which in an ideal world, should be a standard lens in your “kit”. Most use a 100-400 zoom. Most of those are not particularly fast lenses but they work just fine under all but these conditions lol. Bigger diameter lenses gather more light than smaller diameter lenses.

Normally I would blur the windmill as 99 percent of the time it is moving. Not that it’s windy up here or anything….. IT was indeed dead calm at this moment. Problem though, even if it was moving, a blurred windmill takes a long exposure, the bright full moon takes a shorter exposure. Your only choice is to expose the highlights properly. You can’t cheat on this on in the camera though I could have done it in the digital darkroom (photoshop) easily.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moon Rise Backcountry Windmill

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Twilight Crimson Sky Show

Twilight Crimson Sky Show
Twilight Crimson Sky Show

Twilight Crimson Sky Show

The Lone Tree sees a sunset and a sunrise each day. Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images from the twilight will be finished. More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic.

Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt” , it’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory of our travels. The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.

Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that. Much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.

A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Crimson Sky Show

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Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise
Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

Everything was covered by ice. During this winter cold morning with little or no cloud cover, the glare was excessive. The Shadows are Long with a slight down hill angle to the hill. This makes the shadows a bit shorter. However this is a VERY high contrast environment of white and black is way outside the normal photographic envelope.. Human eyes just can’t look into a scene as this without blinding ourselves. The Mirrorless Cameras I use that feed to a video screen. It actually lets me see this image BEFORE I click the camera. I can adjust the settings live real time on the screen. Love those Snow Diamonds…

Photographic Musings:

There would be a star around the sun if it weren’t filtered by the branches. I way prefer cellulose filters to glass ones in front of my lens. Turning up your f-stop which is necessary in this high light environmnet has an added benefit. in this case by reducing the amount of light coming into your camera. It also gives you a very thick depth of focus.

In this high light environment, your also going to have adjust shutter speed really fast. Set your ISO really low (camera sensitivity) or both to compensate for the high light. Basically you have to shut down your camera to light. Many cameras will take a neutral density filter to accomplish this. . Your always balancing 3 different settings in Manual Mode on your camera. I use NO/zip/zero automatic settings anywhere. Not in my cameras or lenses. No auto focus, no stabilization etc. Manual photography strictly on a very modern platform. I get a pretty good battery life that way😄. Manual Mode is best.

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

Title: Shadows Divergent Snowy Sunrise

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Twilight Over Roping Barn

Twilight Over Roping Barn
Twilight Over Roping Barn

Twilight Over Roping Barn

What beautiful Alpenglow that evening…!

Life on this ranch starting 1906-1960’s was hard. Somewhere in the Late 50’s and through the early 60’s several oil wells were sunk into a good oil reservoir. The family that was the recipient of that revenue decided to build what was then the largest building in Campbell County in 1964. A project of clearing ground for this pad started. Included was a corral system adjacent to the barm. The Pad ended up level. Literally notched into a big hill . The rocks and sediment bulldozed from the hill as a road cut on a highway. This “dirt” distributed around was old river sands so the drainage is pretty good now… This eliminated the original/natural contours and flattening out the “pad”. I understand that work alone cost 50,000 dollars to move all that dirt. That without the cost of this huge building.

A bit of Infrastructure already in the ground became deeper due to that dirt… This has been a little problematic… Now there are a few pipes that were 6 feet down that are now 15 feet down. All that ranch infrastructure works of course. We did experience a deep pipeline burst leaking water . Fixing that was a day long chore. That hole was pretty big. I’ve had to fix that pipe twice (so far in 20 years lolol).

The oil eventually went away by the mid-70’s and the oil well’s mothballed. Back to normal ranch revenue but they did effectively have a foot ball field under roof. Those hardy folks were cowboys from the start. Born and bred in the Wyotana borderlands. I’m not sure how many 1963 Corvettes that building would have purchased but I’m betting 30. At any rate having a barn with that much area under roof is a good thing. We pull vehicles in there when storms approach and have even had a tailgate picnic after calf brand cut short by a thunderstorm. There have been many calf roping events for the locals in there I’m thinking through the 80’s anyway. Probably around 100 of them would be my guess. Ropers are serious folks as it’s a life skill up here.

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

Title: Twilight Over Roping Barn

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Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky
Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky (From the inside out)

Hollow standing tree trunks are not terribly common out in the backcountry. I have only found a few. I’d love to have the sun directly over head here. I’ll have to wait for the right day. This is about 7 feet of trunk accessed from a critter hole in the base. I couldn’t quite get in my my arm and camera could. You don’t have to see what your doing to point a camera after a few hundred thousand clicks I’ve found out. Of course that’s not for detailed compositions but I can usually get the focal point somewhere near the center of the frame. You can smell the dried wood and moist ground. The grass I was laying in cushioned a bit but chunks of wood dug into my side lolol.

Photographic musings:

The Perspective here is of course close / far.

Go to Manual Mode on your camera and work thus learning the controls on your camera..You only have three settings you have to adjust to accomplish your goal. Equipment is a wide angle lens whose aperture set through the camera to high f-stop numbers. High f-stop is a very small “iris” in the lens. Pin point pupil so to speak.

The far tree is hard to get into the same focal plane as the close to the camera wood. Complications: To successfully capture detail that close in a dark place is a technical balancing act. SO… Deep Focual Field (the depth of focus) is your primary priority number one. You accomplish that using high f-stop numbers. . Doing so lets your lens focus on both close / far things at the same time.

Complications:

Side effect of doing that is the lenses small iris lets in very little light in an already dark (ish) environment. So you have to compensate by longer/slower shutter speed, turning up Camera sensitivity or BOTH. More on that later. Just remember that f-stop is a double edged sword. Low f-stop number let in a LOT of light but your subjects nose might be in focus, his ears are blurry.

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

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

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Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset
Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

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

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

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

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

Title: Perspective Pine Stand Sunset

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Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient
Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient

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

Such organic forms are rife with smooth curves, contrasts against colors of a veiled Wyoming Sunset. The sun JUST peeking around the trees / snags base. Raw organic. Rainbow gradients are always to a one beautiful. I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. 📸 Always expose the highlights correctly. Worry about the shadows later. 📸

We call fallen trees “Snags” because as you walk, they will Snag your leg and trip you. Pines die here mostly due to lightning strike or wind damage. Igniting from a lightning strike, they may burn for days if not extinguished (usually by the rancher). I have maintained a 5 ton truck just to fight fires up here for 12 years now. If you get too many snags in your “woods”, your going to have a hot fire. In their defense, they provide homes for wildlife. I call them wildlife trees myself. Woodpecker holes abound in them.

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

Title: Snag over Twilight Rainbow Gradient