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Wandering Out of the Woods

Wandering Out of the Woods
Wandering Out of the Woods

Wandering Out of the Woods

This is a hybrid technique photo of the Comet Neowise. Here seen stumbling out of the woods. He was lost in there for a while while I was driving to get to this remote location. At least it’s going downhill and after a rough few weeks around the “celestial block” , it obviously needed the gravity assist. Only a three mile diameter ball of ice/rock/dust. They are more like a big hard snowball with some gravel mixed in for good measure. Anybody ever get into one of those snowball fights? Boys growing up do funny things. Survived too…

The lighting here at “Look out Butte” is my way of “painting with light” before the camera. Used a flashlight to systematically bathe the landscape with light from the led’s. Then I tapped my brake lights a few times for just that tint of red in the otherwise brown grass. With a flashlight you highlight what you want. Learning how much to use is the trick here. I corrected for overexposure in the digital darkroom. I tried several different colored flashlights as well. Interesting variations on a theme. I have yet to work on those. Hybrid as I said. Lots of work to get the lighting right with multiple attempts each slightly different. Fun exercise with this often taken comet these days. Challenging.. 😄 📸

Photographic Musings:

Those far trees are at least 200 yards out. 20 second time exposure. f4 lens. 22mm ISO (what ever it takes). F18. Tricky with pointing flashlights over 20 long seconds of open shutter. I hit the Snag twice intentionally with the thumb switched Surefire Flashlight. Made it stand out as planned. I can as I do it keep track where I’ve exposed to LED light mentally. One has to sort of wing it to do this. Wish I could explain better but my memory works in strange ways with images. I’m shooting this out of my Raptors drivers window mounted tripod. (Clamp) It has to be a calm night to do that in a vehicle. The wind profile of a Ford Truck is “enough”. Otherwise a sandbagged tripod is needed sometimes lol.

This spot is about 100 yards from the exact Montana/Wyoming border. 45 degrees north Latitude. Significantly close to 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. This image is looking across that border. Almost straight north at this capture.

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

Title: Wandering Out of the Woods

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Fully Involved Morning Twilight

Fully Involved Morning Twilight
Fully Involved Morning Twilight

Fully Involved Morning Twilight

The Poetry of the moment is often hard to quantify but as poetry it does qualify. The color of the scene is a result of the cold hard physics of the world. The light proceeds on it’s path until some substance acts either to block or bend the dual nature of particles and waves. (This is a wonderful concept and worthy of an extended google search this AM). Light acts sometimes as a particle but also has wave like properties. Scientific wisdom everyone needs in their daily life but is beyond the scope of this narrative 😝 🤘

Turtle Butte from this angle is often confused with a volcanic cone (and even volcanic during a few of my journeys into satire). Maybe it’s just me. Impersonators are everywhere in geology. Things that “look like”. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about those volcano’s. FYI, they are sedimentary remnants. Hard Cap Rocks protect the sediment below… . It’s all in the details, not the shape.

Humans are generalists. We miss details but do gather a wide interpretation of scenes at first. Shape! Then we slowly start focusing on details like composition and color. The color here is spot on to the original scene. I take great care in this exposing the highlights such that detail is still visible in them. If you’ve never spent twilights in Wyoming or Montana, you’ve never seen skies like we have. My job is to climb the 300 foot high ridges in the dark to get into position before this amazing show of artistry by mother nature. My photography is resultant of the various to and fro journeys pursuing those dual nature particles. (Photons).👀 🤔 📷

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

Title: Fully Involved Morning Twilight

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Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm
Rainbow in the Storm

Rainbow in the Storm

Upcoming in the next few months…. (from late last summer 2019)

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this storm sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. YGoing up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice if you look carefully….that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rainbow in the Storm

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Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset
Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).

That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.

This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.

That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.

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

Title: Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

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Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show
Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

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. This was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold. It was “breezy” this morning few weeks ago (as this posts). At 15 degrees F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50 and CAN be t-shirt weather. A Jackson Hole “Ex” resident, I’ve literally walked around in -20 on a calm day in a t-shirt.. I dress in layers and it’s a “dry cold” lolol.

Photographic Musings:

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. I’m getting wussy in my old age 😜

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there. 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 Ford Raptor 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: Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

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“W” Butte Golden Hour

"W" Butte Golden Hour
"W" Butte Golden Hour

“W” Butte Golden Hour

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

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

Custer certainly saw that Butte on his travels through this high country ridge/stream valley country.. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though…. he was distracted it seems. I’m still trying to figure out where the 7th’s calvary’s pay (in gold) was stashed during that journey. Such speculation can drive people wild. What they ignore in their madness is that the treasure in this country is the land itself. ⚒🤔☯

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

Title: “W” Butte Golden Hour

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Curve at Rockypoint Wyoming

Curve at Rockypoint Wyoming
Curve at Rockypoint Wyoming

Curve at Rockypoint Wyoming

The Three Sisters were one of the landmarks well known to those on the pioneer migrations. They could be “seen for a hundred miles” from afar. While navigating the open prairie over two track trails rutted from the wagon in front of you. Out of the morning mist, something you have just read about appears in front of you. Three Sisters were back lit up by alpenglow and the rising sun far off screen left. Also Known as the Missouri Buttes. They were an important landmark to the old wagon trains and settlers out in this country. It took a while to get from Saint Louis to this spot.

This taken a few weeks from now back in 2019 and just finished. Just at sunrise far to my left.

The Curved trail of red crushed “clinker” rock leads to an abandoned homestead in the middle of a BIG grassy area stretching 30 miles to the Sisters. The old homestead at at this location burned down many years ago. Like so many other places it was absorbed into a larger ranch. Our ranch has at least 4 old homesteads within a few miles of us. All abandoned from when this remote country didn’t have electricity or phone. Those conveniences didn’t come in to the many areas around here until the ranchers put up the poles and ran the wires back in the 50’s and 60’s.

You all have a great day and be safe in your abode…

Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road. Campbell County Wyoming.

Title: Curve at Rockypoint Wyoming

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Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off
Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 100 yards maybe. It took a while to close the distance between us as I spied it. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to my prey if I stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals I encounter. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there I find. I take photos at each stop. Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium. Caught him taking off.

I’m not a hawk expert but I believe this to be a Ferruginous Hawk. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those underwings are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title : Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

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Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Rockypoint Pass Back Show
Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Later in the Golden Hour having worked the scenes leading up to this spot, the sunset over my right shoulder. I position myself at the top of the pass on Trail Creek Road that leads from remote to very remote country. The 35 mile distance to the Devils Tower on a day where only the sheltered hollows have snow remaining. The sublimating snow added moisture haze directly to the atmosphere bypassing the water phase entirely in this dry air.

The clouds to the west Shaded the National Monument (Devil’s Tower) to the far left and the subject of this composition the Missouri Buttes. These Exposed Volcanic Necks are erosional remnants of certainly thousands of feet of “volcanic neck” that have been removed. The Original Material (Volcanic Porphyry) stands tall. The sedimentary aprons surrounding the central mounds are the alluvial fans all merged together over time. The google word is “Fanglomerate”.

IT was the light that attracted me to capture this scene. I see this stuff visually and have to coerce my camera’s to properly configure. It’s a process up stream against the chaos principal certainly. After all I do deal with various rules of the universe in my daily travels. Unfortunately for me I can’t ignore some of them. Others I can’t miss. The play of light in this image led to a nice brown season layered landscape. Taken two weeks ago when as this posts.

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

Title: Rockypoint Pass Back Show

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Twilight over Volcanic Necks

Twilight over Volcanic Necks
Twilight over Volcanic Necks

Twilight over Volcanic Necks

I travel about 10 miles to get to this high overlook. It is about as High up as I can get without tremendous effort hauling gear up cliffs. I’ll leave that for younger men. I do scrambling over loose rock as well as anyone but Climbing one of those is a tad out of my league.

This sky was Early Civil Twilight about 27 minutes before sunrise. Late spring snow cover. Everything was frosty.

Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…

Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed.

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

Title: Twilight over Volcanic Necks

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Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner
Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

The sun JUST set over my shoulder. The shadow of the ridge blocking the light has moved just off his face as I pulled up. Pink Alpenglow in the eastern sky behind him. Crips air moves down the runnels of the drainage off the ridge crest. You can feel the change in temperature as the warm sun disappeared behind me to the west.

Obviously this was a lucky capture/encounter . Driving deep backcountry and being a photographer is an always an interesting driving issue. Be safe at all times is my rule. You get complacent with the low traffic up here.

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 the pine top and managed to stop several hundred feet away with my Raptor turned about 70 degrees to the road about 1/2 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). Sunset and sunrise hours are pretty low traffic. Most nights I never see another vehicle.

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 even drive a Ford Raptor…… (top hat Riff thump thump) I actually didn’t have much time for this capture as I was heading out… Once I got this I was outta there. 😉

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, I drove off with it still sitting there lolol. Knowing when to leave is a big part of working fleeting light. It was pretty over the ridge…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

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Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise
Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

When I drive out into the backcountry up to the high ridgelines, I never know what I’m going to find. The Rime snow coated all the grasses and fences that morning. I really didn’t notice it until the sun came up enough to highlight all the ice. The roughly 1/8th inch coating made for a late winter sunrise scene worthy of my time getting up the ridge lol.

The sun wasn’t very warming that morning. There was a good breeze from the left that cut through my cold weather armor. Wyotana here with both states in the image. I’m standing in Wyoming looking to the north east with the sun rising on the spring equinox (straight east). Here in Early April, we still have a month of winter weather possible. Last year was cold till the end of May. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July for you gardeners to compare with your seasons.

I miss chasing bees with cameras and finding Preying Mantis sitting for me swaying back and forth like a breeze. It has been a LONG winter. The seasons will change but the seclusion in this remote part of the earth is comforting in these troubled times. I hope this finds you all safe and secure in your homes. We have a 1 person per square mile population density in this country. Ranches are 5 to 10 miles away from most places but it’s still 70 miles from the nearest stop light here.

Be safe all.

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

Title: Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

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Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset
Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

This low pointy feeder band was forming in front of me and flowing toward the larger storm system right.

This marvelous sunset is the result of a complex weather system moving through. Complex skies with multiple layers / levels are usually worth stalking at sunset / sunrise. There is just off frame right and above, a single huge rotating Mesocyclone storm. The air is rife with ozone. A mimic of a slight chorine smell as with any compound that will react with your sense of smell. The wet sage was ALMOST over powering the lightning induced tri-oxide. You might say the atmosphere was “Sporty” that evening.

Having passed right over us last summer at sunset (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It provided me with a long feeder band into it’s wall cloud right at sunset. The yellow color low is atmospheric dust ice and moisture stopping all the colors with shorter wavelengths BUT red and yellow. The clouds high are white as that light didn’t travel through the atmospheric gauntlet at that angle. Still blue sky there.

These storms are HUGE, dominating the landscape. They are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. 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. The cloud canopy straight up is still white

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

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Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase
Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 30 feet maybe. It took a while and I’m really surprised it didn’t fly away. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to the animal to stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals in. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there. I take photos at each stop. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 22 feet deep and the background is totally bokeh’d out . Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium lol.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those orange nares are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

The stripe of orange Alpenglow 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 cloud deck This image was taken ON 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 is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. 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 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited 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. 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: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Wooden Tower Windmill

Wooden Tower Windmill
Wooden Tower Windmill

Wooden Tower Windmill

I traveled 180 miles to get to this windmill before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this trip but this was the best capture of the drive. I was doing a presentation to a committee for a donation to the our 501C3 fundraiser for wounded warriors we hold every July.

The butte behind was such a good background I was torn how to compose this and settles on this. I had to stay on the road as this was well fenced off plus it isn’t my ground so I tend to stay off working only from the road. There is plenty to do from the road I point out.

Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in southern Campbell Country. . . There is big backcountry down there south of Gillette. . Very few 7-11’s about but commerce / ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming.

Middle of the day with the sun behind me is a rare image for me lol. Mid summer and me getting away from the ranch is a rare thing. I often go on short road trips on Wyoming/Montana backroads and not see another vehicle. Breaking down is not an option up here without LOTS of survival supplies this time of year. Blankets, sleeping bags, food and basics are all on board. I do have a very good radio that communicates via repeater from 30 miles away if necessary. Not to worry.

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

Title: Wooden Tower Windmill

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Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

Devils Tower Landscape Ladder
Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

Devils Tower Landscape Ladder (7 months ago for Wayback Wednesday)

There are some contradictions in this image of the landscape leading up the the Devil’s Tower. Viewed from the northwest, this image has green fields with cut hay bales on top. This last fall of 2019 capture resulted from a very well rained on summer. Wet late in the high borderlands of MT/WY.. Captured in August, it ALL should be brown. The grass was a green as the spring in the sub-irrigated fields overlying the Fox Hill Sandstone aquifer . Usually the sub-surface geology controls the vegetation on the surface.

That 5112 foot tall Devil’s Tower National Monument is standing 1267 feet high above the surrounding ground. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty distant/ big. The Tower buried by thousands of feet of sediments, stands unsupported. Those rocks surrounding them and supporting the hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River plus the Belle Fourche River Drainage. Those two drainages providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

The Devils tower about 40 from my vantage point on the Pass to Rocky Point Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. I’m standing Campbell County Wyoming.
This is the view that tourists never see as they are all on the other side of those hills. You can see South Dakota from this site on a very clear day…completely across Crook County Wyoming. That is a BIG county 80 miles wide anyway.

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

Title: Devils Tower Landscape Ladder

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Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Red Tailed Hawk Attack
Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Yet another capture from the network of 28 game trail cameras I maintain up here in the borderlands. Captured at the moment of the hawk strike. I’m thinking this was a bit hard on the “other bird”. (unidentified unlucky bird) while it was sitting on the post. Imagine just minding your own business. Suddenly, it was hit from behind/above. This is the definition of a bad day I’m thinking🤔👀📸

I’m not a hawk expert. The distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I’m betting this is a red tail’ed hawk I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). Catching an image like this with a regular camera is highly unlikely . I have never witnessed a hawk attack on another bird anywhere any time in my travels. I’m out in the backcountry all the time. I suspect my presence or the activity of the vehicle I’m in precludes any raptors taking game around me.

Game Trail Cameras captures are all problematic from a photo finishing aspect. I did my best to “fix” the inadequate technology. When they make a really good quality game trail camera, I’ll buy them. Until then, I’ll have to live with these photon traps as they are. I also have an image of him flying away with this hapless meal.

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

Title: Red Tailed Hawk Attack

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Summer Storms Sneaking Around

Summer Storms Sneaking Around
Summer Storms Sneaking Around

Summer Storms Sneaking Around

A little Throwback Thursday for you this evening…. Too much winter weather for my taste even though it’s been a relatively mild winter so far.

The weather that mid-summer after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. This “little” cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Several of them developed into severe mesocyclones a little down the road in South Dakota. We got a couple of smaller storms wet us down that day.

I imagine in my musings that that Butte is a local Volcano and that cloud is the eruption. IT actually looks a LOT like the images from Mount St’Helens back in late 79-80. Back of the Butte blew out it appears to this geologist lolol. It made me do a double take as I first saw it.

We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. We need that water to raise all the grass we do. Just one cutting of hay so far each year over 20 years. Pretty consistent. It’s all about the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation in the spring.. Last year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck with water all summer.

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

Title: Summer Storms Sneaking Around

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Double Back Country Rainbow

Double Back Country Rainbow
Double Back Country Rainbow

Double Back Country Rainbow (late summer Golden Hour, just 6 months out of season..)

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Double Back Country Rainbow

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Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out
Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart on a fence. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds a 20 feet apart lol. The left one is closer to me than the right (rear) one. They took off just after I came to a stop and started machine gunning the 1200mm lens.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

These Hawks look to be both the same sex… Might be wrong..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

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Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting
Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

A clandestine meeting down Yonder by the fence line was occurring when I interrupted it. I suspect it was a lively discussion of one meeting with two different opinions resultant from it. Just like humans do. There may be some territorial statement ongoing during this capture. That’s good hunting ground behind them. There is about a 100,000 mice and other small voles/prairie dogs/ rodents out there for the taking. Who looks where takes on a big meaning lol.

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds are 30 feet apart lol. I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. On bird is definitely bigger than the other. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

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Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion
Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

SATIRE:

So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…

Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:

OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

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

Title: Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

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MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect
MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.

High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. THe ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formatoin and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

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Moon Resting on Wolf’s Head

Moon Resting on Wolf's Head
Moon Resting on Wolf's Head

Moon Resting on Wolf’s Head Butte is one of my favorite Moon “Cradle” capture.

Satire: I’ve found that the Moon will often take just a second to rest on a comfortable spot before the effort to rise to it’s zenith. Some of these buttes have what I call “Moon cradles” where the moon can settle down for a moment. Fortunately, it never sits there for long. 😜😜

Back to my normal programming.

Getting terrestrial objects in focus along with the moon…. Be still my heart. It’s a hobby of mine within my larger photographic world catching the moon resting on things. I do get some requests for information on how to do this.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400 -600mm lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moon Resting on Wolf’s Head Butte

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Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Devil's Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect
DevilsTower/MissouriButtes 3:1 Aspect

This Capture of Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is very high resolution composite:

It is composited from three high resolution 1200 mm telephoto images combined back into one image in the digital darkroom. Left image + center image+ right image = this photo… This is not taking a cell phone and swinging a phone lol… I’m considering this one of the best daytime shots I have of Devils Tower from the Pass at Rocky Point and that’s saying something 📸 This is a distance of 35 miles. The sun was setting golden hour, the air was full of ice but hadn’t gone pink just yet. Maybe 1/2 hour to sundown.

This image was taken from the snow line on the pass I was on but you can see the valleys were not covered at this capture about 10 days ago as it publishes. The snow we got last night and today took care of the snow cover in the valley. We’ve had a very early winter up here so far. The long term forecast looks to be cold and snowy. We always need the moisture but it’s a trudge sometimes to deal with all the snowfall each year.

In all fairness to the rough weather we have here in the NE part of the state. Hat’s off to the folks in Jackson Hole and the high country along the western part of the state. It’s relatively mild living here compared to the decade I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming. We used to get 6 feet flat in the back yard every year. Closer to the range folks would get 10. Cleaning snow off roofs is an industry there :).

We just enjoy MUCH more wind than Jackson Hole does. I’m not sure anyone living there appreciates the difference but I may be wrong. Migration of Wyoming folks are moving outwards not toward that area. 🙁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

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Backcountry Buck and the Butte

Backcountry Buck and the Butte
Backcountry Buck and the Butte

This Backcountry Buck and the Butte image was taken as he was just casually walking by me chewing his mouthful of some tinder morsel in front of “Turtle Butte”. That Monadnock/Butte is all Cretaceous sedimentary rock but it stands in for the “Local Pyramid” or the “local steaming volcano” when ever the lighting and my mood is right🤣

“Turtle Butte” is 1/2 in Wyoming and 1/2 in Montana literally being cut by the border. It is private land. It got it name from two reasons.. It has some small Cretaceous age fossil microsites on it (small). Found pieces of fossil turtle shell, small things mostly there… and there is what looks to be a turtle on the top (from the right angle and it’s really pronounced) . Not as much from this angle lolol.. Our whole ranch is covered in the sandstones and mudstones of the Hell Creek/Lance formations (Cretaceous) which of course are known for dinosaur fossil bearing lenses. Besides the dinosaurs are ALSO about 400 other species that are known in the fossil record from these formations. Plants of many kinds many still extant today in their newest iteration of development. Insects, amphibians (some really big), reptiles, crocs, alligators, snakes, birds, rare mammals (mostly teeth fossils of beautiful bi-rooted molars with an occasionally denticulate jaw), fish, turtles, stingrays, and a host of other creatures some VERY VERY big compared to anything walking about today. It’s all old Wyoming Wildlife as it were lol.

Factoid. Montana and Wyoming border exactly at the 45th parallel, 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole precisely. We are located within 150 miles of the exact geographic center of North America too. Nothing like living on the center of the teeter totter (deep geological meaning in that metaphor lolol).

Location: RIdge 1 at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Backcountry Buck and the Butte

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Hunter’s Moon Rising in the Wy:Mt Borderlands

Hunter's Moon Rising in the Wy:Mt Borderlands
Hunter's Moon Rising in the Wy:Mt Borderlands

Satire: I’d like to imagine this Hunter’s Moon here was rising off it’s resting place in the remote backcountry of the Wy:Mt borderlands. It’s a lot of work rising all that cheese to it’s zenith at the top of the sky. I think a good rest before a climb is always in order don’t you?🤣

The moon never stays long resting as I photograph it all the time being lazy on things. If it stayed too long thought, the tide charts would be all messed up. I catch the moon doing all sorts of anthropomorphic things in my images. You just have to think about it😎

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

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The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in “Belt of Venus” Alpenglow

The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow
The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow

When many focus on the sun rise , I usually turn around several times during a photoshoot as the back show can be better sometimes.
Here the Big Horn Mountains are bathed in the “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow. Just a tick of sun now hitting the high peaks to the left on the “Red Hills”… (their real name)…..It pays to turn around now and then lol…
This landscape stretches 130 miles to the peaks across the Powder River Sedimentary Basin (where 30 percent of the electricity generated in the US is powered by the coal from here. ) The Red Hills are 35 miles out at this site.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Layers of Landscape and the “Red Hills” 40 miles Distant

Layers of Landscape and the "Red Hills" 40 miles Distant
Layers of Landscape and the "Red Hills" 40 miles Distant

40 Miles distant from the Camera’s lens, I’m at the same elevation at that snowy far ridge “Red Hills” in this Layers of Landscape image. Big views from up here 👁
Spotlightling was rife that sunset (about a week ago). Your looking across the Montana/Wyoming border as I’m standing in Montana. It’s snowy where I am too. We got 4 inches of heavy wet snow but the ground in the valley’s got rain. Rinse and repeat all winter lolol. I have never seen it this green up here in OCTOBER up here in the 20 years I’ve lived here!!!!!!!


Geologic Note: The big Valley is the Little Powder River Drainage. It’s about 6 feet wide at the moment. It removed all that sediment between here and there though…. 🤔
From where I stand, the originally flat layers of sediments are Diving underground 50 feet every mile generally in that direction more underground. They dive into the LARGE Powder River Basin at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles distant. The Basin is literally a downwarping of the earths crust forming a wave where the wave crest was eroded away to form the Big Horn Mountains, which wore away and filled up the wave trough (the bathtub next to the mountains where all the coal swamps formed) So the Dinosaur bone bearing Sand Beds that blanket my ranch disappear about two miles west of my house diving underground and younger rocks are on the surface. The BigHorns happened After the Dinosaurs 😎

The “Red Hills” are called such because they have a LOT of usually/mostly Red “Clinker” rocks which are coal fired “underclay” that turned to a natural ceramic by the underground fires. It is literally a coarse uneven ceramic in hardness and “Clinks” when it drops. Native Americans made a LOT of tools from it. Lewis and Clark thought it was of volcanic origin. Large outcrops of it exist all over the area and it’s mined as gravel for roads after crushing. Lots of rattle snakes live in “Clinker” dens. The Clinker shrinks as part of the process leaving voids which are homes for many creatures on the surface but often make for local perched water tables that occasionally are big enough for light local use.


Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.