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Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower
Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower

This flower somehow survived the very early frost we had last week (as this posts). It was on the highest point of the highest remaining flower (not too many left). Between the hail storm in July beating up every flowing plant with a view straight up got destroyed. At a minimum it bruised or at least broke most of the plant up. Just like I have 5 apples on a tree that normally would yield several bushels, I have a few flowers about. The suspicion is that this is high value real estate. All sorts of creatures were around this small bed in a sheltered area getting their fill with the pollen. Bees, Flies, Wasps bugs of all kinds were visiting this island in the middle of a hailed upon desert. The Mantis was staking it’s claim.

I’m sorry to say the cold probably got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. Particularly grasshoppers. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have found one in the ranches Walipini Greenhouse already. It’s our 6th generation of them down there.

I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was all in for good focus as well as a slower subject lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. They might see themselves in a mirror. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

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

Title: Mantis on the Last Flower

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With The Help of Smoke

With The Help of Smoke
With The Help of Smoke

With The Help of Smoke

Done without a neutral density filter in front of the camera. Almost a silly unlikely capture. It is a rare image from my equipment that has very few issues with the silhouette against the sun. The smoke in the atmosphere obviously has some attenuating aspect on the amount of light passing through. Normally the camera is on the edge of the envelope doing this. All the normally insurmountable technical issues were overcome to get this one.

Photographic Musings:

The big lemon colored sun is an easy capture in and of itself. Getting something terrestrial in front of it without large red rims around objects (diffraction artifacts). Washing them out is typical. I have pointed a camera at the naked sun with trees in front a few times (thousands) before and have never gotten this quality out of the composition. Sharpest edges ever in this type of composition lol. Again, only a smoke attenuated sun will do when you need a celestial object for a “sitting”. Of course I lost 1/2 of the light by letting it set 1/2 way lolol. High fstop (the softness) for deep focus, fast shutter in the 1/6000th range, LOW ISO in the 100 range and a lot of atmospheric filtering.

I’m always trying to work sunset at less than f22 if possible. I suspect this is f60 ish. A tiny pin hole in the aperture. It’s a 1200 mm lens with a very high resolution camera (170 meg raw+ .jpg) which allows me to come up this close without much of a crop. There is NO substitute for high resolution and high dynamic range in a camera.

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

Title: With The Help of Smoke

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Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

Perspective Wheel On the Prairie
Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

These close / far perspectives are always a challenge to me. I have to put myself into a mouses mind and imagine the sheer size of human machinations. This Antique steel wheel has been standing here for many decades. It overlooks a huge vista all around it. Ridge top locations allow for such luxuries. It pays for it’s view with the extreme exposure to the elements. The metal parts of this old farm machinery will be here hundreds of years. That is assuming it isn’t recycled in some dystopian future society.

This fairly “clear of smoke” sunset has been a member of a rare population of late. As I type this Massive fires are burning along the west coast. I can only hope that wet or snowy weather comes quickly to the west this year. It’s likely the only thing that will stop those fires. 125 years of not enough controlled burns apparently has found the dead fall fuel load too high in many locations. I’m glad to see the relatively smoke free skies like tonight. I of course was taking a few photos of the setting sun.

The 22nd. of September (Equinox) is coming in a few days from this post. I will be working east / west perspectives with the sun aligning up with all sorts of things. Twice a year I get to do that. Once this month I get pretty clear skies.

Best wishes to all the folks under threat from the fires.

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

Title: Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

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Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape
Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Here the BigHorn Mountains are surrounded by an odd color to cover a landscape. It was really that color lol. I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. I haven’t seen a weather window open to the BigHorns for over a month. Smoke, haze, soot and other forest fire products were blocking the view. The sun was hiding far to the right off frame. This was a night when the side shows were WAY more photogenic that the glare of the sun. The odd lighting resultant from the filtering of the light by the smoke.

The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange (ish) colorcast. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape. As the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds, the scene disappeared. Too dark to capture.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The distant range is always playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have very few Long Distance captures from this month on the ranch. Those few will slowly work their way into my work flow here. The black ridge at the in front of the BigHorns is 40 miles out from this high resolution camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass
Storm Over The Pass

Storm Over The Pass

This storm passed over me about 30 minutes before. Those are my truck’s tracks looking back from whence I came. High up the hill from my current vantage point well of the ridge peak. Big views on that side of the hill but a better perspective down the red dirt road up one of the better sledding hills in the winter you’ve ever seen. Maybe 20 cars a day drive this during the summer. Just a few oil well service trucks and ranchers travel this. Trips to town are 70 miles to Gillette Wyoming or 90 miles to Belle Fourch South Dakota. This is a pretty remote spot in Wyotana. It is only 10 miles to the nearest asphalt road here though. All down hill too, literally lol.

That was a deluge of a storm coming over where I was. I tried to avoid the storm but the course was unpredictable without cell signal with affiliated radar. I just need a doppler rig on the roof. Big Hail is NOTHING I want to run into. I’ve got enough damage on my truck from it. I try really hard to stay out of the weather but several storms went through the area and one was bound to run over me. It did. No damage and I got some really fine images from the event. I have about 1/2 an hour of cool phenomena related to a good hail storm that will work their way into my publishing timeline.

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

Title: Storm Over The Pass

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Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset
Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.

There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.

The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.

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

Title: Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

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Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise
Banded Smokey Sunrise

Banded Smokey Sunrise

The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.

So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.

There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.

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

Title: Banded Smokey Sunrise

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Setting Full Sturgeon Moon

Setting Full Sturgeon Moon
Setting Full Sturgeon Moon

Setting Full Sturgeon Moon

There are many landmarks on the moon. Each has it’s own exotic name. Sometimes named after historic figures, others Latin. The Huge Tycho Crater with it’s star field of ejecta radiating outward. It’s a bright part of the moon on the left . That left would be east in our sky and west on the moon……… 🤔 It is named after Tycho Brahe. ……. How in the Heck does one get the most prominate crater on the moon’s face officially named after you? 😜

This is a setting moon. Tycho Crater is on the left side Tycho would be on the south end of the moon (our south too) if it were a rising moon. It’s not the moon rotating at night, it’s us. 🤔 👀

Turns out Tycho was an interesting guy worth of the research as I side track here………. He was a Danish “Nobelman” which means he was connected certainly lol. More important to science were his contributions at the infancy of optics looking at Astronomy (Up Close and Personal). Known as an Astrologer, he made EXTENSIVE astronomical observations. He set the idea that the moon orbits the earth in motion. He had recognized the planets orbited the sun. Sort of got wrong the part about the sun orbiting the earth.

Notably, he was endowed with a silver nose. So goes the story. Lost the tip in a sword fight. Scientists were WAY more interesting back then lolol. Dangerous world around 1600 AD. No lab coats I suspect. No safety Glasses no regulations, no warning labels saying “caution: coffee might be hot”. He was an “alchemist as well. Let’s mix this with that and see what happens… Died 1601 at the age of 55…. Who knows what he got into lolol.

You can just see some sculpting on the moons edges demonstrating just a little atmospheric distortion that night. Taken using terrestrial glass… 1200mm.

Location: Somewhat west (on earth) above the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Setting Full Sturgeon Moon

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A Cloud to Cloud Bolt

A Cloud to Cloud Bolt
A Cloud to Cloud Bolt

A Cloud to Cloud Bolt

Best seen full screen as the bolt is extensive. The charge goes from the two points where the difference in electrical potential charge is greatest. Sometimes that is ground to cloud. Sometimes cloud to ground. The last possibility is cloud to cloud. This of course is the latter. When I think of lighting, it’s cloud to ground but I see many of each type in the limited storm chasing I do. I way prefer cloud to cloud from a safety standpoint lol.  Hopefully there isn’t cloud to Raptor…..

I tend to see these cattle in this hollow when storms come through as I watch storms from this hill top often. The road up there isn’t a mud problem as others are. The type of soil is better drained sandy material. I don’t like to drive on ground that will rut and work rain storms lol. Those cows though… I think there is some instinct that says clear out of the rest of the square mile pasture and congregate there during a storm. I’m not sure of the instinct that drives them here. I’m not even sure of the instinct that drives me here lolol. 

So lightning heats up the air to around 50,000 degrees F. That’s about 5 times the temperature of the surface of the sun. When the differences in charges between the clouds in this case overcame the insulative ability of the air, a flash happens. Quickly… Like the close to the speed of light fast. 

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

Title: A Cloud to Cloud Bolt

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Parks Ranch Barn Moonset

Parks Ranch Barn Moonset
Parks Ranch Barn Moonset

Parks Ranch Barn Moonset

The moon set was still 10 minutes away. As the celestial clock’s gears spin, the earths horizon rises to hide the moon earlier by the clouds. The low atmospheric moisture made the moon to go dimmer till it vanishes into the mist within a few more frames after this one. IT became so hard to see, I gave up working this amazing scene. I am really into that stack of hay bales a mile out on that first far ridge.👁

The Parks Ranch is a historic ranch here in Wyotana which is managed by an association of cattlemen/ranchers in this region. These old buildings are still used structures . But just a small part of a much larger locally owned group of ranchs. Cattle are routinely and actively worked in these corrals. Mostly vaccinations and medical needs as well. You have to run “everybody” through the corral system to give them wormer, a fly dip and some meds. No antibiotics of course. Just required by the gov’t various anti-disease shots. A family lives and works on the ranch as it is an active good sized cattle operation. Genuine cowboys / cowgirls are working down there. Good hands all.

I’ve fought fires on this ground before but a bit further up the ridge. Kept a small ridge of trees from being destroyed with my truck parked pushing a hose all by my little self. I’m not doing that much these days. Younger men get to pull hoses. I drive lolol. It is beautiful country with artesian springs around the original Parks Ranch. Those lakes named after the Parks Girls I understand.

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

Title: Parks Ranch Barn Moonset

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Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

Moon Rising Rocky Cliff
Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

The convoluted bedding of the Hell Creek Formation Sandstone bedding in the foreground is a long way from the moon. The same moon was peering down over it’s deposition here on the Cretaceous piedmont existing 66 million years ago. Similar to a tropical North Carolina with Mountains to our west Paleo-geographically BEFORE the Bighorn Uplift. Those mountains were eroded away prior to the Larimide Orogeny Mountain Building episode. Those mountains all turned to sand grains I stand on. That moon back then was a little closer and bigger however. Dinosaurs looked up and watched it loom bigger over head (for another post). Our ranch is covered by this Formation at the surface. A known dinosaur bone deposit is about 1/2 mile distant from this spot.

Paleontological Musings: A series of MAJOR Rivers flowed around here in the Late Cretaceous. Some certainly as big as the Missouri River swept back and forth across the landscape. Leaving behind sand but snaking back and forth meandering on a surface it can’t cut down into. Shuffling and reshuffling the sands. Several times a fossil dinosaur tooth were excavated. Only to be redeposited dozens of times. Over the 3 million years this particular sand conveyor belt sedimentary system survived. Leaving about 700 feet of sands. This is literally sandstone country. We have more sand that most public beaches lol.

Upon the Ancient river dropping it’s load. When something else heavy covered it. Sediments flow like plastic. Pushed around underground like silly putty under your boot and a hard place. We get all sorts of various sandstone creations by mother nature occur in this country. Hydraulically reworked soft sediment deformation is a common occurrence. Boulders are left behind. The softer sands around them are blown or washed away. Those boulders were hardened. Cementing minerals in ground water responsible. That passing through the sands. The boulders cemented obviously better/harder than the sand that blew away exposing them. These sands moving down river to the “sink” filled up the Cretaceous Interior Seaway over time. Then the asteroid slammed into Mexico……..

I only get to play with a low full moon with the sun still up one or two times a month assuming the weather cooperates. Here the sun had just been obscured by a low cloud bank as it was setting. Low light makes this close/far perspective much more difficult to obtain. Of course the really hard part here is getting something like this close chunk of ancient river bed in focus. In focus at “infinity” along with the moon in the background that looks very large rising over this ridgeline. I’m shooting at least 400 yards away ( almost 1/4 mile) from that pile of rocks. Distance is your friend when attempting this type of composition. 📸

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

Title: Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

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Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

Lone Tree Moonlight Filter
Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

During those 2 days a month that I get to have both the full Moon with the Sun coterminously in the sky, I “work” them photographically fairly hard. My operational tempo on nights like this is intense really. I have a rough map in my head where I want to go sometimes but making to where I need to be and when are two different things lol.

Here I was about 5 minutes late. I spent too much time at the last location. Knowing WHEN to leave a site and move on is paramount to productive backcountry photography. Conditions are fleeting, the sun was setting, the moon was climbing in the sky. I love this lone tree on this remote ridge. It has wonderful views (about 180 miles horizon to horizon from it’s ridge). Such dendritic shapes lend themselves to light filtering work. I suppose I’ll get a bill with model rates charged plus the overtime for the wait. Never keep your model waiting for you. 😜

When I get a Full moon rising at the horizon, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. This is a sub-hobby with my larger professions of photography. Toward that end…. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This particular old soldier up high on a ridge has faced the worst wind/weather this high country can throw at it. It is a true old soldier. The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from the parallel ridge is was working in the dark for this capture. The moon is a “little” further behind the ridge.👀

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

Title: Lone Tree Moonlight Filter

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Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise
Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.

I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.

This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.

Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.

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

Title: Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

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Friday Flashback Full Moon

Friday Flashback Full Moon
Friday Flashback Full Moon

Friday Flashback Full Moon

I like to look back 6 months or so every once in a while. It reminds me how much I enjoy the season we are currently in lol.

A January Full Moon Setting (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020). Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages. A few definitions that apply to this moon….

A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history.

The Blood red that month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔 Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.

Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon last January. Most of my images are posted about a week after they are finished so this posts the 24th of July, taken the morning of the 10th of January. IT takes a while for me to dig back into my “Images to finish folder” sometimes. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 4 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore lolol. 📷📷🤘

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

Title: Friday Flashback Full Moon

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Moon Catching Air Surfing

Moon Catching Air Surfing
Moon Catching Air Surfing

Moon Catching Air Surfing

I follow the moons shadow line on opposite ridges during times like these. Surfing tree to tree. When the sun AND the full moon are both dancing with the horizon occurs rarely. Usually once a month I get one, two or three opportunities to photographically work a 96 percent plus moon face. While the moon is certainly rising while I work, I actively move across the landscape to a proper position.

Here I caught the moon showing off jumping between two trees midair . It was one of those “here, hold my beer” moments. I see the moon messing around on the horizon all the time. While I might muse of his more amusing traits, I certainly respect his position in the scheme of things over time.

I’m not sure why this story came up but I’ll tell it. As the earth ages, the moon is slowly getting further away from us. Like an ice skater throwing his arms out. THere are all sorts of ramifications:

One of world’s oldest living fossils: the chambered Nautilus has a growth ring that is timed by the sun (i.e. one per day). Plus a new chamber timed by the moon (once per lunar month). Back in the Cambrian Period (about 500 million years ago) these Cephalopod fossils have mostly 18 growth rings per chamber. Modern day nautiloids have 28 growth rings per chamber. It isn’t just two end data points either! All through geologic history, including the entire age of dinosaurs to now. The nautilus gains growth rings per chamber in a fairly smooth progression over the many centuries.

This indicates clearly that in the Cambrian life (nearly the oldest fossils of this living calendar found), that a “month” had only about 18 days. For the moon to complete an orbit of the earth this fast, it had to have been much closer to the earth (shorter orbital path). This has all kinds of implications on geologic history when you consider that “earth tides” are synchronized with the moons revolutions around the earth.

All sorts of other effects such as the diurnal deformation of the earth as well as ocean tides are dramatically influenced thusly. If the moon was much closer to the earth in ancient geological times. Much physics would be magnified in it’s effect. That helps explain the past high energy movement of crustal plates, huge orogenic formation of mountains and other earth-building events such as eustasy our ancient geologic past. A closer moon would make for REALLY big tides…. REALLY…

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

Title: Moon Catching Air Surfing

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Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

From the DIaphram Meadowlark
From the DIaphram Meadowlark

Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

 I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. This is only “sort of” close up lolol.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while.

If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen a few birds out of hundreds ignore. This is a wild Meadowlark out on a branch sitting on a snag near a path I drive often. This guy was very tolerant of my Black Ford F150 Raptor as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird.

They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Top of His Lungs Meadowlark

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Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset
Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Often I climb a ridge only to be clouded out of a sunset. To be honest, I was worried about this particular night’s cloud cover shutting me down. Just a thin band at altitude but below it snuck out a full blown solar spotlight. I call these sun slits where at the last second, the clouds part enough for our furnace to shine though.

The cluster of buildings is the Homestead of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I don’t publish too many photos of the place but it’s a good scale to the breadth of this wide angle image. The largest white roof at the rear of the compound is about the size of a regulation foot ball field for scale.

The difference between an enormously bright sun and a now shadowed landscape is tremendous. The dynamic range necessary to see the extremes exceed the human eyes ability. Looking into the sun would cause you to avert your gaze. But you could probably see the landscape around it if you don’t stare directly at the sun. Cameras see the world entirely differently and not as well as the human eye. They can see into the bright better than our eyes can. They can see into the dark better than our eyes can. WHere they eyes win is being able to see both at the same time. Cameras don’t have the dynamic range the human eye has. Technology is catching up with us though. It won’t be long until the cameras are better. At least the ones I can afford to by now can’t do it.

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

Title: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

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Sunset Behind Lone Tree

Sunset Behind Lone Tree
Sunset Behind Lone Tree

Sunset Behind Lone Tree

Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.

I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘

Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️

Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.

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

Title: Sunset Behind Lone Tree

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Killdeer Over Acting Again

Killdeer Over Acting Again
Killdeer Over Acting Again

Killdeer Over Acting Again

I think this is one of very few acting photos I have of Killdeer. Performed so much I’ve ignored it photographically lol. They are pretty spooky of humans. Literally living in my yard, nest nearby or on the prairie..

Of course the same injured bird ritual rinses and repeats. I don’t often get one of these performances showing me his red under feathers to get my attention. This is a fun image of the “skit” it is putting on for my benefit. . Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I knew where their nest was having run across this Killdeer and mate earlier that week. (early summer).

There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 The birds don’t care as much for as long. Back to normal behavior shortly if your in a vehicle and park near the nest. We live integrated with all these animals up here. Everyone has their place. These guys seem to be happy where they are whether in my yard or on the prairie. I watch them set up nest (I’ve got egg photos on rocks). They have chicks, (photos of lots of chicks). I follow them all summer through that August gathering season. I might see 30 or 40 of them in a flock at that time. About the time I see them again, I will know that it’s just about spring.

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

Title: Killdeer Over Acting Again

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Lavender Sunset Backshow

Lavender Sunset Backshow
Lavender Sunset Backshow

Lavender Sunset Backshow

During sunset a few days ago, I habitually turned around during a very colorful sunset. After picking my jaw off the dirt…. Looking over your shoulder can often be well worth your time. Certainly true in bear country but up here during sunset, the back shows can be as impressive as the sunset. The scene was dark so is the image.

I’ve very interested in trying to get the colors scheme accurate to the scene I experienced live. This one is very blue/cyan to my normal published image because that is the actual color of the sky at that moment. I was shocked that it wasn’t just grey with tinged pink clouds, but the cyan was there. I made a mental note of it. It was a rare color in my experience. The drift from day to dusk twilight was a colorcast experience on this evening. This sky was complex all around the periphery of my viewpoint. More or less the whole atmospheric dome above me was worthy of photography that evening. I was happy to comply working it with 3 different camera/lens combinations on a rotating basis lol.

Oh, the repeating cloud pattern on the horizon is a series of Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. They are a fairly rare phenomenon, where a cloud produces a billowing breaking wave pattern. They occur when there is a strong vertical shear between two air streams, causing winds to blow faster at the upper level than at the lower levels. Filed under rare weather phenomena lol.

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

Title: Lavender Sunset Backshow

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Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens
Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens

At the top of a drainage, standing on the top of a pass, any water that runs off after falling here will go through 5 rivers to reach the Gulf of Mexico. In Wyoming and Montana are located the head waters of many a watershed. The strip roughly 10 miles shared between both states… Wyotana of course does not exists at a place in time and space. It is a mystical place of undetermined dimensionality along the 45th parallel 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. I’ve seen many things that amaze me and quite often remarkably. Having lived here for only 2 decades I have certainly missed a lot and am not as good a rancher as I could have been. Spending anytime up here teaches you respect for the land and for others that endure the hardships here.

This land imaged above is barren of human intervention. Only a few barbed wire fences keep the perimeter on pastures several square miles in size for herds of thousands of cattle. There are by far way more cattle in this land than there are people. Locally we are around 1 person per square mile density… I last heard 125 people were in our voting precinct covering 256 square miles of land. There are a few non-voters under 18 living about but not a lot. We are a community with a lot of elbow room as you can see by our back yards. Closest neighbor is 3 miles+.

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

Title: Sunset and a Wide Lens

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Electric Meadowlark Singing a Song

Electric Meadowlark Singing a Song
Electric Meadowlark Singing a Song

Electric Meadowlark Singing a Song

Power poles are rare in this country but Meadowlarks not so much. This is the last leg of the last line in the state. I’m thinking the next closest power line is 3 miles away from here. That one is for an oil well. Meadowlarks feel a little more “cocky” up 35 feet in the air. They must have quite a view from up there. I’m thinking he chose it for a perch to sing his song to the world. It is effectively what he did anyway lol.

These singers of the prairie are state birds for 6 different western US states. Their melody fills the slow window open drives I take on the high ridges. All my bird encounters are random with me coming up on them typically. Rarely I’ll be watching some other scene or animal with them flying in to photobomb my images. Never trying to miss an opportunity, I capture them when I see them with my photon traps. Close up Meadowlark encounters are not really very common. They are fairly flighty.

Photographic Musings:

I’m always amazed at the details the long lenses pick up so far away. I was focusing on the bird. The bolts are this side of the thin depth of focal field are JUST out of focus. That is just seriuosly splitting hairs with the focus lol. Working low F-stop has it’s benefits and costs but it lets you gain light on the 3 way lighting teeter totter that a manual camera is. Late very Red Golden Hour lighting. Minutes from sunset.

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

Title: Electric Meadowlark Singing a Song

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Pronghorn Buck Laying Down

Pronghorn Buck Laying Down
Pronghorn Buck Laying Down

Pronghorn Buck Laying Down

Random opportunities occasionally side track me. The sun was going down in 15 minutes. I was JUST out my back gate still on ranch on my way to an overlook a few miles down the road. A “slight” detour occurred. When a small group of Pronghorn got my attention. They were scattered widely across one of our pastures. (We have a big back yard). This guy caught my eye. I was moving along on the gravel, continuing just past this gorgeous male Pronghorn. Presented with his shadowed side, I had a plan.

After sitting (clicking) for a few minutes on road, I then proceeded to move into the pasture. Down through the ditch, (open pasture) I slowly worked around this guy. Ariving on the sunny side of my subject with “Close” being a goal… ( I could have easily photographed him from the shadow side… nah…) A lot of sun shine is a good thing. Having said that, the sun had just disappeared behind a low cloud bank here.

Successfully working around a Pronghorn while in a vehicle is not common even for me whom they should be familiar with……… (It took over about 10 minutes to get around him). Then only 5 minutes to go before solar touchdown on the horizon, he decides to lay down!!!! 😵 He took his left front knee with the rest to follow. He rested there a good 10 minutes which took us into twilight. (I was 50 feet away at the most) . I have NEVER had a Pronghorn I was this close to, relax and bed down. ….. I’ve had them stand up dozens of times upon my approach though lolol.

He did finally stand back up and moved off bored I believe… I can’t believe how comfortable he was with “Clever Girl” idling on and off with a low throaty rumble on approach driving through high grass. (noisy) . Then boredom hit me…. Moving off to salvage the sunset (Twilight) I had ignored to take about 200 images like this. You have to chase the light you have lolol. Sort of a “Love the One your With” scenario …

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Laying Down

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Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns
Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

As the solstice is tomorrow, I thought I’d show you what a Bighorn Mountain sideshow looks like with a far northern sunset. The sun is WAY off to the right of the frame. The landscape ladder here climbing off to the 130 mile distant 13000 foot tall peaks leaves me speechless more times than not. Now this is a very long lens which crushes perspective. The second furthest ridge is 40 miles away from the ridge I’m standing on. My elevation is about the same as the saddle on that second to last ridge. The red layered badlands are only 10 miles distant.

Geologic Musings:

Those red banded layer hills are all Tullock Formation. The rocks exposed on the surface all the way back to the Bighorns have been carried there. A complex process by rivers of the past. These moving eroded by the elements, sediments off the peaks. All running down slope from those world class hills. At one time there was a smooth ramp all the way to the peaks to my feet. It was a smooth slope that huge alluvial fans were deposited off the Bighorns. The middle of those alluvial fan stack are dissected at right angles by the Big Horn, the Powder and the Little Powder Rivers.

The rocks I stand on are older Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstones with their share of Dinosaurian fossils. (Hell Creek/ Lance Formations) These older sandstones are dipping toward the Bighorn’s Powder River Basin being downwarped with the formation of that regional structure. About a mile off my ranch’s west boundary, the alluvial fans overlapped the Cretaceous River Sands. The dinosaur fossil bearing rocks diving deep off toward the mountains.

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

Title: Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

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Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe
Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

Several readers have been following the continuing adventures of this VERY Pregnant Pronghorn Doe I’ve named “Jane”. She is relatively at ease with my presence as far as one of these jumpy creatures can be. She is indeed getting tolerant of my vehicle. I don’t press her as this is a LONG lens so I’m a ways back. I left without her moving from her spot. They tend to be rather flighty and one of my favorite captures is when they are laying down bedded in soft sand. If you dig below the top few inches of sand, it get remarkably cool relative to the surface. I suspect they know this instinctively. Soft and cool on a hot evening is after all, soft and comfortable lol…

The chunk of “fur” missing on her shoulder is just spring time shedding. They loose hair chunky on their back typically from going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph. This is not a problem. This Pronghorn is perfectly healthy even though she looks a little shaggy from the uneven shedding. She looked better last fall when she was bedded by the buck responsible for her misery here. 👅 The Thick winter cover falling off in chunks until it’s in a tight fitting summer coat. High and tight with an accent on the mane please 😝 🤠

She is indeed huge, still carrying if not three, then why not 4 young in there. Twins are not uncommon… Honestly, it seemed she was happy not to move for a few minutes while I took great care to get the image where I wanted to. I was outta there as to not stress her longer than I needed to. The more I come and go without scaring her, the closer I will get to her the next time. Hopefully this lack of fear to my Black Truck will transmit to her young.

Gotta love those lashes 👁👁

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorn Bedded Doe

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Kestrel Falcon Flying

Kestrel Falcon Flying
Kestrel Falcon Flying

Kestrel Falcon Flying

The smallest of the North American Falcons, the Kestrel is elusive to photograph in my world. I might see one singularly in a years work. Usually at a distance and seldom at rest. They have an uncanny ability to hoover with their head motionless. All the while scanning the ground below for any prey movement.

They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males.

Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew off after game. I lost him after that.

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

Title: Kestrel Falcon Flying

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Corriente Right Turn Clyde

Corriente Right Turn Clyde
Corriente Right Turn Clyde

Corriente Right Turn Clyde

Salt is the name of this Corriente’ Mother Cow. Still a bun in the oven due early June.. Walking around apparently with this “Right Turn Clyde” sign on her head. Must be tricky for all the low bridges around here..😜👀 We have a few Corriente’s breed around for their uniqueness and ease of care. You don’t have to do too much for them. They get run through vet checks and vaccinations with all the angus as necessary and are not trouble at all. Well there is the tendency to go where they want to go to. Fences really aren’t much of a problem for them. They usually get those horns involved and somehow work their way through. They CAN wander a little.

Why Longhorns? We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you can make some money off the easy to handle beasts.. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your neighbors angus herd…. Not good lol. Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Corriente Right Turn Clyde

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Floaty Clouds Fully Involved

Floaty Clouds Fully Involved
Floaty Clouds Fully Involved

Floaty Clouds Fully Involved

I never know what to expect from a sunset. Each one takes on a life of it’s own. I am constantly receiving/interpreting cues from the environment about what appears to be happening. I only have a few minutes to decide where I want to set up for the show soon to arrive. There is a quickening of my pace around this time of the evening as the setting sun usually terminates the light

I’m fairly agile in my Ford F-150 Raptor and able to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly as it is more or less a Baja Capable photographic Studio. I’m able to get around on just about any terrain I don’t want to tear up. Ruining trails I am not so much into. We strictly stay off of muddy surfaces. I have well traveled two track trails leading to most high points. I only drive off trail on private ground I own as a matter of principle. Over 80 percent of my trucks current milage off road.

Never expected this iteration on an infinite series of themes. It’s one I don’t normally see with the “Floaty” clouds light up with the deck just above them dark and foreboding. The starred sun which is in and of it self, an artifact of the camera’s high f-stop setting (diffraction artifact). None the less, it adds geometry and order to the chaos of the clouds that evening.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Floaty Clouds Fully Involved

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Eagle in the Clouds

Eagle in the Clouds
Eagle in the Clouds

Eagle in the Clouds

A series of storms moved through the area a mid- may afternoon late.. I had been photographing them for several hours with the photosession running well into twilight. Shot the heck out of this… Here the sun has set but the clouds are being lit up by the long traveled red wavelengths. Up high the clouds are white which is the unfettered light that is just skipping off the atmosphere. The crimson had to fight it’s way to reflect off those clouds. IT’s a classic red to white cloud sunset gradient projected on the clouds by our star. The colors generated from path differences of the light. The shorter wavelengths just don’t make it that far so you have red (longer light waves).

At any rate, is that an Eagle? Condor? Turkey Vulture? Any body for a Unicorn?? I suffer horribly from Pareidolia (seeing faces or shapes of familiar objects in clouds). Carl Sagan theorized that hyper-facial perception stems from an evolutionary need to recognize — very quickly — faces. There is an evolutionary advantage to those that can see them quickly and act accordingly. I act by grabbing a camera in manual mode, set the ISO to 325, aperture to F11 and speed 1/100th rested 12 mm lens.

That is a VERY wide angle lens grabbing a big chunk of sky for this wonderfully complex sky production. Captured of the trailing back edge of a much larger Mesocyclone where I was driving around the sun lit side of those storms. The show that evening continued well into twilight with me driving two track roads up in the backcountry to capture it.

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

Title: Eagle in the Clouds

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Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise
Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

On the crest of this backcountry ridge, trees grow out of boulders. This hill top has a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy but trees must penetrate them. Close Far Perspectives are worthy of working I think …

The Cretaceous rocks are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming. Differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. The cattle don’t like the footing on this hill top knob.

Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

I digress, Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang.

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

Title: Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise