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Pronghorn Buck Bedded in Grass

Pronghorn Buck Bedded in Grass
Pronghorn Buck Bedded in Grass

Pronghorn Buck Bedded in Grass

This is an unusual capture of this Pronghorn Buck was relaxed so much. He bedded down as I was machine gunning his movements with a very fast camera. Rapid fire pictures are something I do from time to time. Picking and choosing shots is tricky and you do miss things now and then lol. I’d way prefer to “nuke em’ from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”. (Classic Reference”). Rapid fire cameras that can take 50 high resolution photos in just a few seconds are miracles of technology. They do use up some disc space though lol.

Nice Horns ! This Young buck is still growing his horns larger even this late in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. All others don’t lol. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.

While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers are made of bone. Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter.

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Bedded in Grass

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Foxy Lady Second Look

Foxy Lady Second Look
Foxy Lady Second Look

Foxy Lady Second Look

This was a lucky random encounter while coming back from photographing the sunrise. I almost never see these guys so it’s a rare capture for me. About 5:49, the sun had just risen. Positioned perfectly with the sun behind me. The Fox had to strain to see into the bright sun. The wind was blowing toward me from him so I was a ghost. Pretty much he knew something was there. He was checking out the apparition in the glare.

The Red Fox / Grey fox debate is for another post down the road. I “Believe” this is a red fox. I can’t seen the tail tip. It’s not an insignificant discussion since the Grey and Red Fox are different Genera of Canid entirely. Not just two different species. Vulpes vulpes is the scientific name if it is a Red Fox. Lots of information out there.

At the same time 30 feet to the right was a spotted mule deer fawn watching this guy walk across the pasture in front of him. I was too close to get them both in the same frame. I would have LOVED to have had them walk up and touch noses lolol. I’d have gotten it . I bet it’s happened before. Neither species has anything to fear from the other.

These guys are low frequency sound specialists. They can hear rodents scurrying/digging about underground or under snow. I consider them an asset keeping down the numbers of rodents. I’ve never had a fox take a domerstic bird out of my barnyard. I’ve cared for a flock over 18 years. No losses by Fox that I’m aware of. They really don’t like my electric fence. They are however, watering in one of my stock tanks though so I’ll probably see him again. All my Game Trail Cameras of these guys are blurred. They tend to move along.

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

Title: Foxy Lady Second Look

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Pink Rising Sturgeon Moon

Pink Rising Sturgeon Moon
Pink Rising Sturgeon Moon

Pink Rising Sturgeon Moon

I have not seen too many pink full moons but this one was REALLLLLLY pink at it’s first rising. It slowly turned to a very orange orange as it rose. I have one or two images where there is a pink to orange gradient barely visible on the lunar disk. I photographed the whole timeline from just cracking the horizon to clearing the trees in many different ‘zooms”. It was truly a startling color to me at the time.

That color is frozen in my memory until I die as I’ve not seen the phenomena before this way saturated naturally. I made sure to finish the image photo-realistically accurate as I can here. The hard work for me on this capture were the details on the landscape and in the trees. The moon was “easy”.

Technically the sun was “up” above the horizon behind me for this. It was however cloistered and obscured behind a significant cloud bank. When the moon rose, the sun had about 13 minutes before it set. I continued to move around the ranch and shoot close far perspectives for the next hour or so. This month will be only this night’s work as tonight a storm moved through and obscured night 2 of the Sturgeon August 2020 moon rise from my vantage point.

I had actually worked myself into a precarious position on this cliff to get these captures. I ran out of topography to get where the composition needed to be. This is a close as I could get lol. It doesn’t look like much but I only had bare minimum equipment to get this view. I had to climb to get the angle on where the moon was to rise.

I had some bright idea of getting those old growth trees on the horizon. Since the closest trees are about 1/2 a mile out, the close far perspective doesn’t do the location justice. I had crawled up on the steep side of the tall butte I call “Lookout Butte” which you pretty much have to scramble climb up. It was pretty windy at the time which is always helpful trying to get a long lens camera still. I was pretty much resting cameras on rocks about 1/2 of the time lol.

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

Title: Pink Rising Sturgeon Moon

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Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette
Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette

There are infinite possible stories about this 25 second time exposure with a very wide 12mm lens. I cropped the darker sides off to give it a square aspect to 18″.

