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Boulder Field Sun Filter

Boulder Field Sun Filter
Boulder Field Sun Filter

Boulder Field Sun Filter

Crimson Sunsets with a boulder field acting as a sun moderating filter. Otherwise the glare is such it makes it very difficult to catch the detail in the clouds above. I point out that cloud frame is a Pariedoliac’s dream with a dozen faces, figures, creatures and imaginary anthropomorphic shapes. I’ve got horses, dolphins humans faces. I swear I did not put those shapes there or add dots for eyes or any of those cheating activities. This is a totally natural image with a pretty much closed down camera to light. That sun is bright. The human eye could not look into this scene.

Taken at the top local top of the world with a hard boulder covered butte top protecting the sandstone below from erosion. Most buttes are built by cap rock protecting the softer sediments below from being removed. Ridges are formed because everything softer was carried away by water moving one grain of sand at a time. Just lots of time.

Photographic Musings. High F-stop for the deep focus plus loosing some light. (you’ve got an overabundance of light here). Low ISO because you sure as heck don’t need a sensitive camera here. Shutter speed is going to be fast but the boulder filter can lengthen that out a bit. Each of the Manual settings is a double edge sword. If you want deep focus, you need a lot of light. F-stop is your iris size inside the lens. A pin hole gives you very deep focus fields. But a pin hole doesn’t let in much light. Manual is all about balancing light.

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

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Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole
Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole

The morning that showed me this view was 14 hours earlier than when I typed this narrative. It’s rare that I take a photo and schedule it to be published the same day. Sort of like being a bouncer choosing who gets to enter a nightclub. If your a “looker”, you go right to the front of the line. There are several thousand images for me to finish at the moment lolol. They are sitting in a folder on my workstations desktop called “Images to finish”. Job security 📸

The texture on this wonderful old snag from 100 years of exposure to the elements. It is harsh here in Wyotana with hot high altitude sunny summer days and terribly dark cold winters. Wood rot here take a LONG time as 14 inches a year average of precip tends to reduce rot. There are a LOT of “Snags” around from the 1930’s fire that “burned until the snow fell” up in this country. This one developed even more character as those orangish spots are bruises from the hail storm that threw up to 3 inch ice balls at it. The Mountain in the knot hole is known to me as “Turtle Butte”. It is precisely on the Montana/Wyoming border about 1/2 and half. 🤔

This is the second of a series with this Snag. I worked it a few years back as well. The lighting was entirely different then and it hadn’t hailed lol. The old masters would go back to the same place again and again to get different light. It was harder to travel then. I just work a very large area of backcountry photographically.

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

Title: Perspective Through the Knot Hole

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Windmill Hot Feet

Windmill Hot Feet
Windmill Hot Feet

Windmill Hot Feet

There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀

I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.

The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).

Photographic Musings:

Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill Hot Feet

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Just A Pretty Sunset

Just A Pretty Sunset
Just A Pretty Sunset

Just A Pretty Sunset (for a nice Friday Night).

JUST after the sun disappears behind the rising horizon, I clicked this. The simple image of a sunset is only overcome by the beauty of the event. Watching thousands of sunsets from start to finish has taught me nuances in lighting. Both Causation and Effect become apparent with enough observation. There are an infinite number of angles to look at something. There are more that I can imagine in my mine. (more than infinity). 😜

Sunsets this time of year from my ranch are getting more and more straight to the west. From my position one mile inside of Wyoming, your looking at both states in this frame. Wyoming is to the left and Montana is to the right. Living on the border with access to both states has it’s advantages. I am sandwiched between two counties fire departments and get pretty good service lolol. This late into a drought year has me looking over Amazon and elsewhere online for firefighting tools. To have a smoke free sky like this image might take a while with a pretty good fire 50 miles west of here. You can’t see it here as this was the day’s ending before it started burning.

So enjoy the clear sky sunset while I’ve still got them making their way into my work flow. The last two sunset/sunrise I’ve worked have been heavily influence by the smoke from that fire. There will be other images of that fire’s smoke plume incoming and published here soon.

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

Title: Just A Pretty Sunset

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Forest Fire Sunset Show

Forest Fire Sunset Show
Forest Fire Sunset Show

Forest Fire Sunset Show

This happened 8 days ago as this posts. One of the first pictures I took in this timeline. I’m thinking I have about 18 images I’m going to finish eventually from this event. I was perfectly positioned by a coincidence of cosmic proportions lol. Of the 360 degrees on the compass, the sun setting behind a forest fire …. I’ve never seen such from this angle sun passing through. It isn’t something I’ve ever experienced.

For you Pariedolia sufferers, there is an angry Micky mouse trying to eat a landing bat for sure.😜 That pall of smoke TOTALLY blocked the sun behind it. The eventual play of light from this event was spectacular as you will see as the captures from this timeline make it into my workflow. Heck, this is pretty much a unique vision. ….

That is the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Homestead on the lower left of the frame. It makes a good scale for the HUGE WIDE image above. This was from my 10mm widest lens I own kind of optic. The top of the frame is past the zenith of the sky and the width is something like 130 degrees . That fire is Straight West of my ranch so Montana is literally on the right with Wyoming on the left. I’m standing in Wyoming for this capture but not by much (100 yards or so)

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

Title: Forest Fire Sunset Show

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Pronghorn Eating Yucca Sunset

Pronghorn Eating Yucca Sunset
Pronghorn Eating Yucca Sunset

Pronghorn Eating Yucca Sunset

Sometimes the sunset sideshows I see are just overwhelming, then a Pronghorn Doe wanders into my “visual tunnel” that I’m working. Layers of interdigitating hills. Slow tapering like so many water waves on a pond. The Golden Hour Lighting and long shadows add to the contrasts and hues. Accentuating even the drought covered grass’s early brown season patina.

This was taken about a week before a grass fire blackened the hillside just before the tall ridge of trees near the horizon right of center. That whole field was burned over about a mile. I’d say 12 fire rigs of all sizes made a local debut for the 2020 fire season in this country. About 30 men descended on that ground within an hour of it’s announcement. It’s still very dry. We have been enjoying trains of lightning rich storms.

The Pronghorn doe was moving from Yucca plant (Spanish Dagger) to Yucca Plant enjoying the abundance. That is a plant that plans ahead. Their shape on the prairie causes snow to drift and cover them better than the surrounding area. They get a LOT of their watering in the winter. Their lush blooms are eagerly sought by most ungulates. I understand they are good in salads… 🙂

Besides the other minor world wide issues, locally: Drought Hail and Fire this year has surpassed in intensity the green well watered year we experienced last year in 2019. I’d like to play this year over and it’s not even close to done yet. Think I could do that??

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

Title: Pronghorn Eating Yucca Sunset

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Under the Spinning Top

Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony
Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony

Under the Spinning Top

After a long day of fire fighting, I was done with thanking the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Fire team that stayed out sleeping under the “Stars” outside their fire fighting rig. For this fire, most neighbors, surrounding ranchers and local fire departments had departed before dark. The BLM crew “sat” on the fire over night. They left the next morning for another fire and another set of Meal’s Ready to Eat on the menu. Thank you fire crews and first responders everywhere. You have to love lightning hitting the ground in a tender dry environment full of grass.

That evening on the way home, the lightning show continues. The big round wall cloud that bolt penetrates blinded me at around 20 miles distant. Because this is a time exposure, you have a whole series of bolts recorded in this 30 second time line. One after another over a random few second intervals. I’d say there are 4 flashes in this particular capture. It takes another 30 seconds to process the image internally in the camera. This effectively puts the camera out of commission while it is processing the data. This is why I run 2 cameras alternating back and forth lol. It does keep you busy 📷

That Wall cloud is a really well formed one. I love climbing ridges and getting these views but that was a long day. I gave up after about an hour as the action faded. There are a few more good catches from this event. Long day done.

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

Title: Under the Spinning Top

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Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Neowise and Old Growth Pine
Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Old growth pines are some of the tallest things around me here in the backcountry. I get a few miles back off the gravel county road, one pasture starts looking a lot like the next pasture. You really have to have a sense of your position. One wrong turn out here and your in a hole that might take a while to extricate the Raptor from. I try to stick to existing two track roads as to not further any damage to the grass lands. Tall trees are sign posts to me as they and the ridges they live on silhouetted against the sky. It’s easy to get disoriented out in grassy pastures a square mile in size. Fortunately, the stars were quite visible so navigation didn’t require a compass.

