I had the high ground AND the sun at my back. I was almost invisible to the actors in this play. One was off frame left. Simultaneously to this capture, a Red Fox was walking through the grass maybe 50 feet away from this Deer fawn. I’m thinking the branch it had in it’s mouth was a peace offering. Perhaps it was a little extra camo to stay hidden. The Fawn was WAY more interested in the Fox than the Fox was of him. Having said that, I’ve never seen a deer fawn standing rock still with a branch in it’s jaws for a few minutes. He was carrying it around like a trophy. He never dropped it as long as I watched him.
I had just a very small window through vegetation to capture this. I watched this little guy for maybe a few minutes before his twin popped out for a second. Then both disappeared into the thicket to the right. The fox was no where to be seen by then. I was working back and forth between them photographing each but have no frame with both. I was working a long lens not a wide lens at the time and this happened very quickly.
So a bucket list item has been recorded. A Red Fox Kit nosing a spotted fawn deer in this light. Now that would be a photo eh? 📷
I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. This is only “sort of” close up lolol.
The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while.
If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen a few birds out of hundreds ignore. This is a wild Meadowlark out on a branch sitting on a snag near a path I drive often. This guy was very tolerant of my Black Ford F150 Raptor as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird.
They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol.
The Great Blue Heron is a wide spread species. It ranges to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here…. We are precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂
This image was captured early this summer and the cottonwoods were leafing. I can only see one nest currently. As I often loose track of them as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.
Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up here and I don’t see them skinny lol. They usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and head out. I can’t really see them after mid may when the Cottonwood trees they nest in leaf out. Their nests are 50 feet up the big mature trees over a lake here on the ranch. The rookery is adjacent to a tall hill such that I can get at the tree top level about 200 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the portfolio with this image. I have many more to do.
About 10 percent of the time I drive by this remote road sign there is someone on it. This time the Kestrel, known as a “Falcon” is eating the head off a mouse. I was driving about 30 when I noted the as yet unknown bird on the post. Middle of nowhere, I had turned sideways driver window toward this guy and had but a few seconds to get the camera settings adjusted as appropriate. I keep all my cameras on Manual Mode. In fact I’ve never used them in any other mode so I do take a bit longer. If I’m driving I’m preset the camera but it still takes a few seconds….
The lighting was horrible to get this with the bright sun down behind the road sigh/post. This side of the very small raptor was in deep shadow. I dig details out of shadows as a matter of course in my photography but this one was a tough one. This is the best of 6 images he was patient enough to let me get prior to his departure. He didn’t even leave me a snack from his tasty morsel. IF I were on the other side of this bird with the light there, holy smokes would that have been a bucket list item. These are really beautiful little birds. The ability to hoover above a target is legendary. I rescued one on the highway once. I believe it lived if it survived any internal bleeds from the trauma that stunned it. I felt better anyway 🤔😀
Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well.
Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier this season before leaves are in the way, I am able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.
They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. They are sitting on eggs currently It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.
These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas.
I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.
I have not photographed many American Kestrels in my travels. 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. (Update: This has been identified by a much better raptor ID’er than I as a Swainson’s Hawk. )
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 with speed. Apparently not happy with the surprise and this big Black vehicle. That’s 1….
Perspectives of Close/Far are a favorite pursuit of mine particularly if the Moon is part of the photo. In the gamut of my photography, chasing the moon seems to be a constant. This chase is literally a sub-hobby of mine. Nestled within the larger business of pursuing the possibilities of light on a broad scale. I consider my self to be a landscape photographer. I find myself distracted by any movement or unusual angle most of the time. This Evening the skies had me working at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy. One of the things I try really hard to do during a moon rise this clear is “keep busy” lolol.
A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The hillside was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool evening by the way. It was around 15 degrees at the time, 3 inches of snow all over the ranch land.
Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the hillside would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the normal hillside. Topography is my master.
It was very dark for this and is sort of a time exposure for a full moon. I’m digging seeing the highlights in the grass on either side… First time I’ve see it.
When I get a heavily blue and gold veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
Photographic Musings: The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun mostly filtered out behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture.
This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras would be tough. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Lone Tree Sky Show
I pay a lot of attention to Close / Far perspectives when I am out with a box of cameras. So many choices, how about a telephoto at 800 mm at 150 yards out from the branch. Such lighting only possible by parking an off road LED light bar close to the branch in question and start walking down hill until you can get both objects in focus. There are equations to figure out your focal distances but it depends entirely on your f-stop setting and particular lens. The higher the fstop, the less light into your camera BUT you get a deeper depth of focus. (i.e. both objects at infinity).
Mostly, completely missed are a million of these moments in time depending on the angle and time you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. Steep slopes help align a low moving terrestrial object with a terrestrial object (hint). I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 100 percent of the photography game. Time in important, knowing when to leave a scene is as important as anticipating a scene.
The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning yourself before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. If the moon is rising, I have to walk closer to the hill to keep the perspective. If I move forward about 20 feet, you can’t see the branch . Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a small chasm. I wonder how many photographers have walked a little more back, a little more, and more. Only to find out that there wasn’t any ground there. 😔
Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.
I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.
I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.
Hanging out in a “to do” folder this unidentified moth haunts me again. Many of you no doubt remember this guy from a much closer image I post of him. He has been seen by thousands of people and no one seems to be able to key him out and ID him. Here’s hoping someone will have a moment of recognition to a moth they saw 20 years ago.
Bug Photos are a favorite…
I had caught this fellow the night before hanging about a porch light. Then he was placed in an inflated gallon zip lock. Then into the fridge overnight. Next day I released the torpid 34 degree moth into a 60 degree environment. It had enough wits to hang on to the well lit tree branch I set him on. Between the sun and the ambient temperature, I had perhaps 2 minutes to shoot him. He did indeed flutter off in my typical catch and release program I run for my photographic volunteers. I haven’t seen many bugs since Oct 1 when winter started this year. . I think I too a photo of a Orb Weaver Spider on my front window inside my house since.
I’m about to photograph a Black Widow female I’ve kept alive. The crickets I grow in my green house’s front entry stairs. I just leave a little fish food around and they reproduce nicely all winter. The Black Widow is at least 6 months old here mid-winter. Her prison is a pyrex glass beaker on a shelf. She can not get away and I’m very careful with handling them. The biggest threat is to her not to me. They are fairly fragile. They break like an egg if you are not very careful and they are very fast. Stay tuned for that lol. .
Clarence Reece built a two story building in 1907. This became the General Store for the area (Rockypoint Wyoming which is in the North Eastern Corner of Wyoming). Just north west of Devils Tower which you can see from here about 35 miles away. Run by various local characters over the years, the store changed hands a dozen times. It closed finally in the Mid- 1950’s.
These timbers, cut 112 years ago, are the last remains of a building that served a whole community. These merchants who weekly at least, dealt with terrible dirt roads bought a lot of freight through these doors over time. Imagine if you will the old time gasoline pump with the glass top. An ranch kid attendant with a rag in his pocket took care of the windows and checked the oil.
I can’t imagine all the horse team trips to Gillette to hit the railroad in the early 1900’s. Gillette would be a two day trip via buck freight wagon I’m pretty sure from Rockypoint Wyoming. Camping on the trail, no weather forecasts or radio. These folks 100 years ago were tough hombres.
The community dance hall / community center became ground zero of local / national political discussions of course lol. Dances too but the roads could keep the band away. I’m sure they did best they could.
I own the back 1/2 of the Rockypoint 1940’s dance hall. It is a good structure that I resurfaced when I moved here in 2000 and it remains as a shop building.
“Bet You Don’t See Me”: This deer heard something from the 360 degree game trail camera spinning (internally of a camo’d shell) and it made her look that way for a nice portrait view of her in that moment of time and space. This Automatic camera was planted on a short t-post in the middle of a natural traffic funnel and joining of trails here on ranch.
Located down in a deep gully and several fences funneling trails down to the spot are angled inwards to here. Anything that is going this general direction is channeled to this point where I keep 2 of my best Game Trail Cameras. There is a game/fence crossing about 20 feet behind the camera so anybody wanting from Montana/Wyoming across the border and back have to go this way or jump a fence somewhere else. Mostly Pronghorn and Deer choose the easy path and don’t like jumping. Deer Jump Way more than Pronghorn do fences. So they walk right by my cameras. You’ve seen several images over the last few months from these cameras.
Game Trail Camera Thoughts
Proper placement of Game Trail Camera is about the only control you have over those contraptions. Some do very fine quality images during the day (like this one). Others are better at night. Seems no one builds the ideal Game Trail Camera for me yet lolol. I run a network numbering 26 of them currently. They cover a lot of choke points (water holes, gates to feeding grounds, etc).
You can usually set three different exposure levels and sensitivity levels for the movement IR sensor but that’s about it. Set it and walk away for weeks or months. See what wanders by and what the cameras built in auto software does 😊 . It’s be nice if they would do a 3 shot exposure bracket. Maybe someone makes one but I don’t know of the device.
Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.
We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.
Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).
With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.
(Satire): I caught this hungry “Ent’s” hand trying to grab the moon. I actually had to step on his toe… err….. root to distract him. (But I got the photo first!) The moon got away of course… Good thing I did because if he grabbed that moon for even just a few seconds…all those tidal charts would be off…what a nightmare.🤔📸 So it seems I saved the world yet again from catastrophic schedule disruption. This has got to be like the 10th time I’ve stopped these Ents from grabbing that old hunk of cheese😂