According to NASA, this location (if we turn off our compounds lights which are the blue Stadium LED’s we use for our place) is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean. Certainly ranking up there for dark skies here at only 4000 feet. The Milky Way spiral arms exist every night. Even above you folks living lower or near population. It’s amazing our eyes can discern most of this but the sensitivity of these modern cameras is just tremendous. It just takes a lot of shutter time to catch it.

As you might have assumed, the twin Blue Glows over my signature are our ranch compound lights as seen from two miles away and over the high ridge between us. The orange glow is a proper exposure of the light pollution from Gillette Wyoming. What an interesting perspective from so far away. I’m parked in Montana with Gillette being some 60 crow miles south of me. The light pollution of all the sodium lights there causes the flow. It’s very faint but the longer exposures will bring out colors well. For those that like star colors, many are in this shot. The Comet Neowise was way over my shoulder at the same time naked eye visible.

You can clearly locate yourself with this one. Sagittarius the Teapot is the low constellation down in the light pollution. Just pouring some tea I think. Jupiter is the bright Planet. Saturn is the less bright planet to it’s left. On the full sized file I have you can clearly see the moons around Jupiter. This reduced resolution social media .jpg has nothing on the 200 times bigger original file. There is just a SLIGHT star motion track on this pushing the envelope for the lens I was using.

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

Title: Milky Way Over Gillette

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Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North
Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Sometimes little ephermeral ponds for even mid-summer. Late that particular afternoon a line of storms was moving to my left and this Shelf cloud was putting on a show. 

Shelf clouds are not to be confused with wall clouds which are typically symptoms of a severe often rotating individual cell. This one was at least 60 miles long from my perspective continuing well back over my head almost to the horizon. I have the components for a really really really Tall image, maybe 12 to 2 in this width. Needless to say this was very impressive to be under. I wasn’t in the best place for a close far to using what I had….. 

Must be good water😂 the cattle have been drinking it right? I think that water is mostly melted hail. Lots of water is collected over the 80 acre drainage that feeds this little water hole. Couldn’t be anything living in that I’m sure…….? 👀 It’s a dry summer. The grass here was just trampled by a hard hail storm July 5th. Late in the afternoon, it flattened pretty much everything that didn’t have a woody stem. Most trees were heavily cut up by the up to 3 inch stones. The dry year grass crop with was terrible to start with. It is all flat now along the strip of the hail path. I really do respect this weather up here. It’s all business when it’s active. . Crop insurance is an important consideration in any business plan. 

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Snaking North

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Lightning and Rainbows

Lightning and Rainbows
Lightning and Rainbows

Lightning and Rainbows

In another 15 minutes this would have been a red rainbow. Considered Rare as they only happen RIGHT at sunset. I know this as it did in fact turn red later but for at this click was still orange. The sun was setting over my right shoulder. It was partially obscured by various clouds at various sections of the timeline here. This series of storms like a train trailing cars ran just to our east giving me wonderful views of the activity sunlit by the colored light. That light reflecting off the storm back to my optics. The long waves surviving the low angle ridge through the curved atmospheric lens.

The sunset ongoing over my right shoulder was in fact quite a good show. It takes a good main show to give me enough light to see the back show during storms. Only a very complex atmosphere could give me the proper conditions for this unusual capture. That is my communications tower just to the right of the bolt. It has been hit hundreds of times. Ummm… working from up there takes larger stones than I have to be up there in a serious electrical storm. I’ve spent a few episodes up there. Grounded all that gear is. Talk about a target lolol.

It is my understanding that Lightning AND Rainbows in the same photo are also unusual as the conditions that cause each are unusual together. I don’t have a lot of the two of them dancing in my portfolio. This storm train provided me with many examples. Before this timeline I may have had one or two in my lifetime. It’s probably just me, I miss things all the time lolol.

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

Title: Lightning and Rainbows

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Meadowlark Grassy Takeoff

Meadowlark Grassy Takeoff
Meadowlark Grassy Takeoff

Meadowlark Grassy Takeoff

So your down in deep grass hiding from the Photographer in the scary big black truck. But that truck is very patient so it might be time to get outta Dodge. A quick squat to load those leg muscles and a push off for the launch. That is one clue. Figuring out where creatures are going to be, the direction they are using to ‘escape’, is the other half of the game here. As many times as I’ve tried it’s pretty hit or miss (mostly miss) following a fast bird with a 28 inch long lens. Literally an anticipatory click with a little reaction time built in based on that last second squat. Using the machine gun setting on these modern cameras take 10 images a second (or more), there is at least a chance to get a take off.

Meadowlarks are known for the melodious tendencies. Being Bright, Yellow and gorgeous probably has something to do with the following factoid. The western Meadowlark is the state bird of six states: Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming, Only the Northern Cardinal has more states under it’s “belt” at seven. Not bad for a singing relative of an avian dinosaur. You know dinosaurs didn’t all go extinct at the end of the Cretaceous right? There are many flying around among us but they lost their tail and teeth along the way. Other than that, they are very close anatomically to various dinosaurian lineages.

It takes 1/2000th second or faster to freeze these guys wings in ice. I like working them at 1/1000th of a second to get a little motion blur on the wings. Both ways are OK but you need a lot of light to freeze small bird wings on take off.

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

Title: Meadowlark Grassy Takeoff

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Crepuscular Rays from Above

Crepuscular Rays from Above
Crepuscular Rays from Above

Crepuscular Rays from Above

An irregularly shaped cloud cooperated here in this unusual lighting display put on for me here in late June 2020. It had been sprinkling all day with dark evil looking but harmless clouds. Lots of moisture in the air…. My biggest fear is lightning at the moment as this country is dry for the year. Missed the water that day. Fortunately, by means of compensation, the weather provided me this spot lit stage . The 10 miles to the first dark ridge in deep shadow was the hard part to capture with it being quite dark versus the ultra bright clouds. A cameras ability to bring out the dynamic range of a photo is something you want to buy into if your looking for a camera.

This display is an inverted downward “crown sky” (as I call them on my gallery). They are fairly rare while the more typical upward pointed rays at sunset more often are seen. I MIGHT see one a year this well developed. All the water vapor/moisture in the air along with actual precipitation acted to reflect the light to my lens. Of course I have many versions of this and will finish 3 maybe 4 of them. I’ve seen a few of this kind of show over the years. I suspect I could count the number of Crepuscular displays so complete I’ve captured to around a dozen.

Jagged Clouds are responsible for passing light. It’s the wide perspective of that light streaming through the gaps in the clouds that lends it’s fan shaped view to the observer. The phenomena makes it appear as if the sun is a mile or two above the cloud deck. Just follow the angles lolol. I assure you, the sun is a “few” miles up above the clouds. 😜

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

Title: Crepuscular Rays from Above

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Mooning for You

Mooning for You
Mooning for You

Mooning for You

Mooning for You

I find the Moon to be quite a character of note here in the highlands. Seems I’m always finding him sitting down on the job. OK, give it a short break before the climb. I’m sure he belongs to some union giving him 5 minutes ever 30 minutes for a rest. He obviously is not a rancher.

Heck, It’s a LOT of work to climb up with all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit. Think of the huge mass that has to be “lifted” over our heads. Yet Again, I caught it sitting down on the job, playing “king of the hill”. This is not the first time I have images of this kind of on the job sitting around. Who am I to question how the moon does his job.

I bet there is quite a view up there. This being a telephoto image of a hill top 400 feet higher than my location on and adjacent ridge. This can be mountain goat country. If there were only mountain goats that lived here. Instead I have celestial objects summiting hillocks holding prime overlook territory.

Wyotana is indeed a magical place. There are many ways to look at any scene, each angle has it’s own story.

Factoid. To determine if it is a rising or a setting moon. :

If the three small craters at 2 oclock are pointing up, it’s a rising moon. If those lined up three craters point to 3 o’clock, then the moon image is a setting moon.

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

Title: Mooning for You

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Glover Moth on Columbine

Glover Moth on Columbine
Glover Moth on Columbine

Glover Moth on Columbine

When I had this Glover moth over for a stay in my refrigerator for a night (I caught him by a porch light, zip locked eventually cooled him down to 34 degrees). The next day was sunny, bright/blue, warm with scents of various blooms in the air. I definitely put him on these flowers in one of the homesteads many naturalized gardens. . He was happy to hang on though. Being torpid/cool and slow from that stay in my fridge, he was enjoying the heck out of the warming sun. Giving me precious time….

This Glover Silk Moth has a 5 inch wingspan. It’s as big as your hand. Found all along the east/west slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Coincidentally that is also where our ranch is located roughly lol. Liking my backyard apparently. Like most silk moths they eat various plants during the larval stage. The adults do not eat. They are interested in reproduction not ingestion lol.

This one was hanging out on this flower one summer morning. Being chilled from the refrigerator, the Glover Moth had no interest in flying away at first. (He did in about 15 minutes. Forever in my world for a photographic subject actually sits for me. Better, lets me move them from place to place to find the right frame. Here is a thick bundle of columbine in our gardens against a blue sky of my choosing.

That Moth’s antenna system is a magnificent development that I as a ham radio operator am jealous of. 🤔😜 I see several of these guys each spring. Running into them around the ranch headquarters compound I find them near the lights in the cool nights here. They get cold over night and are pretty slow until the sun warms the day. I am usually out pretty early on sunny spring mornings looking for critters JUST LIKE THIS. My “Catch and Release” approach with an over night in a fridge simply slows them down for the night and lets me have a much longer “encounter” with any buy you can catch. Just don’t take them below freezing overnight.🤔📸 Way nicer than Ether and a pin. Lots of photography done that way 😔

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

Title: Glover Moth on Columbine

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Meadowlark Might Be Windy

Meadowlark Might Be Windy
Meadowlark Might Be Windy

Meadowlark Might Be Windy

The semi-arid region of the border region between these two great states is “blessed”. All it’s share of winds falling off the high country is standard here. Yellowstone is 7000+ feet on the plateau. The BigHorn Mountains are 13000 feet. They wring the moisture out of our air often. Air flows freely off the Rocky Mountain highlands to our west with a 12 mph average windspeed on an exposed location.

When the air is moving by you at 35 mph or more, your being buffeted certainly. This fellow for what ever reason, turned at right angles to the breeze. It might be a result of picking the wrong branch lol. Normal Meadowlark behavior is to face aerodynamically face into the wind. Seldom do I see a bird fighting it this for long.

I personally find it hard enough to work a steady camera inside a vehicle on a windy day. So the truck is “lurching” too and fro with the gusty daily breeze around here. Imagine a branch moving back and forth 3 or 4 inches in various oscillatory motions. The birds seem to go through all sorts of gymnastics under the onslaught of the atmospheric tide. The weather has been “changeable” here bouts of late. Many a weather front with significant pressure difference exacerbate this high countries tendency toward a good breeze anyway.

The feathers are certainly kerfluffeled. It was a warm breeze that day. 87 degrees if I remember correctly (IIRC). 👀 T-shirt weather is a nice change up here..

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

Title: Meadowlark Might Be Windy

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Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down
Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlarks were named by Audubon noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. This is the second image I’ve published from this timeline.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots which this is. I’ve discovered that, you can slow down and stop with a meadowlark usually not moving (your in a car), but if you move any after you stop, they will fly away. You get one chance set up lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Getting any bird landing is not easy but getting small birds like Meadowlarks at the moment of touchdown is a matter of luck in my opinion. Even if you know where they are landing, it’s a crap shoot to point a long lens at any particular part of a branch. Rapid fire Machine gun shutters yes but you have to react quickly to trigger the “shutter”. (Mirrorless cameras have an “E-shutter). I shot this whole timeline with a 1/1000th second exposure. Longer is a bad blur risk in contrast, faster takes a LOT of light. It’s a trade off under the conditions I was shooting in. IF you want to freeze those wings, small birds and bumble bees….1/4000. Then you suffer from having to turn up your ISO to compensate (camera sensitivity.).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Touching Down

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Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown
Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Catching a Meadowlark at all is an accomplishment as I’ve never seen them lining up outside my studio for portraits, yet… With the right negotiation skills I’m sure “Sneaky Pete” the windmill could make it happen by promising to make them famous. As far as I know, that deal has not been cut yet. (years long narrative if you don’t understand). At any rate I’m always tickled when one of these singers performs for me. The estimate is about 20 percent of the Meadowlarks I see, let me get within good photo distance from them. All of my encounters are random as I travel about our ranch here in Wyotana.

So I’m coming back from a high ridge. I placed a cut branch a few years ago on a ridge with a view. It is conveniently located within excellent telephoto range from a trail I travel often. Usually I go out to photograph when the light looks interesting to me. If that changes I’ll return back for the trip to the homestead. Several miles of two track roads later I approach this. Stopping, turning off the Raptor, and wait. From the surrounding acreage, Meadowlarks came and went over the next hour. I was happy to facilitate their becoming “famous” 😜

What was really nifty about this was the wind was blowing at least 30 mph. It made for some interesting postures. The photographs of which will slowly work their way into my published work flow.

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

Title: Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

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Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree
Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Finding a Huge Mesocyclone Spinning 50 miles+ off in the distance, I’m thinking “Perspective” 📸 So I had a “Far Object’. This little Spinning top of a storm with the energy of the atom bomb spread out over it’s lifetime. This is just the right 1/3rd of the storm. I easily could have made a triptych out of the total storm. Over an hour after this capture, I was chasing this storm and indeed took a very wide composite image of the sunset projecting red on this storm. Both daylight AND twilight captures of this storm are now in my portfolio. 

These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as potential monsters if they roll over you. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. Yes tornadic activity can occur out of them. Hail is also a HUGE threat. 

They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow more mid-day . 📸 Having passed right over us. This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across. Still Blue with white clouds, the twilight colors later in any sunset timeline are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere.

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

Title: Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

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Spring Twilight Color Gradients

Spring Twilight Color Gradients
Spring Twilight Color Gradients

Spring Twilight Color Gradients

The stripe of orange/yellow colored ice under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the underside of a cloud deck This image was taken near the border line of Montana / Wyoming. The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is 10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics 90 degrees apart on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. There are several related discussions but that is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀

I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2020. With the drying out of my trails, I have much better access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. Those spots however are not very easy to get to 1/2 hour before the sun rises lolol. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.

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

Title: Spring Twilight Color Gradients

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Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair
Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair

For Blue Monday: A mated pair and a perspective with the female being on a post that is a good 3 feet closer to my camera as the left post. (Thus the “Slight” out of focus way closer female). That camera was actually focused between them to get them both “close”. If I focused on one or the other, one would always be way out of focus. So focus between 😜📸 .. (all about F-stop, this was in deep shade and I had no where to go….).

The 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. The female just blue on the tail and wing tips.

These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. These guys were jumping around myself in a rare meeting with a couple of neighbors. We were too close to their nesting area…As soon as we changed position, back to business seen and zipping about and then back to this place. He was flitting around, she was watching mostly . I just by happenstance had an 1200mm camera set up with me. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure. We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.

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

Title: Blue Bird Mated Pair

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Moon over Massive Mesocyclone

Moon over Massive Mesocyclone
Moon over Massive Mesocyclone

Moon over Massive Mesocyclone

I had gone on a backcountry road trip of about 15 miles to find a place around this storm which was blocking my view of the rising Strawberry moon. I understand the Algonquins tribe named it as the June moon corresponds to the picking of the wild strawberry crop. In Europe they are a bit more flowery with the “Rose” moon chosen for the moon moniker. Also called the “Hot Moon, the Honey Moon and the derivative of honey, the Mead Moon. Cheese with Honey I’m guessing lolol. It was probably about time for some Mead after the long winter this moon harkens the end of.

Seeing the Full moon this month was a good time for philosophy and thoughts of normalcy as the return of the season. I get very “reflective” introspectively about “cycles”. I’ve been at this place before a few times circling around our star. I recognizes processes and natures schemes for it’s perpetual engine to continue unabated. The machinations of our population makes little difference to those certainties provided by natures processes. All that is ongoing around is is insignificant in the scheme of the world around us. It’s somehow settling to have those processes continue in front of my eyes like the clock work that they are. The geologists in me tries terribly hard to be in tune with those little things. It’s makes understanding the bigger things that are so complex, possible. It takes a compilation of the little things to comprehend. Nature is easy, it’s human nature that is the tough one. IT’s the humans that the uncertainly. 😔📷

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

Title: Moon over Massive Mesocyclone

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Curlew in the Grass Lands

Curlew in the Grass Lands
Curlew in the Grass Lands

Curlew in the Grass Lands

These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. They like this highland grassy ridge to breed and set their nests in.

They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing calls. They will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. Entertaining if your a photographer as catching them in not easy tracking with a long lens. Challenging is what I call it. I often find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.

I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔

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

Title: Curlew in the Grass Lands

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Sunset Reflections Backcountry Lake

Sunset Reflections Backcountry Lake
Sunset Reflections Backcountry Lake

Sunset Reflections Backcountry Lake

The night was a partially cloudy evening with mid-layer patches of stratus clouds. The air was cool but NO wind makes mother nature say “find a pond” to me. When I get lucky, the sun drops below the layer of clouds. Then it can happen that nature provides me with a color pallet that says “take my photo” lolol.. Conveniently a rare windless Wyotana last light of the day moment was spent down by this local pond with a view. I particularly enjoy fully involved skies but sometimes the mosquitos push my limits. Out comes a small can of DEET (Off™) I keep handy in “Clever Girl” for such excursions. I don’t like it anywhere near optics/lenses though. Yuck…

Spring time is a good time for new angles for me to work photographically. The sun pushes North every sunset. Landscape features I use for compositions here in the backcountry are changed in their relationship to the light everday. An infinite variety of subjects over the 5 square miles of this small ranch.

The sun will start setting more to the south each night starting the Summer Solstice June 20th 3:44PM MST, the sun will continue to set to the left from this view point from June 20th till next December. Moving completely off frame with it progression to the south. This is a very wide capture at 130 degrees wide showing the whole sky that night.

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

Title: Sunset Reflections Backcountry Lake

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Mesocyclone Mid Day Melody

Mesocyclone Mid Day Melody
Mesocyclone Mid Day Melody

Mesocyclone Mid Day Melody

The spinning and singing of this melody is not uncommon in the high ridges of the Wyotana backcountry but is worthy of my attention historically. I often an observer these storms which start as smaller building cumulus clouds to my west. Traveling overhead through their towering maturity which this had yet to achieve. Positioning for photography is all about timing and ones placement behind them to get late afternoon lighting on these monsters.

The name of this looming, 60 mile across supercell is a “Mesocyclone”. This is indeed a “small” version of the storms I see floating by the ranch actually fitting fully into the frame of a 24mm lens. I could go twice as wide with the camera/lens combinations I carry routinely. I’ve had storms not fit within those lenses even at distance. Those superscells get 100 miles plus across. Behind them is a good place to be lolol.

Not to diminish the threat of these things if you were on the other side it’s traveling toward. . The best photos of these massive spinning tops are from the sunlit side and I relish them passing by. I’m not actually a storm “Chaser” and more of a storm evader. I prefer instead to get this “from the back” perspective on late afternoon maladies such as these. Let them float over head, head up the hill an hour later to get the light under the storm.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Mid Day Melody

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Wooden Tower AerMotor Windmill

Wooden Tower AerMotor Windmill
Wooden Tower AerMotor Windmill

Wooden Tower AerMotor Windmill

I traveled 30 miles one way to get to this windmill standing agains a late afternoon landscape. Of course I have a whole timeline of this backcountry Wyoming gravel road trip from start to near finish as this was. I left back for home a few minutes after this shot. There was landscape I wanted to be in front of at sunset.

Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in Crook County off Jenkins Road. I wouldn’t suggest traveling Jenkins road if there is any drifting or mud doing on since you may not see another traveler this week. This is a big backcountry up here and no one lives on this particular stretch of road. Very little commerce but ranching happens here. This is 30 miles west from Devils tower with it’s related volcanic neck’s of the “3 sisters” (Missouri Buttes)

The sail of the Aermotor Wind Engine has a ding at thop. What does it take to bend a windmill vein…? One heck of a hail stone anyway…. That windmill has seen a local ranch house inhabited then abandoned nearby. It’s in rough shape. The mountains (Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower (far left light butte) seem to have not changed very much over it’s shoulder. What lighting 👀 📷 Golden Hour in the middle of nowhere. This from the road.

Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) (Looking south east in northern Crook County Wyoming

Title: Wooden Tower AerMotor Windmill

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Kestrel Falcon Flying

Kestrel Falcon Flying
Kestrel Falcon Flying

Kestrel Falcon Flying

The smallest of the North American Falcons, the Kestrel is elusive to photograph in my world. I might see one singularly in a years work. Usually at a distance and seldom at rest. They have an uncanny ability to hoover with their head motionless. All the while scanning the ground below for any prey movement.

They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males.

Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew off after game. I lost him after that.

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

Title: Kestrel Falcon Flying

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High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire
High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire

Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. Those tree branches are very close for a telephoto perspective. I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy feathery cloud color gradient already on a remote high ridge.

Getting around in the backcountry during early twilight: Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation here. Everything else locally is lower. Having said that, we are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). I have to leave considerably before sunrise to get up to an eagles view location as this.. I extend my horizon to 50 miles to the east if I climb the right peaks. This ridge named by me as “Sunrise Ridge” but usually because I’m taking pictures of the sunrise OVER this ridge. Not FROM this ridge as this captured moment in space time presents. IT’s a way’s out from my homestead driving 2 track roads in the dark. I have excellent lights on my F-150 Raptor though.

The Dark Orange Alpenglow is caused by ice that like a gel filter on a theatrical stage, colors all behind it. This is the cause of the color reflected of those feathery wisps of a cloud deck. Photography from the remainder of this timeline was equally as good. Eventually, most twilights gradually taper to a blue morning as the suns light was higher and less filtered by the atmosphere. Blue light invades, shadows ignite with detail and dynamic range. This was early in twilight, about 20 minutes before sunrise that May morning.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: High Country Sky on Fire

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Spring Snow on the BigHorns

Spring Snow on the BigHorns
Spring Snow on the BigHorns

Spring Snow on the BigHorns

It’s green spring grass contrasted with Snow on the 130 mile distant peaks. This image is taken from my driveway here on the MT/WY border. Clearly “Nipple” butte stands 10 miles distant. The treed ridge is 40 miles out with the trees at the top of that ridge being the same elevation I stand/live. The 13000 foot high peaks of the Bighorn Mountain Chain reach far above that but well over the curvature of the horizon at it’s base. . Even further out than the range the bank of clouds stands perhaps 200 miles out from my camera.

Anything over 100 miles is a long photograph. Particularly through the low earth’s atmosphere. It take extraordinarily clear air to get detailed images of the Bighorn Mountains from this distance. To get images of the clouds well past it… That is a silly far shot. Now I take images of astronomical objects millions of miles away but only through 300 miles of atmosphere. MOST of that atmosphere is in the bottom 10 miles of the blanket. About equivalent to where Nipple Butte is….

TO find the distance to your “horizon, take the height of above the surface of your view point divide that by 0.5736 , then take the square root of that number and you have the distance to the horizon from your viewpoint. If your 6 feet tall the horizon is about 3 miles away. Works very well on flat ground… up here where there might be a few ridges around, it depends on topography too lolol.

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

Title: Spring Snow on the BigHorns

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Twilight Afterglow of the Day

Twilight Afterglow of the Day
Twilight Afterglow of the Day

Twilight Afterglow of the Day

Living high on parallel ridges in the remote backcountry of Wyoming / Montana borderlands, sometimes provides Epiphany moments for my realization. Webster defines Epiphany as: Epiphany and revelation have many similarities in meaning; one sense of epiphany is “a revealing scene or moment,” . One’s sense of revelation is “something that is revealed.” However, epiphany may also mean “an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being,” a sense not shared by revelation.

Seeing scenes such as this post sunset / dusk after glow of the day re-affirms my personal deep connections with the earth. Being somewhat earth “centric” as a lifelong geologist, my roots run deep into what is going on around me. I see processes integral in the turning of the wheel ongoing at all times. Those processes operate in the background without most being aware of them. Trust me on this…

I have observed that most inhabitants of large population centers have lost much of that connection with the land. Wisdom is, it takes three generations away from the earth connection to loose all functional knowledge of it. Survival skills acquired by generations our progenitors thusly lost to time. Those that came before us, possessed deep understandings of the turning wheel. This knowledge became largely abandoned as a result of high technology. Gathering food is now just a trip to the store. Thusly, now dis-used in urban society. Attributes disused become lost with time. Thus lost the connection to the earth and thus with ourselves as a result. 😔

It may come to pass that we like this twilight, remain as an afterglow of our passing. If this is our fate to be a beautiful afterglow, how could this be a better revelation? Or perhaps this is an Epiphany? 🤔 📸

Title: Twilight Afterglow of the Day

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Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

Pregnant Mule Deer Doe
Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. It is obvious her look was annoyance with me. I’m patient though and tend to wait out such attitude. It wasn’t long before she was back grazing with the group around her exhibiting normal deer behavior. They more or less are accepting my Black Ford Raptor as just another Big Smelly Black Angus moving across the Prairie. I seldom scare the local wildlife or push them intentionally. I have found that if you pressure wildlife, they will run from you next time you see them. So for me to get really close to the wild inhabitants of Wyotana, I have to be very respectful of personal space.

Most of the Does are VERY pregnant this time of year. The wheel of life is turning seemingly with a quickening in the late spring. The quantity of newborns born at one time assures a new generations. Deer have a few predators up here but human’s riding their machinations account for the majority of deer fatalities. In the two decades I’ve driven extensively in deer/pronghorn country, only a few over a dozen deer have been “hit” by our families cars. Less than one a year average. We have never filed an insurance claim from a deer impact.

Having discovered early on putting a custom made front bumper / crash bar/ deer bumper on any vehicle that will support it is necessary. Cars… no reason to put a 500+ pound chunk of steel on a Toyota lol. The pickups and SUV’s that we own are all graced with a significant steel front end. Hitting a deer at 60 mph or so is no fun certainly for the driver OR the deer. Bright bright bright headlights help too. Being able to see a 1300 pound Black Angus at night on a gravel road is a good thing if you are traveling. Cleaning a deer you hit at speed off your vehicle takes a while. Trust me on this. My son lost a passenger Mirror from swishing past a deer. They do hit you in the side sometimes ☺️

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

Title: Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

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Blue Morning Windmill Moon

Blue Morning Windmill Moon
Blue Morning Windmill Moon

Blue Morning Windmill Moon

Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon an old homesteads and a windmill.

The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There is a demolished homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. Pieces and parts of past lives past scattered about. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully. I filled in that hole when I first moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance” and 35 feet deep x 5 feet in diameter. Hand dug… Many settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind but hopefully away from their water source.

This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys/herders that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Finally when this wind engine was installed, being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too. This is very big country open back country. It’s remote and just plain challenging to get to in the winter.

This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on). Don’t get me going on geology lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Morning Windmill Moon

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Sunrise Window Diptych

Sunrise Window Diptych
Sunrise Window Diptych

Sunrise Window Diptych

I like to use negative space (the dark area) to divide up an image and provide a frame for the composition. Constantly living under the specter of the “Rule of Thirds”, I give into this old wisdom. This 2:1 image aspect diptych (meant to be 2 separated prints separated in the middle). Feeling a gravitational pull of the golden light flowing through the nature’s window frames. The golden hour Alspenglow sky provided under the low limbs of this tight to the ground pine was magnificent that morning.

I stopped in my tracks to put the camera in the shadow of the substantial trunk. I find it unusual for local large pines in this country to have low branches as the cattle tend to remove them. Rubbing Cattle Pressure is the cause. In places the cattle don’t roam very much, the trees might grow it’s branches that are close to the ground. Fires will usually take care of those…. So this tree has been growing a long time taking it easy with the threats it faces in it’s travels. Lightning, Wind and Bugs are the other nemesis that confront this old neighbor.

Compared to the tree, I cover WAY more ground than it does.😜 Humans are generalists, having covered much ground with many complexities. Trees are rather pretty much of a specifistic organism doing what little they do, they do very well. But only what they do… Having said that, I suspect that tree knows the ground it inhabits better than I do though. It shapes the environment under it tremendously. Trees are very much in tune to their world. How ever they perceive it. All these great creatures I photograph, both plant and animal all have their “senses . Humans have either 5, 9, 21, or 53 senses depending on which psychologist you talk to. I’m pretty sure plants have a few that we know nothing about. I probably have a few I don’t know about lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Window Diptych

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Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette
Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette

All you Windmill junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal … I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Re Pete” the windmill surveys his domain with an unusual mostly blue twilight morning sky. Being a control freak, “Re Pete” here is intent to keep things around him in line. Little does he know that the crafty old sun will just sneak up over the hill and spoil his mood. This image is just a snip of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers Windmills for you their loyal followers. (You know who you are😜 )

I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol). Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of the still standing windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost around a 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘

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

Title: Blue Windmill Silhouette

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Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset
Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

From the viewpoint of the mouse enjoying the late golden hour sunset. The end of the day upon the resident of the grasslands. Looking up to see if a hawk or owl is going to end it’s life. I hope they are oblivious to their own short mortality… None the less, taking the time to enjoy the color pallet unfolding before it’s eyes. The same effect is not lost on this photographer.

Working JUST below the shadow line of the setting sun, the blinding disk is obscured by the vegetation / hillside allows for the camera to see both the highlights and the dark detail. Ultimately my goal is high dynamic range of color with shadow detail. The highlights from the shafts of light filtered through the trees were my canvas here.

The Summer Alpenglow is the result of Moisture in the air frozen at altitude into ice. Those ice plates reflect and refract the available colors remaining after the light has traveled a high angle path through the atmosphere. Helping along with dust… block the shorter wavelengths of light. Absorbed are most of the blues and greens from the pallet of available colors. Purple is a mix of red and blue. Getting the camera just below the shadow line is important. Without the direct suns glare, you have the opportunity to get some of that shadow color even with a bright sky with filtered light.

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

Title: Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset