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Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road
Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Why do the Pronghorns Cross the Road? Well because they are Pronghorn lolol. Wyoming is home to about 1/2 of the worlds Pronghorn. Most of them cross the road in front of you when ever they have to go out of their way to do so. 😜🤔

I thought this vibrant green grass from the month of May. May is officially the end of the average last frost in this area. Well this year we had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July. Every season was a month late. Except the fact that fall was on a tuesday this year. The next day there was 4 inches of snow everywhere and that was October 1st. We really didn’t have an “Indian Summer” this last fall. Now in Mid-Winter I’m enjoying looking at some of the artsy things I did in the spring.

This image was not so much about the Pronghorn but more about the colors/contrast of the red gravel against the grass. Both textures and colors combine for the stage of a classic Wyotana Scene. Drive the backroad gravel on open range sometime. (Get off the highway). You WILL have pronghorn try to beat your car to cross the road in front of you.

Having said that, over two decades living 70 miles from town, we have unfortunately hit/been hit by some wild animals driving our cars. In 20 years, we are 13 deer, 2 Pronghorn, 1 coyote and one cow. Total damage to vehicles, 1 side mirror, one shock steering stabilizer and a broken bolt on a license plate bracket. Good Bumpers 😀

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

Title: Pronghorns Crossing the Road

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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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Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery
Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Up higher in the backcountry I travel extensively. The high ridges in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands have a host of small groups of Pronghorn Does pooling their young fawns into a nursery. The other adult females/mothers are off grazing elsewhere. Of course the mothers were elsewhere unknown. However, I’m trying to figure out how the grass is better elsewhere lol. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for that behavior from my human viewpoint except… Getting away from the kids, ie. mental health lolol.

This is right at 6 months ago (as this posts) about a month after the fawns were born in June. It never got brown this summer. The babies had a banner year with good grazing. Green grass is rocket fuel to Pronghorn. Nothing like feeding the fastest land animal in north America high octane fuel lolol. I do see them eat sage brush all the time. They are the only animal I’ve ever seen nibble on it. I always thought they taste a bit like sage. I haven’t seen a Pronghorn on ranch for two months+.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. A pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns, I managed to photograph 5 in the same frame. I have more of this encounter. Those will gradually get finished over the winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

I watched this group for about 10 minutes until something spooked the young ones but not the adult. Amazingly they all ran directly toward my camera lol.

The Pronghorn have all migrated 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands consists of a huge area of unpopulated ground. Thousands of Pronghorn migrate there.

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

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

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Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns
Sunset Over the BigHorns

Sunset Over the BigHorns

Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana.

I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 1200 mm long focal length to have a sun that large. on a range so far away. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing.

This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.

Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys). DSLR’s need not try this with a really long lens. That sizzle sound is your eye ball cooking …..

The lower shadow of a mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper. Amazing geology of a very large scale up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Sunset Over the BigHorns

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Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire
Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Horn Layers of Fire

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Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

Windmill's Green Spring Morning
Windmill's Green Spring Morning

Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

I needed to finish this image as I sort of need the dose of green. Image 5 of 6 for Windmill Wednesday. All Windmills All day 🙂

Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘

The red gravel country road winds around our homestead. It USED to run right through our current compound but the country decided to run the road around the house thus all the curves up here. (Thank GOD) I’ve seen days without tracks in the snow on our road. Most winters, we get stranded by the drifts up here. Only oil trucks and a few local ranchers travel this road surrounded entirely by our ranch for 3 miles across 2 states.

With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground.

I consider winters here easy. I spent a decade in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course.

I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

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Dinosaurs and Birds Moon Watching

Dinosaurs and Birds Moon Watching
Dinosaurs and Birds Moon Watching

Dinosaurs and Birds Moon Watching

I Love scientific irony….

It’s not a composite which is why it’s not quite what I wanted focus wise. It took a LOT of smoothing though to compensate for the low light gain as this was handheld (high camera sensitivity gives big chunky grains) .Atmospheric distortion was scalloping the edge of the moon too. I even had to give somewhere with the focus and that was on the moon. I was overly close to the Bird to do this ideally so I’ll use the image to teach. It’s still a pretty cool capture lol.

Photographic Musings.

What you have to do if you just don’t have enough distance from the close object….. HINT: focus BETWEEN the terrestrial object and the moon having each JUST A LITTLE blurry.
Hopefully your highest possible f-stop number for your lens is used. F-stop will give you a deep field of focus. The bottom line is distance from the terrestrial object is your friend. The field of focus may be big enough to bring both into focus. Not perfectly here. Wish I would have had enough time for a tripod. The bird wasn’t well compensated for his time and he left pretty quickly lolol.

Something to consider:
Dinosaurs peered at the same moon that this modern version of an Avian Dinosaur is watching right now. I love ironic scientific connections. I point out that with time the moon is moving away from the earth so the moon was a little bigger and closer during the age of the dinosaurs. It was closer the further back in time you go.

Title:Dinosaurs and Birds Moon Watching

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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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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Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside
Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

If you were to go out and try to shoot a photograph of migrating pronghorns… There is a 90 percent chance you will see the north end of a southbound Pronghorn if you try. This mixed group of guys and gals that just crossed the county road in front of my vehicle. There were hundreds in the string and I have several images from the front and crossing the red county road. None of the group jumped the fence line they were crossing. All to an animal waited patently on the one in front going UNDER the fence. I watched about 100 cross the road one animal or two at a time.

These guys were all walking away on their long traveled route. Taken down in the ThunderBasin National Grasslands from the country road. All vehicular traffic remains banned from the Grasslands. This reserve covers hundreds of square miles. This is literally part of America’s Serengeti. There are several thousand pronghorn that move down there for the winter. . I don’t know the official census but I’m betting those numbers easily. Just a few oil wells and stock tanks dot the landscape. An occasional stock tank flows year round and there are some geothermal waters that they drink in deep winter.

This large area of no human intrusion lessens the stress on the Pronghorn. The winter is bad enough with out large herds running away from humans. Every calorie is important.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pronghorn Hinds Heading Hillside

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Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4
Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!

That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

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Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever
Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

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

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

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

Title: Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

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Corriente’ Longhorn Licker

Corriente' Longhorn Licker
Corriente' Longhorn Licker

Corriente’ Longhorn Licker was actually caught frame to frame edge in the camera lol.

This gal must have had a prickly pear cactus needle or something bitter she ate. This went on for a while as such I did have time to get the aim down. Not a crop, up to 2×3 feet.

Taken on a wonderful spring golden hour morning. Many calves were being born that month. The air was crisp, I was in an open Polaris Ranger. I was driving two track trails in the backcountry. (way off “road”). This small herd of pure bred mom’s we keep were off by themselves in cow paradise. Green Rocket fuel to eat, Lick blocks at the water hole for vitamins, lots of water around, moderate temps. They had an easy year as a group.

It’s easy to travel into the backcountry in the spring. I’m a landscape artist that is always looking of perspective and composition. You become a slave to lighting. If I see it and it’s interesting, I’ll bother to point a camera at it lol. I feel that you experience something deeper catching it in a good camera. I get to relive each experience working on the image in the digital darkroom for 10 minutes average. Then I write a 300 word or so narrative to accompany each image.

My Narratives… side note:

I write like Trump talks. Chain of consciousness plus I type very fast. Believe it or not, there is a technical reason to have long narratives on your post if your a professional photographer. Google will take note of you more/better and place you higher on search results. There are all sorts of technical things I do in my narratives to attract google. The saying is: If your not on the first or second page of google, your not going to be found. 300 words plus it is minimum per image I post. I post 6 a day. That’s around 2000 words I write each day. I’m not sure who’s going to compile it into books but I’m pretty sure there are a few books already written. Easy to assemble by sorting pages. The pages are out there already lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Corriente’ Longhorn Licker

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Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings:

The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.

There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….

Disclaimer:

Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.

If your buying gear soon….

Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

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Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes

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Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me
Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point in the summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.

Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. I have more of these that will gradually get finished this winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

2×3 feet at full resolution.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Fawns Running at Me

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Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

This is a pull back as your eyes would see this scene at around what a 50mm lens sees of a Big Sunset Over the BigHorns Mountains. If you were on my ranch watching from 130 miles distant.

I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing. I’m standing a few hundred yards north of the Montana/Wyoming border to take this so it’s across the state line.

This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.

Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys).

The mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

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Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge
Perpective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Some winters I work pretty hard to get up into the high backcountry in winter. I’ve never gotten stuck though there have been a “few” moments when I thought I might. Not to worry though as I carry a radio. I also keep properly dressed for conditions, This isn’t my first rodeo up on those ridges enjoying all kinds of weather.

I’ve been up there when I was navigating by instinct before. It can be totally pitch black. You actually can’t see yard lights up here as literally no structures are out there. If you get lost, find fenceline and follow. Having a compass can save your life. I don’t trust GPS at all.

The view is in Wyoming looking north west across the border ant the last ridge called the “Red Hills” which is 40 miles out. Between here and there is the entire width of the Little Powder River Basin with the Prairie Dog Hills before the flats in the foreground (my place. ).

This image was taken with me standing in Wyoming but looking Northwest to the Mountains in the distance. I’m literally living in the borderlands.

You might not that there are no man made structures visible anywhere. Within the frame is roughly 300 square miles swept over of snowy landscape. You have to love winter up on the ridges. I actually plow a two track ranch road so as to get up this high. Before you think I’m a nut, (I am), I do carry a couple of good radios/shovels and supplier. I am always able to contact with others while I “run up the hill”.

Nobody likes up this high as there is literally no shelter up here. I do know of an old 1920’s collapsed sod roof house with a model A carcass nearby up here. This is a north west slope which means the wind funnels up that valley right about to this point. Not a good place for a house. Too much wind to live on the ridges and worse here in this funnel. It’s also further to water up here. Tough place to Pioneer in. Those early settlers were tough stuff.

Location; “Ridge One”, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

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Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

Robin Fledgeling Personally Close
Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

I took a few images of this Robin Fledgeling Personally Close. He was young and foolish, I had a long lens. The two of us got along fine together. I was trying NOT to attract my resident ranch cat population up into the windbreak where this guy was trying to grow up. Flight was clumsey due to it’s flight feathers partial development.

As I say it was ignorant of this big lumbering smelly noisy human walking around might be a threat. It had drawn a line in the sand as to how close I could get to him or he would flutter off. So I went back into the house and got an 800mm lens that focuses as close as 15 feet. These captures are the result. Macro work with a 2 foot long lens is always challenging. My returning to the area, he was approximately where I left him a mere 5 minutes earlier. I’m not one to complain about negotiations with a wild creature that last longer than a few seconds…maybe a minute. In all honesty, it did take me a minute to find him again back in the pretty thick windbreak.

It looks like “Birdie Sanders” to me. Just perhaps a true characterization maybe not but there is something about the down feathers….🤔😜 It will loose those down feathers pretty quickly. It flew south with all the other Robin Red Breasts (many). There is a good population of them. They compete with Meadowlarks for bugs but the Meadowlarks VASTY outnumber them. I seem to remember that Robins are European imports but memory fades and fails. Anyone know?

I have another images of this birds wonderful face, head and eye floating around posted a few days ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (In the Windbreak west of our homestead.

Title: Robin Fledgeling Personally Close

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Split Eared Fawn with Mom

Split Eared Fawn with Mom
Split Eared Fawn with Mom

Split Eared Fawn with Mom

This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom and interesting son (fawn) . The very distinctive young one has both a split left (his) ear and UNIBROW lolol. That with the little black chin goatee beard has totally ID’d him as “Mr. Uniibrow” to me. 

I’ll watch ‘Mr Unibrow” over the years as he grows up. He’s a member of a group that stay close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a star in years to come. He’s about 7 months old now. He’s distinctive enough I’ll have images of him from now through 4 years anyway assuming he survives. 

There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches. 

This is a 1200mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Split Eared Fawn with Mom

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Wind and Solar Set

Wind and Solar Set
Wind and Solar Set

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

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

Solar Panels:

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

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

Windmills:

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

A Wind and Solar Set

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Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail
Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail is BEST seen full screen.

Setting the mood:

The layers of ridges, the dark civil twilight slowly encroaching into nautical twilight. Then the stars will start to come out. Setting very quickly, less than a minute left before the horizon rises to cover the “Sail” of the ship so far away. The first ridge (black) is 40 miles away from my lens. The second Ridge is the Big Horn Mountain chain 130 miles out from my camera. Look carefully to see the outline of the whole moon. This is all very Subtle and it was quite dark for this capture.

I seldom see such a clear sky on a night that had very heavy alpenglow. (Starts out red, goes to orange and then this umber color. This is certainly the best moon sail I’ve ever captured this late in twilight. (just minutes before Nautical Twilight) Not having grain in an image like this is a gift. Only the moon edges blurred by several hundred miles of atmosphere is coarse.

Photographic notes.

Being a student of such things I think it worth noting that being able to differentiate the two ridges in this image or see the un lit side of the moon is almost magic (high technology we don’t understand) This is a brand new Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back and the dynamic range on this camera is PHENOMENAL. It also gives me 100 meg raw files to begin with 🙂 (60 meg .jpg out of the box). Put it on good fast glass and it’s a Monster for low light.

Dynamic Range??? What is that?? Low light??

. The Human Eye has 20 f-stops of Dynamic Range.(DR) This newest Sony has 15 f-stops of DR compared to less in MOST other cameras. The ability to see black cats in a coal bin and make out the individual hairs on the cat is good DR. . DR is all about seeing MORE levels of black or whiter on duller whites between. Seeing a white weasel on snow and picking out white hairs is all about DR. Or in this case, resolving a difference in what I thought at the moment was a dark silhouetted single ridge landscape but the data was there.

The inability of a camera to take the photo of stars behind a properly exposed full moon is due to that (at least) 5 f-stop difference between the human eye and some of the best technology we use. (as a normal consumer anyway). IF you ever see a properly exposed detailed Full Moon AND there are stars in the background of the image…..It’s a composite image combining a star field in photoshop which is very easy to do. If the artist is presenting it as a photo, he/she is a fibbing a tad.

Stars behind the moon.

I use pretty good (very good) gear and I CAN NOT take a close up (long lens) photo of a Full Moon where you can see the properly exposed details AND have stars in the photo. I see fakes ALL the time. Literally I have worn down a few batteries out trying to do so lolol…It is however, really easy to do it in photoshop all day lol. A veiled moon is easy to get SOME starts through the cracks in the clouds but not an unfettered full bright moon. A single Bright Planet like Jupiter MAYBE. Not a star field….. “ain’t gonna happen”. It goes against the Laws of Physics involved.

Gear, Sony Alpha 7R4, Canon 600mm with a 2x on a good tripod. 1 second time exposure, ISO 250, f-11

Location: From my front yard: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Crescent Moon Setting Sail

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“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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

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

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

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

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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

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

Erosional Remnants:

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

Big Sky Herringbone Sunset
Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

Big Sky Herringbone Sunset

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

Herringbone Sky:

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Big Sky Herringone Sunset

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Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next

Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next
Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next

Here we are with Halloween night about over…The witches are heading home…….Christmas is next.

Is that a christmas tree??? Maybe an angel?? Actually that’s lens flare which is an artifact phenomena inside the lens from really bright light bouncing about.
Another artist has convinced me that they are being used in movies now as “cool” work and there are even filters to add them to your images.

This is a natural lens flare (as it were) that I could work at positioning on the screen overlaying the background of the “Red Hills” in the distance (40 miles).

I’m trying to work these things lolo. I’m not sure what the big thing is but hey, here is a big one. Like it???😲
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Moon Rising: Lone Tree

Moon Rising: Lone Tree
Moon Behind the Lone Tree on the Ridge

Photographing Moor Rising: Lone Tree is a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.

Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. It’s a good skill to hone for when the right situation presents itself.. Like this 📸

You have to get working that camera on Manual if you want to do this kind of work lol. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of fstop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitiviey) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 Suffice to say, distance is your friend here and lots of lens to do this.

. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet tall from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Full frame not a crop.

Have a great day all, be safe in all you do… 😀


Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming Montana borderlands

Moon Rising: Lone Tree

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Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains

Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains
Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains

There is literally every color of the rainbow in this image lol. The wedge at the middle of the horizon is the silhouette of the Big Horn Mountains where the sun is setting directly behind. There are only a few weeks a year I can take these but historically the weather window has been closed for most of the time. I consider these hard to get with the sun directly over the peaks 130 miles away. I have to move many miles north now to keep getting this chance as the sun moves rapidly down the range more progressively each sunset in the years timeline.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Sunset over the Borderlands of Wyotana

Sunset over the Borderlands of Wyotana
Sunset over the Borderlands of Wyotana

Here’s where I spent the other evening at sunset. The Borderlands are such that when I take a photo east and or west, I’m usually having parts of both Montana (distance) and Wyoming (close) in the image.

There were small storms in the area spitting either snow or rain depending on your elevation at the time. I waited to go out until the sun was just above the “sun slit” under the cloud deck. Watching what is going on has saved me a lot of time here and there lol.

This is a nice little isolated lake not far from a road but you really can’t see it from the road. Most travelers up here drive 100 yards from this and never see it. Spring fed of course
I’m sure it was seep 100 years ago. So the ranches damed it up along with many other ponds decades ago.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Great Pumpkin Rising

Great Pumpkin Rising
Halloween Eyes from a Setting Sun

These Evil Halloween Eyes from a rising sun I took a week ago as this posts. I’m always on the lookout for the Great Pumpkin Rising.🎃 I caught him here just sticking his nose over the hill top. Particularly at this time of year when all the supernatural creatures are out and about roaming the backcountry just waiting for an unsuspecting photographer to wander by… As if all the photobombing windmills were not enough for me to deal with……😜

The Sun was down below the horizon, this is a night sky, the spot lights from the sun’s down angle illuminating and lighting up the atmospheric ice suspended in the air…. It gave me this effect and several others interesting images as the clouds changed over the timeline. This is a ridge 40 miles out so a pretty small part of the sky which was pretty dark. These sky shows each have their own personality, sometimes several bi-polar sunset/sunrises hit me in a row lol. . I try and like to think I can read a sky like the actor Bill Paxton’s character in the movie “Twister” except I try to predict good or bad sunrise/sunset ahead of time to figure out what to do instead of where to chase the tornado as in that B movie lolol. More likely one of my many Delusions… yup 😄

Share freely with the season. It’s a natural photo not a digital concoction I swear. This stuff really happens… I just set my gear and click …..📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Our Atmospheric Lens in Action Distorting the Sun

Our Atmospheric Lens in Action Distorting the Sun
Our Atmospheric Lens in Action Distorting the Sun

I have seen some distorted sunrises before but sheeeesh..I could watch the roiling atmosphere live in my Sony Alphas video eyepiece. You could see the edge of the sun actively spinning in little mirage like circles caught clearly here as a still.

That tree is about 500 yards out and in focus, everything behind that ridge slowly starts to get affected by the mirage turbulence that morning. One of the best/most intense distortion I’ve seen with this 1200 mm effective super-telephoto. It resembles an oil painting lol. The sun is clearly out of round here due to the effect that morning.

Right at the Montana/Wyoming border looking east as the horizon drops exposing the relatively fixed sun (sun rises is the myth it’s the earth that is moving). Remember, things are as they are, not as they seem or your are told…. 🤣 (My First rule of science and thinking in general ).

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