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Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate
Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate

The well known ranch rule is.: If the gate is open, leave it open. If the gate is closed, close it after you pass through.

I will leave gates open to allow easy passing of game through the fences. They don’t have to crawl under the wire or jump over it. This particular area is a busy summer area for game, not so much in the as winter water is more than a mile away. It has to be moving water of course to not be frozen in this environment. Dryland areas like this evacuate of all ungulates during the colder months of the year.

I usually put game trail cameras on open gates but I had just removed several from this spot due to the oncoming winter. Not only will it be difficult to tend to those cameras, they would capture almost nothing that time of year. I tend to keep them around those water sources that are kept open. We trickle a jet of high pressure water into 4, sometimes 5 stock tanks all winter. It keeps them open nicely and should provide some nice ice sculpture images this year. Wildlife hangs near the water for good reason. Trapped near an island water source surrounded by dry land with LOTS of food. It’s not a bad way to spend your winter if your an ungulate. The one thing we usually have enough of is deer fodder/food.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Open Gate

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Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets
Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.

Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.

Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

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Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset
Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

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

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

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Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks
Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Some would call this a cloud bank, however if you look closely, it extends all the way to the ground. It was slowly heading our direction reaching us within an hour of this capture. The morning was beautiful, calm, clear overhead with a clear sky sunrise to my right. The approach of this cloud bank obscured the sun for the rest of the day.

This location has a wonderful view toward the northwest over the Montana border (I’m standing in Wyoming). There is a natural frame here (or 10) on this ridge. It is only a few miles from my homestead and a relatively “easy” drive to get up the hill. This time of year snow drifts about. I suffer long periods where I am denied access to locations up on this ridge. The view without that cloud bank is about 60 miles, with about 6. I have more images with this cloud bank literally rolling in at ground level.

I definitely consider myself a landscape photographer. As an artist, I actually photograph very few people (as I don’t see a lot of people here). I think in 20 years of running around the backcountry here I’ve run into 3 different people I didn’t expect to see randomly. All had a good reason to be there. (Pipeline inspectors and local ranchers looking for lost bulls). The pipeline people call me now first as they should. The ranchers have free access.

Not that I will turn down offers by local wildlife to pose for me. Then there are the always the famous photobombing Windmills known as the “Pete” brothers. I have no control over their actions. Fortunately, windmills get tangled up moving through timber. These high forested ridges are Windmill Free Zones. 😜📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Landscape Morning Fog Banks.

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Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill
Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill is doing what he does best, get into my landscapes. I have no control over his actions…..😎 (years old narrative).🤣

The window to the Big Horn Mountains from my ranch has 130 miles of atmosphere between my high ridge location and those 13,000 foot high peaks… I see them maybe once a week. It was windy but this is still a 1/15th second time exposure in order to blur the windmill sail.

This was a missed post so I manually posted this this AM. I’m not sure how I screwed it up but here I am working live and not a week out lolol.

Have a great Friday and be safe in all you do.

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

Title: Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

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Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe
Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Walking up very carefully to a stock water tank late spring is the doe Whitetail. She is about as pregnant as she can be, weeks from giving birth. Two buns in the oven I suspect. I see a female deer with the same cowlick on her shoulder later in the year on the same camera with a pair of twins.

Brown/white mottled winter days like today at 42 degrees as a high ,sure make late spring days with green leaves look amazing. This “Garden of Eden “capture isn’t far from a wonderful wetland . The warm days of summer are missed up here with our Oct 1 start of winter.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

Square Aspect Ratio to 18 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

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Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate
Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate

This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile.

In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set far to the left side of the frame is still lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Jeeps drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.

I use “RC-2” mounts on everything. You have to buy tripod heads All my tripods and all my cameras all mate up properly (or that is the plan). I JUST got two of my Sony Alpha 7RII cameras back from repair (takes a month usually). At any one time I usually have one camera out being repaired. I’m pretty hard on the cameras, spinning dials all the time in a hostile dusty environment. Cameras will last longer if you use them on automatic and don’t spin dials (moving parts) that wear out and stop working after 50 or so thousand adjustments. However running a camera on automatic is like owning a supercar and having the computer drive you down a traffic free winding mountain road.

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

Title: Out the Back Gate

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Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning
Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).

Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.

This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Brace for the Morning

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Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape
Perspective: Golden Backcounty Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.

I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

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Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show
Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

Awaiting a new ride. According to the Ford Website, the 2020 Ford Truck is “In Production” at the moment being assembled. The last truck I purchased new was in 1999.

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

Title “Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show”.

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Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset
Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset

Picking a spot for perspective images is often a matter of thinking like a mouse. Using the camera to see reality from that mouses Perspective is what I’m always trying to do with a good sky. Close/Far captures are always a challenge. You have to have the right lighting though. Shadowss are every bit as important as the light. Keeping balance is of importance.

The Backcountry is full of old married trees. Trees that have lived together and will only divorce with their demise. The pines here have wondrully tecture bark. Add that to the perspective, the wonderful sky. that sunset dominates the background.

This was mid fall. The grass this year stayed green through August. This is the first time in two decades of living here that the seasons were so far off. We had more rain than normal and it was regular. It’s not unusual to go a month between showers in the summer. Fires everywhere this year but here. We got very lucky. Lilac were blooming on the 4th of July. As far as I can tell, everything is a month late. Well except for winter which started October 1’st this year. Fall was on a Tuesday I remember..

I spent the morning (before I typed this) clearing over a foot of snow off some two track roads. I’m blocked off now from most of my paths up on the ridges. I need to get up high Big Sky shots and back to trees like this. ” Winter is coming”. (Classical Refrence” This is the first time I’ve plowed up on ridge one. I suspect it will not be the last. More images like this incoming as I rework my portfolio📷👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twin Pillars at Sunset

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Moo Moo Sunset

Moo Moo Sunset
Moo Moo Moon

Moo Moo Sunset

As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.

Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??

This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moo Moo Sunset

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Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail
Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂

An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.

Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Duck Sun and Sail

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Perspective C Shaped Tree

Perspective C Shaped Tree
Perspective C Shaped Tree

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective C Shaped Tree

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Windmill Crescent Moon Filter

Windmill Crescent Moon Filter
Windmill Crescent Moon Filter

Windmill Crescent Moon Filter

Way outside a normal photographic challenge. I come up with these ideas, show up to the time and place. Then I have to figure out how to capture such a low light event. 🤔📷

This was a 1/15th second time exposure as it was very dark out for this. The wind was BARELY moving the windmill’s sail. The camera is about 400 yards from the windmill’s blurred fan (in the camera). The moon was 200+ thousand miles out and only about 3 percent illuminated. The morning sky was full of a dark brown ice glow starting into alpenglow.

A big 600 mm fast lenses will do wonderful captures if you can keep them still enough. Any wind on a big camera lens in this amount of light is a tough photographic environment. A shot timer in the camera is a good thing (or a remote shutter switch). It takes a second or two for a really big lens to settle down motion induced by the click. The Montana/Wyoming borderlands I frequent are mostly high ridges. The wind is actually higher up here than down at more reasonable altitudes. Truly this is a tough photographic environment to catch such a low light moment in space and time.

To catch a blurred windmill sail as well as a dim crescent in the same photo….. Taking photos in very low light at distance is an interesting game. If you get a chance to try this with your gear, start at a 1/15th second time exposure. Go longer if you need if your tripod mounting the camera.

Artistically I was compositing two nested arcs in the same image. I believe this was about 1 hour before sunrise. Taken during either late astronomic twilight or earliest nautical twilight. There was just a slight glow in the sky, just enough to eek this image out.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Crescent Moon Filter

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Cowboy Peace Offering

Cowboy Peace Offering
Cowboy Peace Offering

A Cowboy Peace Offering is for the long run

Just before the horizon rose to cover the sun

Only then is the cowboys work almost done.

Putting his horse away is just one

Of Several chores left undone

When or when do they have time for fun?

Frank Bliss (2019)

I don’t do much poetry but that may change as I get images like this that push me that way. I’ve been watching cowboys up here for two decades. I am definitely NOT a cowboy. I do however respect the heck out of the profession. If you think you know what hard work is, try putting up a mile of barbed wire fence mid summer. How about hay bales…ever picked those up? . Have you ever had to get an injured calf away from it’s angry mother to treat it? Does anyone out there think working outside all day, driving stock, fixing water sources and dealing with horses is easy? I’ve done a little of all those things. Has anybody here chased a 2K pound bull with a 500 pound ATV by bumping his rump with it? I will personally confirm to you that crash bars are a good thing for a 4 wheeler on a ranch.

I know many people that have been cowboys all their lives. This is cattle country up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Part of the American Redoubt we are. The cowboy lifestyle as far as I can tell is as good an existence as any I’ve experienced in my 9 professional careers I’ve had during my life.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cowboy Peace Offering

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Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day
Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!

Shed Horn Sheath.

That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.

I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.

I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bad Horn Day

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Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

Bliss Ranch Rock Garden
Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

The very small piece of one Bliss Ranch Rock Garden shown here, thins found by a life long hunter of “treasures”. . Things collected off the ranch for my yard living on the Montana/Wyoming border. Two decades I’ve been riding around on this ranch very systematically searching the land for Dinosaur Fossils. I am an opportunist that will pick up about anything not a piece of wood and I have a few of those lolol. I generally built pretty big rock gardens full of ranch finds as needed. Lots of outdoor dinosaur fossils about even. Petrified wood, minerals from Wyoming are all around the place.

Found deep in the backcountry this hammer was.. It appears blacksmith made from a piece of good rock pick steel. This was very well mated to a standard piece of galvanized pipe. Probably 1950’s or so. . Cattle skulls are ubiquitous in deep ranch country as we live in. As we discover them, deer skulls/antlers are located then put in a rock garden.

. It’s a common western ranch tradition to collect deer bone or skulls.

I tend to get thematic with rock gardens. Some of them are quite big, full of river cobbles imported by semi truck from the Big Horn Mountains. A quarry near Buffalo Wyoming is the source of the cobbles in the garden. I’ve found quite a bit of Epidote in this. A beautiful green semi-precious minteral. Wonderful for making cabochons from. I love finding nice material by the semi load. I collect petrified wood in Gillette in various parking lots all the time. City Cobble Collecting is ALMOST as good as the treasures found on this ranch lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bliss Ranch Rock Garden

 

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect
MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.

High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. THe ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formatoin and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

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Spring Time for a Wagon’s Autumn

Spring Time for a Wagon's Autumn
Spring Time for a Wagon's Autumn

Spring Time for a Wagon’s Autumn

The closest “General Store” to this old buck board wagon was 15 miles. I wonder how many times this wagon was used to drive back and forth across the backcountry all the way to Biddle Montana or to Rocky POint Wyoming. They were about equidistant from our ranch headquarters.

A drive to supplies from here in a modern Car at 60 mph car is about 20 minutes. to drive the 15 miles to Biddle Montana. There has been a “General Store” there since the first settlers moved in. There were dozens and dozens of smaller ranches settled in the early 1900’s. When little chunks of land were available for settling.

Wagons like this were the main way that good made their way from civilization to the backcountry. A couple of good carriage horses should be able to convey a carriage 20-30 miles in an 8 hour day.. Carriage horses trotted but horse pulling loaded couldn’t travel as far. Trotting wasn’t an option with a heavy load of flour, beans and oils. Don’t forget cattle supplies and machine parts for fixing broken farm equipment. This wagon made many day long round trips from dawn to dusk. Probably 12-15 hours. Rough on the team plus rough under the Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) weather.

Weather up here is dangerously changeable. I’ve seen it drop 40 degrees in 24 hours. Dust storms, wind storms and worse lightning storms. (a place called “Lightning Flats” is 20 miles east of here lolol) You and your cargo is at the mercy of the elements. I’m trying to image getting a winters supplies of food (months anyway) in this wagon.

Heck, the supplies themselves where hauled to the general store from the rail head by horse and wagon. Early trucks certainly started up hauling that 50 miles as the technology because affordable and available. The roads then were not concrete stretching across the country. Those roads were rutted 2 track roads. Most of which were originally game trails following the easiest path.

This place is a living museum. I’m always finding old technology discarded here. Old plows, discs and a long list of old grass machines found in the “bone yards”

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Spring Time for a Wagon’s Autumn

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This Post Was Posted

This Post Was Posted
This Post Was Posted

“This Post Was Posted” is a 2:1 Aspect up to 40 x20 inches.

This fence is on the Montana border. Montana is (left) of the fence. . Wyoming is (right) of the fence. It’s 10,000 kilometers from the North Pole to the Equator. This fenceline is pretty durn close to exactly 1/2 way between the two important geographic features on the globe. This coincides with the 45 degrees north latitude. (the north pole is 90 degrees and the equator is 0 degrees. This is looking east and is just after sunset in early civil twilight.

Some of these posts are really really really old. Wood takes a long time to rot up here. We don’t get a lot of moisture at 14 inches average a year so it stays mostly dry and stable. This is a massive old cedar post used to anchor a good section of fairly tight fence. Our ranch is located on both sides of the border of course. We pay taxes in both states. It’s pretty close to 50/50 in each state. 2 courses of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship are in Montana and 2 courses are in Wyoming as well.

Geologic Musings:

RIght here at the border, under this fence, the Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing Rock Formations magically change name from Hell Creek Formation (in South Dakota and Montana) versus Lance formation (Wyoming). Based on all sorts of reasons known only to the people doing stratigraphy, they arbitrarily named the same rock formations caused by the same environment at the same time, two different names. Hell Creek left, Lance right. Sort of silly I think but hey, I only have a Masters in Geology. I don’t have it Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I don’t worry too much about what I can’t change 🤔 Filed under trivia…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: This Post Was Posted

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Perspective: Eye of the Tree

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

Perspective: Eye of the Tree

Musings:

I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective.

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Eye of the Tree

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Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies
Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer Tick Cleaning Magpies 2-1 Aspect Ratio

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Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands
Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands (The only shaft of light I saw ALL hat Day. )

I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming. Driving toward my ranch, I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. This road skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states.

There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. Right side of the fence is reserve, left side is private ground. There might be a few water and oil wells out there but they actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

I get the best Hoar Frost images from those geothermal ponds in the deep winter. It is a good 1/2 gravel road drive to the closest of those ponds though so I’ll only work them photographically a few times a year. If it’s -10 or lower, I’m heading that way for sunrises. Mostly those ponds are on the north side of this grassland complex. Gotta love vandalism of shooting signs. Shooting signs which cost hundreds to make, is senseless and a waste of good ammo. It’s also vandalism. 😞

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Thunder Basin National Grasslands

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Sunset Across the Border

Sunset Across the Border
Sunset Across the Border

Sunset Across the Border starts in Wyoming where I stand. The Prairie Dog Hills on the Horizon in the Montana side of this sky show.

The Horizon Rising to cover the suns face occurs with finality in the backcountry. This spot is several miles out into the grasslands. When the sun goes down, it gets very dark very quickly. Particularly so on moonless or cloudy nights. Dark as Pitch. In fact as Dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA’s website that discusses such things.

Twilight landscapes are one of my favorite things to pursue. Landscape details out of the dark are worth learning how to extract from your data file on an image. The information is usually in there but just hidden in the black in your cameras raw file. I pay very close attention to the highlights exposing them correctly to the actual scene then retrieve the details in the dark later.

I always travel with a tritium illuminated compass. There is a very real phenomena called “Death by GPS”. I only use them for land owner Identification. I would never travel back here with one. There was a semi-truck driver that had to walk out of the backcountry up here because he followed his GPS. He high centered his truck trying to turn around. 95 degree day, he had a bad time but managed to find a ranch with a hose and got cooled down after a 6 mile walk with very little water. Compasses used properly don’t usually lie.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Across the Border

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Mud Hills Across the Border

Mud Hills Across the Border
Mud Hills Across the Border

Mud Hills Across the Border into Montana was captured early summer 2019. Traveling to these remote overlooks is 1/2 the gift of photography.
I don’t travel without cameras. Particularly when out on a photographic excursion where I’m actively “Hunting for the Wild Photon”. The Hillside where I’ standing on is precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though.
Scattered musings:
I haven’t looked it up but I’d be curious if that measurement has changed much over the centuries. Our ability to be more precise in our measurements surely change earlier estimations before satellite GPS. Of course there is some side discussions here related to geology that I’ll save for another post later lol.
Geology Factoids: The Mud Hills in the Distance are younger than the rocks I’m standing on. They are Tertiary Fort Union Formation sediments. hich are mostly alluvial sediments sourced from the Big Horns after those mountains rose. This the Mud Hills (I wonder how they got their name) may have some fossils like alligators, fish, birds, rays, fresh water clams and other invertebrates. They would not be abundant and have random occurrences up the section. The rocks I’m standing on are Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations. The random fossil beds here have DInosaur remains in them where the rocks above a certain point, don’t. Humm 🤔
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Title: Mud Hills Across the Border

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Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows
Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. It was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold sunrise. At -2F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50. I dress in layers.

Working in really cold conditions with cameras:

I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now.

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there in my jeep. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.

I even had my Jeep to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.

Working out of a car window in the cold:

You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

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Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow
Golden Hour Sunset

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

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Wooden Windmill Orange Hour

Wooden Windmill Orange Hour
Wooden Windmill Orange Hour

Wooden Windmill Orange Hour was a natural very colorcast morning with the orange light permeating and reflecting off the snow and ice.

I traveled 30 miles to get to this windmill before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this scene from start to near finish as this was. I left a few minutes after this shot.

Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in Crook County off Jenkins Road. I wouldn’t suggest traveling Jenkins road if there is any drifting doing on since the county may not plow it for a few weeks. This is a big backcountry up here and no one lives on this particular stretch of road. Very little commerce but ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming.

There was a slight sunpillar/shaft of light coming down from the sun. More of a spot light really but there was a LOT of ice in the air that morning. It had snowed the whole drive there and I was leaving the first tracks on the road both ways. I often go on road trips for hours up on Wyoming/Montana backroads and not see another vehicle. Breaking down is not an option up here without LOTS of survival supplies this time of year. Blankets, sleeping bags, food and basics are all on board. I do have a very good radio that communicates via repeater from 30 miles away if necessary. Not to worry.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wooden Windmill Orange Hour