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Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych
Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych (3 – 20×20 inch images. )

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. For this Phenomena to occur, big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

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Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes
Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

The 3 Missouri Buttes (the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The wagon train pioneers called them the “Three Sisters”. They were a major sign post along the way to all places west. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View to the southeast (the side the tourists NEVER see). That is all northwestern Crook County.

The weather during this sunset over my shoulder was a tad snowy. Those were all falling ice plates (Diamond Dust). The next morning I went up on that pass and worked that fresh snow as well. Lots of good captures on this timeline). Taken up on the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Road). The view is to the southeast. This is off the beaten path a tad lolol.

Geologic Musings:

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 3 (actually 4 but you can only see the 4th from above), peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck cooling slowly being insulated by the surrounding rocks. . We know this was deep as the columns of rock in the Devils Tower nearby cooled VERY slowly. This allowing the columns to crystallize in the eroded tower that the National Monument is famous for. Lots of material around them washed down the river to expose those necks. All that sand/mud is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Location: about 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

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Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

Pronghorn's Never Ending Story
Pronghorn's Never Ending Story

Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

Musings:

WE are looking at 8 Pronghorn slight downhill run where something spooked them. They decided to take a jog to the left. I see these guys running about daily in season. They can cover ground. I never push animals as they tend not to appreciate and remember. My next encounter would be shorter and further away if my vehicle acts like a predator and follows. I worked this out of a Jeep (since traded in the backcountry as a human form would cause them to run sooner. It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. (anybody else see the flying dog in “Never Ending Story” in the clouds or is it just me ?? )

Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers.

The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Title:Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

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Fog Bank Rolling In

Fog Bank Rolling In
Fog Bank Rolling In

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

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

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

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

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

3:1 Aspect to 60 inches

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

Title: Fog Bank Rolling In

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Northern Crook County Wyoming

Northern Crook County Wyoming
Northern Crook County Wyoming

Northern Crook County Wyoming 3:1 Aspect triplet.

This is an image of more or less the entire northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming. This vista is a very wide and deep telephoto composite at high resolution. The light was wonderful that morning with a strong orange colorcast. This orange tinting was extreme at times reflecting off the snow quite strongly. I have several captures with it WAY more extreme than this. However this work is very representative of what I was watching this am. (about a week before this posts).

This photo is of course from on top of the Trail Creek Road Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming. I live on this same high ridge but my ranch is about 6 miles over my shoulder. If this ridge wasn’t here, this is view we would have. It’s starting to get snowy. By the time this posts, I should be driving a taller vehicle (ford f-150) with quality studded snow tires. My 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee is being traded in. I just cleaned it completely out of anything remotely “mine” today. It’s amazing how many photographic gadgets I had stashed in there.

In Wyoming during the winter driving extended backcountry roads, I am very well prepared. Essentially I always over dress and generally drive with one or more windows open at most winter temps. A comprehensive emergency kit including most medical and lots of blankets/carbs. I alway wear pretty high tech gear in multiple layers. I carry a radio that easily will connect with my home base. Someone usually knows where I’m going if I’m going far. This is my 20th winter in these lowlands. I spent 10 years living at the foot of the Teton Range for my snow training 😃 Jackson is 6200 feet and snowy, we are 4000 feet and blowy …….

I might have the feet heater going hard though lol. Keeping the car temp and the outside temp the same reduces mirage effects on your images from a vehicle.

Location: near the Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Northern Crook County Wyoming

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Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion
Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

SATIRE:

So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…

Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:

OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

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

Title: Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

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Pronghorn Backcountry Relay Race

Pronghorn Backcountry Relay Race
Pronghorn Backcountry Relay Race

Pronghorn Backcountry Relay Race.

Satire:

Here you see the third leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Ungulate Track and Field Triathalon. The Mule deer team is over 2 laps back with the Whitetail team a did not show at the starting line. Whitetails are always unreliable/flighty but I blame their management for the miss. They will probably show up tomorrow for the event scheduled today. Typical of the Whitetail species.. 😜

Musings:

WE are looking at 10 Pronghorn slight downhill run where something spooked them. They decided to take a jog to the left. I see these guys running about daily and they can cover ground. I never push animals as they tend not to appreciate and remember. My next encounter would be shorter and further away if my vehicle acts like a predator and follows. I work out of a Jeep (currently) in the backcountry as a human form would cause them to run sooner. It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN.

Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers.

The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (Winter Storm incoming as I type this narrative).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Backcountry Relay Race 3:1 Aspect.

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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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Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Devil's Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect
DevilsTower/MissouriButtes 3:1 Aspect

This Capture of Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is very high resolution composite:

It is composited from three high resolution 1200 mm telephoto images combined back into one image in the digital darkroom. Left image + center image+ right image = this photo… This is not taking a cell phone and swinging a phone lol… I’m considering this one of the best daytime shots I have of Devils Tower from the Pass at Rocky Point and that’s saying something 📸 This is a distance of 35 miles. The sun was setting golden hour, the air was full of ice but hadn’t gone pink just yet. Maybe 1/2 hour to sundown.

This image was taken from the snow line on the pass I was on but you can see the valleys were not covered at this capture about 10 days ago as it publishes. The snow we got last night and today took care of the snow cover in the valley. We’ve had a very early winter up here so far. The long term forecast looks to be cold and snowy. We always need the moisture but it’s a trudge sometimes to deal with all the snowfall each year.

In all fairness to the rough weather we have here in the NE part of the state. Hat’s off to the folks in Jackson Hole and the high country along the western part of the state. It’s relatively mild living here compared to the decade I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming. We used to get 6 feet flat in the back yard every year. Closer to the range folks would get 10. Cleaning snow off roofs is an industry there :).

We just enjoy MUCH more wind than Jackson Hole does. I’m not sure anyone living there appreciates the difference but I may be wrong. Migration of Wyoming folks are moving outwards not toward that area. 🙁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

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Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight
Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Here is a rare shorter narrative as I realized I didn’t have a 3pm post ready lol. The Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight 3:1 Aspect image is 60 x 20 inches at full resolution. This was taken about 2 days ago.
In full disclosure it is a Left/Center/Right telephoto image from 35 miles distant. This is a view from the Northwest looking southeast. The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming with Trail Creek Road going over the “hill” is a pretty good view if the weather cooperates. It’s an hour and a half from the nearest population center so there aren’t a lot of images like this out there I suspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

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Last Day of Fall for the Big Horn Mountains

Last Day of Fall for the Big Horn Mountains

I took this Sept 30th the day before the October 1 storm came in so this was the Last Day of Fall for the BigHorn Mountains eastern front. You could feel the storm coming in. Everybody was buying snow shovels and salt at the local farm store.

Full Screen is obviously best…. 🙏

These 13,000 foot + peaks dominate the landscape near Clearmont Wyoming. The highway State 14/16 from Gillette to Sheridan Wyoming will present you with this view if you stop at the right spot :).

This is a composite of three images left/center/right carefully blended/stitched back together within the digital darkroom. As such is it ended up being 60×20 inches at full resolution 300 dpi so the original is a huge file reduced here for social media of course lolol.

Oct 1, the region got 4 – 12 inches of wet heavy sticky snow on trees fully leaved still from the 75 degrees the day before when I took this on Sept 30th.

I of course take photos of these hills all the time from my Ranch about 100 miles over my shoulder at this location. I get a little better resolution up here📸

Location: Somewhere near Clearmont, Sheridan County Wyoming.

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Big Horn Mountains in Autumn (on a Tuesday This Year)

Big Horn Mountains in Autumn (on a Tuesday This Year)
Big Horn Mountains in Autumn (on a Tuesday This Year)

This wide 3:1 Aspect Ratio Panorama of the Big Horn Mountains on the day of Autumn 2019. Autumn was on a Tuesday this year.

This is a long telephoto composite of 3 very high resolution images stitched together in the digital darkroom seamlessly as the scene actually was. This image is the “state of my art”. It’s high resolution to 60 x 20 inches lol.

There is no sign of mans impact in this image except for the few fence posts you can see. This was captured on a road trip to Sheridan I took last week. It was 119 miles of backcountry gravel roads and two lane Wyoming highways over about 3 hours. Not that I stopped to take a photo now and then or anything….. It was a classic Wyoming, it’s hard to get from here to there trip.

Cool backroad Wyoming burbs of Ucross, Spotted Horse, Clearmont, Recluse and Leiter are the “Big Towns” along the way. WONDERFUL drive on 14/16 going into Sheridan from the east if you ever get a chance to go that way.

Location: Sheridan County Wyoming.