This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵
I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.
The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…
They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….
I hadn’t thought about this image for a while but it needed to be updated and posted in January 2020. Out of season images are a good thing this time of year lolol. The weather was warm late spring which this year was a month late. Spring actually occurred on a Friday last year (2019). While Fall was on a Tuesday. I remember those days well but either side of those 2 days were brown season and white season. Interestingly this last year, a third season kicked in. A rare green season. Last year was so wet that it was green through August. I haven’t had to fight a fire for 2 years which is a very good thing.
This bloom is purple mustard I believe. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.
Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.
This Amazing Game Trail Camera Image was from early summer. Damp from a passing shower he was. Pronghorn Hair is stiff tending to coarse anyway but just add some slick to it and here you are.
What I loose in quality of file I make up for in the candid nature of these Game Trail Camera images. One in a thousand is any good but they can be really excellent images. This one stood right out from the crowd of thousands. I currently run a network of 29 game cameras.
He could have bigger horns but I’m not sure how this could be much more interesting a photo than it is lol. Automatic cameras are always there working for me as long as they have batteries. 99 percent of the images they take are terribly flawed in several ways. I finish very few for posting or as I call it polishing out the imperfections inherent in the Game Trail Camera Captures. I spent some time on this one to improve the grain, smooth out the messy/artifact filled .jpg these cameras produce. This wonderful image would not have been possible without photoshop. The colors are spot on with the original . All the edges between high contrast area needed work to eliminate an artifact.
Virtually every game trail camera made produces approximately a 2 pixel white line between say the sky and the grass or the ears of the antelope and the sky. I had to laboriously blend all those edges together. Including the grass heads which will make you cross eyed lolol.
So maybe this is ART or a Photo or a Hybrid. I just restored the scene to reality as there isn’t a 2 pixel wide line between high contrast areas in the real world. Fixing camera problems in photoshop should get me a free ride with purists🤔🤘📷 The Digital Dark Room is an important tool in my photography.
Perfect camera placement at 3 feet from the wildlife funnel. . An impossible shot in person with a pro camera in manual mode. . I love Game Trail Cameras anyhow❤️📷 Placement is about the only thing you have control of to any precision.
Here I’m using a windmill filter to moderate the bright light coming from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth). I lost about 30 percent of the light which is enough for my camera to pull the tower in the haze out of the dark. It would have been harder to do with the extra light had the windmill not been in the way. Those durn Photobombing Windmills always seem to work into my landscapes but this time, “Sneaky Pete” helped me some. I have no control over his actions…. 😜😜
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. All the while, at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol.
In reality, these two bucks grew up together. I’ve been watching them a brothers from two different parents of a herd I’ve followed for years. Thick as thieves they are. Always hanging out together. I’ve seen them sparring many times but never with murderous intent that I’ve seen in males that didn’t grow up as best friends.
Regarding the image. For this to occur, I had to figure out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸
To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.
Icy Wolf Moon Set (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020)
Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” primarily because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages.
A few definitions that apply to this moon….
A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol.
Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔
Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge
Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.
Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week after they are taken so this posts the 18th, taken the morning of the 10th. It’s as fast as I can get to new images posted these days as I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 6 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore but I am keeping up lolol. 📷📷🤘
Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather hundreds of these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. . I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. There is a LOT of hay in this “stack”. Several local ranchers (you know who you are) just raise grass, some just cattle and most raise both. There are not a lot of sheep herders up here in the high country that I’ve noticed. I know there are sheep operations around the area but most of the ones I know are down in the river valleys.
This was late in the year and the sun was far right of this almost perfect east/west trending Hay Stack. As the winter fades, the sun will slowly rise further and further to the left. Each day it moves a little more to the north as we orbit around the sun.
