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Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

(Crimson Alpenglow Close far Perspective #2 in this Yucca series)

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads/distracts the viewer. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the too bright scene on your retina. A quick thought of eye damage, you blink. Over a minute later, your vision probably would come back.

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about.

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. Click!

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

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Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump
Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump

If you are “stumped” as to how I did this, I assure you it was done in the camera lol. No digital or otherwise magic involved. (well there are some orbital mechanics😜🤔)…. This was quite a ways out from my long lens to get that stump into the infinity focal depth along with the moon. Getting the moon to cooperate with the topography was quite a challenge in this hilly country.

Having terrestrial objects in the same focus as the moon or the sun is definitely an acquired skill with a few requirements for it’s practice. I’m still trying to perfect this kind of work in a variety of ways. Getting only a few opportunities a month to work a full moon low in the sky and still have the sun light up the foreground scene. Wait another 28 days and hope it isn’t cloudy during those days. 6 or 7 times a year in other words do I get a “shot” at this. .

You need at least a 400mm telephoto on a high f number for a deep focal field. You still need to stand way back several hundred yards to enable the telephoto to crush the perspective. Your lighting will change your other settings from what I used but a high f-stop is the place to start.

Perspective: Works like this…

As you step back the stump will get noticeably smaller but the moon stays about the same size. So the further you step back the smaller the stump and the relatively bigger the moon looks. Perspective takes hold….

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

TItle: Moon On a Stump

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Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss
Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

ART…. THIS IS ART. Well unless you take just the right or the left side by itself. Then it is just photography. Each is one photo next to itself flipped horizonally. The Magic is different people imagine different things with such a presentation. Your tendency to see anthropomorphic shapes in random data we are teaching to computers doing facial recognition. This is of course is a brilliantly bright setting sun breaking through a crack in the clouds over a ridge 40 miles out.

Some sunsets are limited to a very little spot of the sky. To look deeply into them when no human eye could is a spiff of using good equipment. It requires one to pretty much turn off your camera to light

This is an image I didn’t know what to do with thus the obvious choice…. The clouds were absolutely ROILING like a boiling pot live real time. I don’t do video. I’m not a videographer so I need to explain what I was seeing in this viewfinder.

When I look at a scene it can instantly transformed into a vision in my mind. In this case I saw a mask I was looking to. Some childhood memory of a Halloween costume no doubt. The best images bring back memories long forgotten. I find.

Mirroring scenes is a mental exercise I do pretty much with every sunset somewhere in any extended session. It’s just a check box for me to fill if I have the time. I always look for natural body parts in clouds so a set of eyes are welcome to the parts collection. 😜😜📷

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

Title: Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

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Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass
Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.

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.

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

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

Title: Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes
Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

The 3 Missouri Buttes (the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The wagon train pioneers called them the “Three Sisters”. They were a major sign post along the way to all places west. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View to the southeast (the side the tourists NEVER see). That is all northwestern Crook County.

The weather during this sunset over my shoulder was a tad snowy. Those were all falling ice plates (Diamond Dust). The next morning I went up on that pass and worked that fresh snow as well. Lots of good captures on this timeline). Taken up on the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Road). The view is to the southeast. This is off the beaten path a tad lolol.

Geologic Musings:

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 3 (actually 4 but you can only see the 4th from above), peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck cooling slowly being insulated by the surrounding rocks. . We know this was deep as the columns of rock in the Devils Tower nearby cooled VERY slowly. This allowing the columns to crystallize in the eroded tower that the National Monument is famous for. Lots of material around them washed down the river to expose those necks. All that sand/mud is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Location: about 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

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Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky
Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky (From the inside out)

Hollow standing tree trunks are not terribly common out in the backcountry. I have only found a few. I’d love to have the sun directly over head here. I’ll have to wait for the right day. This is about 7 feet of trunk accessed from a critter hole in the base. I couldn’t quite get in my my arm and camera could. You don’t have to see what your doing to point a camera after a few hundred thousand clicks I’ve found out. Of course that’s not for detailed compositions but I can usually get the focal point somewhere near the center of the frame. You can smell the dried wood and moist ground. The grass I was laying in cushioned a bit but chunks of wood dug into my side lolol.

Photographic musings:

The Perspective here is of course close / far.

Go to Manual Mode on your camera and work thus learning the controls on your camera..You only have three settings you have to adjust to accomplish your goal. Equipment is a wide angle lens whose aperture set through the camera to high f-stop numbers. High f-stop is a very small “iris” in the lens. Pin point pupil so to speak.

The far tree is hard to get into the same focal plane as the close to the camera wood. Complications: To successfully capture detail that close in a dark place is a technical balancing act. SO… Deep Focual Field (the depth of focus) is your primary priority number one. You accomplish that using high f-stop numbers. . Doing so lets your lens focus on both close / far things at the same time.

Complications:

Side effect of doing that is the lenses small iris lets in very little light in an already dark (ish) environment. So you have to compensate by longer/slower shutter speed, turning up Camera sensitivity or BOTH. More on that later. Just remember that f-stop is a double edged sword. Low f-stop number let in a LOT of light but your subjects nose might be in focus, his ears are blurry.

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

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

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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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Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds
Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds (A MUST for Full Screen)

Ducks were EVERYWHERE taking off that morning for parts unknown but likely south of here. The Cattle Hang here because the rancher feeds them nearby AND there is liquid water. The fog while freezing is still warmer than the air surrounding this microclimate.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area.

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

Title: Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

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Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset
Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will 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. They need the muscle for all the tussle.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

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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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Perspective Wounded Tree

Perspective Wounded Tree
Perspective Wounded Tree

Perspective Wounded Tree (I love trees growing out of rocks. ❤️📸

Wide landscapes are one of my many photographic pursuits and I enjoy using veiled skies better than clear blues. Getting high up topographically on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good start for a memory. The span of space/time has been bridged. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by human machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.

I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the Wyoming border.. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of miles on two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep

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

Title: Perspective Wounded Tree

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Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset
Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry.

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go gown with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 200 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Yes there is a little pac man on the right center side of frame reaching over the lip… Sort of a Kilroy was here cloud….

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

Title: Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

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Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting
Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting …. Familiar here in the borderlands.

OK, you might ask how do I know this owl was hunting?. Well he is sitting 40 feet in the air above my barnyard well after dusk. 43…. err soon 42 domestic ducks hang out there. This is on top of the big light pole that lights the barnyard. I heard him and got on my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which has two very bright LED light bars that are adjustable. So I slowly moved up to a comfortable distance (for me) and started working the scene. He was rather happy with his roost. I eventually walked all the way around him clicking all the time. It’s all handheld and it was very dark but most of the images are wonderful.

A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common own in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America.

Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!

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

Title: Great Horned Owl Hunting

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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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Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle
Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Muppet Moth Wider Angle

Hanging out in a “to do” folder this unidentified moth haunts me again. Many of you no doubt remember this guy from a much closer image I post of him. He has been seen by thousands of people and no one seems to be able to key him out and ID him. Here’s hoping someone will have a moment of recognition to a moth they saw 20 years ago.

Bug Photos are a favorite…

I had caught this fellow the night before hanging about a porch light. Then he was placed in an inflated gallon zip lock. Then into the fridge overnight. Next day I released the torpid 34 degree moth into a 60 degree environment. It had enough wits to hang on to the well lit tree branch I set him on. Between the sun and the ambient temperature, I had perhaps 2 minutes to shoot him. He did indeed flutter off in my typical catch and release program I run for my photographic volunteers. I haven’t seen many bugs since Oct 1 when winter started this year. . I think I too a photo of a Orb Weaver Spider on my front window inside my house since.

I’m about to photograph a Black Widow female I’ve kept alive. The crickets I grow in my green house’s front entry stairs. I just leave a little fish food around and they reproduce nicely all winter. The Black Widow is at least 6 months old here mid-winter. Her prison is a pyrex glass beaker on a shelf. She can not get away and I’m very careful with handling them. The biggest threat is to her not to me. They are fairly fragile. They break like an egg if you are not very careful and they are very fast. Stay tuned for that lol. .

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

Title : Muppet Moth Wider Angle

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Sunrise Through Natures Eye

Sunrise Through Natures Eye
Sunrise Through Natures Eye

Sunrise Through Natures Eye

I see this capture metaphorically as closing one eye to observe the view through this ocular shaped frame. Eyebrows above and a bright pupil from the sun rising behind a deep veil of clouds. The illusion was complete to me. The colors were marvelous. I worked this sunrise hard for about an hour from twilight to mid-golden hour.

When I’m walking around the backcountry, I try to see natural shapes that mimic familiar shapes. Commonly those are anthropomorphic reminding me of human attributes. Here I was looking through Natures eye actually feeling like I was looking through one 👀

This scene was spectacular for that imaging/seeing. I’m pretty much standing on the Montana/Wyoming border with “Turtle Butte” to the left. Several layers of trees constitute the rest of the frame. I call that hill “Turtle Butte” because it has a wonderful turtle silhouette on it’s top from the right angle. This late in the year, the sun is rising so far south, that angle is a few months around the corner.

This is one of the last photos I will have obtained from my old Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in on a new truck. My angles will change with the new ta;;er vehicle. Modified is the way I see those little areas of Zen. By over 2 feet, my viewpoint should be elevated. Hopefully this vehicle will ride better, and go where ever it needs to. My Jeep would go anywhere my Polaris Ranger could more or less. It would just throw me around the cab doing so. A properly built Ford F-150 Raptor is a bit longer than either of the previously mentioned vehicles. The tendency to “high center” more easily is a characteristic of a long truck. By the time you read this, I will be driving it. First new vehicle in 15 years. Finding myself stuck is the backcountry has never happened to date.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Through Natures Eye

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Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap
Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap

It was cold, it was foggy, it was frost that morning. These moms were bunching up to gain a little extra body warmth from their neighbors. Their breath was lighting up in the low angle light. Living in sub-zero weather that is actively hoar frosting has got to be challenging.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area. More to come this week as I’m working some images from this area currently.

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

Title: Frosty Milk on Tap

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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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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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Mule Deer Rut Starts

Mule Deer Rut Starts
Mule Deer Rut Starts

This Game Trail Camera is a good clue that the Mule Deer Rut Starts pretty soon. I would really like to find this guy on a sunny day with a good pro-camera. These game trail camera images are hard to finish each and every one.. They do amazing work for being “Johnny on the Spot” automatic machines though. Now if they would just put a sony alpha body inside I’d pay good money for an automatic game camera that took photos the quality of say a good consumer level digital DSLR camera. I know right where to put it… 📷

This thick necked big antlered 12 point (6 ring hangers on each side how ever you want to classify him. He survived the hunting locally. I suspect he will father quite a few fawns shortly. I believe that rut is about 20 days late this year starting. The rest of the summer was a month late so I suspect they are also effected by the offset weather. This was indeed a very odd year weather wise. Lots of water = lots of grass but fortunately it all didn’t catch fire. There is a LOT of one hour fuel out there at the moment. The cattle are busy eating this all down as I type.

I have to go out and move these cameras today as cattle are back in this pasture. :(. I think there are 9 or 10 of them so it will take a while. I usually take my time but having cattle in with game trail cameras is a good way to get them gooey. Some of them are worth protecting lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mule Deer Rut Starts

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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