I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.
Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.
The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).
Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.
Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.
Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. That lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.
Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.
Let me start of by saying I LOVE trees growing out of rocks/boulders. This area on our ranch has a few trees demonstrating this phenomena. Where they grow the roots break up the much larger rocks under them into smaller rocks. I’m slowly starting to make a map of these in my head to refer to when the lighting is right. Heavily veiled skies as above are really good for doing perspectives and frames with foreground objects as this. Trees have their own attractions of course being the natural frames that they create are often better than the sunset/rise behind them lolol.
This is a view of the “Red Hills” (Their real Name). 40 miles distant on the horizon looking almost straight west.. Being a very wide angle lens capture, those hills on the horizon appear smaller here than they would look live. Your eye is naturally equivalent to a 55 mm lens. This image is at least 90 degrees wide at 24mm .
The scene in the sky was actually quite bright which made it hard for even the best camera technology to get the detail in the shadows. I run into technological brick walls all the time working outside or on the edge of the envelope of the light I see up here. Mostly my solution for it is to expose the highlights correctly and worry about the shadows in the digital dark room.
Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it.
There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Achidemia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.
Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.
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
This highest point around “Red Hills Overlook across the Little Powder River valley to our west has a spectacular view.
This high point I’m standing on is known on ranch as Rattlesnake Ridge because the cowboys of the past blew up a rattlesnake den there or so the story was told to me by an old timer years ago. We don’t have a lot of rattlesnakes because of some dynamite that was a useful tool decades ago and easy to get then lol. I understand the den was blown up on this boulder strewn hilltop.
I’m actually standing in Wyoming for this capture. The Mountains on the horizons, the “Red Hills” are 40 miles distant and 15 miles into Montana as you look at the peaks. This image is 50/50 pretty much equal of both states lol. Lighting up here is wonderful at times. 😀
Geologic Musings:The Chain of Mountains in the distance is called the “Red Hills” which are what’s left after the Little Powder River at it’s base removed all the material between where I’m standing and that far ridge (40 miles out to the peaks). 😲 The “Little Powder” is a 10-20 foot wide river currently, was responsible over time for removing all that sediment between where I’m standing and that Mountain Chain…..That’s moving a lot of sediment over a long time (I’m at essentially the same elevation here as the saddle between the peaks in the distance). I am however stratigraphically (geologically) lower in the rock section though as the normally flat layers of rock formations are diving in that direction about 50 feet every mile. The rock units are diving into the huge bathtub that is the Powder River Sedimentary Basin at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. You get 30 percent of your electricity from coal swamps formed in that basin nationally.
Regional Geomorphology: My ranch is literally located on the eastern Edge of the Powder RIver Basin and the western edge of the Wyoming Black Hills geomorphologically. I’m located pretty much on the “inflexion point” between those two regional geologic structures almost exactly… Both structures resulted from a regional compression on a huge scale about the same time because of huge tectonic forces acting regionally bending layers of rock about. 🤔 I live on the middle of the teeter-totter this way too …..