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Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club
Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

The Tres Amigo’s here are walking back home from a long winter down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.

So for this shot I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming to my ranch. I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is the long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area on the maps. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn anywhere.. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

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Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag
Tree Textures ala Snag

Tree Textures ala Snag

Looking From Under a Snag, I see the world from an entirely different perspective. The Detail exposed as the bark falls away from hundred year old pine trees is remarkable. This “Driftwood” of the Prairie has been treated to very little water in this almost-desert arid environment.

The perspective here was obvious to me which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide. The detail of course is the target of my glass.

Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo but your opinion may differ lol.

Musing on Fallen Logs on the Prairie:

RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.

The little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Any shelter in a storm as they say. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing up in the grasslands. Soon this tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes before it decays to dust as all things do with time… 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tree Textures ala Snag

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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridge tops. The main sunrise show over my right shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this back show is Lavender/Pink/Orange. This back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise. You miss this show if you don’t look behind once in a while … Several image from this particular morning timeline made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to this rare Lavender at times up high. 

The red/pink will often work down on the tree top tips as the surviving red rays project off the ice on them. The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. T

he formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2.5 inches long. 

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border
Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border

This is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. All of this frost has melted since the image was taken but this morning we are hoar frosting again. Foggy and in the clouds as I type this.

A few days of spring return but with mud… There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the south side of trees from this storm. , the sun rising to the south east was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass and the trees. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worthy light.

This is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage (Divide) . This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I am standing in Wyoming and shooting over the Border to Montana in the distance. I usually work ridges in the early spring . I’m trying to get off the county road talking photos but Mud / snow will keep me out of the Backcountry. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges short of me laboriously plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. Slowly but surely, I will have better access away from the main gravel arteries . Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint. Spring storms often shut the door to me. Tis the wet season with more snow falling in the spring than during the winter here.

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

Title: Frosty Sunrise on the Border

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Layered Landscape to the BigHorns

Layered Landscape to the BigHorns
Layered Landscape to the BigHorns

Layered Landscape to the BigHorns

Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There are still spotty snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.

Photographic Musings:

This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in.

The first rule of photography is get the shot. The second rule is get it right !. Longer time exposures give your camera a chance to gather light the easy way. You always want as LOW and ISO as you can get away with. Low light images like this look wonderful if done on a tripod. Not so much hand held. I use a clamp on my car window with my favorite tripod head on it that mates to my cameras. Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Layered Landscape to the BigHorns

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Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset
Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset

Married since they were seeds from the same pine cone (likely). These three have survived a hundred years of exposure to Wyotana weather and sun.

Musings: I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol.

Working in and among the trees lining remote ridge is the way to set up compositions like I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. There is SO much going on in any edge of a forest with a view of the horizon. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” of small creature, a mouse, a cat but what to level?….

The far horizon which indeed is fully involved with a setting sun. Perhaps the three’s travels through the endless sun rise and set cycles moving as in HG Well’s many movies of the “Time Machine”. What a life they have see but if they could tell the stories. I actually like the really wide angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon not level with the image’s floor.

Technically:

Getting detail out of the shadows in the foreground while looking at really bright backgrounds is a major goal of mine. Got this one 👀📸

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

Title: Tres Hombres Sunset

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Right Turn Clyde

Right Turn Clyde
Right Turn Clyde

Right Turn Clyde

With full reverence to the classical reference to a Clint Eastwood movie in Jackson Wyoming. You might remember the Orangutan that liked to use hand signals?. Having done traffic stops as a police officer I assure you such things have happened in the real world lol. I think I’ve seen it all at this point lol.

So.

Perspectives using leading lines to draw the eye to the focal point in the distance is a trick as used by the old masters. The trick for us modern photograhers using cameras is to see the frame as those master painters would. It’s hard to improve on their senses of perception from the 3D world to the 2D frame of an image. The more I do this photography thing, the more I believe I’m thinking like a painter.

