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Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset
Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).

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 with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group. They need the muscle for all the tussle.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

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Windmill and the Moon

Windmill and the Moon
Windmill and the Moon

Windmill and the Moon

Cranberry Alpenglow is a rarer color of back show than the pure pine. I finish images as I remember them This day ended with a band of this Cranberry color spread across the eastern sky. This is just a darker variant of the “Belt of Venus” pink Alpenglow.

Photographic musings:

I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any further as topography is my master in that. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon is considered an infinite focus. In low light, getting closer things precisely focused is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode….

High F-stop number give you deep focal fields. They become a double edged sword though. High f-stop also steals light which is in short supply in this lighting. Distance from the foreground object IS YOUR FRIEND. Getting too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. The moon has to be in close far perspective with almost anything to be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close/Far perspectives to work with. Topography is your to contend with. . Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do. Just take your time but not too much lolol.

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

Title: Windmill and the Moon

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset
Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry.

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go gown with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 200 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.

Yes there is a little pac man on the right center side of frame reaching over the lip… Sort of a Kilroy was here cloud….

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

Title: Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

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Both Ends of the Sunrise

Both Ends of the Sunrise
Both Ends of the Sunrise

Both Ends of the Sunrise

The morning was cold but we are having a lack of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky and the main frame shows the Belt of Venus, the pink variety of Alpenglow.

A Backcountry drive in the borderlands:

Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year are easy driving without snow depth. There are thousands of miles ofI took this back when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee which was limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’d go off on two trail tracks with my new rig to work at the moment but working roads has it’s advantages. You get to use the road itself as a leading line for the eye. It invokes memories of similar drives you have done. Or better gives you insight to a world you haven’t experienced. The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with pink to orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.

The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective that the rear view mirror gives you is worth the effort.

Quick Photographic thought.

Have fun with your high fstop when you try this as there are 3 layers of close/far focus issues plus it’s low light so your sucking wind for light to start with. Shutter speed has to be long to compensate, . Hard NOT to over expose the moon and see anything else in the frame. Your riding a knife edge on these.

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

Title: Both Ends of the Sunrise

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American Eagle in Twilight

American Eagle in Twilight
American Eagle in Twilight

American Eagle in Twilight

I don’t see a lot of American Eagles up in this high/dry ridge line country. They tend to hang out around rivers where they are both predators and scavengers. The do overfly and eat road kill. (Good work if you can get it as a raptor). I do see them along the road side now and then eating a fresh road kill. Not many species but man hunts the American Eagle but they hunt a lot of species.

There is an urban legend that Benjamin Franklin lobbied Congress to make the Turkey our national symbol bird. There is of course no evidence of this occurring but his daughter did write a letter (1784) labeling the Bald Eagle as “a bird of bad moral character). The real story was the eagles link to history and how it came to be our national symbol.

Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of independance.Congress formed a small committee of three. Those characters Ben Franklin, John Adams with Thomas Jefferson were the committee. Given the job of designing an official seal would be their task. Those three failed to get a design to pass congress. Bunch of slackers those three probably eh? 😜

Another two committees tried to get a seal for the nation. They failed as the first one did in order. Finally the job/work from the three committees were handed to Charles Thomson. He was serving as the Secretary of the congress. The final result was an artistic attenuation to the best elements of the various submitted designs. By 1782 Congress adopted the design using the American Bald Eagle over other “entries” into this historic contest.

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

Title: American Eagle in Twilight

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Islands in a Sea of Mist

Islands in a Sea of Mist
Islands in a Sea of Mist

Islands in a Sea of Mist

I set sail early enough under this sea to achieve the vantage point I knew was on the hill. The fog bank moved over my homestead a full hour before sunrise. A window in that cover to the stars gave me a good idea of how thick/tall the bank was. I jumped in my rig driving through this lavender pea soup. Not until I climbed enough ridge to get above they tops of the waves of clouds that were hugging the ground rolling in.

The “Islands” at 30 miles from my lens, were looking back at me. The Missouri Buttes were a big sign post to the wagon trains known to them as the “3 Sisters”. Remember that those 3 hills are all related volcanic necks. Made of hard rock. they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower (left off frame about 20 miles), but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana), (Crook County/Campbell Count line about 4 miles south of the Montana/Wyoming border. Looking south east.

Title: Islands in a Sea of Mist

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Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise. THe sky starts to light up, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken over a month ago in early December. We had lighter snow then than now. There is 6 inches flat everywhere on the ridgetops at the moment. You have to be very careful going off the ridge tops. The snow that use to cover them has been blown of to the sides. There hasn’t been much drifting yet this winter and I have a new truck now with excellent capabilities so it should be a productive winter up on the ride tops.

Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

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Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset

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 the view. 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 bright scene on your retina. A quick though of eye damage, you blink and a minute later your vision is 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. 

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunset

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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 4 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 and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer
Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer

Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.

On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.

With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…

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

Title: Crescent Moon Over Deer

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Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Twilight Crimson Drive Home
Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Some of the Post-sunrise evening drives to return home I take to get set up in beautiful locations I have photographed earlier. . This ColorCast evening was colorful icing on the surface of the ice and snow reflecting it’s qualities to my lens. This is a twilight sky after sunrise.

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

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

Title: Twilight Crimson Drive Home

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Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive
Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).

Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.

If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.

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

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

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Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry
Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.

Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.

This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.

Location: Ridge 1, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

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Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed
Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridgetops. The main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this backshow is Pink. This pink back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise, you miss this show. Several image from this particular morning 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 Lavender at times up high. The Blue Line UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun rises that blue band shrinks eventually disappearing just as the sun rises. The red/pink will often work down on the “Red Hills in the distance enhancing their already red rocks (Clinker) with the extra colorcast.

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%. The 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 inches long.

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

Title: Belt of Venus Framed

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Lone Tree Sky Gradient

Lone Tree Sky Gradient
Lone Tree Sky Gradient

Lone Tree Sky Gradient

While I admire the tenacity of this lone tree. Living with out the benefit of the group shelter from the incessant Wyoming/Montana winds. Here on the high ridges all things are buffeted by hurricane winds yearly. The slopes leading up to them will enhance and focus the wind at times worsening the situation. Having an unparalleled view is a benefit, of this old sentinels exposed existence.

If this tree is certainly 100 years old (probably 200+), it has seen a mininum of 36500 sunrises and 36500 sunsets. I’ve only photographed well over 1000 from start to finish during my photographic travels. I’ve seen virtually (almost) every shade on the pantone color swatch book in the natural sky. And many of those missing color representatives created by others using excessive “filters” to enhance their highlights posted on the internet.. Some of the colors I’ve seen created by others are certainly un-natural. ART. The use of that color slider control on the phone are definitely missing in nature lolololol. I try REALLY HARD to be a photorealist. Blue Snow is a classic example. I’ve seen blue snow twice in my life. Both circumstances were in EARLY Civil Twilight. I see it daily posted in the forums. Generally I live in a blue snow free zone.

The color gradients I see in this image are the Alpenglow equivalent of a rainbow. It’s sort of the wrong order of colors as a classic rainbow but there are refractions here going on. I have to get up to the ridges at least 1/2 an hour early. Getting into position this time of year is always in question and often in doubt. I’m on foot for this particular location for this shot. .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Lone Tree Sky Gradient

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Missouri Buttes Photo Session

Missouri Buttes Photo Session
Missouri Buttes Photo Session

Missouri Buttes Photo Session

I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. You have to arrive well before twilight to set up.

Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument. The “Three Sisters” as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic neck. Exposed by eroding the material away from above. Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. RIvers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin.

The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).

Alpenglow in the summer as this shot is rare. There has been a LOT of the Pink Belt of Venus in the skies of Wyoming this winter. Not sure why more than normal though. The “Belt of Venus” caused by by atmospheric Ice reflecting back the only light making the journey to it. Only the red wavelengths make it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere and the hundred back to my cameras. The more ice, the redder the display becomes.

Location: Trail Creek Road, Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming. (Wyotana)

Title: Missouri Buttes Photo Session

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Twilight Passion for Color

Twilight Passion for Color
Twilight Passion for Color

Twilight Passion for Color

Taken VERY 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. I noticed the much wider view in the foreground camera than the actual background in the camera I was holding.

Getting around in the backcountry during twilight:

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. 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.

Where most people get in snow trouble is when they get off the crest of the ridge. The snow is always less deep on the crest as it blows off to the edges. Up here Yucca and Sage Brush will trap snow. Taking a path through the vegetation isn’t the best of ideas. Best have some backup with you if you try.. I’ve got a shovel and a radio . Since I have the most snow capable vehicle on the ranch, I’d rather not stick my rig as getting something else to it would involve a skidsteer with chains and a bucket. Building roads is no fun lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) Posted Jan 7 AM.

Title: Twilight Passion for Color

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Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow
Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

From 6 months ago, this rare summer Alpenglow twilight silhouetted this Angus Mother. Summer Alpenglow isn’t too common. This effect is due to atmospheric Ice acting as a projector screen. The projector is only capable of illuminating the ice with hard to stop red light. Dust and Ice in the atmosphere filter out all other colors but the red frequencies. All between the sun and the camera. In the real world, the horizon rises to cover the sun. Being down a while, a lot of air is between my lens/the projector screen here. The decimated shorter wavelengths are not available to refract off the suspended atmospheric ice for my cameras to harvest. They are after all, only photon gathering devices 📷

How could you tell this is a summer Alpenglow versus a winter alpenglow? Well all the flies buzzing around this poor gal sort of give it away.👀😜. I haven’t seen insects in a few months except for down in my greenhouse. We are pretty deep into winter currently here in Wyotana. Flies are a perpetual summer plague for cattle around the world. It’s a good thing the cattle are there as those flies could all be coming after us lololol.

Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

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Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Sunshine over Their Shoulder
Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Two young Mule Deer Does look off to the right. Deer are always aware of their surroundings but they were more interested in something other than little me. I was in my Jeep at the time. I have a new vehicle now that I traded off my Jeep/backcountry transportation for 15 years. It will be interesting to see if I can approach deer and have them accept me plus the new all black truck as “just another grazing animal.”

Photographic Musings:

I don’t like to use glass filters to reduce the sun’s brightness. I would way prefer deer sun filters to reduce the glare and block some of the light coming int the camera. lol.

In reality, a glass filter usually give’s me difficult to deal with “Ghosts” of off center images. An extra artifact on the image that I don’t way like a lens flare. So this isn’t using a neutral density filter, it’s done with Manual Mode camera settings. This was take a week ago and is one of a LONG timeline I spent with several animals including this buck and a fawn. When the planets line up, they really line up and it was all business lol. I was working 3 cameras about as fast as I could spin dials get the shot, change up, rinse and repeat. I was moving back as the sun was going down to keep the angle with the ridge as well as moving as the deer grazed or moved.

Long lenses, HIGHest F-stop, lowest ISO, and fast shutter speed but don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera. You will blind yourself. I use a mirrorless camera variety that I am looking at video of the scene. Also your camera might literally have a spot burned into the digital chip that sees the scene inside your camera. Don’t blind yourself. . So know what you are doing before you try pointing telephotos into the sun please.🤔📷

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

Title: Sunshine over Their Shoulder

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Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn
Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn

I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.

The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂

The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.

This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.

Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Light Crack of Dawn

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Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

Snaggy Sunset Over Snow
Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

This overlook is WAY out there but still on my ranch. It’s about 3 miles to this spot over two track road from my homestead. A 1930’s homestead long abandoned with the father dying of an appendix attack. There are old truck pieces and parts, metal stoves all messed up and a variety of timbers with nails in them. Driving an ATV over that ground is wrought with tire terrors. I prefer to walk.

But this ridge is above the old homesite. This tree was alive when the young family lived here. This remote isolated world provided little but beef. They coped best they could with being literally off grid. I’ve done a recreation image of the old homestead. Ownership of the original photo the recreation is not mine.. I won’t/don’t have permission post it.

Some people have been confused by the sun “Star” here. These are unavoidable lens effects due to this bright light requiring me to turn UP the f-stop numbers. I like them but they are indeed an artifact. They are caused by diffraction off the edges of the “iris”. The small aperture in the lens is the culprit. A very small iris (high f-stop number) will give you edge reflections/diffractions of the surface causing the star. If I used a neutral density glass filter in front of my lens, I could probably eliminate it by being able to open up that iris. Lower f-stop numbers will smooth out that star but take in a lot of light. The filter in front is a dark filter to reduce light. Pointing a camera into a bright sun is a tough one. ggy

Disclaimer. Don’t point your camera at the sun.

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

Title: Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

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Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus
Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus

MOON MONDAY 3PM offer… Moon photos all day today. This is number 4.

These two jokers were hanging out where I was driving just as the moon Full December moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, the blue like under it is the shadow of the eastern horizon on the western atmospheric ice screen. There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon. As the western horizon moves upwards, the blue will disappear along with the full moon setting in due time.

Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image.

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

Title: Horsey Belt of Venus

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Moon Trapped in Alpenglow

Moon Trapped in Alpenglow
Moon Trapped in Alpenglow

Moon Trapped in Alpenglow

MOON MONDAY 12pm ‘entry’ for this Last Monday of the decade.

The Pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow phenomena that colors the sky Pink was turning to cranberry on the left of the frame. I LOVE smooth subtle gradients in skies.

Photographic musings:

I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any further as topography is my master in that. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon is considered an infinite focus but in low light, getting closer things precisely focused is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode….

High F-stop number give you deep focal fields but they are a double edged sword. High f-stop also steals light which is in short supply in this lighting. Distance from the foreground object IS YOUR FRIEND. Getting too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. The moon has to be in close far perspective with almost anything to be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close far perspectives. Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do.

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

Title: Moon Trapped in Alpenglow 122219D

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RockyPoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store
Rockypoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store

Clarence Reece built a two story building in 1907. This became the General Store for the area (Rockypoint Wyoming which is in the North Eastern Corner of Wyoming). Just north west of Devils Tower which you can see from here about 35 miles away. Run by various local characters over the years, the store changed hands a dozen times. It closed finally in the Mid- 1950’s.

These timbers, cut 112 years ago, are the last remains of a building that served a whole community. These merchants who weekly at least, dealt with terrible dirt roads bought a lot of freight through these doors over time. Imagine if you will the old time gasoline pump with the glass top. An ranch kid attendant with a rag in his pocket took care of the windows and checked the oil.

I can’t imagine all the horse team trips to Gillette to hit the railroad in the early 1900’s. Gillette would be a two day trip via buck freight wagon I’m pretty sure from Rockypoint Wyoming. Camping on the trail, no weather forecasts or radio. These folks 100 years ago were tough hombres.

The community dance hall / community center became ground zero of local / national political discussions of course lol. Dances too but the roads could keep the band away. I’m sure they did best they could.

I own the back 1/2 of the Rockypoint 1940’s dance hall. It is a good structure that I resurfaced when I moved here in 2000 and it remains as a shop building.

Location/ Title : Rocky point Wyoming

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Anybody notice the Photobomber in this image? You have to look past the obvious to see the little spoiler lolol. Interestingly enough I didn’t see it until I got the image up on the big screen to finish the image. So I suggest zooming in on this capture lolol. 👀📸

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish.

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

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Cowgirl Watering Hot Mastiff

Cowgirl Watering Hot Mastiff
Cowgirl Watering Hot Mastiff

Cowgirl Watering Hot Mastiff

(Summer Alpenglow)

This 220 pound King Corso Mastiff is one of 3 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). Nothing like a cool bath after the last run of the day. Give 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.

Computer Musings:

I ran across this image recently during a photo-finishing binge searching in some of the various places I’ve stashed images over the years. Most of my older material I keep off line preventing instant access. These images are stored in several separate external drives kept turned off . There fore they are no directly connected to my machine 24/7. (Safe storage). I pull “piles of files” out to work on for a few days from that source. They are all images from the past I’ve taken over the years. This was from 2018.

Note: I also keep old image backups off site in case my house burns down. I’m not loosing a lifetime of work, no way :). Everyone should practice this with their computer data if you have ANYTHING worth worrying about. It’s the end of a year, this is a good time for a backup. Give a portable hard drive for a gift to yourself, backup your machine.

Location: in our compound, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cowgirl Watering Hot Mastiff

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Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

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Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset
Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset

As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this sunset, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.

Tilt/Shift Lenses Musings:

Images as this, formally framed edge to edge, are precisely aligned. This was done in the camera. Holding the camera such and using a “tilt shift” lens to align the posts BACK to parallel.

This type of lens literally moves sideways/up and down on your camera incrementally. You can “Shift” the lens one way or the other moving the image across your cameras sensor. This allows the compensation of the normal curvature induced by a wide angle lens. Typically with just a regular wide angle the posts would be distorted pointing toward the middle, not parallel. Using the tilt/shift lens you can compensate for that distortion giving you perfectly straight lines. So the camera term for the day is “Tilt/Shift lens. They are expensive, rarely usable up here but I’m working more and more images into my work flow. Some adaptors that do the tilt/shit function are available for various applications. This type of lens is something you get into when your tired of wide angle shots when the trees all bend in toward the top center. Stay tuned for more applications of this optical technology.

Brace Yourself Sunset

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Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral
Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Photographic Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments. Try manual mode sometimes…… Only three main things to learn….. Just saying.

When ever I try to capture a fairly bright sun, I actually use no lens filter in front of this or any other of my sun shots for several years now. I use mirrorless camera gear that shows me the image on a video screen. This prevents me from being blinded doing this twice a day when I’m working photography a week at a time. DSLR cameras in contrast to Mirrorless Cameras have a direct path for light to your eye. Yup, you can blind yourself doing this once.

With the right gear rated to do this, turn down your ISO to 100 or lower if your camera will go lower), turn your fstop to the highest number of the lens your using has. (this closes the “pupil of the lens to a pin point). A LOW F-stop will open up the lens and you’ll have overexposure PLUS the tree will be out of focus). High f-stop numbers give you a long depth of focus. As well high f-stop reduces light. (sort of important looking into the furnace).

The last of the three things you adjust in manual mode is Shutter speed. This last setting is your variable with the first two setting taking priority in getting this image. It may take everything your camera has for a fast shutter say 1/3000ths of a second. My Sony Alphas will hit 1/8000th of a second for a LOT less light.

Many consumer entry level cameras don’t have enough dynamic range built in. The ability to shut down light enough is part of that.. Then you use a screw on glass filter in front of the lens. Called Neutral Density filters, available at any camera shop for your lens. Coming in different degrees of darkness, they cut down light. In my experience, they give you ghosts to deal with in the image. This is why I don’t use them..

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

Title: Etherial Light in the Cathedral