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BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover

BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover
BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover

From My viewpoint at 130 miles out. This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that night was climbing up the back of the peaks. It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this image collection. I had a visual window to the peaks that lasted at most a few minutes. The sun was still over head and this was very bright and hard to see. The lighting was high overhead and slightly oblique to the images. It’s a tough photographic environment lol.

Getting to see weather move over these 13,000 feet high ridges is a rare treat from this far away.

These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.

My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover

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Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder
Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder was one of those looks of interest but of little concern. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there is a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place.. It’s slim pickings when my ducks get done with feeding time but there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings.

It was -2 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear so he is slightly fluffed up for this capture.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. They seem to weather the storm quite well. They range up to Alaska and they mostly get as cold as we do there. As far as I can tell, they care not about snow. But they are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one flying. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharpie Over the Shoulder

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Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect
Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

Capturing Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect is not an easy settings combination to figure out on your camera. It is counter-intuitive to say the least and a cell phone isn’t going to catch this image. The layers of ridges , the sails blur, the rising horizon (setting sun)🤔

Montana skies on the right. Wyoming Skies on the left. Living on the Montana/Wyoming border has it’s little spiffs lolol.

There are 3 things you have to set to run a camera on manual:

1: Your first priority here is to catch a blurred windmill. The only way to do that is to set your shutter speed to a very long 1/15th of a second to facilitate the blur. That makes a longer time for the windmill sail to blur the whole disk. Your kind of stuck with this first setting priority.

2: So then you have a VERY bright sun on the left of the frame. …. …. Your f-stop will reduce light so automatically you turn it all the way to the highest number the lens will go (this was f64). I was about 300 yards out from the windmill. 800mm telephoto.

3: You will still have to turn the last thing you have to set to run the camera on Manual. ISO or Camera sensitivity . I would think not many cameras can do this because they don’t have enough built in dynamic range . I use ISO 80 for this and the camera will go down to 50. Yours will probably go down to ISO 100.

This was done WITHOUT a glass neutral density filter in front of the camera but that might help some of you that cant turn your ISO any lower.

Disclaimer:

Now you know everything I know about trying to take one of these except, don’t do this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye will blind you. I look at a video screen to do this using mirrorless cameras. Also, make sure your using a camera that can take this (is rated for it). a direct sun through a long lens can and will melt some sensors in cameras out there. Don’t melt your camera please.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect

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Pronghorn Families Morning Drink

Pronghorn Families Morning Drink
Pronghorn Family's Morning Drink

Pronghorn Families Morning Drink was a routine for this family unit this summer. I’d see them right around the same time every morning on the game trail cameras surrounding that stock tank. Game trail cameras can take very good photos If the conditions are right with proper placement. Placement is about the only thing you can really control. I will never move this camera as it has taken dozens of WONDERFUL images of the grassland wildlings drinking. I’m waiting for an eagle to alight here. It will happen sooner or later.

This was from about a month ago now. There are no Pronghornon my ranch at the moment to my knowledge. They have all moved south to the Thunderbasin National Grasslands 30 miles down the road. Pronghorn gather there from all around making up herds of hundreds that wander the huge expanse of pretty much open grasslands. Just a few oil wells and stock tanks dot the landscape. There is no vehicular traffic off the main roads allowed there. It is one of America’s Serengeti plains. You drive through there and encounter Pronghorn roadblocks of many hundreds of these animals crossing the county gravel road.

Pretty much the only large creatures to winter over up here on the remote borderland ridges, are cattle and mule deer. The WhiteTail move down to more reliable water even though we supply it. They tend to be in the valleys for the season not up here.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Families Morning Drink

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Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel
Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.

Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.

But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.

Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.

(Frank Bliss 2019).

Snowy landscapes and clear sky sunset are MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle long focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have things in the foreground out of focus.

So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a little light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.

This is an antique Plow abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. It was a horse team pulled plow. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. It was used to turn over centuries old sod to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands..

Title: Sunset of an Old Wheel.

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Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest
Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Satire: The Annual Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Synchronized Fence Jumping competition is well under way. Each fall we have the tri-outs for the follow up event in the spring. The spring event is much larger usually and involves more animal diversity than the late fall meet.