Of course I don’t get to choose my color pallet. I am only what is provided by the grand designer of such things. I watch what is going on around me. To where my eye is drawn, I often follow physically. Then evaluate/ compose if appropriate. Click.

There are SOOO many little areas of Zen. Spread about the remote backcountry they are randomly.. I just haven’t noticed them all yet. I’ve driven the same paths for decades to get from point A to point B. I strongly suggest getting of the beaten trail, look at where you are versus where you’ve been before. Go to somewhere you haven’t been.

In the 20 years I’ve been intensively driving the 5.5 square miles of my ranch, I still haven’t seen everything. Not even close. My nephew and his brother in law were driving around the ranch and found an old 1920’s truck 1/2 buried by time and blowing sand. I had never seen it before and have yet to make it to that spot.

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde

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Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.

This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….

The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Mule Deer Twilight

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I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry
I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry

What are the chances of finding a heart in the barbed wire miles from anywhere?

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Catching a virtually veiled twilight took considerations for the conditions. . The horizon dropping, exposing the sun with time. It’s civil Twilight still.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded). Twilight is by far the best time of the day for photography. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings.

I’ve seen few aurora but I’ve seen so many twilight sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green at 557 nanometer wavelength. There is little of that hue in any twilight that I have ever seen😜

Twilight gives me a huge variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol. This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Title: I Love the Backcountry

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Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset
Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

This is actually a morning back show looking at clouds sitting over the Big Horn Mountains 70 miles behind the dark ridge (the Red Hills) which are 40 miles distant. The cloud resembles a mesocyclone incoming and it was a weather system rapidly moving in on us. The moon was soon to dive behind the approaching spring storm. A mix of rain/snow and sleet proceeded to move in shortly afterwards that morning.

The moon here is a Waning Gibbous JUST past the full March Supermoon known as the Worm Moon. March is the month birds start digging worms out of the ground thus the moniker.

The two antelope had just run across the road in front of my truck, the male with them was still on the other side of the road. Separated from their leader, they stopped and waited for him Click . As I moved he broke stance and ran right in front of my truck as a sign of disregard to my presence. I have found that as a matter of principle, if Pronghorn CAN run across your path, they WILL run across your path.

I’ve only hit ONE pronghorn in 20 years of driving these backroads of Wyoming. I would indicate that as a family we have hit 13 deer and 2 antelope in the same time. I have personally hit 4 of those deer. Total Damage in all those collision to my vehicle… A broken license plate bolt and a lot of car washes. I spend a LOT of money on really good vehicle bumpers. Saves my insurance company a bit as I have never had a claim on a vehicle. Does it lower my insurance???? Maybe….

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

Title: Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

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Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks
Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks

These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.

In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Illuminated Bucks

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Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills
Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

This is a diptych left right pair image consisting of 2 – 20 inch squares. I really adore natural pastel colorations when they occur in Alpenglow. This is a north view looking across the Wyoming Montana border (trees are in Wyoming, mountains in Montana). Posted as second image of this mountain chain through these trees that I posted today. Please take the time to look at the other one and compare.

Most of the Great Master Painters of their day composed their art redoing over and over many scenes they discovered in their world. Say painting Big Ben in 20 different lighting conditions. I am BY NO MEANS a master painter. That is up the big guy upstairs who is responsible for most of the color work. My job is as a stenographer taking down punctuated moments in space and time. I don’t make this sky up lol. Thusly I will follow in those painters footsteps (err, brushstrokes). If their experience continues to be the teacher that I have learned it is over the years.

