Last year was a good environment to set up for multiple births of Pronghorn fawns this spring. Ultimately it may have been a cruel trick as while there is still grass growing, it is very dry. Worse, grasshoppers are thicker than recent memory. Malathion is a well used fumigant but it kills the good bugs too so it is a double edged sword. Some ranchers sprayed by plane over their ground. They have grasshoppers too as far as I can tell. The point is, later in the year, the Pronghorn are going to be competing with the jumpers for food I’m afraid. We are even taking precautions around our greenhouses to properly seal them from the invasion.
Each Pronghorn mother during estrus releases 6 eggs (I have been told). All of which fertilize, the mother sloughs off an appropriate number based on the environmental conditions. Twins and even triplets on the good year like last year. IT was green until august. This year, it’s only early July and it’s brown already. I know of one set of triplets and have seen several twins with various moms. These guys were typical fawns galavanting around like they own the place. Mother was typically ignoring them but keeping her eye on the surrounding threat matrix. Getting terribly close to Pronghorn babies is not going to happen regularly. I only have a few Does that tolerate my trucks presence. Others not so much lolol.
The 40 mile landscape across two drainages from this viewpoint this early summer. The Trees are in the Little Powder River Valley. Beyond the far ridge is the Powder River Valley. It’s like Yellowstone over there without the tourists and the exotic wildlife. All of this is grass and cattle county.
All this ground is eroded on top of a network of Tertiary Alluvial Fans. These are large aprons of sediment spreading across the land eastward from the Big Horn Mountain Range. It eroded spreading sediment out many miles in each direction. These sediments actually filing the greater geologic feature, the “Powder River Basin”. It was a sedimentary bathtub/down warp to be filled up before the aluvial fans could spread from the uplift. Those Big Horns were relatively taller in the past with the valley next to them much lower. That by the way is why the coal swamps formed there. They were formed on the low ground next to high mountains.
The sediments exposed in this image are mostly alternating of beds of Sand/Silt and Clay this 120 mile distance to the source. Over time the more recent rivers have cut down across the older beds between here and the distant mountains.
I’m not usually at tree level down in the river valley floor but this was a rare trip to the highway. Those travels cross part of this a little lower is the drainage.
I’m normally 10 miles off the right frame where I live about 400 feet higher in elevation than this “low” country. Across the river valley, the Mountains are in Montana. I am standing in Wyoming by at least a mile looking this direction. Most of my images have both states in them. Sky of one, ground of the other or both lol. I consider 5 miles either side of the border as the mythical land called “Wyotana”. Added together the 10 linear miles over the length of the Montana / Wyoming border would be 3700 square miles or 3 times the size of Rhode Island. I suspect the population of Wyotana is a thousand at the most.
I laughed out loud and then took dozens of images in all sorts of frame compositions. I liked this particular capture the best. There are several very good cloud creatures in this image. The hoot is the face on the upper gray cloud. The north wind as it were … Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale” The Selfish Giant (1888) exemplifies the North Wind as a man who “was wrapped in furs. He roared all day. I’ve always pictured him in my minds eye as a grey old guy… here he is caught on camera.
I thought as this was taken, it was an exercise in futility for the old guy. It was early June and 80+ degree days are already past us. My sense of normalcy was safe or so I thought. Of course it’s snowing in the mountains as I type this now. Looks like the old fellow got his way after all. I have seen snow in every calendar month of the year in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming. I now have garden crops in and am hoping we will avoid the worst of the old North Winds effects.
Meanwhile on the rest of the image here overlooking both Montana and Wyoming. I’m also imagining a swan diving it’s head under the surface of a frothy ponds below the old guy. Pareidolia takes no captives and gives no quarter. If you have it, and don’t take definitive action to turn away, your likely to see all sorts of anthropomorphic shapes in clouds. If you do have this tendency, welcome to the club of us “suffering” from this malady.
I’m a serious sufferer of pareidolia. (Seeing familiar shapes from random visual data) At least I am not alone as proven by the conversation of these two.
Now bear with me as my Pronghorn Lip Reading Skills are not what they should be. Here is how I translate it. These two gals are called (Left Doe is “Jane”, The Right Doe is named ” Doe” ) . Jane and Doe… 👀
The general topic of conversation was concerned about, “Seeing things in clouds”. “Doe” saw a Bear face. The bear, swallowed by a huge alligator from behind. (Now how do those guys know about Alligators ??) 🤔😜
“Jane” on the left was saying she was seeing a gorilla’s face in the growing storm cloud. “Doe” was all about the bear being eaten by the alligator. Lots of things live in those billowing cloud they agreed. The conversation went on with small talk about the weather being dry this spring. No big storms have dumped on fields this spring. Just little dribbles. Going to be a long brown season with some fires and other topics unique to pronghorn gossip. I’m not repeating the conversation about that “new Buck” on the block…… Rated “PG” this page.
Then suddenly, “Doe” said out of nowhere that Jane looked “fat”. “Jane” snapped back quickly “have you looked in a mirror lately?” Sneering away. Well needless to say the conversation went down hill from there as did the animals. Right down the hill to the left off frame at typically high speed. 😜📸
Our Lilacs are Blooming earlier this year than last. We had blooming Lilac bushes the 4th of JULY last year. This year is way drier and warmer. Lilacs beat by at least 2 weeks their late blooming past. Catching a bee on Lilac is nifty. Catching “Maverick and Goose” doing a flyby in their “hornet” is priceless lolol.
Photographic Musings: This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So High F-stop = deep field of focus (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. Light has to come from somewhere, so make longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher. Higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? I’d be interested to see if they could do it…
With ALL Macro shots, more light is your friend. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best.
As I point cameras directly into the sun I usually get either Crimson or Burn Umber colors depending on my exposure. I’m not one to argue with my cameras on this point as I can’t look into the scene without blinding myself. I have no choice but to trust the full frame chips that Sony uses in their various Alpha 7 series camera backs used in my work.
Getting up an hour before sunrise in the summer takes some doing to motivate at times. I usually worked the sunset 6 hours before. IT takes a while to wind down after photographing sunset so the night is really short. I usually only need 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night (if I get a short nap mid day). Historically I will work 7 or 8 sunsets or sunrises in a row. In my old age wisdom, I might not work certain types of skies. Clear skies are way common and difficult for me to justify taking the time to work them. Obviously I don’t work heavily overcast sunrises.
My day revolves around photography so if I’m not taking care of ranch business and chores, I’m working images. Either taking photos up on the high ridges or going through the timeline of files picking winners/loosers. Then there is the time to finish. The hard part are these narratives. The photos are easy 😜🤘 In full disclose, I’m also looking for fossils and artifacts as I go……
Full time photography is not for the computer challenged these days. If you don’t work 3 to 4 hours a day in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would be surprised.
If you look at the left side of this and let your imagination go… a french poodle begging… On the right side, a Gorilla looking fierce. Or if you want to really let your imagination go. I see 11 other faces in that rising cumulous cloud. (soon to be a thunderstorm as there was a LOT of lift in the air that day. Many of these thermals grew into big storms that hit to our east. .
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it for facial recognition purposes. Making familiar patterns out of random data is a common “affliction”. It’s not just clouds of course. Hearing hidden messages in music is a similar effect. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic.
Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. I consider them sprits in the sky. This was caught glancing back behind me to the south won a warm evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision working sunsets and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. I suffer horribly from this mental disease seeing faces and animals in almost every scene I look at. Some days it’s worse than others though lolol. 😜👀📸
During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over here but she still have some divots in her coat. A silky light tan to white look is the rule for healthy animals.
I actually don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I’m not that fond of them as they chase the larger Mule Deer Away when they move in. The Mule Deer are MUCH larger and less spooky. IF one has to hunt for any reason, most (certain me) would prefer to take a Mule Deer for the same priced tag…. We don’t have BlackTail Deer up here like you left coast residents.
I seldom can get close to them. I caught this one driving by her in the backcountry. Then she had to cooperate lolol. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well. Having only a few second. Having Cameras generally pre-set up for wildlife photography is a good thing BTW…. . This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder. The shadows were very long and the unfettered sun was quite bright.
This is a long lens telephoto shot of course. I haven’t worked out a deal with them to sit for 55mm portrait lenses to date. I’ve heard that “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is working on that diplomatically…… (years long narrative if your now lost). 😜📷
Literally playing “King of the Hill”, this American Eagle had quite a view. This hillock is one of the higher Buttes about (erosional remnant sometimes called “Monadnock” which is a good google word for the morning). Several hundred feet above the surrounding terrain is a good spot to look for game without all that effort of flying etc.. I’m going to have to take a climb up there as this is a hill I haven’t been up yet. It’s a little scramble to climb sandstone buttes and not without some challenge. I might put a game trail camera up there just for kicks… See what flies by…
I saw the “silhouette” of the bird from a LONG way out. Way out in the hilly backcountry, it took me about 10 minutes to get THIS close. All the while this sharp eyed bird was watching me bounce around the backcountry well away from the closest “smooth” two track trail….
The whole game was trying to get into position to take the sun RIGHT behind the bird setting on the peak. The sun was actually above the bird just off frame. IF I could have maneuvered for another few minutes, he would have been in the crosshairs between sun and my lens. No such luck as he flew away seconds after this capture. I’m not sure why he flew but I wasn’t being subtle trying to get into the right position. I always stop in intervals while approaching wildlife. Get the shot, move a little closer, get the next shot, rinse and repeat.
The spring Alpenglow was rife with orange gradients. The suspended ice in the air is responsible for the orange color. If you haven’t experienced a deep orange late evening sky before, you need to spend some time up here in the winter… I was miles out into the backcountry minutes before sunset. It was a long clear sky sunset drive back…….
This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.
Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.
Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are only 2 arcs in this image. I have a very similar shot from last fall 2019 that has a much deeper vibrant rainbow. . I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has 2 nested within 👀📸
IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. It is less than desirable to squish around in the fresh mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit back to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol. I have a map of such things and assemble composition opportunities in my head. So when X happens I go to Y location and so forth.
Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow” Rule 1 of photography is “Always have a camera with you”. I prefer about 5 as a minimum though I could get by with 2 in most cases…. With the right 5 camera/lens combinations I have access to every possible focal length from 10mm to 1200 mm. Just grab the right camera. The camera backs are all the same brand (work the same)……. 😜😜
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.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.
Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.
On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.
Close far perspective:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. 📸
Sometimes I feel that I’m being pointed in the right direction. Either by amazing chance or other forces beyond my comprehension. As I left my driveway in the middle of this blowy spring snowstorm, the flat light was not the best for photography. I stopped at the end of the drive deciding to set up my long lens for the light conditions. I pointed the camera at a random spot on the surrounding hill out in the distance. Amazingly on a big scale, it was already in focus and looking directly at this group of Pronghorn. I had about 120 degrees of landscape to choose from and I point DIRECTLY at this group perfectly framed. I didn’t see them, didn’t know they were there. Using this 1200 mm lens at about 300 yards out. Blended perfectly into the landscape. They sure stood out in the camera though.
So I very slowly worked my Black Ford Raptor higher above them. Carefully closer until I could get a better look. I must have done well. I have never ever been able to sneak around on a group of Pronghorn bedded down before. I’m thinking the 30 mph winds driving moderate snow at this moment might have given them reason to hit the deck. They are all looking into the wind and you can see snow starting to build up on their back. There is 5 inches of snow out there as I type this at 15 degrees F.
The red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow behind the snag pine tree. That phenomena projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but on the moon.
This just the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around these days in snowy or muddy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE a celestial alignment will occur with what hillside. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having effectively unlimited access to many square miles of backcountry Wyotana is always a good thing with a camera.
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a bullseye into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. These guys are our largest shore bird in North America. (National Audubon).
They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing callsThey will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. I find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.
This was a late spring snow storm from the spring of 2019. It caught everybody by surprise. Robins, Meadowlarks and Curlews were wading knee deep in the white stuff. Much to their collective dismay I’m sure. I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔
Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.
The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise.
Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight. In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. .
Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
Sego Lily’s are not uncommon in the backcountry. I think this is a correct ID with this flower but I’m a terrible Flower Identifier. This one was closed up for the end of the day as the setting sun through a slit in the sky. I find one can only photograph what is in front of him. I would take photos of plunging high water falls or some exotic Asian scene if I were younger and able to travel far. I’m fairly tied down here on ranch because I’m the repair man here.
When in the middle of nowhere, you have to find beauty in what is at hand using the resources available. We have a log of high ground with a lot of living things that cover that landscape. On this particular trip out into the backcountry I was hoping for a magnificent crown sky to fully involve the sky show in front of me but no. All I got was a thin slit in the clouds late. Mere minutes before the sun would slide below my line of sight to the horizon. My day working cameras into the light was about done. What to do, what to do???. My mind screams “Close / Far” perspective!!!.
What is available miles from the nearest building surrounded by prairie grass. I was moving but this last summer was wet. Most things that could bloom, did bloom. This was early in the summer around early May. Our last frost is mid may and it was cool that night. The LED lightbar on the front of my Polaris ATV provided the illumination for the Crocus. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)