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Sunset Snow Squall

Sunset Snow Squall
Sunset Snow Squall

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

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

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

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

Title: Sunset Snow Squall

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MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night
MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

This MesoCyclone was Veiling the full Moon. Enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye. Using a 20 second time exposure, some lightning flashed during the interval. Details in the clouds that are seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. Time exposures over a second tend to overexpose the full moon badly. Even a moon that was unveiled. Limitation of the technology.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this rotating storm was around 100 miles across. Containing the energy of an atom bomb expended over it’s life.

The view I had of this storm was perfect enabling me to photographed it. I was up in the higher backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars. No other man made light sources in view from the highest mountain top around kind of backcountry.

Various colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples that were native in the camera’s software in this image. 20mm lens, cropped in a bit. I wouldn’t go over 20 seconds with a 20mm as longer would have blurred the starts. That time varies with the focal length of the lens so look it up on google lol.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔 Taken Mid Summer 2019. 2×3 aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

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Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant
Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 70 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind me in about 15 minutes from this capture. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.

That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

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Sunrise through the Mist

Sunrise through the Mist
Sunrise through the Mist

Sunrise through the Mist

Sometimes I make my way up to the high ridges and get totally overcast skies. I never know what I’m going to see until I get up there. I do have a camera looking at the eastern sky that I can not see from my homesteads location. We are down below the lip a 400 foot high ridgeline that runs for many miles. (Ridge 1 as I named it). There are 4 other significant ridges in my world all to the east of me. These I work photographically as I’m able to access them. Parallel Ridges are WONDERFUL sources of landscapes to capture otherwise known as a target rich environment.

This image was one of those heavy alpenglow AND foggy morning. This is creating what I call a bow wave from the sun in the floating atmospheric ice. It appears that the sun is sitting in a slingshot and is ready to take off up into the sky….oh wait, that is where it’s going Frozen Ice fog floating in the air is always interesting to see what effects it will have on the sunrise.

I don’t always go out for a sunrise, but when I do, I prefer something to filter the brightness of our furnace a tad. This was still very bright, rediculously so indeed.

Disclaimer: Don’t point a DSLR camera or a smaller (17mm) sensor camera at the sun unless you want to either blind yourself, or burn a hole on your cameras’ sensor chip.

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

Title: Sunrise through the Mist

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Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath
Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows like this 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

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

Title: Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

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Barbed Wire Hoar Frosted

Barbed Wire Hoar Frosted
Barbed Wire Hoar Frosted

Barbed Wire Hoar Frosted

It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not this well very often…. The highest ridges here are 4000 feet in elevation. Valley fog/ moisture was being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions. Natural Sharp edges like the points of barbed wire provides a “point of nucleation” for the ice feathers to form. The symbolism by mother nature was not lost on me here lolol. 👀

Science here is a conversations about the “Triple Point” of water which is a good basic concept to understand if we’re talking about weather. When the water vapor is thick and RIGHT at the temperature/pressure point it can be deposited directly to ice from water vapor. Typically these ice crystal feathers are less than an inch. Thes monsters were a full inch and a half with a few around the ranch reaching 2 inches for that storm. 

Interestingly, this is NOT a black and white photo. It’s is full color but the light was as flat as it gets. The T-posts are very old and only slightly green but they provide an anchor to the world of color in this other wise chroma bare capture. Science 

This is the only time I’ve ever seen such a thing such that the barbs grew so prodigiously. I spent hours that morning walking from place to place absorbing the unique sites as they were presented to me. It wasn’t long after this photo that the wind picked up and obliterated the threatening look of the wire. 

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

Title : Barbed Wire Hoar Frosted

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Winter Blues and Granular Snow

Winter Blues and Granular Snow
Winter Blues and Granular Snow

Winter Blues and Granular Snow

Deep Winter up here in the highland ridges of the Wyoming / Montana borderlands is intense. Particularly intense getting up on some of these ridges lolol. We are currently a little low on snow. I’m not going to say something stupid like we need “more snow”. That would be inviting catastrophe lolol. Up here in the hills (versus down in that valley 400 feet lower) is a bit more harsh. I was told when I moved here by the locals that this place was nick named “Little Siberia”.

Geologic Musings.

Siberia eh? While I haven’t found a fossil mammoth on ranch, I did pull a Pleistocene Elk out of the ground. Well the back 1/2 of a 6 foot all at the hip elk with toe bone connected to the foot bone, the foot bone connected to the ankle bone etc. All the way to the third vertebra in front of the pelvis. The tail, all the little leg bones were all articulated. It wasn’t in the Hell Creek / Lance formation bedrock but in the relatively loose Pleistocene loess/sands overlaying the Cretaceous bedrock up here. IT was about 10 feet below ground level at it’s location in a deep gully. There are other “more recent” individual bones I’ve found out of the more recent Pleistocene but not many.

The Pleistocene epoch was from 2.6 to about 11,000 years ago when it ended after the last ice age. We were in the Holocene right up until we started making plastics. The first indication of micro-plastics in the geologic records starts the Anthropocene. Epoch. The start of the industrial revolution is technically the start.

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

Title: Winter Blues and Granular Snow

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B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite
B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite

So I’m driving up a steep hill to the east in my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV . That hill obscured my view of the horizon so I didn’t see this coming. I did have a box -o-cameras next to me that I had set up for the conditions. I usually keep one on fast shutter/ lower fstop and at infinite focus. The camera was idling but not full on as they power down after about a minute. They keep their settings and take between 1 and 2 seconds to become useful upon tapping the shutter button (wake up camera).

So this 200,000 pound strategic bomber crests the hill RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME bigger than life, I was driving… I saw it, reached over instinctively and grabbed a 24-135 lens on a sony alpha 7RII out of the box. I manually clicked as it wasn’t set to machine gun. Didn’t have any time. I just pointed and clicked, never looked through the lens or at the alignment. Pure muscle memory I’m thinking. No active thought involved. Luckily I managed to get these 7 captures of a 450 knot aircraft that I had no warning of it’s approach until it was on me. UTV’s are loud moving across the prairie but this guy 1000 feet over head was eye opening. Something about roughly 1000 horsepower that is recognizable at a distance but my passenger and I had no warning . The swept wing jet was moving right along as he peeled right and disappeared into the cloud deck.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: B1B Fly Over Composite

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Double Back Country Rainbow

Double Back Country Rainbow
Double Back Country Rainbow

Double Back Country Rainbow (late summer Golden Hour, just 6 months out of season..)

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Double Back Country Rainbow

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Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine
Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Well it’s time to start the gold mine because I know there’s more that one “pot o’ gold there’. I’ve seen numerous rainbows on that ridge…. Just saying… I’ve got the entrance all engineered out and ready to get the timber for. I figure if this isn’t a pretty durn close location for that gold mine, I don’t know where is. I wonder if Amazon delivers timber for mines? I’m sure the UPS driver wouldn’t mind.

Running with it

Microscopic gold is actually mixed in with the Hell Creek Sand. Tons of it on my ranch. You’d go broke mining it but it’s there. The term “Diffuse” applies to the tiny particles of gold. After all, all things end up in the sea. This ground is built of sediment temporarily paused. Stopped between stutter steps to the ocean. Now gone mountains west of us provided the sand, transported eventually to be laid down here now hardened to bedrock. (Mountains eroded long before the Big Horns rose. Those eroded mountains spread as sand across the continents surface as Hell Creek/Lance. Those ancestral mountains are long since history. But their substance remains in transit to the sea along with all the “Whiskey” I’ve ever swallowed.😜 As I say, all things end up there. w

Sheet Rainbows.

What I’ve done here is take a very long lens and zoom up on the right leg of a particularly well lit rainbow. It was a ways out anyway as this is a 1200mm lens about about a mile distant from the lens. Rainbows WAY out there are a requirement for this kind of image. Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena.

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

Title: Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine.

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Nested Curves: Wheels and Rainbows

Nested Curves: Wheels and Rainbows
Nested Curves: Wheels and Rainbows

Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are 4 arcs here in this image but that second wheel was hard to work into this lol. I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has a few 👀📸

IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. I don’t like to squish around in the mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol.

Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow”

Science of this:

Here you can see a fainter secondary rainbow above and to the left of the primary rainbow. The primary rainbow is caused from one possible reflection inside the water droplet. The secondary rainbow is caused by a secondary reflection inside the droplet, and this “re-reflected” light exits the drop at a greater angle (50° instead of 42° for the red, deeper hued primary bow). This is why the secondary rainbow appears above the primary rainbow. The secondary rainbow also has the order of the colors reversed as well with red on the bottom and violet on the top. ROYGBIV to VIBGYOR 😜📷

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

Title Nested Curves: Wheels and Rainbows

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Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line
Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line

The sub-zero morning I took this out on a flat covered by geothermal steam. 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. Long shadows and red light dominate this scene …

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is usually as deep as the backcountry is big. Just a few plowed paths are about 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. The snow on the flats is unpredictable.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a sunrise session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost plus red morning light. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. This is around 3700 feet. 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 awesome. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. 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…. 📸🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Hoar Frost Fence Line

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Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron
Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron (The ultimate wide theatre screen for the filetered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector lolol.😜🤔📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It served as a projector screen right at sunset. These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.

The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). Big Clouds like this are Projections screens for the colors that make their way through the atmospheric filter. The Red Light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere to be projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white at the top of the cloud only slightly yellowed light. This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. You just normally can’t see all of it lolol.

It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

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Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky

Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky
Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky

Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky (A good one of Halloween or just a Wednesday….).

Let me say right off, I did NOTHING to this image but crop it size it and put my signature on it. It is as it came out of the camera. It definitely matches the scene I was watching 40 miles out from my position on Rattlesnake Ridge. I have at least another 1/2 dozen images pulled back of this with the images “face ” slowly morphing into a not as good a happy face.

I’m always looking for figures in the sky but this one gave me goose bumps. I didn’t know whether this character was carrying a sickle or not lolol. Reminds me of a Nickolas Cage character that did a lot of flaming up on his bike in “Ghost Rider”. (Classical Reference). It even has a bandana. It’s probably just me.

Ok, It’s a scientific/atmospheric. phenomena. Falling ice platelets, reflective surfaces of same, resulting in a strong reflection with a pillar. The clouds on top prevented almost any other light from coming through. It was VERY dark where I was but for this spot light at the foot of the Red Hills 40 miles out.

One more redeeming characteristic in this image. It forms a very nice natural Letter T for my Collection of images of nature forming letters. A colorful letter T to boot. This was truly an extreme / unique sunset event as I’ve never seen such a display before.

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

Title: Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky

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Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming
Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming

I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 50 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft so the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.

That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mesocyclone Incoming

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Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce
Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce

The metadata attached to the image showed 45 degrees F. . The ice was not thick to begin with. You can see the tracks behind the canid as he trots along the shoreline. He’s right on a razors edge here…. I’m thinking that this is not a good habit for a coyote to have. Hard to argue with the image though lol. He’s just a few pounds from breaking right through to the lake below. It’s not really deep where he is but there are deeper spots around the edge of this lake.

It’s got to be easier walking than on the shore but that ice was NOT that thick. I have several captures of this fellow over several days doing this same thing. Each is unique in it’s perspective as I have several cameras covering this area. Each camera has it’s own characteristics of color and exposure based on light conditions. They are after all…automatic cameras.

I’m currently running 29 game trail cameras. It takes several trips to check them all. I usually do it while I’m actually at a location. I’ll be picking some cameras up for the winter. While others I’ll refresh the batteries and let them run all winter. I’ll check them in the spring, swap out SD cards (modern digital image storage chip). Then freshen the batteries is the final task. A good game trail camera will use 16 – 24 AA batteries a year.

18 x 18 inches square aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote About to Pounce

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Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Riding the Storm Out
Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Riding the Storm Out

Windmill Junkies Unite: but don’t let your mothers know you look at stuff like this 🤘🤘.

This 100 year old AERMOTOR Windmill has been providing water to cattle in this remote part of our ranch. It’s several miles to the nearest power line from here. About a decade ago we ran a water pipeline about two miles from one of our wells to this site. We used the existing tanks of course. The windmill was working last time we used it. It needs a new drive rod connecting the motor to the pump head. Undoubtedly, the leathers replaced in the pump, a little grease….. It would run no question in my mind.

6 months out of season when I post this Jan 8th but remember today is Windmill Wednesday. I’m going to have windmills every post all day today. There will only be one or two in some forums and other places on the internet will have all 6… . This is entry number 1 for the morning at 6 AM (ish). I’m going to start doing SOME thematic days as they CAN occur (meaning I have 6 images of the same type like Windmills).

I do miss the big storms that roll by in the summer. I don’t miss so much the ones that roll over us lolol. Rain is rain though. I’d rather not have it as 5 inch softball sized hail though. I just got a new truck lololol. We actually had to have every roof on the ranch replaced in 2008. We do get some rough storms.

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

Title: Windmill Riding the Storm Out

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A Little Static Discharge

A Little Static Discharge
A Little Static Discharge

A Little Static Discharge

I bit out of season… I need summer

Chasing LIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before.

I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the outline. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.

I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting on the cars passenger window on clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.

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

Title: A Little Static Discharge

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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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Fog Bank Rolling In

Fog Bank Rolling In
Fog Bank Rolling In

Fog Bank Rolling In : a little summer green for your Winter doldrums..

The cloud bank on top of this landscape ladder is a layer literally hugging and slowly flowing over that back ridge. It appeared obvious that it would eventually get to us. The back cloud bank is the 4000 feet tall Red Hill’s under the slowly moving blanket. If I’d had a time lapse on my rig, (I didn’t have mine with me 😔). I never worry about the little things though lol. That morning was sunny and clear but when this eventually rolled over us, the day went totally grey.

The whiter layer of clouds, the leading edge still trapped in the LIttle Powder River Valley 400 feet below. It took about an hour for it to climb the hundreds of feet up the ridge to my position from the valley. Lots of Rungs on this landscape ladder.

I’ll be configuring my new backcountry photography vehicle all week. Hopefully I can get back in the field more after removing all my photo gear from my old Jeep Grand Cherokee’s cubby holes last month. My new Ford F-150 Raptor has a big more storage than the jeep. The new rig is more purpose build for backcountry photography/access. It’s very agile and should be able to go anywhere I need it to up here in the borderlands. It’s longer than my last rigs so I’ll try not to high center it. I’ve never been stuck up here in 2 decades…. yet. 😜

Composite. This is a really wide angle three telephoto image composite (left, center, right). Triplet.

3:1 Aspect to 60 inches

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

Title: Fog Bank Rolling In

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Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill Trapped Sunset
Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill weekday, Windmill Junkies Unite. 🤘

I just realized I hadn’t posted a windmill for some time. All you junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal. So I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill has jumped over the setting sun with intent to keep it under his control. Little does he know that the wise old sun will just sneak out the back door lolol. Just a snippit of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers for their loyal followers. Don’t let your mother know you look at things like this… Just saying 😜😀

When the air is full of light snow and other ice AND you can see the sun, hang on. You never know what kind of atmospheric effects your going to get. I go up the hill sometime just hoping the sun will come below the snowing cloud deck. With this much moisture in the air, only the red light makes it through all the ice. This was a while ago when we had fresh snow. Currently there is ice everywhere on the ground from a few warm days. Thick crusts with slick surfaces. The footing is treacherous.

We just missed a big storm this week which went to our south and east. I’d like to see some more snow but I suppose I should be careful what I ask for up here. We need some more snow however. Moisture in any form up here is usually a good thing. The timing however in the spring isn’t always good during calving season though 😔

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

Windmill Trapped Sunset

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Wyoming Wind on Ice

Wyoming Wind on Ice
Wyoming Wind on Ice

Wyoming Wind on Ice

Good New Years Morning to all. Welcome 2020. It’s going to be an interesting year.

On this wonderful morning I noticed the breeze here had left some physical evidence of it’s direction and magnitude. The sunrise off frame was hard to ignore but I got distracted. The rustic nature of this metal building was hard to ignore in this light. The winds the day before while the sun was warming the ice on the roof. Icicles grow when the air is cold but the roof is warm either from within or from without. I can see clearly that the wind was not only steady but quite cold. The sun at 4000 feet is still amazingly strong even in mid-winter. Day time melting or even “Sublimation” (your google word of the day) occurs. These sun induced phase changes from snow in an of themselves will ablate the snow cover significantly during just a short time.

The old building tells many stories. Several generations of additions/ are apparent. The weather has taken it’s toll on the windows. It’s a good thing on a ranch to have a few extra gates sitting around. Many things have been stored within this shelter on the prairie. This abandoned building stands alone against the elements certainly here in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. 4000 foot in elevation, NO trees around it, nothing to block the winds across the plains. Who knows what this building has seen. No one is telling. 🤔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wyoming Wind on Ice

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Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Round Up Stormy Afternoon
Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Late summer of 2019 it was time to run “the herd” through a crowding pen and sort calves from mothers. Some vaccinations ensued. Lots of “hunting / gathering required to collect the cattle. Collecting a herd of calves and cows from the square mile pasture takes maneuverability. These are real cowboys horses and good workers all.

The weather that after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. The little cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Just as the last cow was released, everyone retreated to our large barn for tailgate food while it was hailing outside. A good time was had by all except a few calves that got branded that day. This is a ranch after all. During the year the ranch has over 200 cow calf pairs grazing the various pastures. The big pastures are around a square mile here. Other ranches that are bigger have bigger pastures lol.

Rotating pasture ground is important to manage the grass. We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. Just the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation. This year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck all summer.

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

Title: Round Up Stormy Afternoon

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Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt
Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

I know, it’s out of season in Wyoming, not so much down south at the moment though. Be careful down there. As the cold air moves over us, the arctic blast does BIG storms in LA, MS, AL, GA….. Be careful out there and prayers for those effected by the storms.

In this complex summer image, I set the camera up at the mirror to reflect the sky slit 90 degrees left frame….Flash….. Can you find the Deering Seeder? This was a HUGE mesocyclone that hadn’t even reached us yet. We were just under it’s leading edge here. That shelf cloud is an indication that it’s about to get sporty. The 80 mph winds this brought with it did some damage. The big hail missed us though. That big white roof is our big barn which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field under that roof. It’s an old roping area under there.

This storm donated quite a few lightning photos. I usually work storms like this up on the ridges definitely in a car. The car doesn’t make you immune to the strikes but it helps. Your not going to get killed by ground current if your not touching metal is the plan. Not that the bolt couldn’t hit the camera. I’ve been pretty close to some strikes before and it will wake you up. Looking forward to working it with the new vehicle with no moon roof. I ordered it WITHOUT a sunroof (a several thousand dollar options that will probably leak). More metal overhead is a good thing I’m thinking lolol.

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

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RockyPoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store
Rockypoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store

Clarence Reece built a two story building in 1907. This became the General Store for the area (Rockypoint Wyoming which is in the North Eastern Corner of Wyoming). Just north west of Devils Tower which you can see from here about 35 miles away. Run by various local characters over the years, the store changed hands a dozen times. It closed finally in the Mid- 1950’s.

These timbers, cut 112 years ago, are the last remains of a building that served a whole community. These merchants who weekly at least, dealt with terrible dirt roads bought a lot of freight through these doors over time. Imagine if you will the old time gasoline pump with the glass top. An ranch kid attendant with a rag in his pocket took care of the windows and checked the oil.

I can’t imagine all the horse team trips to Gillette to hit the railroad in the early 1900’s. Gillette would be a two day trip via buck freight wagon I’m pretty sure from Rockypoint Wyoming. Camping on the trail, no weather forecasts or radio. These folks 100 years ago were tough hombres.

The community dance hall / community center became ground zero of local / national political discussions of course lol. Dances too but the roads could keep the band away. I’m sure they did best they could.

I own the back 1/2 of the Rockypoint 1940’s dance hall. It is a good structure that I resurfaced when I moved here in 2000 and it remains as a shop building.

Location/ Title : Rocky point Wyoming

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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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Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral
Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

6 months ago during the summer solstice of 2019, a BIG 100 mile across mesocyclone moved over us right at sunset. Of course “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill jumped into the photo as he is a terrible attention hog. I have no control over his actions. Windmill Wednesday AND Christmas Wednesday. , Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘

Satire:

I do understand through a third party that “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill wishes all of his fans a very very Merry Christmas. He has this insecurity problem where he wants to solve through fame and fortune acquired via his exposure in pictures. So he rushes into my images. His brother “Re-Pete” I’m sure also has Christmas wishes but he couldn’t be present at this photo taking session. He was over the hill out at his hangout during this storm.. Hard to get a family together portrait of the two brothers. They can’t move easily through the timber. I suspect they haven’t seen each other for a long time. I’ll have to see if I can arrange a digital family reunion someday…. 😜

I’m not sure what his New Year resolution. I’m pretty sure it has to involve photobombing more and injecting himself into my landscapes.

My new years resolution is to catch more skies like this and finally get all these images I’ve got stored away up on my web gallery. That will take a “while”. I consider it job security.

From all of us at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, all of it’s creatures mythical and otherwise , Merry Christmas and a Happy/Safe New Year. 2020 is going to be an interesting year to be alive.

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

Title: Christmas Crown Sky Cathedral

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Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill
Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Setting up and sitting for night time exposures catching huge million amp plasma channels creates a lot of adrenaline (fun). There is enough amperage to melt sand in those bolts. You only do this from inside a “Faraday Cage” . Lock yourself in a metal drum, isolate yourself from the metal to become safe even if the drum is directly struck.

It has been my observation that anything you do any activity a LOT. Your going to get injured doing it, Having a metal vehicle surrounding you is a good thing while taking photos like this. Think about it. Your on a ridge line, high up in a metal truck watching bolts flash 360 around you. I’ve been very close to strikes before. I can’t say that I’ve ever been hit doing this. I watched a bolt hit a few hundred feet away driving up in Montana one day. Traveling I was driving along a rural road. Hard to miss the bolt strike the bare grassy field just off the road to my left.

• The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000. Just because your in a truck, doesn’t mean your safe. It does moderate the extra risk statistically. Please keep your hands away from metal contact. Lock your trays in the upright and locked position…… Even so… The lightning can also serious damage your vehicle’s electrical system (which would really suck).

When you order a new vehicle to do precisely this… You really don’t need a sunroof over your head. lolololol 😜👀⛈ They cost more and lighning can travel right through glass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lightning Highlights the Windmill

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Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Foggy Fence Line Sunrise
Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Foggy Fence Line Sunrise

Up above the ground clouds, these high backcountry ridge tops make for an awesome sunrise over the top. I’m several hundred feet higher than the valley floor The heavier, cooler air settles in the valley. Moisture condenses and the “Golden Hour” light against a blue sky grabbed my attention. The rustic/rural nature of this image is only matched by the sites remoteness.

I took this image from right at the highest point around locally. This captures elevation is around 4100 feet. The lowest point in Wyoming is On the Belle Fource River at 3099 feet. That location is about 70 miles east of this location. Gannet Peak in the Wind River Mountains is the highest point in Wyoming at 13,804 feet with several peaks just below that elevation. I live at 3780 feet in elevation. I have lived for a decade at 6200 feet at the foot of the Teton Range. The winters are MUCH milder down here except for the winds….

Having put a few fences in, I will tell you that that line of posts and wire was a lot of work. Ranches have tremendous infra-structure in the numerous miles of fences to rotate stock from pasture to pasture. I think we have about 30 miles of fencing in or around out ground. Just having one big pasture is a bad plan. You want to be able to rotate your stock animals from pasture to pasture. Water sources central ideally in those pastures. Generations of ranchers have figured out that works best. Fences also help prevent mixing of different ranchers cow herds togethers. Not only is there a property reason for them, they allow good grass management practices based on an areas attributes and deficiencies.

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

Title: Foggy Fence Line Sunrise