Those master painters of the 16th-19th century were more or less isolated by the transportation of the day. They were where they were so to speak. I consider each photo I take of the same scene but under different light and environmental conditions, a study of the natural perfection in that place. The framing doesn’t change much from study to study but the background morphs with the time of day, the weather and the yearly cycles. I try hard to stay in tune with all this. The complexity of nature is something that I’ve slowly started to realize as I spend more and more time in it.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

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Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop
Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

(Summer Alpenglow)

This 220 pound “King” Corso Mastiff is one of 4 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). He was walking away from a a cool bath under that spigot after the last run of the day. (I have that bath on another similar image) The cowgirl gave the short haired dogs a few minutes to dry in the summer air and off to bed. Living with mastiffs has it’s big rewards with just a few detractions.

The Drool Thing:

As a rancher wearing ranch cloths, I don’t mind so much the drool issue.. If you’ve never been around Mastiffs that were bred by the Romans for war (not table manners), you haven’t experienced living with a salivating horse before. Generally they are clean enough for dogs but the strings of drool are impressive. I should have waited until after he drank to show the foot long strings that occur after eating or drinking. I bet there are some patentable characteristics for the sticky, stringy properties of Mastiff Drool.

So I’m sitting in my computer chair working while my wife is feeding the mastiffs. (they eat outside but we hand feed them meat rolls about a pound each. ). She let the dogs right in and the first thing the big one does is come over laying his head on my arm. I almost had to take a shower lololol. The command is now, “Wipey Wipe” after feeding BEFORE the dogs come back in. They don’t like their face wiped but they let us do it lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

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Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green
Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Boy I miss summer. I will say that there were some mosquitos out at this shooting. Some crimson to purple to blue gradients pop up each year but not many. I got a good one here though. The alpenglow ice that gives you summer crimson blends in like an acrylic paint into blue higher in the sky forging purple out of the mix. It’s a natural rare gradient that I see a few times a year. Real purple is much rarer in the world than you would think looking at forums. Beware of the electric blue images you see but this is a real color mix showing purple.

The grass was high, the hay bales in the distance attest to an expenditure of diesel fuel to gather each 1 ton bale. The big tree just across the inlet has a landing below it that I have several game trail cameras. They have taken hundreds of creatures from coyotes to Herons walking right in front of that wonderful cotton wood. This lake is literally miles from the nearest gravel county maintained road. I can’t tell you how many little places of zen like this exist in and around my ranch. I’m pretty sure infinity comes to mind for the time I have to spend here in my short human existence. Cowboys 100 years ago built the dam across this spring. It watered generations of cattle walking the Miles City Montana to Newcastle Wyoming Trail on the way to Texas.

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

Title: Wetland Sunset Summer Green

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Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground
Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground

From the top of the pass one can see 45 miles to the higher peaks of the Red Hills. The far ridges high points are right at the same elevations around 4100 – 4200 feet as where I stand. The intervening Little Powder River Drainage starting near Gillette Wyoming runs north into the big drainage in Montana. The water droplets here flow first into Trail Creek then immediately off into the “Little Powder River. This flows into the Powder River then the Yellowstone River, then the Missouri all the way to the Mississippi. All the sand grains that used to be between where I stand and those far peaks have been removed by the above described river system. It took a few days.

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

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

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

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

Title: Belt of Venus Touches Ground

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Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show
Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local deer are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol.

This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

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Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky
Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

A capture from directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.

Its called “Turtle Butte” for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. Scattered dinosaur chunky chunks are present. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the borderlands, a variety of things are found just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. No big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.

There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

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BigHorns Landscape Ladder

BigHorns Landscape Ladder
BigHorns Landscape Ladder

BigHorns Landscape Ladder

This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken 6 months ago. The grassy remote ridge top I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Little Powder RIver Valley and the Powder River Basin lie between the Mountains and my ranch. Geomorphologically, I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.

Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day until June 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.

I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorns Landscape Ladder

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Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky
Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

This view of a 130 mile long twilight BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a few weeks ago just making it into my workflow. The grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The first silhouetted ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock is older than the Big Horn Uplift . Those ancient sediments dive under the debris worn off the BigHorn Mountains.

Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting just north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall now.. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day. I starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.