I’ve had to resort to using a compass a time or two up here. We don’t have efficient cell service and I really don’t trust GPS very much. I way prefer visual, if not, a good old compass will do just fine. Remember to set your compass for changes in magnetic declination (google this) as the magnetic pole does wander. I’ve had to reset my compass several times in the last 4 or 5 years.

Neowise takes about 20 seconds open shutter (exposure) at f-4 to bring in (say ISO 2000) the image. Your settings will vary depending on your lens and camera. The trees illumination however is the result of a moderately bright LED pocket flashlight being swept over about 10 seconds across the surface of the tree. It was TOTALLY dark for this capture. Just star light, a little “curl” light and a little flash light.

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

Title: Neowise and Old Growth Pine

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Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone
Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

This is a pretty good capture of a mid-sized mesocyclone that is sitting on the Montana / Wyoming border along Rt 59 north of Gillette. It’s a growing one that went on to cause some trouble up in Montana. Missed me by 40 miles. That is how far away that is. This gives you a pretty good idea how big that growing storm is. I’d say it’s 20 miles across with a 10 mile wide rain shaft under it. Bear in mind that these storms can grow to 100 miles across and very high heights. Forty thousand feet is not unheard of for a big storm. They do spawn tornados but we only see about 1 a year over a pretty big local area.

The biggest threat from them is hail. Large areas of grassland get flattened by big hail stones. Often the grass’s heads are knocked off leaving stubble. Property damage as I just experienced is significant if one of these goes over your ranch’s homestead. We are looking into replacing every surface of the buildings here on the ranch again. Last done in 2008 when we had some soft ball sized hail but not as much. This year we just had up to 3 inch but mostly golf ball for about 30 minutes with a 30 mph wind from the north. I keep finding all sorts of broken things.

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

Title: Wyoming Montana Mesocyclone

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Friday Flashback Full Moon

Friday Flashback Full Moon
Friday Flashback Full Moon

Friday Flashback Full Moon

I like to look back 6 months or so every once in a while. It reminds me how much I enjoy the season we are currently in lol.

A January Full Moon Setting (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020). Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” 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 that 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 last January. Most of my images are posted about a week after they are finished so this posts the 24th of July, taken the morning of the 10th of January. IT takes a while for me to dig back into my “Images to finish folder” sometimes. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 4 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore lolol. 📷📷🤘

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

Title: Friday Flashback Full Moon

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Windmill Dusk Twilight Silhouette

Windmill Dusk Twilight Silhouette
Windmill Dusk Twilight Silhouette

Windmill Dusk Twilight Silhouette

“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has positioned himself dead center of this BIG twilight borderlands twilight sky show. Habitual Photobombers like Sneaky are incouragible. I have no control over their actions. I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.

Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀 WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Dusk Twilight Silhouette

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Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow
Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow

I recently posted another from this timeline. Real Color. I’ve seen no better red double than this sunset back show capture before. I wish I had a chopper to go up about 300 feet though. Seeing this as a 360 circle would be a bucket list item but only if I have my cameras with me…. Intentionally maneuvered the reflective back of a “Right Turn Clyde” Sign dead center as it was just right to reflect the sunlight directly in the center of the rainbow.

I have this thing for holographic red dot sights on carbines. Not that that tendency had anything to do with this composition lol👁 . If you’ve ever used a good Trijicon™ holographic rifle sight, some of the reticles look just like this. The reflective sign is exactly at the “Antipode” of the sun’s position in the sky behind me. Good google word for the evening… 🤔 👀 📷

So why is a “Red Rainbow” rare. Well it can only occur at the perfect time of the day under specific circumstances. Mere minutes maybe if the photographer is lucky. I worked this with 3 cameras in those few minutes. Water can only refract (not reflect) a rainbow using the color of light the situation provides to the rain fall curtain. At the trailing edge of that larger area of rain, the deep cranberry is also rare. The partially occluded sunset behind me is acting as both refraction plus reflection here. The 22 degree rainbow is obvious but the other red is reflecting off the water falling directly coloring the clouds and sky. Both phenomena are involved here.

Really it’s all about the source of light which traveling through dirty atmosphere (not implying pollution, could just be moisture). The red light is the furthest traveled light through our atmosphere. The cranberry color is literally my favorite. This is as close as I can get this to how I saw it. I could have easily lightened the lower grass in the digital darkroom. That’s not how it was. It was very dark just like this with just a spotlight of light for me to capture. Thank you mother nature.

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

Title: Double Red Rainbow

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Grasshopper Escape Hungry Fawn

Grasshopper Escape Hungry Fawn
Grasshopper Escape Hungry Fawn

Grasshopper Escape Hungry Fawn

Quality Game Trail Cameras can capture very candid scenes. Each and every image I’ve ever posted from a game trail camera took me a relatively long time to fix problems with them. They have inherent issues built into every one of the .jpg file (image) they put out. But they are, to a one, capable of capturing situations that no one would ever see without those cameras out in the bush. Such as the wonderful result here lol.

I can imagine 100 hillariouis scenarios for this image but I’m thinking that grasshopper was escaping that lizard tongue. Now I’ve seen a LOT of deer tongues over the years. Done some hunting, a little photography, I’ve never seen one quite that much of a flapper before. This is a month and a half old fawn at this capture.

Running a network of 29 cameras (currently) is a matter of keeping manufacturers of AA batteries financially solvent. Cameras I set in the spring are just now starting to get low on power. Now where did I leave that Browning Camera at?. I run into them as I’m back on the ranch. Occasionally I find one I set the previous year and it’s battery dead. Oh the treasures it could contain. The only control you have over those automatic cameras are usually 3 levels of sensitivity to trigger, and 3 levels of flash (close, medium and far). Placing them in the right spot is the game though.

The hardest thing to match colorwise in any Wyotana photography is Sage Brush. Try it. It’s tough to get right .. 📷

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

Title: Grasshopper Escape Hungry Fawn

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Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow
Red Double Rainbow

Red Double Rainbow

This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.

As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘

I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.

The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.

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

Title: Red Double Rainbow

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Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign
Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

Talk about a busy photo. I swear rainbows and lightning in the same image together is not a common thing to happen in front of your lens. You have to hunt this stuff and then set up the possibility. It was very dark but I could see the “Right Turn Clyde” sign to align it with the the blurred windmill. (you remember those two Shows 1978 and 80 right). The Windmill had a great view of the rainbow that had formed with a faint compliment secondary rainbow. This was very late and the only light left for the rainbow was the long traveled pink light. Normally you see this as a pink Belt of Venus on the frozen atmospheric ice.

Here the “Belt of Venus” pink backshow light was all that available to the rain droplets to refract back to my lens. The pink color being as strong that night as I have seen it in a summer evening. I’ve seen it WAY stronger in the winter. Winter of course is the time of year to watch Alpenglow in the Wyotana skies. All the ice makes for amazing shows. The same light reflects in a much darker shade off of water droplets than ice crystals. Light to amazing pink in the winter is standard, this openly cranberry color is an odd one for me to see. Thus it is my gold standard to finish the image. It made a huge impression on me at the time.

Obviously I have several finished images from this timeline. Each a little different in it’s coloration as the sequence of events played out in front of me. There are times I REALLY love doing this.

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

Title: Windmill Rainbow Lightning Sign

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Cloud Seeding on the Border

Cloud Seeding on the Border
Cloud Seeding on the Border

Cloud Seeding on the Border

OK, perhaps the title is a little misleading lol. That RARE roll cloud (arcus cloud) was just a spectacular exhibit of atmospheric cooperation for my close / far perspectives. Roll clouds are usually affiliated with a series of smaller storms. Often confused with wall clouds which are potentially quite dangerous. These rare long clouds may form near advancing cold fronts. Particularly, a downdraft from an advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, thus forming a cloud.

When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form. Roll clouds may actually have air circulating along the long horizontal axis of the cloud. These do not morph into tornados. Unlike a shelf cloud, a roll cloud is completely detached from their larger parent storm cloud. Pictured above, a roll cloud extends far into the distance as series of storms approached in July, 2020 on the MT/ WY border.

The scene was a tad idillic to this photographer. The hues in this light were wonderful. Light long traveled through the atmosphere has a decidedly pink tint to it. This of course imparted on to the landscape, rebounding to my lenses.

The seeder, a 1920′-30′ machination, has been sitting in this spot for a bit and is a favorite “close” of mine for my perspectives. I might have taken a few images of this before….😜 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Cloud Seeding on the Border

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Buck in Black and White

Buck in Black and White
Buck in Black and White

Buck in Black and White

Rare to put a B+W up on a Prime Time like Sunday Morning…. Holy Game Trail Camera capture batman. This nice young male deer who looks to me as my old friend “Goal Post”. He has for the last 4 years been a “buddy” of mine out in the backcountry. He is obvious by his lack of a brow tine on his right antler. (over his “left” eye as you see it). “Goal Post” has had his entire life documented in my portfolio. He is definitely a wild deer but is tolerant of me historically. So here he is sampling some tasty morsel at JUST the right distance from this automatic camera. 

His body heat set off the camera. By standing fairly still he came in very clear. So of the 10K (yes 10,000) game trail images I looked through today, this is in the top 20 of the pile. The lighting, the textures, the windmill, the buck…. be still my heart. Of course the big problem with night (Infra-red flash) images is that they tend to be fairly grainy. This one is no exception. So I limited it to 18 inch square or smaller. This was a 2×3 aspect now a square.  I collected Game Trail Camera Chips this AM waiting for the clouds to dissipate to the north at 4AM. Can’t take a photo of a comet you can’t see lolol. I kept busy. I serviced 15 cameras before dawn. (the easy ones lolol).

I look forward to seeing “Goal Post” during the day as I haven’t yet. I will figure out his current routine eventually before winter changes that again. He is likely to be a pretty nice deer this year. He is 4.5 years old now. Next year is his prime.  Ignore the windmill, “Sneaky Pete” does a lot of photobombing around here. Any attention give him more reason to photobomb more.

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

Title: Buck in Black and White

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Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania
Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.

About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.

The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.

Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…

I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.

Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).

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

Title: Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

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Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte
Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Taken from “Sunrise Ridge”. That is a magical place that gives me view to the east as varied as you can imagine. While the area I work hard photographically has is long list of beautiful things, I lack waterfalls, huge mountains and National Monuments/Parks in the front yard. A flowing river has always been a dream. But here I am stuck on a dry ranch.

Dryland ranching sounds romantic because it’s ranching of course…. Dryland when it’s actually really dry… not so much. The Dryland part is a quirk of fate. I ALMOST bought a ranch way across the state at Clark Wyoming right on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone river there. I would have ended up doing similar “hobbies” there as well. No matter where you are, there you are I have found in my travels. No dinosaurs in Clark but that area of the country is somewhat complex geologically. Interesting stuff laying around everywhere. Yellowstone right over your shoulder. Good seat if it blows too…. I digress..

Silhouettes of trees with just a bit of green showing in the shadow nether world. The ability of the camera to look into the sun AND see detail against the brilliant sun is blocked by technological limitations. I could set the camera so that it COULD see the detail in the silhouetted areas (dark areas) OR detail in the sun but getting both is beyond most technology requiring only one shot. Stacking multiple images with different settings can give you the best of all the worlds. That is a process that I don’t like for it’s complexity certainly but more importantly

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

Title: Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

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Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape
Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

From near the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming, looking West towards the Bighorns . You can actually see the distant range 130 miles distant on the horizon. You have to know what you are looking for on the full screen version of this to see them.

Rain Showers were migrating through the valley in front of me. Deep but irregular edged broken clouds ahead of a blowy mist from the rain just off frame is responsible. It was sprinkling where the extremely bright spot lightings on the left, appeared like an ghosted version of a badly edited image. They are legitimate though with this image being very true to life that late afternoon here in the high grounds.

I just love images where there are no fences, houses, power lines. My preference is for having no artifacts in my landscapes from human machinations of our environment. I see just a smidgen of graveled county road off the distance low left frame durn it.. Of course the close / far perspective rule is in operation. (Photographic Rule #24: always have a close object in your long landcapes).

Spot lighting in a Wyotana sky is not a rare thing but the extent of this 360 degree crown sky was quite the attention grabber to this photographer. This scene is produced here as I experienced it though my eyes. I saw more detail in the trees than does this level of dynamic range in the technology I use. Having said that… This is a WAY wide dynamic range capture from the brightest bright to the darkest dark. That is what a really good camera can do if you drive it properly. Your equipment will make a difference in your photography I point out. This was what I consider a tough photographic environment to operate in. Enormous variations of light intensities is hard for current camera tech to deal with.

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

Title: Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

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Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North
Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Sometimes little ephermeral ponds for even mid-summer. Late that particular afternoon a line of storms was moving to my left and this Shelf cloud was putting on a show. 

Shelf clouds are not to be confused with wall clouds which are typically symptoms of a severe often rotating individual cell. This one was at least 60 miles long from my perspective continuing well back over my head almost to the horizon. I have the components for a really really really Tall image, maybe 12 to 2 in this width. Needless to say this was very impressive to be under. I wasn’t in the best place for a close far to using what I had….. 

Must be good water😂 the cattle have been drinking it right? I think that water is mostly melted hail. Lots of water is collected over the 80 acre drainage that feeds this little water hole. Couldn’t be anything living in that I’m sure…….? 👀 It’s a dry summer. The grass here was just trampled by a hard hail storm July 5th. Late in the afternoon, it flattened pretty much everything that didn’t have a woody stem. Most trees were heavily cut up by the up to 3 inch stones. The dry year grass crop with was terrible to start with. It is all flat now along the strip of the hail path. I really do respect this weather up here. It’s all business when it’s active. . Crop insurance is an important consideration in any business plan. 

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Snaking North

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Lightning and a Rainbow

Lightning and a Rainbow
Lightning and a Rainbow

Lightning and a Rainbow

Lightning AND Rainbows together I have determined are an uncommon capture in the same photos. At least during my time travels lol. I’m thinking I have ONE other recent high resolution digital capture taken staring “Sneaky Pete” the windmill with a rainbow plus a lightning shaft. The storm that produced this scene gave me 1/2 dozen other similar captures that will slowly work their way into my daily published posts.

This was a very small part of a very large Mesocyclone I had been tracking on radar all day. It started down in Casper with it’s track bearing down on us. It JUST missed us by a few miles to our east. I’m sad we didn’t get the precipitation but I’m glad this monster missed us. We have had enough wind damage this year. My best to my friends/neighbors to my east after this storm. We all roll the dice with these big prairie Mesocyclones. Basically they are 100 mile across spinning tops of clouds. Tey have the power of an atom bomb expended during it’s brief lifetime. I have some AMAZING larger wide angle storm views of this storm.

Fortunately there wasn’t TOO much lightning that I saw. The fire danger is high. My lightning triggers liked the light on this particular storm. Some times none of the various triggers I use pick up a bolt. I might have three cameras set up on three different camera triggers and only one will take it. Go figure. I endorse no camera lightning triggers as of yet in my professional career. Some bolts are captures such as this.

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

Title: Lightning and a Rainbow

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Bubba Cottontail Backcountry Bunny

Bubba Cottontail Backcountry Bunny
Bubba Cottontail Backcountry Bunny

Bubba Cottontail Backcountry Bunny

This is Peter’s long distant cousin Bubba. Bubba Bunny is not that common around the Ranch as our ranch cats consider them fair game. Even the larger Jack Rabbits give us a wide birth. We have 6 Barn Cats (vaccinated and well cared for). The best small rodent control devices created are cats. The cat’s fortunately don’t bother my flock of ducks and chickens but somewhere along the line these long eared fellows became menu items. I had to get way away from the homestead to run away from their influence to photograph one.

I haven’t seen a plague of rabbits since I’ve lived up here but historically there have been some major problems resulting in some state wide hunts. The state used to offer bounty on the Jack Rabbits (this is a cottontail) with some hunts filling up the back of pickup trucks overnight. They were out of control occasionally. They needed predation to take care of their numbers. Some of the problem was the elimination of a portion of their natural predators. The introduction of western hybrid monocultural grains probably had as much effect on their growth spurts at various historical moments.

However since about 1880 they have been in general population decline with notable exceptions notably. Locally this year I have noted a lack of Whitetailed JackRabbits. These little cotton tails are around and are hunted of course. They are only seasonally pursued by law. Jack Rabbits are hunted all year.

Jack Rabbits will attack you if they feel threatened or provoked. Being charged by a Jack Rabbit was no fun for me. I didn’t enjoy the prospect.. It happened very quickly. He had evil intent but he lost the fight. Jimmy Carter had a golf club, I had a bolt action rifle in .257 Roberts at the time…. He ceased being a threat 25 yards out. I would never shoot a cotton tail unless I was really hungry. Well if he was the size of a Jack Rabbit I would too lolol. Good Rule to Follow: Don’t charge at a guy that builds guns and ammo for his day job.😜

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

Title: Bubba Cottontail Backcountry Bunny

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Everything Gets in a Rut

Everything Gets in a Rut
Everything Gets in a Rut

Everything Gets in a Rut

Sunday Night I get a little philosophical… Forgive my editorial excesses… Please apply this to the appropriate world sit rep….

Just when it seems that there is no way out. Stuck in the hole. The road ahead looks impassible. I point out that nearly every problem is a matter of viewpoint. Here the situation only looks bad. My example is: Sol is in a deep hole here… Since he is about the heaviest object in the solar system, this could take a winch larger than I have here on ranch. Living on a remote ranch in the middle of nowhere has it’s preparedness aspects. I try to be prepared for most situations but this one was a bit beyond my anticipatory imaginings. Unknowable endings brings anxiety beginnings.

It’s a good thing that most problems are a result of our perspective. They are not made of insurmountable mountains in my experience. In my hideously disguised metaphor it seems the land behind our celestial neighbor dropped away smooth allowing his clean “get away” from my perception of his predicament. I just couldn’t see from my angle…. My thoughts of his delay caused a whole list of celestial consequences that had cosmic ramifications. Talk about anxiety…. Boy are we lucky. (from my perspective) 👀

My point is, get others opinions about problems that seem unavoidable and insurmountable . Others may see a way out of the “problem” that we can’t because of each of our limited perspective(s). … We have to get our minds together or we will be torn apart where we are forced by our “problems”.

Now from strictly back to my normal programming basis, Simple Photographs like this are a favorite. I think from somewhere back in the “70’s” I picked up a liking for lots of negative space with smooth gradients about. Position and timing were everything in this capture. 😜 📷

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

Title: Everything Gets in a Rut

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July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set
July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set

This is the first image from the July 2020 full moon from this timeline. I’m still down loading images from the last 2 photographic trips into the backcountry. In the last 15 hours I’ve taken photos of the moon, rainbows, lightning, and (rainbows with lightning in the photo too). I’ve been very busy.

A significant portion of the twilight this particular morning provided obscured (at best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over sun illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. THe moon disappeared as it touched down into that slight white hazy layer above the ridge. Show to the west over…now back to the east.

What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.

I still have to fly by the seat of my pants when the sun is rising behind me with a beautiful sunrise. Simultaneously this moon is going to disappear in a few minutes. Storms were going through the area. Best possible photographic conditions in my opinion. 😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: July Buck Moon Set

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Spurge Hawk Moth Foraging

Spurge Hawk Moth Foraging
Spurge Hawk Moth Foraging

Spurge Hawk Moth Foraging

These big moths are really way more attractive on their pink underside than their dorsal olive tan pattern. Their legs and antenna are white as can be. Without a doubt they are a gardeners/ranchers friend as they lay their eggs on “Leafy Spurge”, a noxious weed. These big moths are active in the day sucking nectar and trying to find some Leafy Spurge. They lay their eggs on the noxious weed with the larva destroying the plant as they grow. Devouring it as they develop as it were.

This moth was introduced (foreign species) into Western Canada years ago. They apparently are spreading with no ill effects noted to the rest of our biosphere so far. Just larva eating Spurge and some nectar use by the adults which competes with other native species of course.

The color scheme here was too obvious to ignore. I adore right primary colors surrounding a “plain jane” subject. Garden plants with big moths flying about is a target rich environment for sure. The hard part is getting them to stay put long enough to capture the scene. Their big bugs which are quick and zip around when warm. They are impossibly hard to photograph well without cooling them down. Usually you can catch them in my experience but it takes some luck. Funny I’ve seen so many of them this year. Wish they ate grasshoppers 😜 📷

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

Title: Spurge Hawk Moth Foraging

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2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush
2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

Good Saturday Morning

The Pronghorn Pirates herd heard … there was a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. So off they ran in the rain. Its no wonder that I never found any treasure when I navigated to these spots in the past. These guys easily beat me to it. Laughing all the way no doubt. It’s no wonder they are all jumpy creatures Pronghorn all. They have something to hide. Like the location of all that loot they have collectively been finding over the generations. Here I caught them in the act of getting there first. They would be long gone by the time I get there in my slow Ford F150 Rapor. After all, they are the fastest land animal in North America. (The Pronghorn not the Raptor… ) I wonder how with all that gold’s weight on board though?. Such quandaries of life. 😜

Musings on Landscape Photography:

Composing such images are a fly by the seat of your pants operation out in the backcountry. By necessity really. Only seconds to adjust to events reactionary of the animals behavior. Sometimes you can get animals to cooperate in the composition like this and other I get to move my position to properly compose the image. Then one just lines up the shot and leave to the next random event. Here the Pronghorn did the lining up for me. Seeing where they were going, I just had to wait for the right moment lolol. It’s a lot easier when local wildlife do line up with the domestic ducks I actually try to train daily. Actually I think “Sneaky Pete” had something to do with this…. I never know what that guy is up to. 🤔 👀

Faintest Rainbow ever. If you zoom up on the full resolution copy we use print on archival paper from, you can see rain streaks in the air. Social Media sized files of my images are not meant to be high resolution. I keep the high resolution images with no signature on file.

Be Safe all.

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

Title: 2020 Pronghorn Gold Rush

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Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

From the DIaphram Meadowlark
From the DIaphram Meadowlark

Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

 I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. This is only “sort of” close up lolol.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while.

If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen a few birds out of hundreds ignore. This is a wild Meadowlark out on a branch sitting on a snag near a path I drive often. This guy was very tolerant of my Black Ford F150 Raptor as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird.

They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

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T-rex Hell Creek Formation

T-rex Hell Creek Formation
T-rex Hell Creek Formation

T-rex Hell Creek Formation

It’s not a claw, it’s a tooth. This chomper was a round bone crushing tooth from a good sized predator. Call, name it what you will, Nano-tyrannus, Tyrannosaur rex or some other superceeded/argued label. This is RIGHT out of the outcrop. The tool was used to remove it. A Master Mechanic wood awl. Still wet the fossil is. The white lines are chemical etching on the pretty much original enamel of rootlets. Plants reach a long ways down with their small roots. This fossil was located 6 feet below grade of the original slope.

Sized to fit into the palm of your hand, the awl is a good scale. This is a good sized tooth. I have found them larger than this. It’s always hard to stop and remember to get a photo while your dancing up and down like a little girl having pulled one of these bad boys out.

Basically if you find one of these, you might as well go home that day because there is no way your going to improve on that statistically. Only a few of these a busy year of digging come out. T-rex teeth are less rare than many other fossils I have found. It seems that everybody want’s to own rex teeth but don’t care so much about say a toe bone from the same animal. There are LOTS of T-rex teeth in a mouth but only a few toe bones. Market pressures are amazing things. Just for the record I have never sold a fossil and never will. We are not taking reservations and have a waiting list a mile long so please don’t ask. Sorry. The fossils are going to a museum eventually.

Note: Collecting vertebrate fossils is only possible on deeded private land. The land owner owns the fossils unless they say otherwise in writing. The Bureau of Land Management has extensive rules to follow on federal land. No where are vertebrate fossils of any kind allowed to be disturbed on fed, state or reservation territory.

I have a masters degree in a Paleontologically related field. (Biostratigraphy, Paleo related topic). I’ve been digging Cretaceous fossil here for 18 years now.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Horn Sieve Beds).

Title: T-rex Hell Creek Formation

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Little Bastards Jumping About

Little Bastards Jumping About
Little Bastards Jumping About

Little Bastards Jumping About

This fellow makes up in numbers what they lack in individuality. They all to a one are ravenous. I have seen more “grasshoppers” this year than any other in the last 2 decades. I’m thinking back that I’ve never seen them as thick as they are this year. Having said that, I’ve seen photos of some of the clouds of Locusts eating an 80 acre farm in 15 minutes and some of these swarms are the size of big cities. Asia, India, Saudi, Africa are all having MAJOR issues at the moment. Major famines in those regions may be expected. I’ve heard the US is expecting a major corn crop… We might feed a majority of the planet if we do. Conditions are tough out there world wide.

I still have a yard, and even some green grass. Mostly all the local ranchers are done haying this year with the dryness. It’s not worth the fuel to swath and bale up the sparse grass. I’m not versed on grasshopper biology other than the fundamentals. Isn’t it funny how all of us paid attention to how but not why during those complex high school biology lectures. My undergraduate is a double major “Geobiology”. I could tell you something about fossilization of grasshoppers but not so much their life cycle.

I could google it but then I’d deny you from the same pleasure. Plus you’d get way more info than my distilled version. Google makes us all seem like our IQ’s are 20 points higher than they are. Still knowing how to search then what to do with the information you gather is the game. ….

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

Title: Little Bastards Jumping About