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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing
Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing

The Cotton Wood Trees are freshly leafing. Still some cold days to come and the Cottonwoods flowers were out a week ago. About to test the thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds are roughly 5 pound, 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Herons. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right. Sometimes dramatically from the wind that afternoon.

This female had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, she had to land on a moving target. She nailed the landing as she was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. These Avian Dinosaurian descendants are AMAZING masters of the sky. This a shift change with a neighbor watching..

I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building a nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. Identification is usually because the male carries sticks to the nest and I’ve never seen a female do so. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.

I’ve seen them land and take off in all wind situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down as delicately as spider silk in the breeze. It’s amazing to watch a fine motor skill control stall speed in the single mph digits.

Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Heron High Jinx Landing

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Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze
Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it is hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the tippy top. It was variously gusty / windy that morning at 5 AM.

These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are truly AMAZING circus actors. As far as I can tell they are total masters of their environment!📸 This bird was sitting about 150 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by gaining elevation up to them. Leaves will shortly be getting in my way of seeing into their cloistered world.. Soon the curtain will be drawn except for the coming and going of the birds from the rookery here on the ranch.

The rookery/colony is only a 6 nest group along a remote backcountry lake. The only visitors to this place are me and who ever hays the ground around the lake that year. 99 percent of the time no one bothers this area. I have a game trail camera under their nests but I won’t get there for some time as disturbing the nests is not a good plan. I won’t get out of my truck if I’m within 300 yards of these guys.

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

Title: Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

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The Birds on the Border

The Birds on the Border
The Birds on the Border

The Birds on the Border

That’s a LOT of BlackBirds (maybe cowbirds) in one photo. The flock surrounds the camera. This is a well placed game trail camera capture that is located at a water tank. I occasionally get migrating flocks pass through the cameras field of view. This was in mid-April when we still had some snow on the ground. I often place cameras around natural game attractants and in funnels.

As I type this it’s getting time to work sunset. I’m considering a bit early to pick up a couple of chips and service some game trail cameras. I will often leave cameras for months at a time between visits to their location. They keep a good eye on things for me when I can’t be there. It’s truly amazing when they catch and what they catch. Most of them use 2 different cameras. On for Infra-red night images and one for day images.

Each image from this particular camera tends to be a little grainy. Other cameras have other issues with the quality of the .jpg image. But they all share the silly candid nature of the wild creatures that wander by my photon traps. I’m currently running a line of 29 game trail cameras. Many of them are due to check this time of year with all the early spring migration and animal movement. I’m opening certain gates to create wildlife funnels of easy access/egress. There are usually cameras planted in those areas.

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

Title: The Birds on the Border

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Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice
Heron Fencing Practice

Heron Fencing Practice

It took me about 10 minutes to drive up this close once I crested the nearby hill exposing my self. . When I approach this area, I slowly encroach in steps. It’s comparable to imitating a grazing animal. The Raptor is pretty quiet. Particularly when compared to my previous clinking rattleing Jeep Grand Cherokee. This new rig is also very Black, dark and stealthy in it’s appearance. Lots of black animals walking around the hills (angus cattle). So my new rig is working very well to integrate into the scheme of things up here.

The various creatures on ranch will become accustomed to that new Ford F-150 Raptor with time. I also worked a herd of deer this same evening getting very close for this early in the season.

The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of nesting season. I have only seen 8 Herons actively nesting so far. There may be some others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 7 nests in the trees across the lake from where this guy stands here. (one newly built this year) The male here did just fly up to the nest greeting it’s mate with a 3 Musketeers sword/beak swish caught here. They didn’t care about my approach and were fine in my rear view mirror when I backed up and away to change the scene. (got enough photos lolol).

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

Title: Heron Fencing Practice

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Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870

Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870
Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870

Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870 (I think)

There are actually several models/makers of this and similar vaneless windmill that this one could be. I’m not sure which it is positively…

Windmill technology had been around since 200 BC in China. By the 11th century with big mills in Europe. To grind grain and drain swamps were their main use. The technology brought into Europe by the Crusaders returning home. By the 1700’s the industrial revolution using water and eventually steam power reduced their use considerably. (Notable exception for the dutch). But in the Early 1800’s the new settlers to the Great Plains of America had a use for the wind engines. The Emigrants from Europe brought wind power with them. The western frontier provided a crucible. Upon which the technology constantly proved it’s merit. Pumping water was it’s task.

In the American West, settlers used wind to do work and conquer the land that otherwise would be marginal without a water source for stock. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, small wind generated water wells were ubiquitous across the country. Almost as numerous as the mills were the companies manufacturing them great and small.

As rural electrification proceeded the number of Windmill’s declined starting in the 1930’s. We used a windmill in a remote pasture until 2006. We ran a water pipeline from an electric well about 2 miles to it. There is also a solar powered well on our ranch.

Location: Northeastern Wyoming (Wyotana)

Title: Windmill Fairbanks-Morris Circa 1870

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Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds

Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds
Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds

Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds

Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds for you Pareidolia “sufferers”. You know who you are lol?. The colorful flowing finned fish living in little pint sized fish bowls as most of us have had one time or the other. Most of you don’t know my wife and I owned the only pet shop in a good sized college town for 6 years… I’ve had fish since I was 12 years old non stop. I still run an aquaponic greenhouse with several hundred pounds of live Tilapia with 128 square feet of vegetables growing off of it lol. In other words, I have fish branded into my brain lol. I also detect several uses in mirroring this image around the 1/2 face in the lower clouds.

Sunsets in the backcountry fall into so many varieties I have to develop a way to catalogue them. The high white clouds are in unfiltered sunlight passing through very little atmosphere. The lower clouds are bathed in light that has traveled many miles through surface air. That filled with particulates and moisture. Only the longest red wavelengths at the base make it through the longest path through the thickest air. This is a pure red, yellow green, blue, darker blue twilight gradient. The sun is still up in this capture. The sun is highly obscured . It might as well be twilight lol.

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

Title: Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds

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Heron Mated Pair Nested

Heron Mated Pair Nested
Heron Mated Pair Nested

Heron Mated Pair Nested

Great Blue Herons are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These two are sitting in a fixed up nest that still remained from the year(s) before. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here for Herons. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action.

Absent all winter having migrated to warmer climes, they returned a month ago to start nesting. . These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will. Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants last year included a great horned owl and chick in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter. Raptors fly about harassing the Great Blue Herons.

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

Title: Heron Mated Pair Nested

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Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan
Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well.

Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier this season before leaves are in the way, I am able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. They are sitting on eggs currently It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas.

I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Great Blue Heron Wingspan

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“W” Butte at Sunset

"W" Butte at Sunset
"W" Butte at Sunset

“W” Butte at Sunset

That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️

So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.

That butte is capped by the Fox Hill Sandstone. That formation was derived from the Beach Sand the Dinosaurs were sunning themselves on. I expect to find those little umbrellas in frosty mixed drinks as fossils there. I see a host of sun chairs and umbrellas on that beach. Ocean sediments are on the surface east of there. Terrestrial sediments to the west of that butte. All Cretaceous in age. All three environments (sea, beach, and land) occured coterminously. Those are just lateral environments as we have today. They did migrate with time and have a complex relationship underground based on the gradual movement of the land based (terrestrial sediments) laterally. The google word for this is “Faces Geology”. It’s a complex concept. Have fun with that.

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

Title: “W” Butte at Sunset

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Heron Pair Building Nest

Heron Pair Building Nest
Heron Pair Building Nest

Heron Pair Building Nest

With a pink “Belt of Venus” twilight sky behind, the Male Great Blue Heron brings the sticks to it’s mate. The female builds the next and this is a brand new nest for 2020. There are at least 6 other nests in this treeline for these 5x5x5 birds. (5 foot tall, 5 foot wingspan, and 5 pounds). They are basically dinosaurs without teeth and tail in this paleontologists opinion. Tough light to freeze a flying flapping bird…

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the Raptor and Owl Nests as well. Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.

I am able to see clearly all 7 nests in this “rookery” at this early date. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. The leaves will obfuscate most of the nests from my long lenses (150 yards across a lake and 50 feet up this Cottonwood)

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Pair Building Nest

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Dock of the Lake

Dock of the Lake
Dock of the Lake

Dock of the Lake

With all dues to Otis Redding…

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watchin’ the ships roll in
Then I watch ’em roll away againI’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide, roll away
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Looks like nothin’s gonna change
Everything seems to stay the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the sameI’m sittin’ here restin’ my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
This two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home
Now I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay

This capture is at the entrance to our dock on a small pond on ranch. IT’s a floating dock so the widely variable lake level is always a few inches below the top of the dock. I love my floating dock on this pond. If Im’ not hanging out there with cameras, the ducks often sit on it, leaving gifts for me to step in and collect eggs on occasionally. It was a little frosty this morning with the leaves in the foreground bearing evidence of the chill overnight.