I give the deer in the foreground a 9.5 for form. The deer in the background has a bent front leg joint, 8.5.

This is an all Ungulate (google this) event so I expect some Whitetail to try out but their team failed to show up YET AGAIN !!!. Some creatures just can’t keep to a schedule. This is the second time this year they Whitetails have bailed from a major try out. Now the Pronghorns don’t even like jumping over fences. I read where they can jump 14 feet high but my memory fails sometimes, that might be wrong.

I have close to 100 good images of deer jumping over fences. This MIGHT be the only double deer in the air I have in the portfolio. I don’t recall clicking on another with 2 in the air at the same time. I’m considering putting in a synchronized swim tryout down by the lake. We’ll see if those whitetail show up for that 🤣

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores so they are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderline.

Title: Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

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Perspective “Brace Yourself”

Perspective "Brace Yourself"
Perspective "Brace Yourself"

Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..

This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫

So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.

I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.

I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective “Brace Yourself”

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Windmill Wednesday with “Sneaky Pete”

Windmill Wednesday with "Sneaky Pete"
Windmill Wednesday with "Sneaky Pete"

Windmill Wednesday with “Sneaky Pete” is a capture from last week that just made it through my workflow. Twilight Sky Shows after sunset are often better than the sunsets themselves.

This sky was impressively big at the 30 foot tall Windmill named “Sneaky Pete” (long term narrative if your new to “Sneaky Pete”. ). He has a habit of photobombing my land/skyscapes. I have no control over his actions as he has a mind of his own. Fortunately his size gives some perspective to this huge twilight sky that night. Some good comes out of his mischief. 😝

“Sneaky Pete” is the younger of two Windmills we have here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. The older windmill is “Re Pete”. He hangs out about 3 miles out in the backcountry. More images from him as I rework my porfoiio to current standards.

Windmills in the past were the only source of water up here. We used that older windmill as recently as 2007. We’d have to change the leathers and grease stuff up. One has to climb up a 35 foot tower to do that…. We have a water pipeline now to that spot…. Working windmills are becoming rare even in this remote backcountry were easy to fix solar wells are taking over the jobs. A mile of electric wire costs MANY thousands of dollars. (maybe 60 or 70). A solar penel and pump are just a few thousand (2 or 3). Windmills need a lot of attention. Solar panels take next to nothings to keep running. Technology wins every time. 😁

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Windmill Wednesday with “Sneaky Pete”

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Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes is literally a photobomb in real life.

I was of course amazed at the lighting coming from that mornings veiled Sky. Shooting the veiled sun strong enough for silhouettes to form fools the observer to thinking this wasn’t a very bright sky. I’m shutting down the camera to light (high fstop, low ISO, and fast shutter). By Looking at the furnace in the sky, we need a fast shutter. Convenient if a couple of really fast hawks come flying by. 🤔

So I’ve got that camera/long lens set up pointed from about 300 yards back from the Windmill. The trees are Full sized old grown Pines at 30 to 40 feet high but they are 500 yards distant up a slight ridge. Telephoto lenses crush perspective distance. This is a long focal depth of field because of the higher f-stop setting I chose. High fstop takes away excess light AND gives you deep focal fields. (from the windmill to infinity here).

Looking through the eyepiece at the time with fingers on the setting options (3 only in manual mode to learn about). . I had it all focused and as the birds moved through the focus field they lit up on the video screen. The camera highlights things that have high contrast with their backgrounds. This shows focus areas. An advantage of quality mirrorless cameras is that they can tell you things. What you see is what you get with them.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

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SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch
SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

“Sharpies” AKA … SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch was taken at -2 degrees about a week ago as this posts. There is an eighth inch of ice on everything. I find this is one of the best times of year to photograph them. They puff up and show off their colors keeping warm 50 feet up a cottonwood. Of course the spring when they are mating and the males have bright purple cheek patches is fun.

These guys foraged both in the trees and on the ground. They are eaters of berries, flowers, buds, grains and insects. Opportunists and omnivores just like domestic chickens. They are grouped as a prairie-chicken generally. They like to hang out up high though and aren’t hard to spot since they are plump little birds.

In the winter a pretty big group of them (50 or more) are hanging out generally around my barnyard/homestead They mooch grain the ranches domestic fowl “miss” (because the Sharpies at it first lol). The electric wire doesn’t detour them as they just fly over it. They pretty much make themselves at home. They really don’t like the human form (I don’t know why since I’ve never chased them) but cars/vehicles don’t bother them much as long as you move slowly and keep the tunes to a minimum. ).

I have a few more of these just finished that will be working their way into my posting timeline. I currently have 54 finished images to write about a 300 word each for each. 6 per day…. . Job security lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

SharpTail Grouse Icy Perch

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Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow
Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

For me to get to this location, I have to leave about an hour before sunrise “Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow”. It is well down into Crook Country Wyoming about 40 miles towards Devil’s Tower. If that hill weren’t in the way, you could see the big thing.

Normally I would just drive up there. This isn’t my ground and I’m not big on trespassing on others ground. This shot was from the country road It is now filed in my “Wyoming/Montana backroads folder. All of the backcountry roads up here are gravel with an occasional Concrete/asphalt highway cutting across no mans land. It’s about 40 miles in any direction from this spot to a Wyoming State paved road. It’s all county road department maintained here.

There are some rough areas of course to get here. But if it’s frozen, the mud is no longer a problem but for deeper than your tires ruts lolol. Driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee where taller pickups leave tire grooves is always exciting. I’m still waiting for my now officially issued VIN number model year 2020 Ford F150 to be built. It should change the height at which I take images sometimes lol.

I get lost in reconstructing past lives and events, the comings and goings of old homesteads. This wasn’t much more than a cowboy bunk house with a wood stove for the “hands”. You had water with the windmill and 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.

This is very big country open back country with many square miles of grass attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. This water pump is still standing though. It looks to be in working conditions.

Location: “D” road, Crook County Wyoming.

Title: Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow

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Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Wyoming Roaming Road Block
Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Here the local Wyoming Roaming Road Block was down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. These are Pronghorn Bucks still with antlers (not for long) and does mixed. They are on the move migrating down to that remote grassland to winter over the rough Wyoming Winter.

As this was taken, I was on the road to Gillette from my ranch for a ‘day trip”. It’s about 25 gravel road miles to this spot. Then another 12 miles of gravel before I run into concrete in the form of St. Rt. 59 (Wyoming) .

The Thundbasin National Grasslands are huge chunks (several spread around a few states) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with very few inholdings by private land holders. These ‘reserves” are hundreds of square miles of just an occasional power line and stock well or solar well. Of course there is the obligatory oil well facility but these guys don’t care about buildings. Usually geothermally warm water is the only running water and there is a few of those sources around here. They are oasis’s in the winter for wildlife living near them.

I’ve seen many very large herds of Pronghorn roaming just off one of the few maintained roads out there. Vehicle traffic is prohibited within the national grasslands. The only way to get miles back and up high is to horseback or walk in. I gave up horses a decade ago and walking more than a few miles backcountry with 20 pounds or so of gear gets pretty old pretty fast in the winter I have found. Reminds me of deer hunting when I was way younger. I’ll stick to the roads down in this country lol.

Location:25 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Thunder Basin National Grasslands, Campbell County Wyoming.

Title: Wyoming Roaming Road Block

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Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

Windmill Blowing Clouds Away
Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

What I like about a Windmill Blowing Clouds Away is that it is a dual illusion image. I can also clearly imagine an “Imperial Battle Cruiser in the cloud shape. Anybody that has actually not seen Star Wars Imperial battle cruiser…. you should stay under your rock lolol. OK, I understand that there are a few people that don’t like Star Wars but I have a history with Harrison Ford.

Back in 1999, I owned a little internet ISP in Jackson Hole named Blissnet and Harrison had an email address there. I also owned the macintosh repair operation in Jackson and was on call for macintosh work. I was called into his place by one of his people. Met Harrison and worked with him on several projects. I have many stories that I could share but I will share this one.

Harrison had bought a Mac Power book and a program that he could speak into and the software would type what he says. It was a fairly complicated install with external mics and headsets. The program required the user to read just one of several options of first chapters of various books. He chose the first chapter of Moby Dick.

So Harrison Ford is sitting immediately right of me reading into his computer the first chapter of Melville’s masterpiece. I had goose bumps the size of the Tetons.😝. He was brilliant and actually performed the verse as he went. Not standing up but it was by far the best read of ANYTHING I have ever heard.

Maybe some more HF stories later as I digress at some future date…

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

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BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter

BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter
BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter

BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter is a good a filter for reducing light into my camera as any glass filter out thre. Here the air was clear, there was some gravel dust lit up in the valley at the bottom. There were high clouds in a thin layer.

The BigHorn Mountains are 130 miles from my ranch (and this is taken on ranch). I’ve been following this angle for several days moving about 1 mile and a half north each night for this precise alignment this week. A few nights I’ve had clouds in the way but this night was perfect.

There was not excessive moisture in the air for a change. Looking into the furnace like this is a very hostile light environment for most cameras. Don’t try this at home with a DLSR with a direct optic path to your eye. I look at this through video and am at no risk for blinding.

This is certainly a unique view and I’m not aware of others trying to do this at such a distance. The little black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out (the “Red Hills”) The sky was cloudless but for a thin band as seen as my top frame for the image. What is amazing to me with this photo is the snow blowing up maybe 5000 feet off the peaks on the right.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch in Campbell County Wyoming and Powder River Montana, the Big Horns are in Sheridan County Wyoming. The sun is a bit further out there.

Title: BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter

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Sunset Across the BigHorn Mountains

Sunset Across the BigHorn Mountains
Sunset On the BigHorn Mountains

Sunset Across the 130 mile Distant BigHorn Mountains is one of quite a few BigHorn Range captures over most of last week. Amazing stuff 😲📸

Watching this alignment start up with the sun WAY left of the range less than a half hour before this. The sun will always move from left to right as well as downward. Of course it’s the horizon rising but you already know that. (The sun isn’t moving here, the earth is spinning) . The earth is tilted on it’s axis

Science Factoid:

That tilt is relative to the solar systems flat plane called the ecliptic. All the planets are circling the sun on that plane. The earths north/south axis Currently, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its path/orbit around the sun. But this tilt changes/wobbles like a top. During the long wobble cycle that averages around 40,000 years. (Based on good scientific work eh? 👁

The tilt of the axis varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Because this tilt changes, the earth is exposed to differing amounts of energy from the furnace over that interval. Paleoclimatology is something I have dabbled in. I will tell you the sun is the driver of our climate so one would assume that global changes occur as the way you face the sun. Yup, the climate has been changing since it all started as a pool of molten rock accumulated in a gravity well lol.

SO back to this photo:

This time of year, sun sets dramatically from left to right as the horizon rises here. But it rises from left to right at sunrise. (The phrase to google here is Ecliptic solar system). So tracking this and watching it change by the minute was very impressive.

Photographic Musing:

Bright bright bright stuff. Shutting the camera down to light ALMOST taken with the len cap on (it’s that bright lolol) You only have 3 main things to set on your camera by working it on manual mode.

They are: “ISO” (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (aperture or pupil size of the lens) and Shutter Speed in parts of a second (s). Figure out what is important to you (deep focus or freezing motion?). You set f-stop high for deep focal field . F-stop low for shallow depth of focus field. F-stop takes away light so high f-stop (small hole in the lens) is good for high light situations. Priority 1 taken care of.

Your next priority (2) is ISO (camera sensitivity). Low ISO is ALWAYS best because High ISO give you too much light AND a grainy appearance in the image. So LOW camera sensitivity (or slow ISO 100). High ISO is best for LOW LIGHT situation. Really HIGH ISO over 2000 is for the dark if you need it only. I consider ISO evil to go high with.

Last thing on the list is shutter speed which is your variable to adjust the total exposure. You adjust until you get the result you desire. On an older DSLR reflex type camera, you look at the image on the LCD on the back of the camera body AFTER you take the photo. With a Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera though, you get what you see on the screen INSIDE the camera, WHILE you are moving the dials the image reflects the changes you make. What you see is what you get. Instant feedback, MUCH easier for you to learn on. So if you made it this far in my text, and your looking at cameras, pick a mirrorless model, preferably a full frame/large sensor camera. Full Frame cameras have higher dynamic range than smaller sensor cameras. 📸

Disclaimer:

Don’t USE a standard DSLR camera to take sun photos and YOUR camera may not be rated to take this heat. Large sensor cameras spread out that light and don’t melt like some smaller sensor cameras would here. More important, don’t blind yourself in a DSLR even trying this. Seriously!👁

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset Across the BigHorn Mountains

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Complex Sunrise Big Sky

Complex Sunrise Big Sky
Complex Sunrise Big Sky

This Complex Sunrise Big Sky image is on the Wyoming/Montana border looking east. Both states in the image. This is a “fully involved” sky

While Montana Claims the “Big Sky” moniker, Wyoming certainly shares it. Our ranch is in both states and MOST of my images have both states well represented in the capture. I’m one of the few photographers that can legitimately post an image in both states Facebook forums lolol.

This is called a “Sunrise” but in fact it is still in Civil Twilight a full 15 minutes before the sun actually rose. This is still a night sky. Day starts when the horizon drops away from covering the sun. Twilight is my favorite time of the day. I photographically work almost every morning but clear sky cloudless mornings. There are SOOOO many cloudless gradient twilight images in my portfolio lolol. Certainly I don’t need many more.

Going out in the twilight before sunrise into the backcountry is alway interesting. I often run into still bedded deer, most of which don’t care that I’m driving by, stop, take a photo and move on… I get some of my best wildlife photography done coming back from working morning twilights. I’ve done this many hundreds of times. Over time, you get lucky and random encounters start to add up if you have the right gear and ability to work in morning golden hour light. Twilight low light is a whole different group of settings lolol. The transition from twilight to sunlight is rapid.

I have a lot of this same sky looking west taken the evening of this same day overlooking the Big Horn Mountains. You will see these as they get finished/posted.

Location: Standing directly On the “Wyoming with Montana” border, Bliss DInosaur Ranch,

Title: Complex Sunrise Big Sky

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Ucross View to the BigHorns

Ucross View to the BigHorns
Clearmont View to the BigHorns

Surface Geology north of Ucross View to the BigHorns

What a wonderful glacial terrain. The geologist in me sees all sorts of evidence of past glaciers in this valley. Dozens and dozens of “signs”. First of course is the obvious proximity to a 13,000 foot mountain chain. In the last 1/2 million years we have had 5 glaciations advance and retreat in North America (world wide too). We are in an interglacial period at the moment and a mild one fortunately for us. Warm is good, cold means famine historically.

If you look at the valley floor in this scene, note the bumpy nature of the terrain. Each of those bumps is a pile of gravel with all sorts of geomorphological names depending on their shape and relationship to the glacier that was running through this valley. They are all water sorted gravels in various kinds of shapes and sizes. The gravel piles were mostly formed as the glacier receded and left it’s gravel load behind as the ice melted. The geomorphologists out there call glacial gravel “Boulder Clay” because that is pretty much what it is. Boulders and smaller all mixed up.

The rounded mound in the foreground caught my attention. I think (as I didn’t walk out there) that it is bedrock based on the vegetation change at the top. Those upper layers were very hard and resisted the erosion that removed all around it protecting the softer material below. The aforementioned glacier looks like it rode over it giving it that rounded mound like appearance. Classic.

Location: Just outside of Ucross Wyoming

Title: Ucross View to the BigHorns

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Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.

From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.

I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.

All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

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Banded Sky Over the BigHorns

Banded Sky Over the BigHorns
Banded Sky Over the BigHorns

Banded Sky over the BigHorns was captured last week as this posts.

I only get a couple of times a year that this line up occurs. I can travel further north and/or south if necessary. My limiting factor is always weather windows that long . The places you can see/work the Big Horns located within 20 miles of my Ranch, I can count on both hands. There is a lot of high ground for sure but getting up there is another thing lolol. A lot of snow will keep me off the really high hard to get to ridges this time of year.

Northeastern Wyoming is big country with bigger views. It is 130 miles to the Big Horns as seen here. The clouds are probably 50 miles behind that. There is a 50 mile horizon the other directions. I know a peak that you can see South Dakota AND the Big Horns by simply turning 180 around and looking both ways. That’s close to 200 miles easily.

Big Sky country applies to both Montana AND Wyoming as the right side of this image is in Montana. This image is 130 miles deep and 130 miles wide at the horizon 😲📸

Techie stuff:

As a 2:1 aspect, The full file is 40×20 inches at 300dpi. Real colors. I always expose the highlights properly as per the sky I’m looking at. Color Density is Strongly controlled by your exposure time. If you look at your mirrorless camera screen, what you see is what you get. By changing shutter speed I could have turned this all golden yellow. If full disclaimer: This is a side by side 2 image composite of 2 high resolution images. BIG file and high res.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlines.

Title: Banded Sky over the BigHorns

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Wind and Solar Set

Wind and Solar Set
Wind and Solar Set

A Wind and Solar Set is a pair of usable energy alternative where nothing else is available.

I’m using “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill to pump air to de-stratify a small pond (it helps keep it open some too for barnyard ducks).

Solar Panels:

The ranch has 24 big solar panels generating electricity which mostly does water pumping in remote sites. The are most cost effective where they are no where close to electric lines. I think we have 3 wind generators set up and working small things like battery charging. As such I’m probably one of the greenest guys you know. We still pump lots of water.

The coal generated electricity pumps water to water the livestock. It’s about 30 gallons of water a day per cow in the summer. A herd of 200 cattle ( small herd) will drink 6000 gallons of water a day on a hot one….. Solar does one of our pastures completely. It was expensive to put in.

Windmills:

Windmills earned their keep historically with a plethora of brands dotting the landscape. There were a lot of these in this country which got electricity very late in the mid-50’s. Telephone in the 60’s. SO many of those windmills were the primary source of water for the ranch. Some places had springs up here on the “high ground” but not too many.

Most of the easy water was down in the river valleys. We are a ‘dryland’ ranch with a couple of spring fed lakes but no running water all year. We do have streams and washes that get exciting during heavy rains. Flash floods happen all the time down in the gully system around here. There is water storage on the surface here but Windmills definitely made a difference in the ability to settle the west. This Wyoming/Montana borderlands country was settled late in the early 1900’s by small ranchers.

Anybody see a face to the right of the Windmill Sail? I didn’t do it. Natural faces in clouds…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

A Wind and Solar Set

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Perspective: Backcountry Brace

Perspective: Backcountry Brace
Perspective: Backcountry Brace

Perspective: Backcountry Brace

During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better. The two rusty nails in the lower right corner of this just grab my “deep focus” love of this particular lens.

The bent rod on the far left is a BLM Benchmark that someone’s vehicle hit with and bent at this tight corner in the remote backcountry. It’s been there for the 20 years I’ve been driving by it lol. The rail has the Benchmark Wired to it.. Keeping the cattle from moving it was the purpose. 250 dollars to disturb lolol . I haven’t touched it😀

These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practic every year. We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my ranch alone. Some of the big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol.

The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be unpassable shortly. My ridge line lookout spots will be snow drifted in. I’ve been known to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on ridge one. The high ridges are snow light on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Perspective: Backcountry Brace

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Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the BigHorns
Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:

I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.

That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.

Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.

Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.

This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.

This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch Wyoming/Montana

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Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire
Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

Game Trail Camera capture: Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire

I love Pronghorns color in this light. The color of their hide is very close here to the real color they sport mid day. Maybe just a TAD dark but very close. This instead of the “Golden Hour” color of much darker brown. I see a host of images of these guys much darker than I’ve ever seen them in the wild. Title: “Pronghorn Buck Under Barbed Wire”

Running under a barbed wire is risky but moving about 20 mph as he’s doing it…. wow. These guys move through those gaps with hardly loosing any speed. I’ve seen a dozen Pronghorn moving under barbed wire in a few seconds. They don’t mess around when they feel like it’s “time to go”. I suspect someone sounds a subtle alarm and they are “outta here”. Fastest land animal in North America, they have their share of scratches along their back too. I sometimes have image after image like this on a camera as the herds move through. The automatic cameras react to the movement and capture the action.

I’ve seen Pronghorn go OVER fences before but it’s not a common occurrence. Some fen

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.

This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex

. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.

There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.

Erosional Remnants:

Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

Big Sky Herringbone Sunset
Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

The stratified cloud layer was rippled and in a perfect position to be lit from underneath by the sun as it dropped below the layer. It was heavily occluded before it got into the open air under the clouds. Big Sky yes but there is Herringbone sunset sky of both Wyoming AND Montana sky in this wide angle capture. (Most of my images have both states in them in one way or another).

Herringbone Sky:

The Herringbone pattern is not that common in my experience. Everything has to line up just right to get this kid of patterning/highlighting of just the low parts of the cloud layer. As soon as the heat from the sun hit this layer, the extra heat pretty much evaporated the clouds. Soon the sky went mostly clear for the actual sunset roughly 15 minutes later.

This location is only about a mile off the gravel road which this time of year is iffy. What you can’t see in this is the 5 or 6 inches of snow we have on the ground now. It’s been dang close to zero for several nights now. This is very early winter weather in my experience living up here in the borderlands. We get the best of both states AND the worst at times. Sometimes that is weather and other times it’s weather. 🤔😀

I’ve been busting still small drifts but I won’t go much off the paths now as it is really really slick and if you get into a hole, your not going to get out. They become gravity wells and even my jeep with full time 4 wheel drive has issues getting out of those in the winter. Don’t drop a tire off the level for anything. Hopefully I will only have this Jeep another month or two as I do have a higher smoother riding replacement coming with a 2020 build date likely lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Big Sky Herringone Sunset

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Junior Stove Door

Junior Stove Door
Junior Stove Door

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door:

Found out near by a 1930’s Remote Backcountry Homestead located on my place. This cast iron Junior Stove Door (wood probably as coal is a bit south and wasn’t free). The 1920’s issue “Junior” was found in an over bank “trash” dump from that old Homestead which inevitably is over the lip of a nearby gully. The original stove probably rusted out or cracked from overheating but this door survived. Nothing but steel and glass out there as MOST of the wood from that place has rotted over the 80 intervening years but there are nails and pitfalls to watch out for. Dangerous place to walk about I think.

The Homestead was abandoned after the father died of an acute appendix. He was unable to get out to medical help due to winter in the 1930’s. I met one local Women (a daughter of that man) that grew up out there in the Late 1920’s and early 30’s. Little House on the Prairie was a castle compared to this log structure these guys built. The woman fed this stove door more than a few times as an adolescent, bare footed in the summer, dirt floor in the kitchen with a goat hanging inside the door. (I’ve seen the photo and have a copy but don’t own it, the family does). I’m sure this Junior Stove Door was just inside the log cabin door. Piles of wood waiting their turn for the flame.

Background in the Back Country:

This I met that daughter as a “getting” elderly woman of then in her 80’s. She several times brought her extended family out to the site to see humble beginnings. I managed to navigate them out there (way out there lol).


The problem with going there were the many problems for big SUV’s. . Getting a group of 15 people that far in to sage and past a few deep gullies is always an interesting task for the new off road drivers of their ‘SUV” that has never been “off pavement”. Going off gravel, off two tracks through the open prairie is always fun to initiate new drivers lolol.

Someone close to her contacted me when she was in Hospice. We made a bouquet and tray with artifacts from the homestead she grew up on. A ford emblem from a ford truck, a bit of running board made the “plaque portion. Wildflowers decorated the 1930’s patina’d mason jar included on the small “tray”. I wasn’t there when she got it. 😔 That little family in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana lives on as one of it’s matriarchs closes her circle of life. There are a LOT of stories like that but have been lost in the shadows of time.

2×3 landscape aspect Make a cool wall hanger for someone named Junior lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door.

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Overlook to the Red Hills

Overlook to the Red Hills
Overlook to the Red Hills

I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture up on an Overlook to the Red Hills. As you can see by the grass, its quite windy at this moment. I’m in the shadow of a big cloud looking over the Little Powder River Valley to the Red Hills from thisoverlook. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. Antique Deering Seeder with a View

This 1930’s Deering (IH) Seed Driss has been up here a while. It has view that reach 180 miles horizon to horizon easily. This old antique planted much of the grass species in many of our hay fields generations ago. Progeny of those 1920’s seeds still populate the local grasslands today. It’s in pretty rough shape with animals rubbing against it every year, weather, freezing/thawing being the worst on the wood. This will be here another couple of hundred years as the steel frame is quite intact.

I can’t imagine the sunsets and views this old soldier of the ridge top has seen. It’s seen weather fronts, meteor showers, comets, sunset/rises, twilights, storms, lightning and god knows what else . It’s been watching roughly since Herbert Hoover was president after all. That’s a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery

We just got this snow storm and it’s been on the ground for a week now. Snow is starting to accumulate in the backcountry. The low areas are drifting in and are a nice trap for intrepid photographers driving about in 6 inches of snow blowing about. I am waiting for a new truck to change out my too bumpy Jeep Grand Cherokee but for now, the Jeep will have to do. No production schedule on the 2020 truck I’m ordering.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red
Bucks Under Night Vision Infra-Red at Night

Quality game trail Camera image of 2 Bucks Captured by Infra-Red. Out in the deep backcountry, they don’t have too much to fear up here but a few lions and human hunters… This particular night was full moon lit up so there is pretty even illumination here. There was definitely and IR flash as you can see from the highlights in the grass. I seldom get images “at night” when EVERYTHING in the landscape is visible. It takes a full moon to do this…. Hunters moon and all that. 🙂 It’s rare for me to have black and whites except from my Trail Camera captures. Most of the night shots are un-usable. This one…I think I’ll keep around lolol. 📸


This image reminds me of the old joke about the beer drinking drunk slurring out “how much are Dddeer nuts” and the bartender say’s “under a buck”.
These are well hung…err racked… err I mean nicely antlered bucks obviously🤣🤣

Still in Velvet in this September Image. That gate is currently closed to keep cattle in the far pasture. So this wildlife funnel is down for a few months and the cameras doing duty somewhere else… I move cameras around as the gates open and close around the ranch. It is a constant shuffle. I really don’t like cameras in with cattle as they goo them and otherwise mess with them. I’ve had them open cameras before which is less than ideal for the generally water resistant nature of the devices. I’ve got closeups of blurry cattle tongues “wiping” the lenses of a 200 dollar Game Trail Camera. Perfect lolol.

I’m thinking the deer in the background is a bigger buck but the contrast isn’t there to see it easily. Again, this is a game trail camera image so it’s a bit coarse.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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Windmill Herringbone Sky

Windmill Herringbone Sky
Herringbone Sky and "Sneaky Pete" the Windmill

Windmill Herringbone Sky
My Landscapes are always being “photobombed” by “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. I have no control over his actions. 🤣
Windmill Weekend: 🤘 Windmill Junkies Unite!! Musings:

Musings

Nice sky that night. It disappeared (moved on quickly) before the sun got into the sunslit at the bottom of the cloud deck. It was still an interesting sunset. I love this kind of perspective using a VERY wide 12mm lens. This is a HUGE section of the sky with a wide 12 mm Zeiss lens just screaming perspective. I call the wedge of light at the horizon a “Sunslit” and as soon as the sun dropped below the cloud deck, most of it evaporated (literally lolol). The rest of that evening had just a bit of this going on. I found a few more applications for this sky (Compositions) up the hill on Ridge 1 where I get to interact with all the old growth trees up there.

Sneaky Pete is not an old windmill. He is about 20 years old. He pumps air for a small barnyard pond that we like to keep open for our ducks in the winter. The bubbles break open the surface under all but the coldest winters. It give the ducks a place to escape to. Their little pond has frozen over a few times and they walk up the hill and spend that time with the chickens because there is a small pool in their cage with running water there. The ducks number over 30, the pool is about 4 feet long by 32 feet wide and shaped like a kidney lolol. Sneaky Pete does a lot for the ducks….😄

5:50 AM as this posts. Enjoy the day and be safe in all you do.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Windmill Herringbone Sky