I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go to photograph these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

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Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

Geese over Trail Creek Drainage
Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

The hundred year old Parks Ranch I’m presenting here is certainly a historic place. This old red barn in and of itself is a pretty nifty place to see where generations of real cowboys handled their stock. Cribbing horses having chewed on the wood of the pens withing the large structure. Groups of geese flying about the area.

The old house on this property was built from locally sourced wood in the early 1900s. Still habitable of course and a local family lives on the property in an adjacent home. The original homestead a HUGE homestead. Built for 2 families it appears. I’d say 10,000 square feet in the old house.

The property has old Ranch buildings galore with all sorts of thing about you would expect from such a cowboy center of activity. You just have to love a 100 year old cattle ranches.

Stock Trailers, head catches, pens, fences, branding ovens, tack, horses, cattle. Artesian lakes surround this wondrous place. . A few worn horse shoes scattered about mix with discarded or just disused tack from the past. There must be tales about tales swirling about in the history of this old Ranch. Men and Women toiling over the three day wagon ride round trip from Gillette Wyoming and back to home. The flow of time slowly submerges events away from our collective knowledge. What is so important at the time, perhaps a new dress for a ranch child growing up, seems lost in the past.

Location: Historic Parks Ranch Campbell County Wyoming. 4 miles south of Montana but there is Montana sky and mountains in the distance. A few miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.

Title: Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

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Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

(Crimson Alpenglow Close far Perspective #2 in this Yucca series)

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads/distracts the viewer. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the too bright scene on your retina. A quick thought of eye damage, you blink. Over a minute later, your vision probably would come back.

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about.

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. Click!

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

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Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast
Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

I do see some RARE colorcast Twilight situations now and again. This is real color I swear. The red light making it to the clouds above totally saturated the snow below with the same color. Like a projector screen reflecting the red to my camera. I am very accurate in my highlight colors and this is as I remember the scene vividly. This is actually the West view/back show with the eventual sunrise 20 minutes later than this capture.

I have one other similarly colorcast dominated image with a more yellow color. It was too a morning early Civil twilight even . I have just finished it’s image which is waiting in the wings to post here in a few days perhaps. The yellow colorcast image was a different twilight entirely. I’ve experienced only a few occasions of this kind of lighting in several decades of watching sunrises/sunsets. . It takes a very specific series of conditions to make this kind of twilight illumination. Catching and reproducing color accurately in my images is what I try to do. If it weren’t this way and it was a normal twilight, I would have removed this color from the image (which I could easily do). But this was the scene as I experienced it. Dramatic as heck to be honest.

Being there with a camera is the hard part in mid-winter. This particular occurrence happened in December 2018. I kept the camera busy that morning lol. 📸📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

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Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge
Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge (Rare Halfie

The “thin layer” of Yellow Alpenglow colors the floating ice above the rising horizon covering the sun. This sets the stage across the middle of this “halfie”. I maybe take 10 ‘halfies” where the horizon is 1/2 way up the frame a YEAR. This capture won over my better instincts as it has such a big perspective. Leading lines are incoming in all directions. I think all the good things compositionally in this image over come the general rule against “halfies”.

“There seems to be no doubt that the vast quality of mutton can be grown here, pound for pound, as cheap as beef; and, if so, then sheep-raising must be profitable if cattle-raising is.”

Silas Reed, surveyor general of the Wyoming Territory, from his report for 1871.

It took a while for the notion of raising sheep to catch on out on the frontier. Eastern states and Ohio raised most of America’s sheep early on in the migration west. . Small numbers of sheep arrived in Wyoming as early as 1847 according to Levi Edgar Young’s The Founding of Utah, a Mormon pioneer company that left Omaha in July 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 19 included 358 sheep.

Back to the present. The stone Sheepherders Cairn just to the right of the sun has stood perhaps for 100 years acting as a marker or boundary point . Sometimes they were a place for a supply drop for the backcountry solitary herder hanging out with the sheep. The herder protected the sheep of course from coyotes/lions/other predators. They usually lived out of a covered wagon for months at a time literally alone with their flock.