The Herringbone skies were inviting to the photographer in me. The close / far perspective in the frame speaks volumes with the safety rope, the posts, the leaf litter, are all telling a story. Each story adds to the other to make up the book of this moment in space and time.

Title: Dock of the Lake

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Golden Hour Windmill Morning

Golden Hour Windmill Morning
Golden Hour Windmill Morning

Golden Hour Windmill Morning

Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite: I know there are a bunch of you that are withdrawing from a paucity of windmill images in your news feed. I will try to keep up with your insatiable demand. You know who you are but don’t let your partner know you look at this stuff…. 😜📸

This is “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill doing what he does best. Photobombing my landscapes. I only tolerate him for his negotiation skills with the various creatures around the ranch. I give him credit for many good animal “sittings”. (Years long narrative). He is also a reasonably good scale for an event this big lolol.

Sunrise was just starting to crack over the ridge who’s shadow I stand in. The Windmill up slope reaches up to be illuminated. But the ramp leading to it is in the dark. This corresponds to around 18 minutes after sunrise most of the year. To see rain shafts moving across the valley beyond this shallow ridge is a sight to behold. The morning sun’s color components from orange to the non-colorcast white clouds high up. All in a smooth gradient up the center of the frame.

The high clouds reflecting white uncolored light back to my camera. That light passed through much less atmosphere. The orange light cast by classic atmospherically filtered photons. Those survivors reflected back to my camera are what you see. Shorter wavelengths usually become absorbed on the long trip through the atmospheric gauntlet/filter doing it’s job. . . 🤔👀😜

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

Title: Golden Hour Windmill Morning

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Blue Heron Mated Pair

Blue Heron Mated Pair
Blue Heron Mated Pair

Blue Heron Mated Pair

These two could have cared less I was slowly moving in their general direction. They are just starting to build their next with the male bringing sticks to the female. She is the construction engineer of the two. He’s the classic hunter / gatherer. I believe these two killed a Red Tail Hawk I found under their nesting area a few weeks old carcass. Both flew off this AM from the harrassment. So I went to tend to a game trail camera along that tree line. Thusly I drove under the trees in my Black pickup. Screeches above… I watched from a terrible vantage an acrobatic chase routine of Herons getting bombed by 3 Red Tailed Hawks located in this treeline. I’ve seen all sorts of aggressive behavior and posturing between the two different species fighting for the good nesting spots. Raptor/Heron Wars!

I believe these guys more or less consider my truck just a noisy/smelly Black Angus Cow playing Sirus XM 56 most of the time. What’s good about my Ford Raptor is that when I’m moving it runs normally. When I stop, it shuts off to save gas. It is by far the coolest thing they could have built into the truck for photographers.. The vibration from running engines has ruined more than a few images of mine over the years. The Auto-off feature is WONDERFUL. If you take your foot off the brake, it starts before you can hit the gas. It’s all effectively way more quiet by far than my old Trail Friend a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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

Title: Blue Heron Mated Pair

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Backlit Red Tail Hawk

Backlit Red Tail Hawk
Backlit Red Tail Hawk

Backlit Red Tail Hawk

The difference in illumination of the front versus the back of this perched Raptor is huge. Bright unfettered “Golden Hour” sun was hitting this guy from behind JUST off frame left. I tried about every manual shutter and f-stop setting possible on the camera to get the shadow detail and not overexpose the rest of the scene. This was the best result of the scatter. I think the photo finished with his chest very pink but I would indicate that that area was in deep shadow and I’m grabbing detail out of that shadow.

Colors brought out of the shadows seldom survive photorealistically under these harsh differences in dynamic range. I couldn’t with any precision see it’s chest in the camera. Regardless, the detail was in the dark and I do take MANY photos dark only exposing the highlight correctly in the camera. .

The digital dark room enables me to bring differential exposure to life. My long time job as a professional ‘photo finisher’ is to do just that. It’s the same thing that Ansel Adams did sort of.. He laboriously, in the chemical darkroom masking off negatives so as to expose different parts to a different light exposure. That act VASTLY expanded the dynamic range of the technology at the time. Essentially I’m doing the same thing in the computer. Different subjects…. Be nice to have Yosemite to yourself….🤔👀 I don’t think, this birds chest was quite that pink. It’s the way it finished and I have no memory of that part of this image to argue with it. …

The sun did highlight the tail feathers nicely thank you. He sat that way for 5 minutes… tail 1/2 fanned. I think the branch kept it from opening all the way. Robin’s Egg blue sky just at the start of golden hour. Stay tuned to my narratives for the story of “Raptor’s versus Herons at this tree line. I watched battles this morning, found a casualty of a Red Tail Hawk under the Great Blue Heron Nest. Witnessed the battle from UNDER trees and barely caught on film (Horribly I suspect) , 3 Herons and 3 red tail hawks doing aerobatics. I expect this mornings timeline to publish next week (my current lag time). This mornings work was wonderful with a HUGE April Setting Supermoon to start my early morning.

Egg Moon images soon.

Till later and Be Safe. Stick with the plan folks. I’ll do the tourism for you 📷🤘

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

Title: Backlit Red Tail Hawk

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Immature Bald Eagle FlyOver

Immature Bald Eagle FlyOver
Immature Bald Eagle FlyOver

Immature Bald Eagle FlyOver

I had just left my drive way to photographically “chase” the light for this Golden Hour at sundown here on the ranch. Before I leave, I set my longest lens camera for the lighting at the time with the anticipation of catching some animal running/jumping/flying or otherwise trying to blur my otherwise in focus landscape image. Nice puffy clouds for Spring in Wyotana..

I work everything manual including focus on my cameras. So I physically have to twist the lens to get a bird flying at least 50 mph like this in focus.. So I have to stop my truck, bring the camera to bear, it only takes a few seconds….. Moving bird…..close to me, the landscape blurred as I was tracking this Raptor with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens.

I really don’t see a lot of Bald Eagles up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. They certainly are not rare in the area but tend not to hang out up here. I see them on carcasses/road kill all the time. They also hang out on the river valleys where they fish as opportunists. But to find one coming across my high ridge land ground is sort of an unusual thing. We have some wetland areas on our place where “most” of my other eagle sightings occur. They tend to hang near water which of course is where most animals levitate to. Ranchers are no exceptions. 😜

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

Title: Immature Bald Eagle FlyOver

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Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Blue Heron Launch Paddy
Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Blue Heron Launch Paddy

Well, sort of a Paddy lol.

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. This gal was shore wading out 150 yards out, the sun was setting. You know, a classic wetland scene. Really not common up in this high dry ridge country….. Seeing a Heron out on the ranch is rare unless you go to where they hang out. They are not known for hanging out on the high dry ridges of the grasslands. Fortunately we have several small lakes on the ranch. This lake is a spring fed OLD man made lake dammed up around the turn of the century. Early cattle drives watered here even before the dam was built.

These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus performers. Being total masters of their environment, they have superpowers!📸 I observed this one through a 1200mm 28 inch long lenses while I was on an adjacent shore across the lake. Watched it for about 20 minutes, finally it took off tired of watching me I suspect lol. The light was fading fast, I’m trying to get detailed shots of a still bird so the camera settings were not quite fast enough to totally freeze in ice the wing tips. Getting at lake level while a spooky bird watches but doesn’t fly way is a good thing :). The rules of Physics and technological limitations again demonstrate they are my masters. (along with topography if you follow my narratives 😜. )

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

Title: Blue Heron Launch Paddy

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Windmill Cutting Cheese

Windmill Cutting Cheese
Windmill Cutting Cheese

Windmill Cutting Cheese

It’s a Moon Monday ! as this posts.

Narrowly avoiding disaster, I talked the Windmill from cutting into that cheese… Save the moon yet again. GOOD thing I’m standing up wind..👀

“Sneaky Pete”the Windmill here provides a perspective regardless of his intent to photo-bomb this moon capture. I have no control over his actions. He just likes the attention. He and his bigger older brother “Re Pete” live and work here on ranch. They seem to work their way into my landscapes way higher than the statistical average compared to other ranch creatures. 😜😜😀 Windmill Weekday Windmill Junkies Unite : 🤘

Photographic Musings:

Manual Mode Phobia: (You know who you are) ….📸

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Windmill Cutting Cheese

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Reflections Melt Water

Reflections Melt Water
Reflections Melt Water

Reflections Melt Water

A little wind that night but it was spotty. The sky show was muted at first.

This capture was well worth of hazardous pay. The particular camera rig I use for this kind of work is about a 5500 dollar outfit. (lens and camera body). When you literally touch the water with the camera, there is this reflexive pucker of certain gastro-intestinal muscles that occurs. I instinctively pull back from such threats to beloved gear. I had Goretex™ lined boots on as I did wade in a bit for this. Never got wet feet though. I’m not sure when putting electronic gear this close to destruction bothers me but it does lolol. 🤔📸

The sky this night actually went full involvement with this sun a little later on in the time line and those images will be posted as I finish them. I actually spent a lot of time with a nearby herd of buck deer all but one sans antlers (a stag) this night.. I left here shortly after this. Worked them for 10 minutes and proceeded back to here for the rest of this show off this reflecting mirror.

Yet another Blue Image from me. I have done 3 in the last week which is virtually unheard of. Not sure if it’s a mood thing or not but it’s definitely happening.

Be safe all and enjoy all the TV time.

Gear (Sony Alpha 7R4, Sony 28-135 G series lens. ).

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water

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Blue Twilight Old Growth

Blue Twilight Old Growth
Blue Twilight Old Growth

Blue Twilight Old Growth

This mood setting Blue image posted only 24 hours after my last blue image……. Starting a trend perhaps…… I was just musing that a moody blue scene was rare in my portfolio. . I’ve even been accused of being blue blind by more than one individual. Having said that, I try really hard to be photorealistic in what I do. I do consider myself a landscape photographer. This doesn’t mean I’m not biased in my pursuit of crimson skies with silhouetted land. I am biased in my choices. . I way disproportionally post fully engaged complex skies. Obviously simple was better here.

This is almost exactly on the Montana / Wyoming border with it pretty much running through that largest tree. That is 45˚ North Latitude as close as the civilian GPS I use, can locate. Well endowed our ranch is geographically. That major meridian runs through us for about 2 miles linear of the Montana/Wyoming border in our ranches boundaries. I have over the decades gotten a pretty good idea where it is at any one time and by landscape features. That invisible line is literally 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole (the Montana/Wyoming border too).🤔 We are also about 120 miles from the geographic center of the North American continent. You couldn’t get much further from an Ocean than this spot….literally lol. No local “Red Lobster”. We have to drive 150 miles to the closest one. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Woming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana

Title: Blue Twilight Old Growth

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Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

Moon Backcountry Post Sitting
Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid before lifting off the backcountry folding chair it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean it only moved after I pointed a camera at it… This color is it’s “Blush” of “being caught” sitting down on the job I suspect. I’ve seen a red flush before too. Easily flustered I think… 😜📸

I catch our old orbiting neighbor resting on unusual things all the time walking parallel Ridges along the shadow line. Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for.

The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 50 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography of course. You can’t walk where there isn’t ground I have found. 😔🤘

Halo’s around the moon are tough to capture. Try it…. I’ve been known to climb on my vehicles roof to get just a little more height. It would be nice to have a folding ladder from time to time too angles being what angles are. . 😜

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

TItle: Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

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Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset
Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.

The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Reflections at Sunset

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Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising
Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising

This is the second image from this timeline I finished.

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps. I look at this with awe. It’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows this. Agood moon halo is tough to capture. Dynamic Range is a big deal in cameras if your working in dim light. The ability to see that halo is a direct function of your cameras ability to see the details of the hair on a black cat in a coal bin. Just apply that attribute here.

Photographic Musings: To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto.) Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings you have control of in Manual Mode. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses.

Everything changes if you are using a fast f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. 15 f-stops dynamic ranch in these high end Sony Cameras ….. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights. I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. A 600mm supertelephoto lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either E-bay or Amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated. 🤔👀📸

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

Title: Blue Veiled Moon Rising

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Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond
Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond

The ephemeral wetlands of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, entertain many reflections every day but you have to be there at the right time to capture those photons that are worth catching…. The winds were somewhere else as the water here was mirrored as smooth as it gets. Dead calm air is quite unusual up in this high ridge line country. The ice floating on the surface of this rapidly depleting due to the warmth… Melt water pond will be here but a few more weeks. This water level is quickly dropping soaking into the Hell Creek Formation sands underlaying this spot.. There is NO snow left to melt up the hill from it. Nothing to feed it further so I’m expecting it to disappear shortly.

This nearly full March Worm Moon that evening a few weeks ago was a beautiful sight rising just a few minutes before sunset. I worked it with 4 cameras/lenses over about 30 minutes. I have a few photos to finish from the “sitting” lol. The “Golden Hour” lighting tinting everything an orange hue that is classic for the timing of the sunset ongoing over my left shoulder. The sky show there is a subject for another post another day. Seeing the full moon while the sun is still up only occurs for a few days a month, perhaps 4 chances during the month.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (pretty much directly ON the Montana/Wyoming border, the 45 parallel, precisely 1/2 way between the north pole and the equator. Exactly🤔

TItle: Reflections Moon Icy Pond

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Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set
Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set

From Front to Back:

The first ridge of Rock, theTullock Formation, (Tertiary Alluvial Fans ) deposited 130 miles from the Big Horn Mountain which were the Source of the sediment. High gradient Streams ran off those distant slopes bringing the debris all the way out here. The first ridge is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills that span the Montana / Wyoming border 8 miles to my west. . It’s rough country out there too lol.

The Second Ridge is the spine of the “Red Hills” 40 miles distant. The Little Powder River Squeezes into the valley behind some 400 feet lower than the second ridge top. Sediments derived from the Big Horn Uplift were the source material. There are considerable area of “Clinker” Rock in those hills. Clinker is natures ceramic. Underground coal fires bake the clay surrounding the coal layers into a red Ceramic thus the moniker of “Red Hills”.

Finally, the March morning back show looking at the last sliver of the setting Full April Egg Moon (Passover moon). The moon heavily distorted from the atmospheric lensing that low in the air. The color is a result of only the red wavelengths making to my camera through that air. 1200mm long lens on a big heavy tripod. 2 second Time Exposure.

This moon is is also known by other name variations such as the Paschal Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and the Sprouting Grass Moon. IT will occur Tuesday, April 7th at 8:35PM, Mountain Time. This image is from Last Aprils Paschal Moon. This Moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April. The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek (a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach).

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

TItle: Horizon Rising Moon Set

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Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Reflections Butterfly Sunset
Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Reflections Butterfly Sunset

Simple is usually better. I seldom do blue sunsets but here is a recent result. Something got into me here. It’s probably just me. A perfect calm water mirror present is unusual needing camera attention in my world. I would have liked to off set the sun. The composition destined to center the bright eye. The “Butterfly” on it’s side became apparent to me in the camera. I collect all sorts of frames on this timeline . This one survived the selection process to finish the image. It’s pretty rare up here to have glass flat water considering the 12 mph average wind speed enjoyed locally.

Any particular image that I post here is written for my eventual hard copy books. Amazingly, not every morning/evening sky in Wyotana is a fully involved brilliant Crimson/Yellow . Most are subdued and more like this. The Melt Water Pond here hosted the markedly subdued evening. The sun just popping out from under that dark cloud. When I invest rare spare time into travels to locations like this, I leave often when there is an obscured sun. I find being able to “read” the sky to as the future movement of large cloud bands / banks to be a useful skill. The sun slit here happened JUST in time to provide me with ample photons to acquire this image. A minute or two later, the horizon rose to cover that bright disk. The twilight show afterwards was a fairly subdued stage show as well.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Reflections Butterfly Sunset

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Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning
Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning

A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.

Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes along the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀.

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

Title: Great Blue Heron Sunning

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Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon
Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.

I look at this with awe as it’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows a good halo to be captured around the moon.

Photographic Musings:

To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.

I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. That lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.

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

Title: Once in a Blue Moon

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Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset
Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.

The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.

Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.

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

Title: Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

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Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky
Totem Pole in the Sky

Totem Pole in the Sky . (ART, Did I mention this was art. Made by mirroring a real sky onto itself.)

The Spirits in the sky here in Wyotana linger and only show about 1/2 of themselves . So I help… 😜👻👀

From Top to Bottom: (A totem is the sum of it’s parts)

An Owl overlooks the scene on top.

Riding on a Swallow for speed,

standing on the Raven’s spirit for wisdom

The Raven relies on the Bat

to see things that other cannot perceive.

The Bat resides over the Cat

The Cheshire(is) cat as a base. Cats are widely regarded by many cultures past and present as fully capable of magic. Some consider it good magic, others not so much. All agree it’s magic…

All rely on the cat as the base of the totem of sky spirits in this capture. Of course there is the big snake face the whole image makes 😝

I find that I can see/visualize these results as I’m photographing skies. It’s not that I see shapes in clouds or anything. Certainly I do lolol. Habitually so… But I can fold the image back on itself inside of my head. I see these live as I examine the thousands of images that go past my computer desktop each week. I pretty much know as I’m taking the image that I’m “using this one for ART”.

So this image stood out to me It only took a bit over 100 clicks/clones to make this. It’s pretty photorealistic except for a few things. It is VERY close to the way I visualized it out in the field through the lens. It is art did I mention?👅 I did squeeze the image a tad as well. The left 1/2 of the image is a full 3×2 scale photo. Mirrored back on itself.

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

Title: Totem Pole in the Sky . 18 inches square aspect.