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.
These are real triplets not a Pronghorn Nursery. Nursery duty is common among Pronghorns. A little over a month ago I noticed a VERY VERY pregnant Pronghorn Doe that was hanging close to water and food. I drove through that area a lot and got to recognize her and her me. Getting use to me in my Black Ford F-150 Raptor which to her must appear like a noisy grazing Black Angus cow. I drive toward them like a cow would graze. It takes a while but as you can see, not spooking the mother and getting the three stooges in the photo too was a lot of fun. Pretty hard to do as any of the three was off getting into mischief at any one time.
Like any baby animals, Pronghorn Fawns jump and react in unexpected ways to the little things they run into. These three were interacting with each other to a large degree over the time I spent with them. Circling a Mother Pronghorn and her babies is something I personally have never done until this encounter. I was amazed they didn’t spook off. I believe the Doe knew I was no threat. The kids apparently picked up on the attitude. Mother was certainly aware of them but tried really hard to focus on eating. I suspect she will have to gorge herself to keep up with the calorie demand from those three.
I drove off with them not even moving from the area they were grazing in when I arrived. The fawns even laid down in the grass together when I was there watching them one by one. They all laid down within a circle of just a few feet. I have a photo elsewhere of their ears in the grass lolol.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s green spring grass contrasted with Snow on the 130 mile distant peaks. This image is taken from my driveway here on the MT/WY border. Clearly “Nipple” butte stands 10 miles distant. The treed ridge is 40 miles out with the trees at the top of that ridge being the same elevation I stand/live. The 13000 foot high peaks of the Bighorn Mountain Chain reach far above that but well over the curvature of the horizon at it’s base. . Even further out than the range the bank of clouds stands perhaps 200 miles out from my camera.
Anything over 100 miles is a long photograph. Particularly through the low earth’s atmosphere. It take extraordinarily clear air to get detailed images of the Bighorn Mountains from this distance. To get images of the clouds well past it… That is a silly far shot. Now I take images of astronomical objects millions of miles away but only through 300 miles of atmosphere. MOST of that atmosphere is in the bottom 10 miles of the blanket. About equivalent to where Nipple Butte is….
TO find the distance to your “horizon, take the height of above the surface of your view point divide that by 0.5736 , then take the square root of that number and you have the distance to the horizon from your viewpoint. If your 6 feet tall the horizon is about 3 miles away. Works very well on flat ground… up here where there might be a few ridges around, it depends on topography too lolol.
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.
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.
A lone Pronghorn doe grazing, from about 1/4 mile away on a parallel Ridge; I had just a little elevation over the historic sheep herders cairn on the right. This morning was one of long shadows. Only this part of the sky exposed to the sun, was photoworthy. The southern part of the view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on the eastern horizon. Those clouds blocking the sun behind. The mists further obfuscating the clear view that way. I turn my lenses off away from the rising sun to my right. All in order to catch the back show in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape.
This view, looking north into Montana with the foreground in Wyoming. Living on the border high on several ridge, I have extensive views in all directions. This is a dryland ranch meaning no running water year round. I do however have views to dream about (as I do dream in full color) on the right morning. This particular morning at 5:30 AM at sunrise was as good as they come. That is without invoking deities to improve the view.
These heavily dissected Cretaceous and early Tertiary terrestrial sands/muds between me and the farthest ridge have all been removed by little rivers. That whole basin, previously filled up to the brim with sediments in the past. However, one sand grain at a time this land has slowly been moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. These sediments making up the rocks here were on that very trip. But the Cretaceous Rivers carrying them got all choked up and dropped it’s load. Wait 66 million years….Those old sediments hardend, then re-eroded recently. That sand stationary until now when it resumes it’s journey on the the ocean. The ultimate sink. This just a way stop along the journey.
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.
Imagine what a pioneer traveling to those peaks with an ox cart thought when he saw this vista. 🤔👀
The subtle hues of this image of theBigHorn Mountains are amazing colors to cover a landscape with. It was really that color, you could feel the humidity in the air. Wet sage too.