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

Title: Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.

Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.

This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Moon First Quarter Detail

Moon First Quarter Detail
Moon First Quarter Detail

Moon First Quarter Detail

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 Telescope at 3200mm. The result can be very interesting in the details… This bottom 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red capture… so any color would be artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….It doesn’t happen often enough even up here at 4000 feet in the dark dark westerns skies of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands.

It takes me 6 images at this magnification to stitch together the full moon into one frame. The resultant file is rather large lol. There was very good “seeing” that night. “Seeing” is a term astronomers and amateurs as myself use to describe the atmospheres transparency at any particular time. WHen the moon is straight up, the seeing tends to be better due to the less atmosphere your looking through. I see horribly distorted moons near the horizon where the atmospheric distortions have their way with the transmitted image. Turbulence above me usually blurs the details that this this light let through to my photon capture boxes (cameras).

Pursuit of the moon is a very cyclical thing. If your hunting for details, then you want LONG shadows to accentuate them. Full moons are wonderful of course, generally easy photography but the detail in the craters are elusive. I live very much in tune with the lunar cycle as well as the yearly sun’s migration I photograph both when they present me with opportunity and light worthy of your attention.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon First Quarter Detail

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Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow
Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.

These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.

The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.

True Story here on ranch…

I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.

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

Title: Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

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Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight
Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Remember F-stop?

It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

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

Title: Bucks Grazing at Twilight

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Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass
Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.

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.

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

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

Title: Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

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Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post
Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post

Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. At that early time I suspect they didn’t really know about humans. Known to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.

For birds, they are as smart as birds come and I suspect more than one has become a pet. As corvids (the same family as crows), they have runny droppings plus they are big bird. You might say they leave a big footprint… So with that pleasant thought in mind…. They eat about anything from carrion to simple grains, grasshoppers and dung beetles. I’ve photographed these guys on top of deer actively picking ticks off of the deer. The ungulates tolerate them as they get those irritating ticks off of places they can’t reach. I watched and photographed 2 magpies setting up a deer cleaning station one foggy misty morning up in the highlands. Those photos and discussion are elsewhere in my developing manuscript.

Musings on my musings:

If you follow me closely, you may notice I’m writing quite a bit on each narrative consistently over 250 words and more.. With some simple editing out of the redundant from post to post, I’m building a book right here in front of you. Enjoy the process. I’m writing about 1800 words every day average at the moment into these narratives. I now have over 1000 pages with images and associated narratives. . I’m not in a hurry but I am doing 5 images every day with narratives. Coffee table book or 2 some day………

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

Title: Magpie on a Post

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Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise
Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Alpenglow such as this occurs when there is a LOT of ice in the atmosphere mostly during winter. . I’ve also seen smoke do this kind of scene in the summer. Here on the high ridges of the borderlands, I get to look at parallel ridge tops like this 40 miles away to the east.

After passing through a gauntlet of filters in the atmosphere, crimson/orange/yellow are the survivor hues. Absorbed/blocked/refracted away are the shorter wavelengths of color. Can’t trap them in my photon capture boxes (cameras) if they don’t make it to me. Passing that gauntlet to blues/greens and indigos consists not only of hundreds of miles of low angle atmosphere plus all the dust and the dirt suspended within.

The sun isn’t actually occupying the line of site where it appears to be here. Because of atmospheric “lensing”, the sun is actually still completely below your eye to the horizons line of sight. It just looks like it’s up. This accounts for several minutes of differences from rise/set charts versus the observed sunrise with the day always being longer due to lensing. The atmosphere literally bends it’s light around the curvature of the earth thus the “lens” part of atmospheric lens. This courtesy of inversions and thermal-clines. The path this light took was at least 300 miles of low angle air. The higher I go topographically, the longer the light I gets path. The redder the alpenglow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise