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SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck
SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck

I know this buck as “Goal Post. He only has one brow tine on the horn on your right. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the third year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.

I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.

I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.

2×3 aspect up to 3 feet

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: SpringTime Velvet Buck

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape
Perspective: Golden Backcounty Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.

I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

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Perspective Grass Tuft Tunnel

Perspective Grass Tuft Tunnel
Perspective Grass Tuft Tunnel

Perspective Grass Tuft Tunnel

The joy of this time of year is the variety in the seasons. I would miss seasons if I were to move to a more tropical climate. Snow is both a curse and a blessing in several ways each.

We get more of our yearly precipitation (water equivalent) in the form of snow. This year might be an exception as we have a very wet summer. This winter is starting early and wet so far. We got a foot of snow on December 1. Winter Started October 1 this year with a good 4-5 inch first snow.

Back in 1999, I moved topographically down to my ranch at 4000 feet from Jackson Hole up at 6200 feet. In Jackson Hole, your distance from the Teton Range dictated how many feet flat you would have in your backyard in mid-January. We averaged 6 feet flat in our back yard there. I had an ATV with a snow blower on the front for the asphalt drive I had then. In Jackson, when it snowed I cleaned our drive way before I went to work at 7AM. That ATV was agile and fun with the snow blower taken off for summer. I had a smaller yard there.

20 years later:

I have about 2 miles of various trails I clear until I can’t anymore mid winter. My driveway is about 1/4 mile and we have a gravel surface big enough to turn semi-trucks around on. I clean it with a Case Skid Steer™. (“Bobcat” so to speak). It has a heater, chains on solid filled wheels, it’s hard to stop. a 5 foot packed drift will stop it but it won’t bury it. It could back out I’m pretty sure. We get some pretty good drifts up on the lee side of ridges and often clumps of Yucca will trap LARGE snow drifts.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Perspective Grass Tuft Tunnel

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Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset
Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset

Picking a spot for perspective images is often a matter of thinking like a mouse. Using the camera to see reality from that mouses Perspective is what I’m always trying to do with a good sky. Close/Far captures are always a challenge. You have to have the right lighting though. Shadowss are every bit as important as the light. Keeping balance is of importance.

The Backcountry is full of old married trees. Trees that have lived together and will only divorce with their demise. The pines here have wondrully tecture bark. Add that to the perspective, the wonderful sky. that sunset dominates the background.

This was mid fall. The grass this year stayed green through August. This is the first time in two decades of living here that the seasons were so far off. We had more rain than normal and it was regular. It’s not unusual to go a month between showers in the summer. Fires everywhere this year but here. We got very lucky. Lilac were blooming on the 4th of July. As far as I can tell, everything is a month late. Well except for winter which started October 1’st this year. Fall was on a Tuesday I remember..

I spent the morning (before I typed this) clearing over a foot of snow off some two track roads. I’m blocked off now from most of my paths up on the ridges. I need to get up high Big Sky shots and back to trees like this. ” Winter is coming”. (Classical Refrence” This is the first time I’ve plowed up on ridge one. I suspect it will not be the last. More images like this incoming as I rework my portfolio📷👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twin Pillars at Sunset

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Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck
Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Perspective Mule Deer Buck

Images from Game Trail Cameras are all problematic in one way or another. This one is better than most and I love the position of the camera here. Most daylight images it takes are pretty darned good. I don’t think you can do much better with the technology that is out there than this image.

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

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

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Mule Deer Buck

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Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge
Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge

I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standingup in Montana looking over the border down into Wyoming as the sun rises to the south east. The trees in the distance are in Wyoming. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana.

So perspectives and cold weather go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the close details with mostly veiled sunsets behing. All caused by the icy atmosphere in the winter. between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that gold light at this point. Earlier a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight.

I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Sunrise Ridge

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Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl
Jabba the Owl

Jabba the Owl is a Great Horned Owl AND a fledgeling laying down under a wing.

This Capture is WAAAAAY far out there for the optical technology I had at that time. At least 300 yards across a lake at 3200mm. Taken last spring before the leaves sprouted on the host Cottonwood Tree. I only got a few opportunities on this nest as the spring COttonwood leaves totally hid it from me time and time again. . I just couldn’t see him for about a month after this shot. When I finally got lucky with a certain angle and a beam of light. At these distances a quarter mile line of cottonwoods all looks alike from different angles lol. These owls have some of the best disruptive camo I’ve ever seen. It was amazing I found him this time. I do have some other images with him and a fledge standing too.

