Sheep Herders Cairns from a day that Sheep Roamed this country more than a few years back. I find these piles of flat sandstone on hill tops here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana. Literally found in the middle of nowhere typically miles from the closest inhabited ranch. Somebody spent a lot of time gathering flat sandstone from far and wide. You see sheep wander the hills and herders would stay with them to protect them. They had some spare time.. The stone cairns were markers. They marked places to meet, places to drop supplies or a sign post marking borders..
The ridge tops are the highways of the backcountry. While forested ridges certainly exist, long grassy ridges generally cleared of pine by past fires provided easy walking for the Indigenous Americans. There is a documented “Clovis” tool site within a 20 minute radium of my place. I’ve never found Clovis artifacts on my place as of yet though I do find man made stone tools. I wouldn’t call them common up here on the high ridges. Only hunting camps were summer inhabited in this country. It is too high and too dry to sustain population very long. We do find “TeePee” rings now and again. Both springs by my homestead have teepee rings about them. Summer quarters this spot was.
I’m not sure If I could have found a flatter light than this. Occasionally I’ll look at a heavily veiled sun with no colors in the scene and instantly start with high F-stop close / far perspective anyway. This one was worth the effort. It was windy and cold up there. The bunch of grass in the mid-distance testifies to this.
This was a photo I took AFTER the main twilight show that morning. The twilight lighting was truely amazing but as soon as the sun cracked the horizon, chapter two of this stage show began. No intermission either !. The red color cast early light was saturating all the white frost and snow surfaces for the next few minutes. Sometimes the same red light that colors the “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow works it way down on the ground. Particularly up on the high ridgelines. Add a little hoar frost, a bit of white ice and you have a perfect reflective surface to light up. Light up just like the Belt of Venus was doing coterminously with this image but over my shoulder. The back sky was all pink down to the ridgelines.
I was driving my new rig for this trip. It truly is a well suited vehicle to do what I’m doing. The 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor is the first new vehicle I’ve purchased since 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Road Warrior) was bought. It is BY FAR the nicest riding, most capable pickup I’ve ever owned. ehicles for 30 years. . I just added a very serious LED light bar for the front which I used in this capture to illuminate these needles from the side. All those layers of colors are the result. I am adding some more light as time goes along here. There are 3 more built in switches for me to add lighting so I’m starting to get very serious about it. 🙂 There are so many uses for a bright light source in the backcountry. Stay tuned 👀😀📷
Winter leaves a few nice scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have so many choices where to point my cameras. There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow. I am always trying to adhere to those rules. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and vertically. The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. The Visual tunnel to the mountains 40 miles distant is just above center. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”. So I clicked lol.
Those are the “Red Hills” off in the distance. We actually have more snowthan in this image as I type this. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface. Coating everything.
This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is very close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.
Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…
There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.
The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.
I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃
Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise is a perspective at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.
For some reason, I’m drawn to perspectives under icy sunrises. Focus close requirement(1) plus a sun show far (2)is my goal. Putting them in the same focal field is top on my list for planning this capture.
These two “priorities” fortunately compliment each other while in your Manual Mode camera settings. High light gives you the ability to set your widest lens to it’s highest fstop setting f-22 (ish). This cuts back light considerably which you need . It also lets you focus on things 10 inches in front of this particular wide lens AND have the background in focus. I always pay attention when I’m buying lenses to look for ones with the shortest distance to focus close. (macro) but if you want to do this, you need a wide angle say 12-24mm lens with a close focus.
Shutter speed 1/100 – 1/400 depending on your light conditions and ISO (camera sensitivity) is low like ISO 100 or ISO 200. This was a very bright light environment in the distance but just. The sun was just clearing the ridge.
The right gloves for cold work. There are many brands but I use:
The joy of -2 degrees is that the gear doesn’t like it, but my fingers take the brunt of the cold abuse. They don’t operate the equipment as well either if chiled.. I wear glove/mittens by “Red Head” that have the ability to open up your fingers. Fine detailed adjustments on a camera take more tactile feedback than through a glove sometimes. Finding your location on your camera body is the biggest problem. I find it is always better to have warm fingers and have quicker control of the camera bodies settings oddly enough lol. “Red Head Mittens” have been used by this photographer down to a -20 windchill with good results. I was tougher then though……
Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..
This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫
So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.
I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.
I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸
Barn Cat Yawning About Winter is a true story. He’s bored (and maybe a little starved for O2 since he just wok up) lolol.
It was about -2 out (about a week ago as this posts) and this cat was already bored by the cold. Three of them were sleeping up along this south facing decking and inside of about a 6 inch snow free area. The sun was “warm”, the 10mph (way minus wind was blocked by the deck. Our group of 6 barn cats (oilfield kitten rescue) are all neutered, tame and vet checked/medicated.
We take very good care of them so don’t worry about the temps up here. All of them have gone through -30 before in many previous Wyoming Winters. They are 6 years old.
A fairly famous scientist, Carl Linnaeus named the domestic cat Felis catus within the scientific naming system. Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778), AKA with his ennoblement title as Carl von Linné , was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. The system we use today. So he got all the easy stuff done first lololol.
All animals are scientifically names (and thus grouped with other similar creatures) within his naming system. It’s a good google if your into scientific names to find out they SYSTEM. . It’s one of my weaknesses but I do know the language of paleontology . I take to scientific names like the proverbial peas to carrots….as long as it’s a fossil 😜 Paleontology students are given this assignment somewhere along the road in their education. Good to know.
If someone asked you to go take a photo of a yawning cat….. good luck with that🤔. Doing so might take a while for you to get it. I just randomly was in the right place at the right time with a long lens on a camera ready to click. I caught a few more sleeping cats on the snow with this session. (they could go in a nice warm barn but the sun was too inviting). Stay tuned 📸
Location: Front Deck, Homestead Compound, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This was a Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as hell) that day last winter.
I’m reposting some of the image I really like to get them current and uploaded. I love this as a pure landscape. This is the top of “Ranch Creek” The road is the Pass road to Belle Creek and Alzeda Montana should I choose to drive that way :). I own the rocky hill in the foreground as one of the furthest north into Montana piece of my ranch. Beyond are other ranches. Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This might be the biggest backyard drift ever but there are some big drifts in the mountains lol. The building on the left is in front of a 300 foot long metal barn that acts as a wind block to about a 3 square mile field to the north (right). All that loose snow ends up here each year. I know this is a little out of season but I’m posting ALL my best old work again for some business purposes.
This photo is featured “The Living Wyoming (a Photographic Tribute exploring the NE Quadrant of Wyoming on page 98 if you have access to Robert Edgerton’s wonderful photo essay of this area.
I get a chance at this each year. This year the weather didn’t cooperate. Perhaps this winter will top this with all the water we’ve been having. That would be something lolol.
Have a great day all
Location: my backyard, the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This 6 x 5 Buck was standing over the LIttle Powder River Valley with the ridge in the distance being 40 miles out. It was very frosty for this in the early fall last year. I’m redoing all my older images to very high current standards so most will be reposted over time.
He’s actually a 6×6 with a small time that is behind the rear two on the right you can’t see here. He walked that ridge for minutes which is forever in my world (several cameras involved). 📸📸📸📸 I was sitting there upwind just waiting for him with a long lens. He didn’t see me for quite a while.
It was 14 below the Cows were mooing in the mist that morning down by the geothermal water discharge at a local oil field. The 150 degree water from 5000 feet down is treated then released in holding ponds that never freeze, and always mist/fog at subzero air temps…. Hoar frost is the rule not the exception near these warm water ponds.
I get little flocks of 10 to 20 Sharp Tailed Grouse, butt in this case…2 moons, one sharper than the other….
This grouse was WAAAAAYYY up a cotton wood tree, about 50 feet, add another 150 feet for my distance from the tree…. 200 feet….maybe….ALMOST enough distance to do this. Seeing the moon was hard enough lolol. Then I had to find somebody to cooperate long enough to set this up …. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.