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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.

From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:

Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.

I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.

I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Snow Melt Flooding

Snow Melt Flooding
Snow Melt Flooding

Snow Melt Flooding

I live up on the high ridges of the Borderlands. About 300 feet lower from my place, this goes one. We’re all in trouble for floods to reach my door. Our homestead sits at 3700 feet. This flooded spot on the Montana border is 3419 feet above mean sea level. The Lowest spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet above mean sea level on the Belle Fourche River. My communication tower is 4013 feet or about 300 feet above my house. . A lot of water runs past this point in the right season.

This from last year showing the result of a quick warm up in March. The snow pack last year was greater at the same time than this year I observe. Drainage funneling down to choke points of course is a recipe for high water. Upstream here covers an area 50 miles long and 40 miles wide in some places. It’s several thousand square miles in the drainage of the “Little Powder River”. That’s a lot of ground with a couple of feet of snow melted down to 6 inches of well packed firn (granular snow) .

The local term is, “the river is coming down”. Now as a geologist, I think of the river coming down as referring to the water level declining. But this colloquial use means the water level is going up. All that water up stream is “Coming down”. I had never heard before I moved up here. Anyone else use this as a term for rising flood waters?

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

Title: Snow Melt Flooding

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Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor
Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor is a capture from earlier this winter. The orange/peach colored alpenglow accented by the cloud blush off the snow in the foreground.. This was a very good year for snow early but not so much now. This was a standoff. Me versus her. I just look brave as there as a cattle gate between us as I got down on my knees looking for the reincarnation of the Egyptian God Hathor.

The orange Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I very carefully expose in the camera that sky to match what I saw at the time. The cow here is 100 yards out for my telephoto to get both the cow and the sky in the same focal field.

This Cow is NOT a Bull, just having horns does not a Bull Make. This is a mother I’ve had 5 years on ranch. … Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early winter day.

If you don’t have a 100-400mm lens in your weapons chest, you need to consider it. You guy lenses for generations while fancy camera backs last a few years. I’m still using regularly a lens I bought in 1995.

Tip of the day:

You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor

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Ice Road Coyote

Ice Road Coyote
Ice Road Coyote

Ice Road Coyote is an unexpected Game Trail Camera Capture. I have 4 good shots of this guy walking by here on 4 different days. (so far).

There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans.

This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds.. I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.

Coyotes were “Wiley” I’ve always thought.. Hunting on thin Ice isn’t the brightest things I’ve ever seen.. This particular lake is well frozen at the moment. That ice is about 6 inches thick at the moment. If the warm weather keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw. I’ve seen these guys walk on thin ice indeed in the past.

I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks.

2×3 aspect up to 36 inches wide.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ice Road Coyote

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Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon
Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

As I watch the sun descend across the sky moving to the right and downward as it travels. The light is so bright as to prevent the technology I am using from picking up any details in the landscape that I can recover. Too much dynamic range in this stage show. The scene was so bright, no human eye could bear it for more than a quick glance. The necessity to set the camera to expose the highlights properly can and does preclude catching any shadow details.

I was after the blue in the sky above the glare though. The Blazing orange alpenglow from the surface haze is only light that traveled long distances through the atmosphere. Only reds and yellows make it. But way up high in the sky, there is still blue light. That blue is unfettered by the atmosphere that high up. Because of the angle of the sun, that part of the sky is still in full colored daylight. That versus the red/yellow light that is being caught by my traps.

To have the sun drop into a perfect little valley for it to rest the night was also a consideration. To be in just the right place when this happens is a matter of planning and preparation. Knowing where cool terrain features are is just a matter of being there and learning/working your area. I have a whole list of things I CAN do any particular day. It depends entirely on the light plus where it’s coming from. 📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow
Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

Boys will be boys. They didn’t need a reason to lock horns because their hormones were kicking in. Rut was in late November/early December this year up here in the borderlands. They were, as they say, preoccupied and din’t care much about my presence during this tussle.

These two are the best of friends. Thick as thieves they are. About 5 minutes earlier, they wereresting in the shade of the afternoon together lol. This image was taken about 4 weeks before the rut really started and it was still good natured. They really were working on building up their necks. Those necks will swell considerably the close to the rut they get.

Biologists say that a big Bucks neck can swell up much larger than these boys have currently. From the spring, they can swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

I have followed these two around for several years. These 3 year olds have known me since the beginning seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. Now they are starting to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of old vehicles and how I approach. I drive like I’m grazing stopping and stopping. No I have a new truck so this will be interesting. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close without changing natural behavior. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before. I didn’t get a chance to do that this year for what ever reason. Everything has to line up just so for a good day of grazing with the Mule Deer. Running late.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bucks Rutting Under Alpenglow

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Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron
Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron (The ultimate wide theatre screen for the filetered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector lolol.😜🤔📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It served as a projector screen right at sunset. These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. 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 colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). Big Clouds like this are Projections screens for the colors that make their way through the atmospheric filter. The Red Light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere to be projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white at the top of the cloud only slightly yellowed light. This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. You just normally can’t see all of it lolol.

It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

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Mirage Over the BigHorns

Mirage Over the BigHorns
Mirage Over the BigHorns

Mirage Over the BigHorns (They don’t look like that)….

Fata Morgana = Complex Mirage

Often observed over large patches of snow/ice at low uniform temperature. Sounds like here lolol… A Fata Morgana is a pretty rare event in my experience. I’ve never seen this before but it can occur anywhere. There is no limitation for temperature though as they can occur on hot days. This was not a hot day lolol.

Fata Morgana is described as a very complex “superior” form of mirage. It will have three or more distorted erect and inverted images . All within the primary mirage. Changes of the constantly variable conditions of the atmosphere cause it to change form rapidly. A Fata Morgana may change in infinite ways within just a few seconds, Including changing to become a straightforward superior mirage. A superior mirage occurs when the air under the line of sight is colder than the air above it. This unusual arrangement is termed ” temperature inversion”. Warm air above cold air is the opposite of the normal temperature gradient of the atmosphere during the daytime. That obviously was the case here.

Seen from sea level to mountain tops, this phenomena has even been seen from aircraft. I’ve never ever experienced this in 20 years of living up here. Now the Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant. That is one long distance mirage. About 200 miles line of sight past the Big Horns are the Wind River Mountains. The strange slopes COULD be from the Wind River Slopes showing in the mirage. Alternately, the mirage COULD be Multiplying and stacking in several layers the slopes of the Big Horns themselves. (Educated Speculation at best).

“Atmospheric ducting” of light causes this. The lensing created by bending the light rays in an arc equal to the curvature of the earth. Proper Positioning is necessary to see this. Being JUST below or actually in the atmospheric duct is necessary to see the Fata Morgana Mirage.

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

Title: Mirage Over the BigHorns

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Windmill Tower Blue Sky

Windmill Tower Blue Sky
Windmill Tower Blue Sky

Windmill Tower Blue Sky

Perspective starts with “seeing” things from all angles. While climbing under this 100 year old Windmill requires agility lol. No choice but scrambling over panels meant to protect the structure from Cattle pressure. The sky was Robin’s Egg Blue pretty much horizon to horizon. I’m a victim of only being able to photograph what is in front of me….. Maybe in this case… what was over me lol.

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.

I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.

From the point of view of this 100 year old windmill. (Re Pete), the sky is not constant. This old fellow is on our ranch about 3 miles into the backcountry via two track roads. I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol).

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.

Windmill Tower Blue Sky

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Like Phoenix to the Sun

Like Phoenix to the Sun
Like Phoenix to the Sun

Like Phoenix to the Sun

Setting: The ancient world:

A famous myth like the Phoenix, a magnificent creature of paradise, a land beyond the sun. . Fatigued from building it’s nest before the sun rise, you notice it’s obvious tiredness. The sun god began to carry the sun up from the horizon to it’s zenith, the Phoenix bends it’s neck back like a crane. It begins to sing a haunting cry that stops the sun in it’s tracks. So beautiful was the song, the sun god stopped to listen to his notes. Upon his resuming his journey, a spark falls from the sky igniting a fire that consumes the nest and the bird. But please avoid worry, it rose again from the ashes reborn young and renewed. 😜

Those crazy ancient greeks thought the Phoenix lived across the straights in Arabia. Living next to a well (paradise in Arabia apparently ), it bathed there every morning. (bird tea I’m thinking). That song stopped Apollo and his chariot in the sky (with the sun), the rest is history 🤔

We’ve seen destructions, creation, life, death along with learning that life in Paradise isn’t all it was meant to be lolol. The Phoenix lived a thousand years each rebirth cycle. Never destined to stay destroyed but to be reborn again. A lesson of time works into the story as well. There are several versions of the story, one where the bird self-immolates lol.

This is from a good Game Trail Camera sitting mostly on the ground. Catching a flock of what I think are cowbirds coming in to a water hole to drink. The only control you have over a Game Trail Camera is where you place it. Love the lens flares …..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland.

Title: Like Phoenix to the Sun

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Wetland Sunset in the Snow

Wetland Sunset in the Snow
Wetland Sunset in the Snow

Wetland Sunset in the Snow

This location is about a mile below a good sized oil field pumping 140 degree water out, treating it, holding it in ponds until it eventually freezes. With it having been below zero several times already, having an open body of water in the backcountry is an oasis. Particularly this time of year. (Imaged last week) A lot of wild birds stop by and over night here. Liquid water is always interesting to animals of all kinds in deep northern Wyoming / southern Montana winters. Numerous Geothermal ponds exist from deep oil wells in the areas surrounding my ranch but none directly on my place unfortunately.

I love geothermal pond areas for photographic trips in sub-zero weather as the steam generates huge hoar frost needles on virtually everything. The mists in the mornings can be amazing to watch the sunrise through. This is the kind of things I see driving backroads in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

As I noticed this, it stopped me from 45 mph and I backed up a ways to set up for it. The speed limit up here is 45 on the county back roads. It only took a few seconds to get back to the proper position for this frame. . I rarely pass another vehicle when I drive around the backcountry. Maybe one car every three or four days of work. Mostly that would be a local rancher either going to town or tending cattle.

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

Title: Wetland Sunset in the Snow

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Coyote Up Close and Personal

Coyote Up Close and Personal
Coyote Up Close and Personal

Coyote Up Close and Personal is a Game Trail Camera capture where the Ice was JUST a LITTLE too thin for him to cruise by here on the ice. I’d seen this coyote on several other days walking right on the ice. (Still one image to post with him pretty far out there lol.

I suppose he hunts the shore pretty regularly. My cameras have captured quite a few images of him. This lake freezes solid by mid-December. The only source of water is one of my stock tanks which I will keep open. This is quite a ways out into the backcountry. I have limited access to these locations in the winter. Snowmobiles only can get here. I’m not really big on using my cameras off of snowmobiles as the random flying around moisture and my rigs are not compatible.

Coyotes work hard for their meals. A “coyote breakfast”, defined as a cold pee in the corner is their typical morning meal. They don’t eat much else unless a roadrunner screws up…. mostly they eat field mice and rodents they catch. Coyotes as a group do predate ranchers stock. They will kill calves worth a couple thousand dollars each (eventually) without hesitation. Lambs are easy pickings if not protected by sheep dogs or Llamas.

As such they are pursued and shot by most ranchers. State trappers/hunters work overpopulated areas. Many organized hunts are scheduled around the area. Coyotes would cause ecosystem mayhem if not controlled. (a ranchers view point after living 20 years with them). They are not in the least bit endangered as they reproduce quite rapidly and are elusive usually. You just find the dead calf with it’s face chewed off. (sad).

Don’t get me wrong. These are beautiful animals. I admire them for their tenacity, their survival skills and their intrinsic beauty. They have a place in the ecosystem but like any predator, they need to be carefully managed. Stock predation is Wyoming Game and Fish’s business. They employ professional hunters to control Coyote numbers. If they get out of control both stock and other young wildlife suffer excessive population decline. Professional Wildlife managers generally get it close to right. (Some notable exceptions of course).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote Up Close and Personal

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Tachnid Fly Gardener’s Friend #3

Tachnid Fly Gardener's Friend #3
Tachind Fly Gardeners Friend #3

Tachnid Fly: A Gardener’s Friend #3

This is the third image I finished from this photo session with a Gold Tachnid Fly. Tachnid Flies as a group are wonderful things to have in your garden. They kill major insect pests that destroy our crops. Kind of a big fly, really bristly and quite a vivid appearance highlights this Tachnid Fly Gardeners Friend #3.. This capture is by far the best of 3 in the series technically. Also artistically really from this time line of finished images. The Asters were post frost pollen providers here.

In an unusual manner, SOME species of Tachnids actually have their eggs develop in their bodies. Thus giving birth to live larva which they deposit readily in caterpillars and other crop eating insects. As a group they do a tremendous service to us in general. The adulst are around your garden to drink nectar through that have their ulterior motive for visiting your garden. They inject their larva (or just eggs under the skin so the larvae will slowly digest the host bug. Killing the host as it develops. (more on this later).

Sounds like an early Japanese Horror Film. Some species of Tachnids lay a live larva on a leaf and it will crawl around looking for a host to burrow into. Then it will eat and digest it slowly from the inside out. The larvae (of course) start on the least important parts of their host to keep it alive longer. Kind of like Cow birds and Cuckoos laying their eggs in another nest.

But these guys have the added feature of killing the host. Classy Lifestyle if I may say so. . Parasitic reproduction for sure but these are not animal carrion flies that carry disease about. As I’ve said, they are our friend. Good thing they only pick on other bugs that tend to eat our crops. The eat nectar, pollens and saps as an adult. This one is munching on pollen from the surviving asters after the first heavy frost. Not much else to eat out there.

Photographers notes:

The lens I used for this is a little odd being about 2 feet long. It is only an inch in diameter. It has LED lights at the end around the lens. They tend to be a bit yellow in general but yellow plus gold is vivid. . Being “Ultra macro” with a very deep focal field is rare. Getting the fly and mostly the flower in focus is an amazing performance . Even more so considering the “plus” size that these Flies are. He’s at least 1/2 inch long if not a tad larger. Getting this close to a fly feeding with a bright light….. Esier than without the bright light 🤔📸 or so I’ve noticed.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Tachnid Fly Gardener’s Friend #3