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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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Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line
Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸

As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.

Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.

This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title : Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired
Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired

During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.

Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.

We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.

Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Perspective Bracing and Wired

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Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective
Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

This is indeed what a flat tire looked like 100 years ago. This old solder is tied along a fenceline high in the backcountry I suspect it’s 1930 vintage or before. The cattle every year rub on this wheel. Over the years this old wagon has had thousands of cattle rub and scratch on it. Wood rots very slowly here with 50 to 100 year old items like this still just looking like barn wood. Steel however will last a very long time.

I’m not sure what happened in the history of this device but I suspect the wagon it was supporting was overloaded and a rock appeared to start the dimple in the wheel. Once started the collapse cascaded and stopped the wagon in it’s tracks. This particular wheel was about 5 miles away from the nearest general store of the era so this might have not been a terrible thing. I suspect the 5 mile walk must have occurred in nice weather without wind, rain or snow to hinder the now on foot traveler to get help. There was no AAA tire service to come fix the rig either. No cell Phone, no landline phone, no radio. Word of mouth carried by hoof was the high technology of the day in this remote backcountry.

The red light from the JUST rising sun over my right shoulder is bouncing back off the projector screen the hoar frost on the trees provides. This is a common color I see when the “Belt of Venus” pink light comes down on the high ridge tops.

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

Title: .Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

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Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight
Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.

My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.

Musings on difficult photographic environments:

Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

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Up On a Backcountry Ridge

Up On a Backcountry Ridge
Up On a Backcountry Ridge

Up On a Backcountry Ridge

This kind of Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these coated pine needles “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit. Add a fence for the far vanishing point due to the distance and we’re good to go 🤘

The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly yellow color cast on this particular morning. The Yellow light projected through the Alpenglow phenomena low on the horizon shows the color of light refracted by the ice suspended there. Transmitted to the local objects, pine needles and fences coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This yellow color cast is not that common on local vegetation. Usually it presents only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.

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: Up On a Backcountry Ridge

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Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych
Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych (2- 20″x20″ images)

That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.

That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.

Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.

Title: Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

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Pregnant Pronghorn Spring Time

Pregnant Pronghorn Spring Time
Pregnant Pronghorn Spring Time

Pregnant Pronghorn Spring Time

In this spring time shot, these Pronghorn Does are still in winter coat and are starting to shed in clumps. The doe in the foreground right is way pregnant. Of great interest to me are the differences in the color of their coat depending on the angle of the golden light from the sun. In shadow, there is a marked tan color. Their coat turns to reddish under the color cast.

These are Pronghorn. They are not “Antelopes” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…

The best way to tell a male from a female is to look for a black cheek patch a male has absent here. These are females sans that patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. (I’ve done it). . It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands.

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorn Spring Time

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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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Pronghorn Buck Passing Through

Pronghorn Buck Passing Through
Pronghorn Buck Passing Through

Pronghorn Buck Passing Through

This Amazing Game Trail Camera Image was from early summer. Damp from a passing shower he was. Pronghorn Hair is stiff tending to coarse anyway but just add some slick to it and here you are.

What I loose in quality of file I make up for in the candid nature of these Game Trail Camera images. One in a thousand is any good but they can be really excellent images. This one stood right out from the crowd of thousands. I currently run a network of 29 game cameras.

He could have bigger horns but I’m not sure how this could be much more interesting a photo than it is lol. Automatic cameras are always there working for me as long as they have batteries. 99 percent of the images they take are terribly flawed in several ways. I finish very few for posting or as I call it polishing out the imperfections inherent in the Game Trail Camera Captures. I spent some time on this one to improve the grain, smooth out the messy/artifact filled .jpg these cameras produce. This wonderful image would not have been possible without photoshop. The colors are spot on with the original . All the edges between high contrast area needed work to eliminate an artifact.

Virtually every game trail camera made produces approximately a 2 pixel white line between say the sky and the grass or the ears of the antelope and the sky. I had to laboriously blend all those edges together. Including the grass heads which will make you cross eyed lolol.

So maybe this is ART or a Photo or a Hybrid. I just restored the scene to reality as there isn’t a 2 pixel wide line between high contrast areas in the real world. Fixing camera problems in photoshop should get me a free ride with purists🤔🤘📷 The Digital Dark Room is an important tool in my photography.

Perfect camera placement at 3 feet from the wildlife funnel. . An impossible shot in person with a pro camera in manual mode. . I love Game Trail Cameras anyhow❤️📷 Placement is about the only thing you have control of to any precision.

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Passing Through

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Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live 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: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

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First Post this Decade

First Post this Decade
First Post this Decade

I’m betting this is the VERY FIRST Post this Decade on Facebook and several other social media sites. It is also the last post of the decade of the teens in the Mountain Time Zone any way.

Literally posted at 12 midnight December 31, 2019 / January 1, 2020 precisely but only on my personal FB page. It took a while to get it on other forums/sites lol. That’s mountain standard time however lolol. Machine accuracy.

I’ve met LOTS of real fence posts in my 20 years on a backcountry Wyotana ranch. Never had a seriously negative encounter with one other than the labor/toil necessary to implant one into the ground. This is a big corner post. I suspect that hole to be hand dug.

I don’t consider this hazardous duty though it was chilly at the time ❄️. This is a good long morning drive from my place just to do photography on “Wyoming Backroads”. Heading that direction is a rare event. I always look for old rusty signs on posts anyway. You have to see this stuff going down the road. Having a good camera with you is also helpful lolol. . Love old no hunting signs.

SO, Musings of the history here….

According to the plaque: This wooden post was planted in 1942 . The plaque says “Set BY EARL REYNOLDS APRIL 5 1942 a mere 77 and change years ago. 😜📷

There are 9 bullet holes where some vandal shot the antiquity. That obviously happened long ago as well. This is located in a remote part of northeastern Wyoming maybe 35 miles from my ranch.

Earl was working out here on a ranch during the WWII doing cattle production obviously. That war was a team effort. Need beef and the cowboys of the west were doing their best. There were a bunch of Wyoming men that died in that conflict.

Location: Northeastern Wyoming.

Title First Post this Decade

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Meadowlark’s Morning Song

Meadowlark's Morning Song
Meadowlark's Morning Song

Meadowlark’s Morning Song

As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass covered by the white blanket. We just had a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton truck with a horse trailer attached get stuck in the snow.

This seems to be a popular post with all the decorations sitting on the top. When every you have many acres of birds with one tall post, it is going to be used as a perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.

These guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out feeders as my cats would make short work of that plus I feed birds generally out in our barnyard when I feed my chickens. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock and about 1/2 a gallon to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that trough. I can’t blame them.

The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring posted here a day after the solstice.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark’s Morning Song

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Pronghorns Lining Up

Pronghorns Lining Up
Pronghorns Lining Up

Pronghorns Lining Up

I find this is one of the few ways Pronghorn Does get their heads together. Seeing alignments now and then since I do a lot of photography of herds. I normally get two lined up pretty easily but 3 is a good capture.

The North American Pronghorn:

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

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

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

Title: Pronghorns Lining Up

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Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera
Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. I only got 6 of the running fawns in this frame. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I had been there a while. The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them.

When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal. stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults.

This group ran by my Jeeps I’d say within 20 yards. I get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns. If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. I actually was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me.

I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Fawns Running at the Camera

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Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light
Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

The beautiful little girl was in perfect morning light with a very wet nose. She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye. Longest eye lashes ever these guys. Then you don’t have a hat brim, they must be the next best thing.

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…

The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch. This is a female sans the patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

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

Title: Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

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Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet
Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Not many Western Meadowlarks were singing the morning I got this capture. We are in their breeding area

It was not funny to the Meadowlarks as it was to me. This particular snow made it hard to find a place to alight. IT stuck to everything. Other birds occupied ALL perches in all directions. Worse: No one wanted to walk in the several inch thick sloppy wet snow. It was sticking to everything including the poor birds feet. A favorite perch were the electric wires around my compound.. There are other photos of that as well lol. There were many good captures this day.

Meadowlarks are insect and seed eaters. They are very well adapted to life up here in this remote grasslands up here on the high ridges. I’m sure they time their arrival or departure based on insect availability I suspect. They watch the weather pretty closely lol. The whole prairie was full of Meadowlarks this day and no shelter in this storm. The snow stuck to his feet made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one dealing with it lolol. There is companionship often formed in misery……..

Meadowlarks left this year around early October when winter started and heavier snows moved through. We’ve had a constant barrage of storms with just a bit of warmer relief since. 40 degrees and still is T-shirt weather in this country. We’ve already been below zero this year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal
Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Up Close and Personal

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.

This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.

These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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This Post Was Posted

This Post Was Posted
This Post Was Posted

“This Post Was Posted” is a 2:1 Aspect up to 40 x20 inches.

This fence is on the Montana border. Montana is (left) of the fence. . Wyoming is (right) of the fence. It’s 10,000 kilometers from the North Pole to the Equator. This fenceline is pretty durn close to exactly 1/2 way between the two important geographic features on the globe. This coincides with the 45 degrees north latitude. (the north pole is 90 degrees and the equator is 0 degrees. This is looking east and is just after sunset in early civil twilight.

Some of these posts are really really really old. Wood takes a long time to rot up here. We don’t get a lot of moisture at 14 inches average a year so it stays mostly dry and stable. This is a massive old cedar post used to anchor a good section of fairly tight fence. Our ranch is located on both sides of the border of course. We pay taxes in both states. It’s pretty close to 50/50 in each state. 2 courses of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship are in Montana and 2 courses are in Wyoming as well.

Geologic Musings:

RIght here at the border, under this fence, the Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing Rock Formations magically change name from Hell Creek Formation (in South Dakota and Montana) versus Lance formation (Wyoming). Based on all sorts of reasons known only to the people doing stratigraphy, they arbitrarily named the same rock formations caused by the same environment at the same time, two different names. Hell Creek left, Lance right. Sort of silly I think but hey, I only have a Masters in Geology. I don’t have it Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I don’t worry too much about what I can’t change 🤔 Filed under trivia…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: This Post Was Posted

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Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest
Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderline.

Title: Deer Synchronized Jumping Contest

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Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse
Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is only a few inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. These birds are found only on the North American continent. . Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

The They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced
Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced is the real deal lol.

That is a fence brace, it frames, rustically here, 4 exhumed volcanic necks from the of Northeastern corner of Wyoming. The three on the right are of course the Missouri Buttes and the one furthest left is a little known place called Devil’s Tower National Monument. These 4 piles of hard rock that resisted erosion that removed all . This view is covering about 35 miles of landscape from this ridge.

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big. These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them and supporting hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River and the Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of snow at the moment….for early November. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live 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: Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

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Perspective: Backcountry Brace

Perspective: Backcountry Brace
Perspective: Backcountry Brace

Perspective: Backcountry Brace

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Perspective: Backcountry Brace

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Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air
Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air is a pretty rare capture from one of my better placed game trail cameras.

I have over 20 years of fairly serious pursuit of images, managed to get 3 or 4 captures of Pronghorn (incorrectly named Antelope since they aren’t). This female (with large horns for a doe) has got some air here clearing a foot above the 4 foot wire at this location. *(Males have a black cheek patch is how you tell for sure). I have another camera that looks at the creatures crawling under the fence here and this camera watching over the wire. I didn’t have much extra room on the top of the frame for this one lol. Just about cut off her head.

So they do jump over fences. Not very often. I’ve even seen antelope that have felt pressured go under in deference to going over if they could. This is very uncommon in this country where fences are usually fairly loose from the cattle pressure on them. I have hundreds of deer jumping fence, Pronghorn….not so much…

About the only thing you really have control of with Game trail cameras is their placement. Finding a spot that wildlife consistently uses to go through fences is the game. It’s an easy placement for a camera at a water tank or other game funnel. I was hoping for more flocks of birds from this camera but a Prancing Pronghorn Catching air will do lolol. This is a few hundred yards from The Montana/Wyoming border.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting
Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

Game Trail Camera Capture, Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

I didn’t do anything to this image to “Clean up” the .jpg that a 20 megapixel game trail camera gave me. This will teach you what the problems with the equipment is. “Meadowlark Fence line Morning Meeting”

