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Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background
Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background

I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.

The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)

The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.

Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.

Lone Tree Golden Background

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Perspective Wounded Tree

Perspective Wounded Tree
Perspective Wounded Tree

Perspective Wounded Tree (I love trees growing out of rocks. ❤️📸

Wide landscapes are one of my many photographic pursuits and I enjoy using veiled skies better than clear blues. Getting high up topographically on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good start for a memory. The span of space/time has been bridged. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by human machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. The population density of this 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 Montana for this image shooting across the Wyoming border.. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. 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.

Some nights out 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 here. Maintained gravel is the 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. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of miles on two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep

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

Title: Perspective Wounded Tree

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American Eagle in Twilight

American Eagle in Twilight
American Eagle in Twilight

American Eagle in Twilight

I don’t see a lot of American Eagles up in this high/dry ridge line country. They tend to hang out around rivers where they are both predators and scavengers. The do overfly and eat road kill. (Good work if you can get it as a raptor). I do see them along the road side now and then eating a fresh road kill. Not many species but man hunts the American Eagle but they hunt a lot of species.

There is an urban legend that Benjamin Franklin lobbied Congress to make the Turkey our national symbol bird. There is of course no evidence of this occurring but his daughter did write a letter (1784) labeling the Bald Eagle as “a bird of bad moral character). The real story was the eagles link to history and how it came to be our national symbol.

Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of independance.Congress formed a small committee of three. Those characters Ben Franklin, John Adams with Thomas Jefferson were the committee. Given the job of designing an official seal would be their task. Those three failed to get a design to pass congress. Bunch of slackers those three probably eh? 😜

Another two committees tried to get a seal for the nation. They failed as the first one did in order. Finally the job/work from the three committees were handed to Charles Thomson. He was serving as the Secretary of the congress. The final result was an artistic attenuation to the best elements of the various submitted designs. By 1782 Congress adopted the design using the American Bald Eagle over other “entries” into this historic contest.

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

Title: American Eagle in Twilight

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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

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

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise. THe sky starts to light up, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken over a month ago in early December. We had lighter snow then than now. There is 6 inches flat everywhere on the ridgetops at the moment. You have to be very careful going off the ridge tops. The snow that use to cover them has been blown of to the sides. There hasn’t been much drifting yet this winter and I have a new truck now with excellent capabilities so it should be a productive winter up on the ride tops.

Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

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Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set
Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020)

Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” primarily because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages.

A few definitions that apply to this moon….

A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol.

Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔

Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge

Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.

Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week after they are taken so this posts the 18th, taken the morning of the 10th. It’s as fast as I can get to new images posted these days as I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 6 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore but I am keeping up lolol. 📷📷🤘

Title: Icy Wolf Moon Set

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Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders
Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.

Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. That lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.

Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

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Married Trees Sun Filter

Married Trees Sun Filter
Married Trees Sun Filter

Married Trees Sun Filter

When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High fstop defractions and long shadows dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide.

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 parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that 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.

If your buying gear soon….

Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Married Trees Sun Filter

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Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink
Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Sunsets up here are an unfettered bright environment photographically. Using a lake as a reflective media just about doubles the light intensity. So walking down range of such things is a rough road to a good image. TOO much light…..

Photographic Musings: 3 things to adjust in Manual Mode (because your cell phone isn’t going to take this shot) Easy as 1,2,3….📸😀

Turn that top big dial with the M on top of your camera. Turn it to M. (Manual Mode)

1: F-Stop: For this bright environment, you really have to turn UP the F-stop to about as high as it will go for your particular lens. This gives you a very deep field of focus where the grass up front is sharp as well as the cattle and sky. High fstop also cuts out light. (High F-stop = Little pin Hole as an aperture. . Low F-stop = Big aperture (pupil) in the lens.

2: Shutter Speed: You also have to turn up your shutter speed to a very fast shutter which cuts off some of that light. Say 1/2000th….. (variable), A faster shutter will let in less light. A longer/slower shutter lets in proportionally more light. 1/100th of a second lets in twice as much light as 1/200th. A little speed change can make a big difference. Your using shutter speed to adjust exposure usually last but here I’d use ISO as the last variable and keep it a fast shutter.

3: Camera Sensitivity (ISO). A low ISO number is used for Bright daytime. So ISO 100 or lower if your camera will go there is usable. Really low ISO introduce noise into the image though just as High ISO. Native best choice for daytime is ISO 100. ISO 800 for dark rooms. ISO 3000 or higher depending on your camera will introduce grain and noise.

Your priorities are deep focus, and proper exposure. Set your first priority first which is F-stop for the focus and cutting light. Just two left.

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

Title: Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

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Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising
Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising

Musings: How I worked this Scene

This is tough capture that your not going to get on your cell phone lol. Let me set the stage for this stage play beyond most of your picture taking experiences.

To have this melodrama unfold in your mind, please understand that that silhouetted ridge is 40 miles from my camera. The sun a bit further. With the prodigious size of the optics, a significant wind cross section can be a factor moving your camera about. Not so much for this bright light capture. Shutter speed will dampen that motion. You need to use a fast shutter 1/2000th sec or higher so as not to gather too much light. Also LOW ISO numbers (camera sensitivity).

The most important thing is setting your camera to a HIGH a f-stop number as you lens will go. If you don’t, this WILL cook your camera’s sensor if your not working through a pin hole sized aperture. Talk about a bright scene….. The human eye has no right to be looking into such a harsh environment. (Disclaimer below)

Working from a high ridge helps get above the hazier air (at times) closer to the ground out of the picture. It improves the angle. Position is everything. Now I’d love to have a cell tower or a building for scale. Alas, there are not many up in this country with no cell service lol. Those are full sized trees and they are really REALLY far away👀 3200mm lens involved in this. Tripod for sure lol.

I remind you that it’s not the sun that is setting/falling here. We live on a spinning ball with the horizon actually doing the rising thusly slowly covering the face of the sun. The “Sun Slit” under the thick cloud deck above was just a sliver. Only allowing this fleeting scene to penetrate the space between the cloud with the opaque earth.

Disclaimer: Do not point your camera at the sun without knowing that DSLR’s have a direct light path that can and will blind you if you watch the sun through it. I use mirrorless full frame technology and watch scenes on video. No direct light path AND

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Hills Ridge Rising

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Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge
Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge This was a lovely morning to say the least..

Wide angle perspectives (Close / Far) are fun to find. When I finally locate the visual tunnel of the sun through the tree, I’m looking to compose something very close and still focus on the very far. Acquiring this kind of image is an exercise in high f-stop numbers. Boy are those f-stops exhausted from the exercise 📷😜

Photographic Musings: More Manual Camera Strategy…

The only way to capture this is with a camera set to widen it’s depth of focus field. To be able to resolve the wonderful lichen on that boulder AND still have the clouds and the sunrise in the same field is the ballgame. Shadows are long the first 5 minutes of a sunrise so time is of the essence. I get out and walk along the spines of high ridges. I find /walking looking on the back side of a ridge from the sunset exposing these little areas of zen just as I walk along.

Here I spied a “visual tunnel” worth of my limited time. The number of textures and different objects in this image is just an example of the intensity of some of these scenes. Winter adds yet another dimension to this capture. I work this spot when ever I’m on that part of the ranch at sunrise (in this case). I call this ridge “Sunrise Ridge”.

F-stop is one of three things you adjust in Manual mode. You know, the M on the big dial dominating the top of that Removable Lens Camera. The one that you run on automatic mode most of the time if not all the time…. Turn it to M.

You need to adjust each in accordance to your priorities. In this case I needed a deep field of focus. Remember if you need to focus BOT the lichen up close AND the horizon at infinity, you need high fstop. Priority ONE.

Priority two is Speed of your shutter. Notihng in the frame. was moving very fast here. . Minimum handheld shutter speed with a wide angle lens is maybe 1/80th of a second. faster takes away light from your camera.

The last adjustment is ISO (Camera sensitivity). Left over to adjust for your first and second priority. Use it to add or subtract light/ overall exposure live in your view screen (on a mirrorless camera), or afterwards with a DSLR. Spin ISO around to finalize the exposure/balance the light equation. Each setting has it’s own spinny wheel on the camera. Learn what does what on your controls.

More later…

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

Title: Perspective Sunrise Ridge

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Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost
Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost

The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, the Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still very spotty. I had to find a “Slit” through the trees to catch this. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Title: Woven Wire Hoar Frost

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Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset
Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

Under veiled sun about 30 minutes to sunset, the flat light from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives with these old fallen sentinels of the high ridges are well worth pursuing. They provide the artist with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the fallen tree lays waiting for the night.

This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔

Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.

There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my right shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. I actually have built the road up to this ridge top but there is no build road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

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Blue Heron Stall Speed

Blue Heron Stall Speed
Blue Heron Stall Speed

Blue Heron Stall Speed

Early in the Spring of 2019, the Cotton Wood Trees were not even leafing. The trees flowers were out. The thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree are about to get tested. This bird is a 5 pound 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Heron. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing.

You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right sometimes dramatically. 10 feet below this frame is this birds mate and nest with several eggs. This bird had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, he had to land on a moving target. He nailed the landing as he was essentially levitating no moving and just dropping inches a second. These guys are AMAZING masters of the sky.

I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building your nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together. I’ve seen them land and take off in all situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down like a single feather.

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

Title: Blue Heron Stall Speed

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Perspective Geometry of Nature

Perspective Geometry of Nature
Perspective Geometry of Nature

Perspective Geometry of Nature

I drive a lot of backcountry during sunrise and sunset. Every time I get a chance, I walk about and see what I can see. . The natural curves and angles that I run into create a fabric through which I shoot the back ground. The curve on the branch, approaching the curve of the hill. The crossed branches drawing your eye to the center of the visual tunnel this creates. All fodder for my photon capture boxes 👀.

The branches here form a natural letter x (which i have several of now). I am always looking for natural letters in my walks. Some days I cover WAY more ground than others. It depends of the weather of course and the lighting. If I am actually working, I made a decision several hours before to be in place for the sunrise/sunset. Good photography requires that you actually be there with a camera when the light is worthy of chasing. Having a map in my head of where all the “attractions” are helps but random meetings like this stop me in my tracks.

Random backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷

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

Title: Perspective Geometry of Nature

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Fossil Leaf UV Light

Fossil Leaf UV Light
Fossil Leaf UV Light

Fossil Leaf UV Light

I found this fossil leaf (Poplar??) about 8 miles north of Dubois Wyoming in the TeePee Trail Shale Formation. (Paleogene 65-22 mya). After researching the literature for a likely location for an outcrop, went out exploring. It didn’t take me long to find an outcrop of the shale which can be split with hammers easily. After a few hours of splitting shale, this and many other fossils came out. For a scale, the photo covers an area about 5 inches across/high.

I used high intensity UV light as the only light source here to bring out subtle details in the veins of the leaves. I look at pretty much everything under UV as you just never know what it’s going to do. Here it brought out details you just can’t see in white light. This UV light is so bright, I have to wear special sunglasses to use it. It’s a good way to sunburn your retinas if you don’t do this right lolol.

There is no law against collecting plant fossils on BLM or state land so have at it folks. I think there is some limitations on using heavy equipment though lol. Only shovels, picks and hand tools. See the BLM website for details if you plan on collecting anything from federal or state property. Private property only has rules the land owner imposes. Land owners own the fossils unless you have specific OK to take them and preferably in writing.

Location: currently residing at: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fossil Leaf UV Light

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Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker's Dozen Sharp Tailed Grouse
Baker's Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse is a capture of 13 Fat little Prairie Chickens feeding on Flowering Crab Apples, taken from my front deck 2x3aspect to 3 feetBakers Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Talk about a great puzzle!. This one would be just nuts…

As the winter goes on, the Sharpie flocks gradually move in on the main homestead. They attack the peripheral Flowering Crab Trees in our gardens further out first. Then the gradually get used to me moving around. Then they don’t even care if I’m around fairly close by. . The crab “apples” are smaller than cherries in this particular tree.