There was no other way to approach this next as just finding it against the visual noise of the treeline that ALL looks like this lolol. That is a very small area of a big row of trees looking through a long tube with no landmarks lolol. One time I had a green frog at 15 feet in algae to find while looking through a 18 inch long lens. Under High Magnifications, this is nearly an impossible task. To point a camera that precisely with consistency time and time again….nope This capture is taken off a sandbag on a Jeep Window.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Jabba the Owl

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Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching
Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.

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 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 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 Launching

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Green Spring Wash

Green Spring Wash
Green Spring Wash

Green Spring Wash is a capture from May of 2019. Our region has been in a winter weather pattern since October 1. I figured it was time to put you here with me at that time. This is a broad wash (shallow gully) that can flash flood with feet of water)

I had driven there in an open ATV. Early may is a tad chilly as the sun rises as such I was aware of the temperature. It wasn’t windy when I was walking though. Just brisk. This gully is a few miles from my homestead and I hadn’t worked this before. This gully has wonderful sculpted rocks and cottonwoods along with the thickest grass I’ve seen up here. All the mineral sands from a few square miles of drainage area wash by here. It’s probably as fertile as it gets in this country. .

The sun had just risen a few moments before. The sky was blue as could be with a cloud bank to the left blocking the sun. Contrasts are important. This was just a small window to the sun on a mostly overcast morning. This wash was full of spring growth.

That sideways branch in the foreground was budding having broken away from it’s parent tree years ago. Just a fine connections (lifeline) is all it needs. Life is resilient as heck here. It has to be to make it past the floods, the winds, the cold and the summer heat. Drought and fire is a common event. As a famous Movie once stated “Life will find a way”.

2:1 Aspect to 40 inches

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Green Spring Wash

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Heron Catching Some Wind

Heron Catching Some Wind
Heron Catching Some Wind
A Great

A Great Blue Heron Catching Some Wind was this bird way of starting to take off. Spreading it’s wings you could see the branch lift as the weight is lessened on it. These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree.

For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. They make their living eating frogs, small mammals, fish and anything else they can catch around their realm. These guys are widespread in our Hemisphere from the Galapagos to most of North America. They breed up here though. They like places where there isn’t much human activity. Where they set up their rookery is quite a ways off an already remote county road. Isolated they are from humans up here.

Not many people ever notice the rust colored feathers on their wings leading edges. Also of note are their chest feathers. The birds actively shread them to make a powder that soaks up all the fish and oils from the wetlands.

I’ve spent many hours sitting and watching these birds. After the nest is built, mostly they hunt/sit on eggs. The male will bring the female the sticks and the female does the engineering. Both parents feed the young and share the 4 weeks of egg sitting. I’ve had a pretty good window on several of the nests all breeding season in 2019. I have quite a few images to finish from these encounters still. Job security I suppose😀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Catching Some Wind

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Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows
Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. It was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold sunrise. At -2F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50. I dress in layers.

Working in really cold conditions with cameras:

I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now.

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there in my jeep. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.

I even had my Jeep to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.

Working out of a car window in the cold:

You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Sunrise Long Shadows

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Perspective: Hill Top Back Show

Perspective: Hill Top Back Show
Perspective: Hill Top Backshow

Perspective: Hill Top Back Show is a hill top/ridgeline view toward the rising moon to the east. I am standing within a few feet of the Montana/Wyoming border looking across it. The view is to the southeast. Trying to be alert to what is ongoing around you is a task. I move between shots quickly and cover a lot of ground doing photography in the backcountry. The big sky show that was going on behind me at this time was impressive to say the least. . However I make a point to turn around every few minutes just to see the show behind.
Perspectives can be deceptive. Those boulders are the size of pickup trucks lol. This is a very wide 2:1 aspect image up to 40 inches wide. Its hard to find spots like this where ALL the leading lines point to one place lol. The moon had just risen an hour before sunset that beautiful spring day.
With the weather turning decidedly brown season trending toward white season now. I considered this post carefully for a Friday night placement. THe other direction was beautiful. I instantly saw the perspective. These reflected photons needed gathering.📸
Science Factoid:
Remember that none of these objects emit their own light. Everything seen in this image is reflecting light originating from the sun. 🤔. These are all collected photons backscattered at me from the sun. A good scientist should consider thinking this way. “Things are the way they are. They are not the way you think. Certainly they are seldom the way you have been told.” My dad used to say that. I took him seriously. Some times He would have to tell me things twice…..three times lol… I usually pushed back a bit the first time lolol.
Location, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Title: Perspective: Hill Top Back Show

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Splish Splash Takin’ a Bath

Splish Splash Takin' a Bath
Splish Splash Takin' a Bath

Splish Splash Takin’ a Bath is another one of those “candid” Game Trail Camera captures. I get SOOOO many interesting behaviors with them….

Satire: This of course is the winner of the Bliss Ranch All Ungulate High Diving Competition. She will move on with that win to the rest of the scheduled Triathlon this fall. The Pronghorn Team finished second and the White Tails were YET again a no show at the dive site. They will probably show up tomorrow . 😜😜😂

Back to my “normal programming:

I have never imagined that I would see a deer splashing through one of my stock tanks. According to the camera, it was 38 degrees outside at this “bath”. We keep 4 or 5 stock tanks open all year obviously just for this purpose lolol. . I’ve placed game trail cameras around most water holes for a long time. I’ve never ever seen a wildling go into a stock tank before. . The only thing I can figure out it was an escape attempt from an buck possibly off camera.

I looks to me that it was more or less in a hurry to get out. The water however is probably warmer than the air since the input is 55 degrees pretty much year round. The top often freezes but that actually keeps the rest of the tank from being solid. A high pressure jet you see on the right works very well most of the winter. The heavy rubber in the recycled 10 foot diameter tire tank is fairly insulative against the cold.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Splish Splash Takin’ a Bath

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Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail
Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. Sitting on a copper plate that protects the top of our main gate posts (18 inches in diameter) and 16 feet high. . It was about -2 at the time. . Frost on the copper… I would think the copper would be cold to stand on but what do I know? 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 50 others were hanging out nearby. There is a very large flock hanging around this year. All the good images I will get this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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Mule Deer Buck Near Rut

Mule Deer Buck Near Rut
Mule Deer Buck Near Rut

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

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive.

I had a buck try to run me down in my backyard one night in November 2012. It’s a long story but both of us walked away relatively unhurt. I definitely came out of it better than the deer did but he survived too lolol. This event was the causation of me getting serious about building a deer resistant fence around our entire compound. I haven’t had a deer eat my flowers for several years. Young trees survive, it’s a miracle cure for deer pressure.

This male had a nice herd of females numbering 15 or so but I suspect there will be others trying to take them away. A lot of itinerant bucks walk through and they have a pretty big range which they can cover quickly. I like his unibrow and he might be the father of ‘Mr. Unibrow” a young fawn with a split ear I’m watching. His unibrow is equally developed as well. Is that a “W” I see for a Wyoming Muley?

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Mule Deer Buck Near Rut

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Trail Camera Lens Flare

Trail Camera Lens Flare
Trail Camera Lens Flare

Trail Camera Lens Flare is a capture of light bouncing around in the lens of the gadget. Camera lenses are dull black inside for a reason. It keeps reflections down. I normally treat these as artifacts (which they are) on an image. If there was a subject on this frame, the lens flare would be a problem. Here I’m pretty sure it is the subject of the frame lolol. I consider this as such as ART but it’s all done in the camera..

Light bouncing around and making intricate patterns like this I have found to occur more inside of Game Trail Cameras. Plastic lenses are the rule or a plastic guard in front of a glass lens is a prime causation of this effect. The Sony Alpha E mount lenses are pretty well made by Zeiss for Sony. I deal with lens flare but it’s usually not pronounced in those optics. The cheaper game trail cameras are sensitive to bright light obviously.

Personally I like the flares as a subject unto themselves. There is an “art” to making them, working them and otherwise manipulating flares inside of lenses as you are taking photos. Tilting your camera a certain way, positioning the sun in a way as to not have them is typical for the work I do. I find I compose pretty quickly in the eyepiece but these crop up and complicate what should be an easy shot.

Changing focal length on a zoom lens can minimize the effect, holding away from the sun and a good sunshade. These are the best things to do in a hostile light environment. Centering the sun in the frame will eliminate a LOT of the flare problems pointing into the sun.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Trail Camera Lens Flare

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Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder
Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder was one of those looks of interest but of little concern. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there is a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place.. It’s slim pickings when my ducks get done with feeding time but there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings.

It was -2 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear so he is slightly fluffed up for this capture.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. They seem to weather the storm quite well. They range up to Alaska and they mostly get as cold as we do there. As far as I can tell, they care not about snow. But they are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one flying. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharpie Over the Shoulder

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Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…

There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.

The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.

I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

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Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles
Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Satire: This young punk pine tree was sure that getting his needles “noodled” would upset his adult mentors. The 1/8th inch of ice sure gave him a frosty “do”. I suspect he was about ready to go hang out down in the gully where he could watch things move down drainage at a geologic pace. It’s not a very exciting place to grow up out in the backcountry.😉

Back to my normal programming…

SO it was -2, I was walking a high ridge, the pines were all ‘noodled’ on the north side of the tree. . The sun has been up for maybe 20 minutes so thusly is just cresting the ridge. The crisp air is moving and seeping into my gloves/mittens which are almost always my limiting factor. I’ve worked up here with -30 wind-chills many times. I’ve had various cameras (mostly old used Canon 5D’s) freeze up at those temps. . Rapid temperature changes aren’t good for anything but you don’t want to keep your cameras cold either.

“Winter is Coming” (If you don’t know the classic reference by now, you need to read a few books lolol). I actually enjoyed the audiotapes of “game of thrones” tremendously while building things in my shops.

In reality it’s been here since Oct 1 and the day before was fall. (fall was on a tuesday this year). Oct 1 is when winter started up here which continue till April anyway. Winter does bring certain photographic opportunities however and I enjoy the crisp cold. It’s easy down here at 4000 feet after living at 6200 feet in Jackson Hole for a decade. Warm here but MUCH windier here in the borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

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Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel
Sunset of an Old Wheel

Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.

Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.

But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.

Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.

(Frank Bliss 2019).

Snowy landscapes and clear sky sunset are MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle long focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have things in the foreground out of focus.

So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a little light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.

This is an antique Plow abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. It was a horse team pulled plow. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. It was used to turn over centuries old sod to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .

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

Title: Sunset of an Old Wheel.

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Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee
Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

This is a sub-committee of the larger Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Pronghorn Ladies Club. The discussion started out as talk about a stock tank and a mid day drink. On the way, this fence crossing shows very clearly that Pronghorns make decisions as a group lolol. The stress is obvious….

There is an obvious internal discussion on going regarding this obstacle. I’m “OK” at lip reading AND translating from Pronghorn at the same time so you’ll have to trust me here . (Classical Reference to a recent commercial). It was the youngster walking in that not knowing any better say’s “just step over that wire” (or something like that). which moved the group. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it .

I’ve watch Animal behavior pretty carefully as I see it…. . When I notice hair on barbed wire, I see a place to plant a Game Trail Camera. (I buy pretty good cameras). It’s ALL about placement. There are so many signs that say watch this area. The trail walking to this 15 foot wide fence section then it shrinks behind the camera. Fences naturally funnel the animals to here and they take advantage of the downed wire to cross. If you want to dab a little buck urine on that hair, it will pause animals there for a while too. (good hint but be careful with the glass bottle, you don’t want it to freeze in the winter in your rig lololol).

2:1 Aspect

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

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Good Place to Stand

Good Place to Stand
Good Place to Stand

Good Place to Stand I think. That is the 350 yard mark and those are 4 and 3 inch inch diamond steel reactive plate. I’m pretty sure he was thinking that being ridge-lined AND standing next to some of my target plates was a good idea. He’s thinking that guy couldn’t possibly see me 👁👁.

His choices might be debatable but if he keeps this up, he might do poorly in the yearly lottery lol.

For you shooters out there thinking that these targets are ridge top…Rightly so but sorry, No the bullets don’t keep on going. You don’t have the right perspective. The shooting station for these targets look down on them (parallel ridges). I’m taking this shot from the valley floor 200 yards out. 13 of us are Certified Range Officers so our course of fire is pretty well designed over 5.5 square miles of land. You could literally shoot any small arms in the air in any direction up here and not hit another house (except mine shooting straight up 🤔.

I have 270+ fixed metal reactive targets set up on our ranch. This is the 19th year I’ve had a major shooting event annually…. These targets are part of the course of fire of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship (501C3 non-profit shoot in our 10th year of raising monies for wounded vets and their families). 120 people descend on our remote ranch for 3 days every July. We are always looking for RO’s. They need their own ATV’s and binocs to follow shooters. We are not open to the public generally for this. Having said that, day three is more or less for the team versus team elimination (fast and furious). It’s more or less public at that venue but it’s a drive lol.

We had 30 teams last year (2 per team), 20 Range Officers. We always need more. Some of the best shooters on the planet come up and need score keepers/safety officers. . We are the second largest precision rifle team event in the country at the moment. We don’t hunt pronghorns during that event but we sure have volunteers it seems . 😝

We fire 20,000+ rounds as a group over that weekend. 8 miles of groomed backcountry rifle courses in both Wyoming/Montana. 3 days. Big bragging rights. 😜 Two years ago, I picked them all up by hand. We don’t leave brass in the backcountry. Now my RO’s do it at the end of the event.

Just a reminder, it’s 7 months away. Volunteers need to get their act together, get donations for the prize table etc. Start thinking about it. It is by far the best way to get a tour of this place……

Admin: Remove if inappropriate but this is a non-profit event raising funds for folks that need it. Hope it’s OK.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Good Place to Stand

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Sunset and the Steel Wheel

Sunset and the Steel Wheel
Sunset and the Steel Wheel

This Sunset and the Steel Wheel capture during a short skiff of winter weather in mid October is a reminder of our past AND our future. 🤔

This old plow displays the past very sell. . First Settled in 1906, this ranch was The Garst Families challenge. They lived year round in tents for 3 years…. It took that long to build a house in 1906. We tore that building down in 2012. Of course incorporating various beams from the old house into the design of the Log lodge that replaced it. I suspect this plow has been here since the beginning. It has seen it all pass by it’s final resting spot. 😍

Photographic Musings:

I find hunting perspective with up close focus foreground and the background to be challenging to set up . Up close and Far images are Wide angle plus close focal distances with a deep focus field is a lens well worth looking for. Keep one in your lens/tool bag and you’ll be taking images like this in no time.

I find the hardest part of this is to remember the horizon. The skyline SHOULD always be level. My tendency is to line up on what’s up front. It’s not until the I see the screen on the comoputer do I discover the horizon is tilted lol. This usually ends up with you having to crop the image. Good quality consumer level cameras have perhaps a 24 meg image. Those can be blown up to perhaps 20 inches for a 2×3 aspect. Not enough pixels still have enough resolution to see detail in a print blow up.. You don’t need to be cropping away image if you set your composition up originally in the camera. Make a note of where the horizon is before you click please and save the crop. Pixels are a terrible thing to waste 😜

Location:Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset and the Steel Wheel

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Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

Frosty ComTower Guy Wires
Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

WIth these Frosty ComTower Guy Wires being covered by 1/8th inch of ice, they had a sag in them but not too muchmuch. I have seen them much more heavily loaded. This tower has been on this ridgetop for over a decade now. There was a LOT of thought that went into this connections.

Engineering is not my forte but I’ve had to dabble at times. I’m a ham Radio Operator plus our business band so we need a com tower lol. This is 1 of the three cable connection points that holds up the 60 foot tall structure on a tall ridge. It sees other towers in the area which enable us and others to get broadband up here. Our internet is pretty fast at times. (at times being the key phrase lol) .

There is an 8 foot long dead man 4inch diameter pipe. Thus is attached well the Rod that comes out of the ground attaching to the turnbuckles. The cables are all triple clamped of course. Look carefully at the rod as it comes out of the ground. There are spikes welded to it.

Those Points at the base dissipate static. This takes some potential away from the tower itself. Everything is thermite welded copper connections, lightning there instead of the taller tower that has smooth edges. Sharp point metal attract lightning. These are the points of ionization /static build up dicharge. They are a good start to a plasma ionized air channel to a lightning bolt. There is a ring and a “star” of recycled copper water pipe buried several feet deep as a ground plain and a grounding network.

This system has been in a lightning rich area high on an exposed ridge with a 60 foot tower of steel pointing straight up to the sky. For over a decade, I’ve never lost any Equipment to lightning up there so far. The building there is a faraday cage literally. Lightning has stayed out of there to date.

Contrast is king in this photo I’m thinking. 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

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Ferruginous Hawk Launching

Ferruginous Hawk Launching
Ferruginous Hawk Launching

Ferruginous Hawk Launching was a lucky capture. Driving country gravel backroads and being a photographer is an interesting driving issue. Be safe at all times is my rule.

Having said that: It is possible at any time that I just might pull over, stop quickly or otherwise change speed. Photographers tend to be a little un-predictable on roads lolol. I saw this guy sitting on this sign and managed to stop several hundred feet away with my car turned about 70 degrees to the road (and not in the ditch). Perfect to rest a long lens out the window. I do keep track of what is around me pretty well and any traffic within a mile lolol. . I was out for over an hour that AM driving backroads and never saw another vehicle. This is typical not unusual. I’ve been out hours covering many miles before and not seen another rig pass or be passed. Only ranchers and oil trucks up here (to pick up oil from the fields).

Please correct me if this isn’t a Ferruginous. I don’t pretend to know my hawks but I’m familiar with raptor anatomy quite well. My collecting raptorian dinosaur material out of the Cretaceous sands that cover my ranch is a good school.. There are even some fossil bird teeth in the ranch collections from the Cretaceous. Teeth of his old great great great great great … grand-daddies lolol. Fossil names/ID’s I’ve down but not so much the extant raptors. I actually didn’t have much time for this capture. I tried to track him but I only got a few clicks and I’m thinking they were too out of focus to use. 😉

To have these random encounter guys stick around long enough to get your camera into play is a gift. I’m tickled to have had this raptor sit for my lens if only for a second.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Launching

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Deer With Pronghorn Bookends

Deer With Pronghorn Bookends
Deer With Pronghorn Bookends

Deer With Pronghorn Bookends was a real deal…
Here two Pronghorn’s are literally “herding” these intimidated deer doe into a defensive pile.   I’ve never seen this behavior before but I did watch them for a few minutes.  The deer were not having fun and I think the Pronghorn were lolol.  
This of course was from late summer as the ground was drying a bit from the overly wet year we had (are having).  At the moment, it is snowing at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.  Fall really was only on a Tuesday this year.  Oct 1 all things turned winter and it really hasn’t looked back very much.  We had a FEW days in the 60’s in October but it’s been VERY early coming winter has. 
I digress again:… 
I saw this down on Trail Creek Road, slowed down and stopped.  None of them were really giving me much mind as their interaction was so intense.   You could feel the adrenaline in the deer.    The antelope were acting a little like border collies or a good cutting quarter horse at times.  
Remember I’m mixing in many previous portfolio  images all this winter with my current work flow.  

 
Location: A few miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.  (snowy now). 
Title: Deer With Pronghorn Bookends

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Bee on a Summer Day

Bee on a Summer Day
Bee on a Summer Day

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day.

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail in the bokeh is the dividing line of two planters on our lodges main “patio”. It’s nice and warm on that concrete pad. THe first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee on a Summer Day”.

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Praying Mantis at the Altar

Praying Mantis at the Altar
Praying Mantis at the Alter

A Praying Mantis at the Altar was captured from this last summer…

The purple Russian Sage was growing in and around a barberry bush and in the middle of it was this big green Mantis slowly crawling about. Crypsis is a side to side rocking motion they use to “resemble” vegetation blowing in the wind. They rock/sway a lot of the time. Really small ear buds I’m thinking 😜

They are really green when freshly molted turning brown with an old skin being ready to shed. I’ve had Mantis live 6 months down in my Wyoming Wlipini greenhouse breeding all year long. I have at least 4 years of successful Mantis Breeding on going down there. This is a wild Mantis though.

It may seem like yesterday but it’s been 63 posts since my last mantis photo lolol… Putting 6 posts a day out there adds up fast.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Praying Mantis at the Altar.

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Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air
Prancing Pronghorn Catching Air

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.