So I’m on a high Hill top, more or less on the local top of the world. There are a few higher points around but they are a good drive across open backcountry. Looking across the Wyoming / Montana border into Montana Sky with Wyoming Land under my feet. A VERY wide shot in excess of 90 degrees wide, this capture is about 1/4 of the sky in one image. This was a marvelous evening with very little smoke in the middle of a month + of worse smoke. We do get a day here and there of late without too much Pall. We have largely been spared from the worst of this. Having said that tonight as I type, the air is much worse than any night I remember. You couldn’t see see across this field late this after noon.
This is of course the backshow from this sunset. I have to constantly remind myself to look over my shoulder as the main show is often captivating. I have to say the lighting was only slightly red for a change this particular evening. I have been doing photography for a full month in overly red colorcast lighting so this seem pretty minimal. Considering the filtering effect of the smoke eliminating most of the blue from the light reaching the ground from the horizon. The sky overhead was blue because the light reaching there didn’t go through smoke. Blue only penetrates so far through the atmosphere before it’s filtered away. The smoke makes that happen much faster than your average evening in Wyotana.
Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.
This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet
The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.
If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.
Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.
The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.
Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.
Watching the Photographer take a photo of the landscape, these two Mule Deer Doe’s were minding their own business. I come along and interrupt their grazing for a minute. Not my intent of course since I was minding my own business too. Driving in the backcountry I randomly run into small groups of creatures great and small. This time, I was more interested in the long landscape in front of me. But consider them and the tree they bracket, as a nice lower border to this composition. Bonus lol. This was a 10 layer landscape ladder just laid out for my enjoyment and now hopefully yours.
“Landscape ladders” are such captures with layer after layer of different color/texture/distance or topography. It’s easy to find a lot of intersecting angles in a landscape but layer on top of layer is desirable to me anyway lol. Of course this is a “Close / Far perspective taken
Late day Golden Hour Lighting predictably gave this image a markedly red colorcast as was true to the scene. I take great care to get the main sun colors properly weighted toward the longer wavelengths when appropriate. I’ve more or less categorized they types of evening light in my own head how. It is just a matter of verbalizing it now lol. I find that knowing and teaching are two different animals.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee
Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.
The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.
From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…
This little one was just having the time of his life with grass that survived the recent hail storm. It looks to me as if he’s smiling😜
I was driving backcountry up a steep ridge to position myself to work the oncoming sunset of that evening. My wildlife encounters are all random. Occurring as I drive from place to place on other chores. Mostly just on ranch usually though I do get some good wildlife encounters on county roads.
There is a lot to be said for covering a lot of territory quickly assuming you can stop lol. I usually move right along up the ridges along well traveled/known routes following the existing two track roads. Cresting the ridge top, I spied the group of 3, hit the breaks and stopped. I stumbled upon 3 total. This fawn, it’s not quite identical twin and mother standing in open grass. They were not 30 yards from me. The Raptor will automatically stop the engine (perfect backcountry photography vehicle bar none!) They just saw me pull up and stop about 50 yards away. Then a big eye stuck out of the black portable blind.
Deer being the jumpiest animal (short of Pronghorn) in this country, should have run. I definitely popped up and surprised them visually. I suspect they may smelled me with the wind at my back. They certainly heard me. Probably had the conversation just before I popped up of mom saying “here it comes, don’t worry about it”……. This baby member of the deer family didn’t seem in the least bit concerned. More importantly, it’s the mother who is unusually good with me. The fawns take their cues from mom. They should grow up allowing me near their world the more of these I do with them.
Now, I’m just another big black smelly, noisy grazing animal to them. I have no interest what so ever in startling them. If they are afraid of me, they will never let me close again. I eventually drove away having driven past them not far away leaving them essentially undisturbed. They were better than the sunset behind me for sure.
Photographic Musings: The lighting was perfect with the sun directly over my shoulders. Golden Hour, golden colorcast can be a problem which tends to make deer darker in color and orange out whites as that is the actual color of the light. I loved working this lighting. There are a dozen other captures from this encounter that are finished waiting for a narrative. Stay tuned… This is the twin with the perfect ears. The other is easy to ID. I’m working on names.
There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀
I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.
The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).
Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.
So I tend to see animals on the way to and from various chores, ranch duties like checking water tanks or even fences now and then. Being a Landscape Photographer of course, I go out to photograph quality sunrises and sunsets as well. Traveling too and fro on a big ranch puts me into the daily lives of the creatures great and small that inhabit this place. They of course become accustomed to my vehicle eventually. Hopefully this means they tolerate my presence. I’ve found pushing animals might get you one blurry photo of them running away. I stop in my tracks and wait. Slooowwwwwly moving closer in steps. Clicking away each stop. Rinse and repeat.
I was watching this little guy graze for a few minutes. His mom was way off frame so I was being patient waiting for them to re-unite. Photographing nursing fawns is a good activity most days. I don’t think the power(s) that be take time off your lifeline for watching activities like that.
So I’m listening to Sirius XM channel 14 jammin’. Out the Raptors window goes a long lens. 1200 mm brings subjects marvelously close. Carefully focused on the fawn. The camera back set to machine gun mode. Grazing away, the fawn looks up right at me. Opens it mouth and gives the biggest baddest yawn I’ve seen a deer offer me. Flies could fly in that cavern or worse a grasshopper. 😜 The shutter flapped like there was a breeze in that lens.
Sometimes the sunset sideshows I see are just overwhelming, then a Pronghorn Doe wanders into my “visual tunnel” that I’m working. Layers of interdigitating hills. Slow tapering like so many water waves on a pond. The Golden Hour Lighting and long shadows add to the contrasts and hues. Accentuating even the drought covered grass’s early brown season patina.
This was taken about a week before a grass fire blackened the hillside just before the tall ridge of trees near the horizon right of center. That whole field was burned over about a mile. I’d say 12 fire rigs of all sizes made a local debut for the 2020 fire season in this country. About 30 men descended on that ground within an hour of it’s announcement. It’s still very dry. We have been enjoying trains of lightning rich storms.
The Pronghorn doe was moving from Yucca plant (Spanish Dagger) to Yucca Plant enjoying the abundance. That is a plant that plans ahead. Their shape on the prairie causes snow to drift and cover them better than the surrounding area. They get a LOT of their watering in the winter. Their lush blooms are eagerly sought by most ungulates. I understand they are good in salads… 🙂
Besides the other minor world wide issues, locally: Drought Hail and Fire this year has surpassed in intensity the green well watered year we experienced last year in 2019. I’d like to play this year over and it’s not even close to done yet. Think I could do that??
The sage was thick to walk through. I always check for tick before I even get back in my ride. Walking the high ridge lines with camera gear during warmer summer months is problematic that way. I pull one or two off almost every time I walk around. Now if ticks attached to grasshoppers, I’d be good with them. I had one ALMOST get attached next to my watch band on the back of my wrist. Shivers…. ugg.
First of all let me say that Sage brush is VERY hard to get to be the right color. Talks about fine adjustments in the digital darkroom. That slightly bluish green is unique to sage and is a challenge for everyone to get right. Particularly in high dynamic range images as this. Shadow Detail looking into light….
So anyway, the golden sky this time of year is the rule rather than the exception. The sun is slowly setting and rising a little bit more south on the horizon each day. The wheel, it keeps on turning.
The sun is already setting to the left of the peaks on the far ridge. (the Red Hills) Soon I’ll be chasing images of the sun setting behind the Big Horn Mountains. Those mountains are left of the sun in this image. Soon…. Remember they are 130 miles distant and with this wide shot. The distance makes the 13000 foot tall peaks hardly discernible at this focal length. This capture taken with a 90 degree wide lens which is right about what most people see normally. That’s about 22 mm focal length for a 90 degree Field of View (POV).
From the viewpoint of the mouse enjoying the late golden hour sunset. The end of the day upon the resident of the grasslands. Looking up to see if a hawk or owl is going to end it’s life. I hope they are oblivious to their own short mortality… None the less, taking the time to enjoy the color pallet unfolding before it’s eyes. The same effect is not lost on this photographer.
Working JUST below the shadow line of the setting sun, the blinding disk is obscured by the vegetation / hillside allows for the camera to see both the highlights and the dark detail. Ultimately my goal is high dynamic range of color with shadow detail. The highlights from the shafts of light filtered through the trees were my canvas here.
The Summer Alpenglow is the result of Moisture in the air frozen at altitude into ice. Those ice plates reflect and refract the available colors remaining after the light has traveled a high angle path through the atmosphere. Helping along with dust… block the shorter wavelengths of light. Absorbed are most of the blues and greens from the pallet of available colors. Purple is a mix of red and blue. Getting the camera just below the shadow line is important. Without the direct suns glare, you have the opportunity to get some of that shadow color even with a bright sky with filtered light.
A lowly pond deep in the backcountry flats below the ridge my ranch is situated on. About 300 feet lower than my homestead where the Artesian Waters from rocks 250 feet underground. This water works it’s way to the surface via cracks…faults… My homestead gets water from the same formational source. But it only rises from it’s source 500 feet deep in my wells to 250 feet up the pipe. Down low topographically though, there are quite a few ponds up on this particular area as the Fox Hill Formation below is a wonderful Aquifer under pressure from up dip of the formation. Geographically, this unit stretches from Alberta to northern Colorado with analogues/ similar depositional environments further south. The western interior sea during the latest Dinosaur Era (Cretaceous) provided the barrier islands/beach for this grey sandstone with shale interbeds to accumulate.
Fox Hill Formation is a MAJOR source of ground water around big cities. BUT the water from the Fox Hill is typically diluted. IT takes purer water as it is very high in total dissolved solids (TDS). Drinking high TDS water is a good way to get kidney stones. We use reverse osmosis filters for all our drinking water. The animals drinking this are on their own and generally do OK. I did have a wonderful 7 year old quarter horse die of a kidney stone. The complications probably from drinking this water. Most animals do fine.
As the Fox Hill unit is dipping about 50 feet per mile toward the west (towards setting sun). This means that to the east it is higher giving a “hydrologic head” . The miles to the east the formation is physically a lot higher. So if you have a water bearing sandstone higher than you. Plus a crack between it and the surface, you get “spring fed ponds”. Artesian simply means that water is flowing from underground. The water flows upward to the surface because the water bearing sand is WAY above this location miles to the east. Just because water is “Artesian”, doesn’t mean it’s safe or much good to drink. It just means it’s flowing on the surface…
I’m standing 2 miles away from the tallest point on my ranch called “Old Dobie”. I have NO idea of why it is called “Old Dobie”. Perhaps one of my readers will know and inform me. It was called that when I moved here, so the name remains. It peaks a good 300 feet above where my feet stand. There are fairly impressive views of the 180 miles across horizon to horizon sky we enjoy there. My house is over the ridge to the right about a mile and a half. I am standing in Montana looking across the border into Wyoming.
The top of that hill has a communications tower on top. There is a good microwave connection to high bandwidth internet. Our tower provides local ranches and even a local school with broadband internet. I used to be in the internet business but I’m only hosting the company that does up there. I built that tower in 2008 and it has performed flawlessly since. It’s 60 feet tall on a 300 foot high hill over the average surrounding ground and 500 feet higher than the lowest ground around. We also have a 2 meter ham radio repeater up there at 147.270 mHz, 123 PL with a pos offset. 147.870. It can communicate with pretty much anywhere in North East Wyoming working through the North East Wyoming Amateur Radio Associations network in this region.
Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.
Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.
Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these
Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.
Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite: I know there are a bunch of you that are withdrawing from a paucity of windmill images in your news feed. I will try to keep up with your insatiable demand. You know who you are but don’t let your partner know you look at this stuff…. 😜📸
This is “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill doing what he does best. Photobombing my landscapes. I only tolerate him for his negotiation skills with the various creatures around the ranch. I give him credit for many good animal “sittings”. (Years long narrative). He is also a reasonably good scale for an event this big lolol.
Sunrise was just starting to crack over the ridge who’s shadow I stand in. The Windmill up slope reaches up to be illuminated. But the ramp leading to it is in the dark. This corresponds to around 18 minutes after sunrise most of the year. To see rain shafts moving across the valley beyond this shallow ridge is a sight to behold. The morning sun’s color components from orange to the non-colorcast white clouds high up. All in a smooth gradient up the center of the frame.
The high clouds reflecting white uncolored light back to my camera. That light passed through much less atmosphere. The orange light cast by classic atmospherically filtered photons. Those survivors reflected back to my camera are what you see. Shorter wavelengths usually become absorbed on the long trip through the atmospheric gauntlet/filter doing it’s job. . . 🤔👀😜
The peaks in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. Most folks out east would call them Mountains. We live basically at the same elevation (4000 ft) as the ridge tops on those hills. The “Little Powder River” Basin lays between myself and the Red Hills in the distance.. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming , 1/2 a Montana scene. This Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of heading for the horizon/setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. I chase the moon from time to time. Sunrise over my shoulder was an amazing show that morning… Nice snow for an Early April.
The full moon that morning was too late setting that day for me to nab it’s photons while in the Belt of Venus. 😔 The “Belt of Venus has dissipated with the blue wavelengths finally making it through to the atmospheric Ice clearly suspended in the low atmosphere here. That icy haze was rich pink red 20 minutes earlier before the sunrise. that morning. The time lines from a really good sunrise/sunset might run 2 hours long for me. I might take 800 -1000 images during that two hours. Out of those, maybe 4 or 5 will make it into my work flow.
My camera lens front just from the warm car, captured two flakes of frost falling from the trees. Those ice flakes hit the warm glass and turned to liquid with the heat transfer. Providing two extra lenses for me to peer “through”. Artifactual obviously ….. Pretty anyway 😜😀📸
I usually don’t publish images with lens artifacts but the artist in my liked the way this came out. In full disclosure I had to fix the flare on the right which for what ever reason doubled enough to be distracting from the symmetry of the image. Just a slight double ghost I fixed there. So technically I removed a beer can from the postcard photo here. ART.
I have a tendency toward pointing cameras into suns lol. This was a photo I took AFTER the main twilight show that morning. The twilight lighting was truly amazing but as soon as the sun cracked the horizon, chapter two of this stage show began. No intermission either !. The orange red color cast early light was saturating all the white frost and snow surfaces for the next few minutes. Sometimes the same red light that colors the “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow works it way down on the ground. Particularly up on the high ridgelines. Add a little hoar frost, a bit of white ice and you have a perfect reflective surface to light up. Light up just like the Belt of Venus was doing coterminously with this image but over my shoulder. The back sky was all pink down to the ridgelines.
It was a little windy for a reflective shot perhaps but this gibbous moon setting into a early morning setting moon backshow caught my attention. It made it through the “To Finish” Sieve I mentally put my images through.
I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled up to the rippled mirror surface of this lake in my truck. The wind driven ripples were moving smoothly across the glass surface. The scene was subdued and very blue. Blue images are not my most common production but I liked this one. I’ve been accused of being Blue Blind before lolol.
Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. IT’s also essentially directly on the Montana/Wyoming border lol. PLUS it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific and desirable of a reflecting surface. . This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.
I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled into the glass surface of this lake in my truck. the ripples were just moving smoothly across the glass surface. The sun was setting in classic “Golden Hour” colors when the unfettered light reaches my camera. The already bright scene amplified by the extra light from the reflection. If your chasing light this bright, you better shut your camera down to light… (High Fstop, fast speed and Low ISO). Don’t point a DSLR camera at this scene, only a mirrorless camera. That is if you’d like to keep your vision… Don’t blind yourself.
Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. Plus it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific. This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.
Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant into Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.
Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks with no dinosaur fossils. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch at one time. All gone now 🤔⚒
During some years past, those alluvial fans have been totally eroded from my place and have left to the Mississippi River Delta. Carried down the drainage one sand grain at a time. Some is still in transport I’m sure. The layovers along a sand grains journey to the sea can be long.
‘ Residual Petrified Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers previously above where I stand that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there on the surface…. isolated. I have never seen it “in situ” in Cretaceous sands so it came from above literally. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls straight down over geologic time as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana
This is a land of many uses with a long history to tell if you can read the book that is open in front of us.
Under veiled sun about 30 minutes to sunset, the golden lightt from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives of these wonderful pine bark textures with sunsets up on the high ridges are well worth pursuing. They provide me with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the hundres of year old tree lays waiting for the night.
This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape.
Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.
🤔 Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forrest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.
There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my right shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. Mud season is close and mixed with snow days.Mud will keep me off the ridges though. I actually have built the road through the snow up to this ridge top. There is however, no cleared road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷
Looking Northwest overlooking a 50 mile wide valley during the golden hour. The snow was not quite a foot deep. The ridge line road has better summer sunsets to the north west. The low angled sun cutting across the bath. The Day only has minutes left. Setting up for the sunset will take a minute. Interested I am in the lines and the shades of this Golden Hour. Long shadows stretch nearly to infinity at this late hour of the day. My ford has 13 inches under the lowest part of the drive train. A foot of snow is not even close to a problem. Now if it was drifting…… That’s a whole another problem.
A few days before, plowing this road helped this morning. Easy driving is a good thing. Winter this year has not been harsh YET. (Bad Luck saying such things). This really improves my time on target and make the ride much smoother. Bumpy snow and ice is always less than desirable. Now surfaces like this can be icy but not so here. Shoe Chains are a viable option in this country. There are some places on this ridge where I can see the Bear Lodge Mountains 100 miles to the east AND the Big Horn Mountains 140 miles to the west. That is a 240 mile horizon to horizon. I think that is under Websters under the definition of BIG Sky. Wyoming Shares the big sky with Montana, just not the slogan lol. I live in Wyotana so there is no difference for me. lol.
Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use the head of a shoot of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You onlyhave just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Up above the ground clouds, these high backcountry ridge tops make for an awesome sunrise over the top. I’m several hundred feet higher than the valley floor The heavier, cooler air settles in the valley. Moisture condenses and the “Golden Hour” light against a blue sky grabbed my attention. The rustic/rural nature of this image is only matched by the sites remoteness.
I took this image from right at the highest point around locally. This captures elevation is around 4100 feet. The lowest point in Wyoming is On the Belle Fource River at 3099 feet. That location is about 70 miles east of this location. Gannet Peak in the Wind River Mountains is the highest point in Wyoming at 13,804 feet with several peaks just below that elevation. I live at 3780 feet in elevation. I have lived for a decade at 6200 feet at the foot of the Teton Range. The winters are MUCH milder down here except for the winds….
Having put a few fences in, I will tell you that that line of posts and wire was a lot of work. Ranches have tremendous infra-structure in the numerous miles of fences to rotate stock from pasture to pasture. I think we have about 30 miles of fencing in or around out ground. Just having one big pasture is a bad plan. You want to be able to rotate your stock animals from pasture to pasture. Water sources central ideally in those pastures. Generations of ranchers have figured out that works best. Fences also help prevent mixing of different ranchers cow herds togethers. Not only is there a property reason for them, they allow good grass management practices based on an areas attributes and deficiencies.
Location: Near the Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.
This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.
Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.
Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.
Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.
I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).
Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).
Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.
Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.
Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.
The joy of this time of year is the variety in the seasons. I would miss seasons if I were to move to a more tropical climate. Snow is both a curse and a blessing in several ways each.
We get more of our yearly precipitation (water equivalent) in the form of snow. This year might be an exception as we have a very wet summer. This winter is starting early and wet so far. We got a foot of snow on December 1. Winter Started October 1 this year with a good 4-5 inch first snow.
Back in 1999, I moved topographically down to my ranch at 4000 feet from Jackson Hole up at 6200 feet. In Jackson Hole, your distance from the Teton Range dictated how many feet flat you would have in your backyard in mid-January. We averaged 6 feet flat in our back yard there. I had an ATV with a snow blower on the front for the asphalt drive I had then. In Jackson, when it snowed I cleaned our drive way before I went to work at 7AM. That ATV was agile and fun with the snow blower taken off for summer. I had a smaller yard there.
20 years later:
I have about 2 miles of various trails I clear until I can’t anymore mid winter. My driveway is about 1/4 mile and we have a gravel surface big enough to turn semi-trucks around on. I clean it with a Case Skid Steer™. (“Bobcat” so to speak). It has a heater, chains on solid filled wheels, it’s hard to stop. a 5 foot packed drift will stop it but it won’t bury it. It could back out I’m pretty sure. We get some pretty good drifts up on the lee side of ridges and often clumps of Yucca will trap LARGE snow drifts.
Picking a spot for perspective images is often a matter of thinking like a mouse. Using the camera to see reality from that mouses Perspective is what I’m always trying to do with a good sky. Close/Far captures are always a challenge. You have to have the right lighting though. Shadowss are every bit as important as the light. Keeping balance is of importance.
The Backcountry is full of old married trees. Trees that have lived together and will only divorce with their demise. The pines here have wondrully tecture bark. Add that to the perspective, the wonderful sky. that sunset dominates the background.
This was mid fall. The grass this year stayed green through August. This is the first time in two decades of living here that the seasons were so far off. We had more rain than normal and it was regular. It’s not unusual to go a month between showers in the summer. Fires everywhere this year but here. We got very lucky. Lilac were blooming on the 4th of July. As far as I can tell, everything is a month late. Well except for winter which started October 1’st this year. Fall was on a Tuesday I remember..
I spent the morning (before I typed this) clearing over a foot of snow off some two track roads. I’m blocked off now from most of my paths up on the ridges. I need to get up high Big Sky shots and back to trees like this. ” Winter is coming”. (Classical Refrence” This is the first time I’ve plowed up on ridge one. I suspect it will not be the last. More images like this incoming as I rework my portfolio📷👀