I never go out with a camera given time looking like a human shape. I love bulky hoods and cloths/coats that hide my human shape. A moving lump scares these guys a lot less than a moving human. It was 7 degrees the early morning I took this and I was working them a while. Spotted them inside and I just took my time getting into position for this. I very slowly opened the outside door of which they could plainly see me. Moving maybe 3 feet a minute with an 8 pound lens and camera to get behind a porch column was necessar. I rested the camera on the column of course and tried to hide my movement behind it.

This is a 1200 mm telephoto image from about 40 feet distance from my camera lens.

There are indeed 13 grouse in this image. Feel free to count them. I’ve done it a few times very carefully and I’m seeing 13. There were a LOT more in the tree. I couldn’t get the detail I wanted and have the shot wider. The local Sharp Tail Flock around our homestead is at LEAST 100 individuals at the moment. I’ve never seen this many birds winter up here before. It was a VERY good grass year so I will stick with that as a reason.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber
Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber

Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms the 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.

I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.

Good news is, my new ride (F150) is in Nebraska traveling on a semi, due next week at our local dealer. I ordered it Oct 3 and it was a 2020 so it is certainly one of the first off the assembly line. Give the dealer a week to prep it by putting on the dealer installed accessories So about a week from when this posts…just before xmas, some of my shots will be from several feet higher perspective. Stay tuned lolol. My first new truck in 15 years. I’m looking forward to a better ride quality as well as clearance/snow capabilities I haven’t had with my Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In a few more years, I’ll be showing you branch details with the sunset. Cameras will exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction.

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

Windmill Sunset through Timber

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Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise
Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise

Pareidolia:

This phenomena is the ability to see faces in common objects. The scientists say it developed in our species due to infants need to smile when they see a face. The smile engenders loving care in return. The babies (a million or so years ago) that smiles more, were cared for better on average. They grew to adult hood and reproduced. Rinse and repeat cycle over and over and over. We are teaching computers to do facial recognition using essentially the same process. The ability to see shapes out of random data is a survival skill.🤔 This “ability”/curse used to be considered a sign of psychosis “back in the day” before it was recognized as being absolutely normal lolol.

Taa Daaa. (or un taa daaa? which is a classic reference), This captures was during a wonderful morning of bronze mottled/rippled cloud deck with the sun just cracking the horizon. IT was dead calm on this ridge top which is not that common for me.

Trees Beard here is of course a distant cousin of the Ent’s of Tolkein’s masterpiece. (If your not a geek and don’t know). They were walking/talking tree creatures of great age that watched over the forest like shepherds. That’s all within the frame work of the Two Towers book out of the trilogy.

At any rate:

I also see a wolf’s head outline in the negative space the trees provide. Some may see a horse. Something else?

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Beard at Sunrise

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Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset
Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

OK, it’s a halfie with the horizon 1/2 way up the frame…. I don’t produce a lot of halfies but this one is worth of your time I feel. A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a mouse on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, these seeds wait for a grass fire to open up and “seed” themselves. The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white 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.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

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Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night
Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night

It was around 11pm and my Mastiff’s wanted out. It was the beginning of a 24 hour snow but it was still rain at this point. The drizzle covered anything exposed. That is a 400 watt LED stadium light. It is as bright as the sun versus the total black here in the backcountry. According to nasa, when it’s dark here, it’s as dark as the north Atlantic Ocean. I can see lights effecting the sky from towns hundreds of miles away. Particularly if I go up high and look around. (Billings, Gillette, Sheridan for starters). You can’t see the actual city lights but you do see the glow in the sky on the horizon. The cities light pollute the local “seeing” and not at all here, 70 miles from the nearest town.

I don’t do much dark night photography these days. I’m not sure why but I do need some sleep sometimes.

Photographic Musings:

I did this without a tripod as I was only hunting for the highlights in this image.. Negative space here is as important in the composition. I wanted to razor edge the settings. So you need light in the camera AND a fairly deep focus. Compromise. ISO 1000 for sure. (or a tripod) and minimum handheld shutter speed of 1/50th. That only leaves f-stop to set. . If your far enough away, you’ll have some leeway in f-stop. F-stop primarily going to be set low numbers here to gather light, damn the reduced focus depth of field as a result of the low f-stop setting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Reflections: Ice Covered Night

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Back Country Umbrella

Back Country Umbrella
Back Country Umbrella

Back Country Umbrella

I often find Deer beds under trees suring snow storm. If the snow is falling straight down, the trees act as a pretty good umbrella to keep the white stuff off. It’s common sense (which deer have a lot of). Any shelter in a storm is better than no shelter.

Lone trees on a ridge are romantic figures up here. Battling the worst that the environment has to offer. 80 mph winds, -30 degrees for weeks (historically since I’ve been here) and terrible dry spells. These lone sentinels are king of all they survey. They don’t grow very fast. This tree is at least 100 years old. I suspect the big ones are several hundred years old. This fellow happens to be sitting on a fossil microsite. Just on the other side of the ridge, bare Hell Creek/lance Sandstone outcrops with large chunky dinosaur bone fragments weathering out. I even found a pretty nice toe bone from a hadrosaur there. I left it under a rock I found it next to so it’s out of the weather. can show it to a few random folks that happen to make it up here for the discussion.

The ridge in the foreground is several hundred yards out in this long distance telephoto shot. The ridge behind the foreground tree is 40 miles distant from the camera. Telephoto’s crush perspective something fierce. It’s hard to believe you can see individual trees at 40 miles out but there they are. 📷

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

Title: Back Country Umbrella

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Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth
Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth.

These frosted Pines stand along against the elements high on a remote ridge. They have long survived backcountry wildfires. . The lack of branches down low help keep them safer from grass fires. . Their isolated island also helps prevent fires from taking them. These survived a major fire in the late 1930’s that burned all summer in this area. Only the winter snows extinguished that long burning fire. There are still many snags around from that fire. A lot of seasoned firewood has come from those snags. Some still stand as a stark reminder of natures wrath. Partially burned and totally now “wildlife” trees.

I don’t take a lot of Black and White images. However, this scene seems made for the genre . Frosted Needles and boughs are the rule in this shot. Each with 1/4 inch of ice everywhere on any exposed surface. There has been a lot of slowly freezing storms come through this fall. All starting out with rain or freezing drizzle. Then they turn to snow so an ice coating under a foot of snow makes for interesting backcountry driving.

I can not travel easily now in the backcountry. Over a foot of snow from the last storm put a hitch in my giddy-up. I try to be safe and not stick myself back country. It’s a long walk back. Having said that, I do carry several radios including a ham radio to which I have a repeater on my communications tower. I’m pretty much in communication if needed. Cell Phones usually aren’t much good up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

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Perspective C Shaped Tree

Perspective C Shaped Tree
Perspective C Shaped Tree

I took this Perspective C Shaped Tree last summer. The tree is certainly an odd ball, suffered an injury early on but survived. Perspective here makes it look Huge but I’m standing about 10 feet from the tree. It was and I emphasize was a large branch. Looooong shadows here…. 👀📷

This image taken last summer. Somehow this branch “blew up” and is in a dozen pieces. I drove by this remote spot about 3.5 miles away from my house in the backcountry. . So this well be the last image of this interesting tree. We had a few high winds (high 70’s at least) this year. One of those blows probably torqued this non-typical tree to bits.

This is about 1/4 mile from some wonderful dinosaur micro-site digs that have given me quite a few Cretaceous age Dinosaurian fossils. Lots of teeth in this ground. It’s just a matter of finding them. All the vegetation is growing on Cretaceous River Sands.

Across that treed gully was a 1930 homestead that a family lived WAY back here off the county road. The father died in the 30’s of an acute appendix attack during the winter. No way to get him out in time. There are many remnants of their life around. Frames of model T trucks, old stoves, metal bedsprings, a host of metallic grace the landscape. The remains of that residence are scattered by time but the easiest search is down the sides of the closest gully to the old homesteads. There was always a place homesteaders threw non- combustable/non-reparable over the bank.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective C Shaped Tree

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.

This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.

These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl
Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl is a Great Horned Owl AND a fledgeling laying down under a wing.

This Capture is WAAAAAY far out there for the optical technology I had at that time. At least 300 yards across a lake at 3200mm. Taken last spring before the leaves sprouted on the host Cottonwood Tree. I only got a few opportunities on this nest as the spring COttonwood leaves totally hid it from me time and time again. . I just couldn’t see him for about a month after this shot. When I finally got lucky with a certain angle and a beam of light. At these distances a quarter mile line of cottonwoods all looks alike from different angles lol. These owls have some of the best disruptive camo I’ve ever seen. It was amazing I found him this time. I do have some other images with him and a fledge standing too.

There was no other way to approach this next as just finding it against the visual noise of the treeline that ALL looks like this lolol. That is a very small area of a big row of trees looking through a long tube with no landmarks lolol. One time I had a green frog at 15 feet in algae to find while looking through a 18 inch long lens. Under High Magnifications, this is nearly an impossible task. To point a camera that precisely with consistency time and time again….nope This capture is taken off a sandbag on a Jeep Window.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Jabba the Owl

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Perspective: Eye of the Tree

Perspective: Eye of the Tree
Perspective: Eye of the Tree

Perspective: Eye of the Tree

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 parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that 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 here. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” but what to level?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge to the left. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Quandary. Tilting the camera would have ruined the illusion and I actually like the angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon level with the image. The perspective of the grass highlights leaning left, the big level grass table horizonal leading to the right leaning far horizon and sky. wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too.

I JUST got what appears to be a good tilt shift lens set up for my Sony full frame cameras. Stay tuned for some perspectives this winter as I bring this optic tool to bear. Tilt shift is a new game for me. I think I understand the possibilities with it. I’m going to have fun with this technology making perspectives. I will explain more as I get images to share. Stay tuned.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Eye of the Tree

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Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies
Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies with golden Alpenglow behind these two species cooperating so closely. There are several images in this timeline still to be finished.

The Bird Is a Magpie, a fairly common bird here in the borderlands of Montana and Wyoming. We live on the high ridges with a mix of wildlife, deer, pronghorn, some lions and coyotes with the occasional wolf and bear. I seldom see such a big bird interact with deer but have seen this before.

The lighting was bright from behind and there was a lot of fog/moisture in the air. All the brightness was amplified by the Projector Screen the fog became. The Golden Alpenglow and mist behind him made it necessary to silhouette him. The camera couldn’t do any better. There is no way to accurately bring out the detail in the deer or birds body. So I left them as the camera saw them.

A symbiotic relationship between magpies and deer doesn’t seem logical but here they are. Somehow the deer, jumpy as heck, knows to allow these raucous birds to land and pick away. I’m pretty sure the ticks are torn away and not gently pried out like they should be. It has to be taught from parent to fawn somehow. I had never witnessed this before this timeline and I have several more similar captures, one with a deer and several birds on her. Crazy stuff you see only once or twice in a lifetime.

Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. They used to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies 2-1 Aspect Ratio

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Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching
Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.

Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Great Blue Heron Launching

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Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow
Golden Hour Sunset

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow. When the sun is so low, slowly working left of the BigHorn Mountains here, the light is quite golden.

You would be blinded looking into this scene but the ability to shut the camera down to light changes the game.

This is an overlook across 130 miles of landscape in north central Wyoming. Looking west into the scene that the pioneers saw at the end of a long day of travel. Custer was around here, Native Americans were all over this place for thousands of years. The history here is long, many have crossed that land but daily I walk places where no human has been before.

We are up high on the ridges where there is not much running water. We find TeePee Rings, a few artifacts, stone tools, even a couple of metal ornaments (rare). There actually exists one of the very RARE Documented Clovis Man Habitation site within 10 miles of my ranch. It’s not on my land however. Those same pre-historic folks walked around the post’ glacial landscape burning/slashing/hunting/driving game for a living. I have no doubt they were walking here to some of our artesian spring locations.

When the pioneers got here, they built dams below those artesian wells and formed lakes. The natives didn’t have that option and it can be a long way between water holes when you have deer bladder canteens to carry your water for the day…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title Golden Hour Sunset on Snow