The green biodegradable netting around the hay is cut away before feeding the bale. We currently have our Herd of 34 corriente corralled and I’m feeding bales. Feeding a bale every 2-3 days, the Corriente Longhorns patiently wait for me to pull it off the bale. I always have to turn my back on them to do it so some day I may get got. 👀😵 Once I’m gone, all heck breaks loose and the pecking order slowly takes over. Everybody eventually gets their fill lol.
Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.
On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.
With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
A magical “Belt of Venus” morning up on the Montana/Wyoming border waaaaaay out in the backcountry. The sunrise is still 10 minutes away behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens. This high rolling backcountry is very remote and relatively easy to get to in the summer. It is NOT so easy to get to this time of year. This was taken late fall 2019 before the snow pack started to form this high up.
Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.
I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.
You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.
View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight
Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.
Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.
The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.
When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).
Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.
If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.
This is a wonderful place in the world. I’m standing there on this toe of a long ridge with 130 mile long views across all those other ridges and ranges of Mountains. The air is crisp, a good breeze cutting into the chinks in my weather armor. Your fingers get cold working metal cameras and lenses.
These pines were enjoying the last of their bath in the late day mid-winter sunlight. One even hugged the celestial object with affection but you have to keep a little distance from that hot old thing…
This high backcountry ridge shows you clearly the parallel ridges I work photographically every day. Working the shadow line gives you amazing opportunities for photographic compositional creativity. Little areas of Zen are everywhere. I walk long distances up in the trees as it keeps me healthy. All I have to do is avoid falling on my A**. Now that has happened more than a few times. Usually when I’m looking through a camera and moving at the same time. A piece of sage brush is usually the culprit. An occasional stray piece of barbed wire mixed in brush can also mess up your day lolol.
Ridge tops exposed to wind become scoured of snow. All the while, surrounding hill slopes become buried by wind driven powder.. At these low temperatures snow in the deep gullies under trees is still fresh. The snow on the ridge tops exposed to bright sun becomes crusty/icy. Traveling in the backcountry during mid winter is wrought with pitfalls. Low areas drift over concealing the threat to stick the rig your riding on. My old Jeep avoided snow deep enough to stick it over it’s 15 year tenure .
Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.
Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. That lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.
Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.
Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana.
I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 1200 mm long focal length to have a sun that large. on a range so far away. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing.
This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.
Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys). DSLR’s need not try this with a really long lens. That sizzle sound is your eye ball cooking …..
The lower shadow of a mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper. Amazing geology of a very large scale up here.
I needed to finish this image as I sort of need the dose of green. Image 5 of 6 for Windmill Wednesday. All Windmills All day 🙂
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘
The red gravel country road winds around our homestead. It USED to run right through our current compound but the country decided to run the road around the house thus all the curves up here. (Thank GOD) I’ve seen days without tracks in the snow on our road. Most winters, we get stranded by the drifts up here. Only oil trucks and a few local ranchers travel this road surrounded entirely by our ranch for 3 miles across 2 states.
With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground.
I consider winters here easy. I spent a decade in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course.
I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.
Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.
Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.
Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.
This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).
My 3rd of 6 images posted today for Windmill Wednesday (Thematic today, all windmills, all day.) Posted elsewhere on FB and other social media that is 😀.
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
WOW, I see a lot of lit up twilight 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. Resulting that the Big Horns do not look quite that large as they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. .
The Big Horn Mountains are sticking up on the landscape 130 miles distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Of course I immediately saw the triangle in this veiled sky taken on solstice eve. Such forms in the sky are fleeting. I levitate toward and will image natural geometry in the world as I see it. The lens turns towards the light. The veiled sky imparted an orange color cast to the alpenglow that was rife at this moment in space and time.
I managed to get up on the local roof of the world. It’s a little slippy on the slopes. I actually own a new vehicle (F-150 Raptor) with studded snow tires . I’m thinking it’s an ideal expedition/backcountry vehicle. I got up on this hill with a 4000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’ll see if the heavier Raptor will make the pilgrimage to this high point.
Slightly right center on the horizon you can see the Big Horn Mountains at 130 miles. Snow covers the ground. We definitely had a white Christmas up here in Wyotana. Actively snowing during Christmas day. This is a 50mm capture which is equivalent to the way your eyes see the world.
No telephoto effects here. When you see me post images of the Big Horns Taken from here, consider the actual size of those 13,000 foot high range. Holding your thumb out at arms length would cover the range as you see it from this viewpoint. This is reality to our eyes but telescopic lenses literally crush perspective making the very far larger but things that are closer much larger proportionally. 🤔👀
Perspective Sunrise Ridge This was a lovely morning to say the least..
Wide angle perspectives (Close / Far) are fun to find. When I finally locate the visual tunnel of the sun through the tree, I’m looking to compose something very close and still focus on the very far. Acquiring this kind of image is an exercise in high f-stop numbers. Boy are those f-stops exhausted from the exercise 📷😜
Photographic Musings: More Manual Camera Strategy…
The only way to capture this is with a camera set to widen it’s depth of focus field. To be able to resolve the wonderful lichen on that boulder AND still have the clouds and the sunrise in the same field is the ballgame. Shadows are long the first 5 minutes of a sunrise so time is of the essence. I get out and walk along the spines of high ridges. I find /walking looking on the back side of a ridge from the sunset exposing these little areas of zen just as I walk along.
Here I spied a “visual tunnel” worth of my limited time. The number of textures and different objects in this image is just an example of the intensity of some of these scenes. Winter adds yet another dimension to this capture. I work this spot when ever I’m on that part of the ranch at sunrise (in this case). I call this ridge “Sunrise Ridge”.
F-stop is one of three things you adjust in Manual mode. You know, the M on the big dial dominating the top of that Removable Lens Camera. The one that you run on automatic mode most of the time if not all the time…. Turn it to M.
You need to adjust each in accordance to your priorities. In this case I needed a deep field of focus. Remember if you need to focus BOT the lichen up close AND the horizon at infinity, you need high fstop. Priority ONE.
Priority two is Speed of your shutter. Notihng in the frame. was moving very fast here. . Minimum handheld shutter speed with a wide angle lens is maybe 1/80th of a second. faster takes away light from your camera.
The last adjustment is ISO (Camera sensitivity). Left over to adjust for your first and second priority. Use it to add or subtract light/ overall exposure live in your view screen (on a mirrorless camera), or afterwards with a DSLR. Spin ISO around to finalize the exposure/balance the light equation. Each setting has it’s own spinny wheel on the camera. Learn what does what on your controls.
Taken off the road on the way to Gillette Wyoming. I’m Traveling the “back way”. All gravel, no AAA, no cell phone service, but the radio works lol. I pass one or two trucks on this road (30 miles long) each time I take it. Unless the weather is screwy or it’s really early, this road I’m on is a relatively busy place.
I stand on ground at the same elevation as the Intervening ridge. . Right at 4000 feet above mean sea level. Now those peaks off in the distance, that’s the BigHorn Mountains. The tall peaks in that little eroded wrinkle in the earth’s crust are just now 13000 feet high. The billions of year old granite core of the continent exposed in the center of the range. All of the sediments that used to be up much higher than the core. All those eroded and filled up the big bathtub between my camera and those peaks. The Powder River Basin between has 6000 plus feet of JUST Tullock formation. The Tullock, an alluvial fan deposit, stretches from the Mtn’s to the camera.
The Coal Swamps that allowed the Powder River Basin (bath tub at the foot of the Big Horn Mtn uplift). Think of it like a sine wave with mountains on the high side of the wave and the Powder River Basin is the trough. The top of the wave erodes and fills up the trough. Those sediments from the peaks flowed toward me and reached the hill I’m standing on. It’s all Tertiary Tullock Formation. All that big bathtub filled up with sediment laid down AFTER the dinosaurs died. It was a low area adjacent to highlands thus the swamps and all the coal the Powder River Basin produces.
Location: 13 miles south of Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
I watch this melodrama many times a week. This was a mere opening act in a performance governed by the laws of physics and whims of mother nature that morning.
The Conductor Raises His Wand……. Tap Tap Tap
Photography is indeed a form of art. To learn to draw the eye and mind into an image without the ability of a painter to “make stuff up” takes a while. Composition is all about bringing a story to the observer (you) while engaging / pulling you to look deeper into the image. To bring out memories in you mind, by placing the image into proper perspective. This is my simple goal in each composition. Doing what I do is easy as I’m just following the light trying to encompass it’s meaning.
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, northern Campbell County Wyoming about 70 miles from the nearest 3 color traffic light. There are a few red flashers at 50 miles away. No AAA… I live on the same ridge but 4 miles further north of this spot. I can’t see this much of northern Crook County anywhere else I know of or have been to. This ridge blocks my view to the south east direction. I love the sunrises from on top of this ridge. An equally as big a view exists on the west side of this ridge. It’s looking across to the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles away. I can see about 80 miles in this direction to the horizon. It is a 210 mile horizon to horizon sky from up there. Public Road 📸
Perspective starts with “seeing” things from all angles. While climbing under this 100 year old Windmill requires agility lol. No choice but scrambling over panels meant to protect the structure from Cattle pressure. The sky was Robin’s Egg Blue pretty much horizon to horizon. I’m a victim of only being able to photograph what is in front of me….. Maybe in this case… what was over me lol.
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.
I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.
From the point of view of this 100 year old windmill. (Re Pete), the sky is not constant. This old fellow is on our ranch about 3 miles into the backcountry via two track roads. I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol).
Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.
I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.
The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂
The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.
This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.
Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.
Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation (Tough Long Read)
There might be a few words to google here. My apologies ⚒⚒⚒. Geology has it’s nomenclatural requirements. To put all this in the big picture is the tough part.
Our Ranch by coincidence 🤔 is located upon a 700 feet thickness of Sandstone. It has exposures of the famous Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Cretaceous Period) The Uppermost Cretaceous was a period of life on a coastal plain similar topographically to the piedmont of North Carolina. Locally the climate was pretty lush, warm and wet. Meandering Huge Rivers choked with Sand / silt worn off the rapidly eroding mountains to the (current) west. The land lay of different orientation that currently.
North America appears to have been rotated 90 degrees west of how it’s positioned currently. Located around the equator with plate tectonics moving/rotating the continent to it’s current position over the intervening 66 million years. T-rex, Triceratops, Duckbills, ankylosaurs, all those dinosaurs kids know the names of lived here. Here one died…
This is higher up rock section toward the top of the Hell Creek formation not long before the massive “Bolide” (google this) struck the earth. Chicxulub Mexico sits on that big impact area. punctuated the extinction process already underway at the end of the Cretaceous. Big 80 percent of all species Extinction events. Extinction ultimately is initiated by a populations inability to reproduce .
There was a pizza oven effect from the radiant heat from all that Bolide ejecta re-entering the atmosphere. That effect didn’t help anything that wasn’t underground or in the water (mammals) as 20 percent of species survived this age. There is a discussion that dinosaur and other groups were waining in density/diversity near the actual time of the Bolide ended the age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs as a group died off but avian dinosaurs did not. (Birds are dinosaurs more or less just short tail and teeth). Eventually the environmental effects killed off the food web in the ocean too. Bad time on the planet for most.
This sediment is called Bentonite. Wyoming sells LOTS of Bentonite. Cooking it turns it white. Lots of industrial uses. Dave Love (a famous Wyoming Geologist) famously wrote/said: “Wyoming is a wonderful State, we can sell our dirt”. 🤘👀⚒ Bentonite is a clay rich volcanic ash as this is a lake deposit. This rib belonged to an animal that floated into a body of water. Spreading of this carcass did occur and one rib bone excavated was vertical as someone stepped on it and pushed it into the mud on edge. I found a raptor tooth mixed in the mud with this 20 percent Triceratops carcass. (It was Dromeosaur richardoestesia )
Above the Triceratops rib is it’s upside down fragment of pelvis. Another rib hides in the upper right corner of the frame. This was one of the smaller ribs collected on a smaller Tric. The little bottles are full of thin superglue which we consume by the pint. We have the tip off the end of it …. A rib like this will come out in 30 pieces and reassembled back at the ranch headquarters.
This overlook is WAY out there but still on my ranch. It’s about 3 miles to this spot over two track road from my homestead. A 1930’s homestead long abandoned with the father dying of an appendix attack. There are old truck pieces and parts, metal stoves all messed up and a variety of timbers with nails in them. Driving an ATV over that ground is wrought with tire terrors. I prefer to walk.
But this ridge is above the old homesite. This tree was alive when the young family lived here. This remote isolated world provided little but beef. They coped best they could with being literally off grid. I’ve done a recreation image of the old homestead. Ownership of the original photo the recreation is not mine.. I won’t/don’t have permission post it.
Some people have been confused by the sun “Star” here. These are unavoidable lens effects due to this bright light requiring me to turn UP the f-stop numbers. I like them but they are indeed an artifact. They are caused by diffraction off the edges of the “iris”. The small aperture in the lens is the culprit. A very small iris (high f-stop number) will give you edge reflections/diffractions of the surface causing the star. If I used a neutral density glass filter in front of my lens, I could probably eliminate it by being able to open up that iris. Lower f-stop numbers will smooth out that star but take in a lot of light. The filter in front is a dark filter to reduce light. Pointing a camera into a bright sun is a tough one. ggy
I just realized I hadn’t posted a windmill for some time. All you junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal. So I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill has jumped over the setting sun with intent to keep it under his control. Little does he know that the wise old sun will just sneak out the back door lolol. Just a snippit of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers for their loyal followers. Don’t let your mother know you look at things like this… Just saying 😜😀
When the air is full of light snow and other ice AND you can see the sun, hang on. You never know what kind of atmospheric effects your going to get. I go up the hill sometime just hoping the sun will come below the snowing cloud deck. With this much moisture in the air, only the red light makes it through all the ice. This was a while ago when we had fresh snow. Currently there is ice everywhere on the ground from a few warm days. Thick crusts with slick surfaces. The footing is treacherous.
We just missed a big storm this week which went to our south and east. I’d like to see some more snow but I suppose I should be careful what I ask for up here. We need some more snow however. Moisture in any form up here is usually a good thing. The timing however in the spring isn’t always good during calving season though 😔
I’m betting this is the VERY FIRST Post this Decade on Facebook and several other social media sites. It is also the last post of the decade of the teens in the Mountain Time Zone any way.
Literally posted at 12 midnight December 31, 2019 / January 1, 2020 precisely but only on my personal FB page. It took a while to get it on other forums/sites lol. That’s mountain standard time however lolol. Machine accuracy.
I’ve met LOTS of real fence posts in my 20 years on a backcountry Wyotana ranch. Never had a seriously negative encounter with one other than the labor/toil necessary to implant one into the ground. This is a big corner post. I suspect that hole to be hand dug.
I don’t consider this hazardous duty though it was chilly at the time ❄️. This is a good long morning drive from my place just to do photography on “Wyoming Backroads”. Heading that direction is a rare event. I always look for old rusty signs on posts anyway. You have to see this stuff going down the road. Having a good camera with you is also helpful lolol. . Love old no hunting signs.
SO, Musings of the history here….
According to the plaque: This wooden post was planted in 1942 . The plaque says “Set BY EARL REYNOLDS APRIL 5 1942 a mere 77 and change years ago. 😜📷
There are 9 bullet holes where some vandal shot the antiquity. That obviously happened long ago as well. This is located in a remote part of northeastern Wyoming maybe 35 miles from my ranch.
Earl was working out here on a ranch during the WWII doing cattle production obviously. That war was a team effort. Need beef and the cowboys of the west were doing their best. There were a bunch of Wyoming men that died in that conflict.
So many choices, so few hours left in the decade. What should I post for the last day of the year? Choices Choices……
A PERSPECTIVE!!!!. Why not.
I really enjoy setting up and shooting Close Far perspectives. The trick is of course is to be where the action is. I actively hunt “snags” (fallen trees) that might be interesting with the right lighting ahead of time. Adding a close / far focus provides this Golden Hour winter images a quick draw for your eyes to the center. This particular golden hour was a sunset. I have a LOT of these perspectives still to finish. Dozens anyway… My “To Do” folder is HUGE and essentially infinite as I often put more photos in it than I finish on any particular day. Constantly paddling up stream. I love a good workload lol.
This shows the deeper backcountry snow getting a crust on it with a few above freezing days. The crust actually makes it harder to get around because your wheels are always trying to climb on top of that crust. Your basically in 4 holes all the time coincident with your wheels. Plus the snow becomes like ball bearings…. It’s about time for a big snow though. January is a busy snow month historically. The biggest of course are in the spring when all the biggest snows are. Usually LATE spring around late April or early May have have memorable storms historically.
Oh Crap a Camera Lens If you had a “Crappy Old Year, this image is important. It’s going to get better after 😉
I’ve raised many parrots (I owned a pet shop in the 80’s). Working very closely with dozens of big birds before. I’ve been pooped on by the best. Big Birds Shoulder birds can really mess up a shirt … This meadowlark is not much different than those big birds but for it’s size. With this I’ve pretty much have all different obvious Meadowlark activities. Eating, sleeping, pooping and singing lolol. Most birds will do this move if they must right before they fly…
I’ve learned that all birds lift their tail and squat just a bit right before…. Note: If you have a parrot or other arm tamed bird on your arm, if the tail lifts, push it down with the other hand. They don’t/can’t “go” with the tail down. . So my timing only looks lucky. While this might be a bad example lol … anticipating a shot can save a lot of machine gunning with the camera. Storing photos is expensive if you do say 50 thousand 100 meg images some months.
Computer Tech Musings: So how do I keep track of and store that many 100 plus meg files? (How does a serious photographer deal with safe backups).
Finished photos are one thing (not as many of them). There are only a few thousand of those at 220 meg each lolol.. It’s The raw files streaming out of the 7 or 8 cameras I routinely use are huge files. There are also many. I like to keep the timeline so I have all the raw files for the last several years on demand. Older than a few years I have to connect external drives to the system.
I currently manage 50 TB of storage devices. Most storage drives I keep off line. All turned off to prevent any intrusion or loss. . I keep a monthly backup off site in a pile of 8 (currently) 4 TB SSD hard drives I keep adding finished work to. As they fill up, I add a new one to the pile and always have a pristine backup of the raw files and the they are kept in a fire safe.
Every image I finish is saved in three separate external hard drives as a last step. I’ve maintained professional graphic stations for 30 years. I’ve still got most of my graphics files available to me. Even those created decades ago available to me fairly quickly. Most of my old images, belonged to clients back in the day. Lots of them around. Can’t use them. But I’ve got a few of my own to work with
Late summer of 2019 it was time to run “the herd” through a crowding pen and sort calves from mothers. Some vaccinations ensued. Lots of “hunting / gathering required to collect the cattle. Collecting a herd of calves and cows from the square mile pasture takes maneuverability. These are real cowboys horses and good workers all.
The weather that after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. The little cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Just as the last cow was released, everyone retreated to our large barn for tailgate food while it was hailing outside. A good time was had by all except a few calves that got branded that day. This is a ranch after all. During the year the ranch has over 200 cow calf pairs grazing the various pastures. The big pastures are around a square mile here. Other ranches that are bigger have bigger pastures lol.
Rotating pasture ground is important to manage the grass. We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. Just the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation. This year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck all summer.