Set up:

So from my perspective as a professional photographic artist…. First step is to properly position cameras to catch things. This ended up a WONDERFUL capture with all sorts of quality issues due to equipment. It’s rare to catch 2 Meadowlarks in the same frame this close….😲It is a unique captures for sure. I set up this camera all summer on this fence line brace near a gate with a salt lick nearby. Where you have cows hang out, you get birds . Meadowlarks are my main target but I’ll take an eagle landing if such was meant to be lolol… Anyway, I got this “useable” image. A good catch so to speak…

Problems

The problem in Game Trail Camera images (depending on the model of course) is that they tend to not handle delineations between areas of differing contrast very well. Look at the piece of barbed wire off to the right of the post as it goes up to the grey sky. It has a 2-3 pixel white line surrounding the whole thing. The landscape has the same issue between the ridge top and the sky above. A several pixel White line which is tedious and tricky to remove from grass..

Grainy:

Then there is the “Grain” from the automatic camera upping the ISO (camera sensitivity) I could “Smooth” the grain in the uniform sky easily but not on the bird up close which is grainy as heck partially out of focus so close to the camera.

Candid

To an image, these game trail camera captures are candid. Natural behavior without a human behind the lens preventing this Meadowlark Fence line morning meeting from even occurring.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting

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Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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

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


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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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Dozen Deer Jumping Compilation

Dozen Deer Jumping Compilation
One Deer Herd Jumping a Fence Compilation

Dozen deer jumping compilation occurred in about 3 minutes by the timeline from march this year……… They weren’t panic’d as they took their time, waited patiently one at a time and walked away when all had cleared the obstacle. These same deer have seen my rigs all year and could care less if I was there as long as I stay in the vehicle lolol. They don’t like the human form much..🤔

Contest:

I’m trying to decide who “Won” the height title here and I think the deer in the top image just right of center wins . The one to his left is likely to get a rash from that jump lolol.

It’s not often I see more than a few deer clearing a fence a dozen Deer Jumping Compilation was well deserved lolol.. I usually manage to get one or two of them in small groups but this was a unique opportunity. I was presented with good lighting, had a good position and gear which was up to the task at hand 📸📸 There is a mix of bucks and does in this group. Some youngsters too. I followed them day by day pretty much all last winter till they finally broke up into separate groups

This is a mixed herd with Bucks and Does both in the group. One of the bucks was indeed the leader and decided to move into the next pasture for the group. I simply came upon the scene just in time to stop and bring a long lens into play. This is very close to the Montana/Wyoming border…about 200 yards. Animals move relatively freely from field to field here. Usually heading from a pasture with water in it, to a pasture with good grazing in it. They find a weak point, a broken wire, an easy place to crosS. The closest place was about 1/4 mile down this fenceline. Thus that wise old buck decided to go for it there. The little/young deer suffered a lot of intimidation from this jump and a few barely cleared.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch about 50 feet from the Montana/Wyoming border…

Dozen Deer Jumping Competition

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Meadowlarks On Barbed Wire

Meadowlarks On Barbed Wire in the backcountry
Meadowlarks Down Yonder on the Fence Line

Meadowlarks On Barbed Wire: They were qctually named by Audubon himself noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though.
They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I cam see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. Meadowlarks on Barbed Wire is a 2×3 aspect image/

Approaching

These birds dont mind you coming to a stop when you see them. DON’t move once you stop because they will if you do . There are actually 3 birds here. One is flying off in the distance not counting the other one over the fence post on the far left distance lolol.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots. This image is a game trail camera shot. (I use very good Game Trail Cameras that are slowly migrating to the best places over time as I discover the locations that work best at different times of the year..Ninty percent of my encounters with Meadowlarks are at distance. Rarely one will let me into it’s “Personal Space” with my Jeep as a portable blind. This game Trail Camera got this from about 3 feet away with a wide lens. It’s a whole different perspective on these little guys than through a long telephoto lens.

There were a lot of these guys around until the End of October when It got cold enough all the insects were knocked down by the freeze. No bug, no food, and they fly south to better climates.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands