Twilight Over the Borderlandsis a capture standing on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill. EXACTLY 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover “better” ground that way. Everyone walks the trail… I seldom do.
I spend a portion of the time spent examining scenes before me for candidates requiring a “Mirror/Mirror” treatment. As I suffer from Pareidolia badly. Seeing faces or familiar shapes in clouds or other random scenes is a genetic defect. I received this from both my parents. I have it so badly that I see 1/2 of a face. This controls compositions with the intent to use the 1/2 face to make a “whole’ face from. I have no control over this attribute of mine. This mental game was considered a psychosis historically. Not so much now… Honestly the tendency runs wild most of the time. I must admit. I’ve been known to cultivate such imaginings a time or two. 😜👀
SO, this is ART…. I re-emphasize the ART part…. If it wan’t ART I would have removed the dark blue (it’s a blue Monday post after all). I find that clouds are mostly grey expect near twilight lol. So I take a real photograph, and mirror it right to left (in this case). Color to taste and that’s all I did to this… 2 minutes maybe extra digital darkroom time over my normal 15 minutes. Nature comes up with the creatures that live in the “totem pole” that runs up the center where the mirrors merge. There are SEVERAL more faces buried in that area if you study it. Now if I could just figure out how to make a living with this
This silhouette “halfie” (almost) caught my attention for the extreme stepped gradient around the sun. I call these bow waves and don’t see them live real time very often. They are in reality natural diffraction artifacts from the thin slit in the clouds that the sun light is passing through. Ripples…. When light (or electromagnetic waves) passes through a thin slit shaped window, lightwaves ripple like water. The Physics of this moment should not be discounted. The slit was very thin, precisely what one needs for this natures “experiment”. The mind of the guy that figured this stuff out (Huygen) was right up there with the best. “Huygen diffraction” would be a good google search for you for continuing education on this. Constructive/Distructive interference of waves is the discussion which is lengthly. I’d never get it past my grammer checker (Nazi SS training in that program trying to explain all that) lololol.
So the bow wave here is literally Ripples around the Island of Light that the Sun’s Disk represents in this metaphor. Capturing ripples of light that are natural is hard and fairly rare. Note: I could do this in the digital darkroom very easily but this one is the real thing. Not a digital color shadow radius artifact. The whole discussion lies about the cloud “slit” which is the initiator of the diffraction process that provides this variable gradient around the sun. If you have a gradient like this with a complete sun, it’s the result of an artifact within the digital dark room treatment the artist (at that point) is using on his previously raw photo. (unedited photo=raw photo out of the camera). This capture is entirely unedited or I would have had landscape detail down in that black negative space.
Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies (they don’t bite you). That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare.
Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.
During the Carboniferous geologic Period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.
There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water. They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly
This is the second finished capture of 3 from this sunrise stage show. The play started at 5:15 AM when I had a 5:36 appt at sunrise. There was very little indication at my homestead that this would be such a show. Taking in the information from a remote ridge lined camera I have looking east, I jumped into “Clever Girl” my Ford F-150 Raptor and started gaining altitude. A sunslit window to the light was showing…might have amounted to nothing…. I never know for sure if I’m wasting my time before I commit to an hour at least watching sky plays…
Our ranch is on a high ridge but I have to climb higher ridges to actually see sunrise. There is a 400 foot high series of parallel ridges to my east which effectively hides my east view. I see 130 miles to the west and 50 miles both north and south from my homestead. I see about 1000 yards east without climbing to the top of Ridge 1 to the east. The actual time AT my homestead I see the sun is about 1/2 hour later than what ever time the sun actually rises.
The Snow squall that was ongoing at the time (taken the first week of May). We are used to a late frost with the “last” frost being May 15th…This posting on May 20th, 2020… A very wet cold weather descended on us after this sunrise. Certainly the completely overcast (thickly so) cloud deck was quickly obscuring the solar disk at this capture. There was less than a minute of light left before the day turned to a gloomy lack of interesting light morning. Wet and rainy for a week thank god as we need the moisture.
The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it is hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the tippy top. It was variously gusty / windy that morning at 5 AM.
These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are truly AMAZING circus actors. As far as I can tell they are total masters of their environment!📸 This bird was sitting about 150 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by gaining elevation up to them. Leaves will shortly be getting in my way of seeing into their cloistered world.. Soon the curtain will be drawn except for the coming and going of the birds from the rookery here on the ranch.
The rookery/colony is only a 6 nest group along a remote backcountry lake. The only visitors to this place are me and who ever hays the ground around the lake that year. 99 percent of the time no one bothers this area. I have a game trail camera under their nests but I won’t get there for some time as disturbing the nests is not a good plan. I won’t get out of my truck if I’m within 300 yards of these guys.
There are so many things this “look” like. I’ll just keep my Pareidolia mostly in check and limit my visualization of a rattle snake rattle rising from the plains and or a face looking left with quite a hair doo… Back to my “normal” programming…
Talk about uplifting… IT was a day full of isolated thunderstorms with this being the start of one. Just about every direction had a small storm dumping about. This Isolated thermal column seemed unusual to me and I’ve been watching clouds for a while. I usually take images of things that make my jaw drop. I had to yank a really wide lens into service to capture the whole thing. This image is over 110 degrees tall so the top is almost straight overhead to the zenith in the sky.
Working LONG focal length lens most of the time, I have to literally “step back” and look around me. If I don’t I miss many things that are often more interesting than what I’m trying to photograph. I had run up the east hill to see if there were any rainbows behind me (in this view). When rain shower move over the area and there is SOME sun, I’m watching for rainbows.
Chasing rainbows leads to photographing clouds sometimes but I’m not a stickler for being particular. If nature is showing off for me, I’m more than happy to capture her attributes. We need more of that rain
I captured this in my photon traps RIGHT at sunrise May 11th, 5:36AM. Pre-Civil Twilight each morning I evaluate as to whether to take a box of cameras out into the backcountry. I take many sources of information into consideration. Sky above was over cast solid, it was deeply dark. You understand I can’t see the eastern horizon from my house due to a 400 foot tall ridge that way. Plus it was TOTALLY overcast and lightly snowing around 5:15 am. That’s pretty much a no go signal.
Fortunately, I have a camera sitting up high on the ridge with an east view. This is a good thing sometimes. I don’t get color in it during early twilight but I can see the horizon. The sun slit of light with a cloud deck above was enticing. Up to the top… There were many good captures from this timeline. All those back at the homestead had any idea the morning was beautiful over the east ridge.
I have to be timely to get a high enough position to line up another hill top over a mile away with a ridge behind over 6 miles out. The rising sun behind. This is just a thin slit of color on the horizon. A huge long lens looking through a snow squall filter made for a nifty morning. I am able to do this alignment two times a year from this location. Strongly controlled by topography, my angles for photography are. I’m slowly building a good map in my head where to be and when…
So this was taken through a snow squall right at sunrise. The sun mostly unfettered and very bright for about 4 minutes. Sol was just starting to ascend into the cloud deck above as this was taken. Obscured by that cloud deck for the rest of the day. Snowed most the morning amounting to not much. .
This was a phenomenal scene viewing through my optics. The human eye has no chance to see such a thing. IT would be blinding to watch. Only with technology can we reach our mind into such a furnace. Hold your thumb out at arms length. The thumb would easily cover the area of the sky that this whole image encompasses.
If you look carefully/closely at the “glare” under the rising sun / falling horizon, you can see the individual snow flakes frozen in space and time. This is a case where I could see the phenomena better in my camera’s viewer than here on the final image. In the view port, areas that are in focus have white highlights on them which makes them stand out.
The sun had JUST set and I had traveled about 5 miles south of my homestead to catch this. If I hadn’t adjusted my position, The whole show would have been hidden by the storm. In a reversal of roles, I became a storm “evader” instead of a storm “chaser”. 😜
We have had a good series of spring storms move through over the last week and I have been working them. I spent about 3 hours out in the backcountry yesterday. Most of that time was spent waiting for a particular storm event to occur. Once I have made it up to the ridge tops, I hate to loose my position so high up and head back to the house. As long as I don’t get poured on the two track roads are usually in good enough shape to head back and forth.. I have found out after many decades of 4×4 wheeling off road, that anybody can fall DOWN a hill. Most are not as talented progressing up a hill… Going up a wet/muddy hill is usually a recipe for redesigning landscape in the backcountry. I don’t see much point in that for the long term. Tearing up trails is generally not one of my favorite activities.. 👀🌲🌲🤘
At any rate, this was obviously worth traveling for in my mind. Skies totally lit as this are always worthy of my time in my humble opinion. Hopefully it was worth your’s.
Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.
Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.
But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.
Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.
(Frank Bliss 2019).
Snowy landscapes with patchy cloudy sky…MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle deep focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have the foreground out of focus.
So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a lot of light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.
This is an antique Plow. Abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. A horse team pulled plow, never saw more than a few horsepower. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. Used turning over centuries old sod. All to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .
My new F150 Raptor has 1200 miles on it. I spent 300 miles of that back and forth traveling to Gillette from my homestead on the Wyoming / Montana border 2 times. Most of the rest of that mileage occurred on two track roads into this backcountry. Each time I leave my main gate to do photography, I usually cover 10 to 20 miles of driving down roads as you see leading off to the distance. Locally called “Two Track” roads. There are probably well in excess million miles of them in the general three or 4 state area. I have experienced them on several thousand square miles of backcountry in this region over the last 2 decades. There are many left for me to travel even within a few miles from my place I’m aware of two tracks I’ve never taken. This is VERY big country.
Two tracks are unpaved, often unimproved, eroded both across/ parallel to the road. They are certainly unpredictable and an adventure if you’ve never been there before. New angles are a good thing I find.
You are looking across the MT/WY border at the moment. All the trees in this image are in Wyoming where I’m standing. (about 400 yards east of my homestead). The “Mud Hills” in the distance are 10 miles out into Montana. I call this area Wyotana. 10 miles north and 10 miles south, separated by the ridge Bliss Dinosaur Ranch occupies. So I get views in all directions from this high point. A land of many uses for the landscape photographer 😜📷
(Illusion of a Tsunami wave coming into the shore but it’s all clouds)
Getting just the right angle toward a sunset with the foreground is a challenge sometimes. I wander the hills sides and ridge tops of the remote borderlands of Montana/Wyoming. I the the big distances in either an UTV (Polaris Ranger Crew) or my Ford Raptor F-150. The distances in this area are such that covering a lot of ground is a necessity to find these locations. I always ride to the distant ridge but usually am walking around for the duration of what ever event I’m photographing. My timelines smoothly go from mounted to unmounted captures.
By walking or riding along parallel ridges, I’m able to see first and quickly compose these scenes. As I’ve always said, if I can see it in my environment, I generally can capture the scene in these high tech photon traps I use.
Looking into the sun is an “edge of the envelope” activity that is best left to mirrorless cameras as I use. DSLR cameras are dangerous to do this with as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. Mirrorless cameras have a video screen inside of the eye piece viewer. There is NO direct light path to blind you with concentrated light from the lens. Please don’t try this with a DSLR camera. You CAN capture this with a DSLR but you have to do it without looking through the camera WHILE you are taking the image. Set up your rig before you point and don’t look through your DSLR camera at the sun…
Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)
There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.
You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…
All natural colors from the grey of the clouds to the green of the grass that is now starting to grow. A taste of spring has slowly permeated the local climate. All climate is local of course. As a Geologist, I will tell you the earth has NO climate. It has ALL climates lolol. Watch when someone says the “earth’s climate”. I have discovered in my travels, that when someone starts an argument on Climate with that phrase (earth’s climate) , it’s a pretty good indicator that they don’t have a clue about what they are talking about lolol. I’ve seen this so many times.
This was actually rain and not snow for a change. I haven’t seen rain for 6 months since before Oct,1, 2019 when winter started last year. I remember it well as I was on the road the day before in the BigHorns. Those are about 130 miles just left of frame here with this view to the north west as this thing was coming in. The mountains on the far left were 40 miles distant from my camera at this click. Anybody else see a face in the thunderhead??👁👁
Dark environments…Open up your camera a bit. Little bit lower fstop, a bit slower speed or a little more ISO (camera sensitivity). All THREE setting this way will increase the amount of light into your camera. Each effect the light gathering ability of your rig. Your just trying to balance light with the other attributes of those three, each of which is a double edge sword. More on that later…