I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains. Closed to the sun that window was that night. It hid far to the right off frame. The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in the mist. All that air between my lens and the peaks are full of moisture and dust. This at the end of that nights sky show performance. Result: a subtle low light scene with an orange gel in front over the now moist spring landscape. Alpenglow in the spring.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this month of the ranch which will slowly work their way into my work flow here.
The first dark ridge is 10 miles distant. The next darker ridge in the middle is 40 miles out. Taken with a 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that size. Big lenses take place a very small part of the scene in front of you covering the cameras chip image area.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
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.
With the addition of a single brush stroke thusly a forked tongue. The silhouette comes to life as the original namers of this landform imagines. I See that rattle snake certainly. Now the story is that a rattle snake den was blown up there in the 1970’s by the owner of our ranch that apparently enjoyed the use of dynamite. In the 1970’s if you owned land in Wyoming/Montana you could easily obtain dynamite for moving stumps, breaking rocks or any other legal purpose. I’m pretty sure it’s fairly difficult to obtain. Just the storage requirements would cost 6 grand (educated estimate).
The problem with Pareidolia (seeing shapes from random data) is that it is often multif-acted and complex. The snake head silhouette could also be a sedan doing a “burn out” spinning it’s tires smoke trailing behind. So many perceived shapes in random silhouettes. The shark above the snake’s head in the clouds actually has teeth under it’s snout. I can also imagine several variations of the upper dark clouds too but I’ll leave the rest for you to sort out in your own anthromorphizing moments.
The twilight that night from a veiled cloud was just adding layers of makeup to an already golden/orange alpenglow evening. We get alpenglow every month of the year as frozen ice in the atmosphere is fairly common in this region. There are BIG sunsets/Sunrises in Wyotana sharing both Montana AND Wyoming skies.
How to fill a frame? How about a look through a very delicate highly weathered antique root system. A long time ago, this tree went down a hill riding a landslide. The ride tipped it over exposing it’s still covered/intact root ball. That ball preserved all the Pine Trees finer parts of it’s root system within it’s embrace. Having grown in soft sand (more or less), the tree’s roots shortly were exposed by rain / freezing / thawing. One grain at a time blowing or falling off that ball slowly exposing the anastomosing forms / connections once under soil.
Being located upon a steep slope with unsure footing surely keeps cattle away from rubbing on these delicate root structures. I don’t know how old the tree is but in this dry climate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 100 year old piece of “Prairie Driftwood”. That’s 100 years AFTER it died. There is nothing on the surface of the slope to indicate more than a slight amount of excess sandy sediment. There is no other way to explain the delicate nature of this. Vegetation quickly naturalized surfaces when disturbed in sandstone country. This is indeed sandstone country. All the soils here developed from the sandy river deposits left behind while the last of the dinosaur were walking about the land. I’m as likely to find a dinosaur bone as I am a scene like this.
Taken 10 days before it posts mid-may 2020. This is how long it takes me to get a “current” photo in to be published. That is if I bring it to the front of the line. I have to admit I have a bias for big Mammatus. (👀). When I say big you have to realize this storm is about 10 miles long. Admittedly this is a tiny storm for this country that occasionally has 100 mile across mesocyclones develop from these smaller storms. The shelf cloud off to the right was awesome in this storm.
This was one of a series of storms moving south to north along a line that evening. They all were just east of me along Parks/Garst Road up here in Wyotana. The little rainbow as you follow the red gravel road as it curves to the right, was a nice touch from the storm. Lightning? Not so much. The big views we have up on the high ridges gives up 50 to 180 mile long vistas to photograph and observe weather occurring from a distance. I followed this and it’s sister storms moving along the frontal boundary moving through our area. I couldn’t have asked for a better view of this barking dog.
As I type this, the wind blew well over 60 mph last night. Rained sideways for 20 minutes. It said .3 inch but this is suspect lol. I was up photographing the storm come up but got back to shelter before that one came through. I have yet to download the images from that event.
Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.
This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.
The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.
Orchids are growing like wildfire but I have to manually water them as they like to dry out between waterings. Soggy orchids may or may not like what your doing submerging roots. I will confirm they REALLY like the water quality that I give them from my 2000 gallon aquaponic grow system they sit upon. Manually watered living in Hydroton Pellets that drain inside of leaky cups. Several hundred pounds of fish are constantly fertilizing the water. Bacteria convert the waste ammonia to plant fertilizer. This water is very suitable for plants. The 150 square feet of grow area will support a MONSTER amount of vegetation. I have limits growing down in this underground greenhouse. How much time I spend on it restricts how much / efficiently I use the space.
(I’m sorry we don’t do public tours but I do Face Book posts on my personal page regarding this topic occasionally).
I only have about 20 Orchid plants I’ve propagated over the years. They are an afterthought of raising vegi’s down in the Walipini as such taking up valuable room. But there have to be some diversions in chores…. (This is the only Wyoming Walipini we know about. I’d love to know if anyone else is growing 10 feet below grade using earth for insulation and thermal mass for heat retention. )
I have quite a bit of Vanilla bean growing now. That will accumulate over the next decade and I should have a significant crop of vanilla bean before too long. I haven’t seen them bloom yet, they are all in a growing mode currently. Since they grow up the back wall… It’s a matter of time in this WONDERFUL grow environment. This system has been running for 5.5 years at this time constantly/continually.
A Walipini defined : an earth sheltered cold frame green house. If you haven’t encountered the term before. I don’t use any dirt with plants down there. Just water as my media to grow about anything I can get to sprout in that environment (so far).
Brown Season twilight landscapes are always dark, some are more colorful than others. When the veil of clouds is heavy, the shade and hues become muted with the encroaching dusk. Unfettered light causes an entirely different result… here, browns are in full display. I spend a lot of time working twilight skies/landscapes and find them challenging to reproduce accurately. It would be very easy to turn up the sky colors but I’m trying really hard to be a photorealist. This is as close as I can get this to how I experienced the scene. I find that an infinite spectrum of variable twilight exists and are mostly “capturable” with the right gear.
A majority of photographers wouldn’t finish this image I’m thinking. Having said that, I’m all about subtle tones and hues that escape view by most. The cool air of the twilight, the movement of game in the distance, the quickening of the light fleeing the scene is always breathtaking to me. Huge long landscapes (40 miles) make for an appropriate venue for this end of a day capture.. All creatures great and small getting ready for the night are all in their own world. Anticipating the washing away of the brown by spring rains to expose the green that is forthcoming. Seasons change, days come and go, but the animals seen to survive the hardships with an ever optimistic outlook toward the next day and the next meal.
Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.
I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.
I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.
When ever I point a really long lens directly into the sun, I’m going to get either Burnt Umber or Crimson colors. The latter was gifted to me here. You have to realize that no one knows what this would look like because you would be blinded to stare into such a scene. Using a 28 inch long lens to crush the perspective of about a mile distance from the tree pair. Shutting the camera down to light leads to all sorts of interesting effects. (mostly diffractions).
Obviously those two trees (Ents) were up to no good. Catching the sun like that trying to keep it all to themselves. Fortunately the sun had the state of mind to sneak out the back and disappear behind the ridge. The two didn’t have a clue how it got away but no matter how many times they try this, it never seems to slow down the sun very much. IT still rises more or less on time every day. Imagine if a whole forest did this at one time… think it might slow it down?
I work in a wondrous world of parallel ridges that when very mobile, allows me to find events like this to point my camera toward. By being able to move up and down topography quickly extends my ability to find such scenes. It is a truism that topography is my master. 10 feet lower, and the sun would be below the horizon, 20 feet higher and it wouldn’t be in the trees but above. Location, Location, Location…
It took me about 10 minutes to drive up this close once I crested the nearby hill exposing my self. . When I approach this area, I slowly encroach in steps. It’s comparable to imitating a grazing animal. The Raptor is pretty quiet. Particularly when compared to my previous clinking rattleing Jeep Grand Cherokee. This new rig is also very Black, dark and stealthy in it’s appearance. Lots of black animals walking around the hills (angus cattle). So my new rig is working very well to integrate into the scheme of things up here.
The various creatures on ranch will become accustomed to that new Ford F-150 Raptor with time. I also worked a herd of deer this same evening getting very close for this early in the season.
The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of nesting season. I have only seen 8 Herons actively nesting so far. There may be some others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 7 nests in the trees across the lake from where this guy stands here. (one newly built this year) The male here did just fly up to the nest greeting it’s mate with a 3 Musketeers sword/beak swish caught here. They didn’t care about my approach and were fine in my rear view mirror when I backed up and away to change the scene. (got enough photos lolol).
There are actually several models/makers of this and similar vaneless windmill that this one could be. I’m not sure which it is positively…
Windmill technology had been around since 200 BC in China. By the 11th century with big mills in Europe. To grind grain and drain swamps were their main use. The technology brought into Europe by the Crusaders returning home. By the 1700’s the industrial revolution using water and eventually steam power reduced their use considerably. (Notable exception for the dutch). But in the Early 1800’s the new settlers to the Great Plains of America had a use for the wind engines. The Emigrants from Europe brought wind power with them. The western frontier provided a crucible. Upon which the technology constantly proved it’s merit. Pumping water was it’s task.
In the American West, settlers used wind to do work and conquer the land that otherwise would be marginal without a water source for stock. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, small wind generated water wells were ubiquitous across the country. Almost as numerous as the mills were the companies manufacturing them great and small.
As rural electrification proceeded the number of Windmill’s declined starting in the 1930’s. We used a windmill in a remote pasture until 2006. We ran a water pipeline from an electric well about 2 miles to it. There is also a solar powered well on our ranch.
These little birds are difficult to get close to and never pose long for you to take your time setting your camera up. Now catching on at ground level is a tricky stunt to say the least. I won’t give away my secrets on this one but it’s a good story. You really can’t move much once it knows your there. These guys cue on movement and react usually with an escape maneuver. Once they sense danger, there is no stopping them. This is a telephoto capture NOT a game trail camera….
Generally Meadowlarks are singing fools. If they aren’t actively hunting insects (slim picking this spring so far), they are yelling at the top of their lungs. I’ve pursued them for years. I’m pretty sure I’ve worn out a set of brake pads slowing down / stopping to try to capture their images. I have literally hundreds of attempts to photograph them where all I accomplished was to stop my forward momentum to the next photo location lolol.. Off they fly if you give them ANY reason to.
I will continue to hit the brakes when I sense their presence. Driving backroads often will give you long sections of fences to hunt meadowlarks. Having said that, places to perch are rare in the backcountry. Preferred locations with a view in mid prairie are well populated with these guys. Deep spring snows will place a premium on those perch locations. I find the morning after a good snow the best time to find them competing for places to alight.
Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds for you Pareidolia “sufferers”. You know who you are lol?. The colorful flowing finned fish living in little pint sized fish bowls as most of us have had one time or the other. Most of you don’t know my wife and I owned the only pet shop in a good sized college town for 6 years… I’ve had fish since I was 12 years old non stop. I still run an aquaponic greenhouse with several hundred pounds of live Tilapia with 128 square feet of vegetables growing off of it lol. In other words, I have fish branded into my brain lol. I also detect several uses in mirroring this image around the 1/2 face in the lower clouds.
Sunsets in the backcountry fall into so many varieties I have to develop a way to catalogue them. The high white clouds are in unfiltered sunlight passing through very little atmosphere. The lower clouds are bathed in light that has traveled many miles through surface air. That filled with particulates and moisture. Only the longest red wavelengths at the base make it through the longest path through the thickest air. This is a pure red, yellow green, blue, darker blue twilight gradient. The sun is still up in this capture. The sun is highly obscured . It might as well be twilight lol.
Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. The grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley across the first ridge at 10 miles distance.
The next ridge is the Red Hills 40 miles out, is backed by the 13000 foot high peaks. Those of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift.
The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift. They dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the BigHorn peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been more plentiful this year unlike previous ones.
The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. IT was still up at this capture… I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day till the summer solstice. Then it starts to rise and set a little further south each day until the Winter Solstice. I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go to photograph these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020.
I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera). Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop.