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Rainbow Road to the Storm

Rainbow Road to the Storm
Rainbow Road to the Storm

Rainbow Road to the Storm

This road actually does lead to right about where that rainbow touches down in a round about way. I followed this storm for some time. It’s actually a double rainbow but you have to look. The orders of colors reverse themselves in a double rainbow. This is all about the composition though having the rainbow is a nice spiff eh? 😀 📷

There are literally thousands of miles of backcountry county roads here. County road surface upkeep is highly variable from place to place. Some roads in this area are better maintained than others lolol. The quality of the roads certainly depends on how much revenue flows to the Road and Bridge Dept. in the particular county your driving through. Within 15 miles of my ranch I can drive into 2 different states and 4 counties. (2 in each state). Each has it’s own road department and quirks of road quality.. I haveexperience on my own ranch buying gravel for driveways. A single semi pulling a trailer full of gravel is expensive. Delivered to my place is around 900 dollars. Most of the expense is the distance. Imagine how many truck fulls of gravel it took to cover thousands of miles of roads here in the backcountry.

This is a road that is indeed very well maintained. Advice to the wise planning on driving off the Interstate onto the back road system of Wyotana. Have Tire repair kits, good spare(s) lots of steel in your sidewalls of your tires, lots of gas, supplies for a week and generally a hard map, GPS and satellite phone in your kit. Go nowhere without several days of water in your vehicle. That is if you get off the highways. You need to add a lot more defensive gear these days to drive on the Interstates lolol.

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

Title: Rainbow Road to the Storm

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Perspective Fish Eye Tower

Perspective Fish Eye Tower
Perspective Fish Eye Tower

Perspective Fish Eye Tower

Taken up on the ranch communications tower….. We have to get internet from somewhere now don’t we lolol. Having built this about 12 years ago, I maintain a couple of radio repeaters as our ranch business band radio plus the local 2 meter repeater to the local Ham radio network.

To start with let me say I don’t work with Canon Cameras too much any more but I pulled a 3 year old Canon M50 off the shelf and put a 8mm VERY VERY VERY wide Fisheye lens on it. If you can find one, they are a wonderful camera to learn on. Mirrorless cameras are WAY easier to learn as What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) is the game.

The clouds were patchy with a deep blue sky above. The sun had set but the clouds above were still bright enough to register. Your looking at pretty much of the entire sky here. The old Canon M50 is a wonderful camera but has a smaller image sensor. I use all “Full Frame” (larger image sensor) Sony Alpha 7 series currently and can’t even buy a wider lens than 10 mm for the platform. I would if it were there to buy.

Lenses that are so wide tend to compress the image on the edges. The Image is right at 180 degrees wide at the corners. That is VERY wide for a single image.

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

Title: Perspective Fish Eye Tower

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Three Pronghorn Shortly

Three Pronghorn Shortly
Three Pronghorn Shortly

Three Pronghorn Shortly

Holy Pregnant Pronghorn. This gal is so pregnant she looks like one of those balloon animals I’ve seen in various cartoons. Just about ready to float above the water hole 4 legs up in the air. Not the fastest land animal in North America at the moment eh?

I’ve taken a few images of pregnant does before and they don’t typically get this big. This may be one of those “does this coat make my butt look fat” moments. Damned if you tell the truth and damned if you lie. There are certain situations in life where there are no correct responses. I’m thinking that within the month there will be three as she has to have a pair of buns in that oven. They usually have twins during a “good” year. It was a long but relatively warm winter for the now miserable mother to be.

Pronghorn birth after both Whitetail and Mule deer in June. That means that by the time this posts, at least a few pronghorn fawns will be scattered around the prairie. This necessitates a great deal of “watching” out in the grass ahead of what ever I’m driving. I’ve seen them in two tracks and even on county gravel roads hiding as a small motionless lump. I’d rather not find one with my vehicle. So for the next few weeks I’ll be treading lightly watching for baby Pronghorn in the grass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Three Pronghorn Shortly

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Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette
Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.

All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.

Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜

Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.

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

Title: Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

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Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal
Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth blue bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Lady Bug Yellow Petal

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Heron Hang Glider

Heron Hang Glider
Heron Hang Glider

Heron Hang Glider

The Great Blue Heron is a wide spread species. It ranges to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here…. We are precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂

This image was captured early this summer and the cottonwoods were leafing. I can only see one nest currently. As I often loose track of them as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.

Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up here and I don’t see them skinny lol. They usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and head out. I can’t really see them after mid may when the Cottonwood trees they nest in leaf out. Their nests are 50 feet up the big mature trees over a lake here on the ranch. The rookery is adjacent to a tall hill such that I can get at the tree top level about 200 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the portfolio with this image. I have many more to do.

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

Title: Heron Hang Glider

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Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road
Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road

I love the lighting on this red gravel road in remote Wyotana. Golden hour a week or so back…

The High country here in my part of Wyotana has rare arteries of easy gravel travel sparsely dispersed. One path often looks like another. It’s often hard to get there from here. Turning east on a local gravel road may end up taking you north so driving by dead reckoning might live up to its name. I have a name for tourists using GPS as their only source of direction finding. IT’s called “Death by GPS”. I’ve had GPS in several vehicles tell me to turn in places that lead to nowhere. I don’t trust GPS very much without some secondary information confirming the computer… Being led into a Cul-de-sac is not ideal for cross country travel in my experience. With all the visitors planning backcountry trips….

True Local Story: A semi-truck driver from urban Illinois was following his GPS around the backcountry. He went by my place and took a turn into a 100 square mile cul-de-sac into the backcountry to our west. Well it was summer time, 95 degrees, mid-day, sunny. He high centered his rig trying to turn around 5 miles into the middle of nowhere. Stuck He had little water and had to walk almost 2 hours to get to the first shade shelter which had no water. By the time he got to the first ranch and found a hose with some shade, it was a close call. He missed a solar well on my property by about 800 yards. It took him 6 hours to get a ride. He was SOOOOO lucky. As I say, Death by GPS….

No one knew he was there. You need to know your route, use a compass, plus the compass in your head, make sure you are expected at your destination and someone knows where you intend to go. Try not to deviate from that plan. Have days of fluids too…. Just some advice from a long term Wyotana backcountry geologist/explorer. It’s hard to argue with hard paper maps.

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

Title: Pass on Trail Creek Road

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Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business
Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.

While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers however are bone.

Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand.

“Clever Girl” my black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated.. . The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spent some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow.

Local animal groups are becoming used to me. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these and other magnificent animals. I can occasionally circle even the Pronghorn groups to properly get light plus closer, closer, closer…. Captures like this will make their way into my work flow and get posted. I am currently 10 days out from taking a photo to it being posted. 📷👀

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

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Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise
Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

It’s called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle (not this angle) looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle shell 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 as much as 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 very remote borderlands I find a variety of interestings things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Numberous 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…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

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Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud
Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.

I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.

I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

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Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture
Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)

A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.

Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….

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

Title: Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

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Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords
Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

These 3 younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. Taking turns with male aggression. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner taking all in the long run.

These Bucks actually get along pretty well in the “Boys Club” they hang in most of the year. But this is as close to a full blown organized training session I’ve seen this year. Getting ready for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, annual Pronghorn all male review for a party of just the Does. Hot and heavy in the fall, it’s a yearly thing up here… So turns the wheel of life. 🤘📸

So on an overcast tuesday HIGH up on a backcountry Ridge was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut. It can really be violent when big Pronghorn Bucks cross swords. It’s all fun and game until someone puts out an eye!.

. Probably 4 year olds. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred. All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment.

They all migrated over a month ago from about 30 miles south from the Thunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds with thousands in the larger Grassland area where they overwinter. I once had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here for the last 2 years. . He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as a pronghorn can be tolerant. Grunt was a nice buck too. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

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Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex
Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex

We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.

These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.

“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘

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

Title: Powder River Training Complex

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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight
Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular Clouds are actually not that common from my particular location. I don’t see them too often but here is a lenticular cloud “UFO” that is obviously re-entering the atmosphere. These saucer shaped clouds typically form where clam moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this occurs, a series of large-scale standing waves can form above the mountain’s downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to or below the dew point, moisture in the air will condense to form clouds. Standing waves are lenticular shaped. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into invisible vapor.

UFO talk of late… I feel neglected by ET. No body cares about the 45th parallel when they have the 37th to pay in. (That is a little factoid to follow up on if you don’t know about UFO’s and the 37th parallel…

As a trained observer of nature and science of at least 50 years of my adult life. I’ve never seen any scene in the sky that I could not explain to a reasonable satisfaction. Having extensively photographed sky scenes for many years. Even with quality equipment way back to 1986 and working Halley’s comet. I’ve NEVER seen a UFO. I feel terribly left out. 😔😔😜📸

Getting someone with a science background AND an extensive photographic history with gear in hand to experience a close encounter would be fun. I volunteer but I don’t do well with motion so supply dramamine for warp speed please.

Rest assured that if a UFO that I can’t account for or explain it’s movements, I will have a photo of it that isn’t blurry lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

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Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead
Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

First note the jet contrail against the left side of this frame. It clearly curves around the HUGE Mesocyclone to the right of frame that was terrorizing Sundance and Newcastle Wyoming at the time. I was driving to Gillette through the Thunderbasin National Grasslands driving around it too . Smart Pilot there lolol. The road I’m on is about a 20 mile gravel trip to get to the 2 lane concrete highway traveling that direction. I usually run into something very Wyoming down there and this is no exception.

To see a storm that large mid day is not good news for those east of there under it’s influence. They have a presence you have to be near to understand but lets just say they intrude on your personal space from a long way’s away. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

These monsters are the source of most of the “bad weather” we experience in Wyotana during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. They take their own time over where ever they travel.

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

Title: Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

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Green Season in Wyotana

Green Season in Wyotana
Green Season in Wyotana

Green Season in Wyotana

Thank god, been waiting for this a while…. (since OCT 1, 2019). The water falling is washing away the brown to leave the green underneath. This must be why all the flood water is brown downstream right? 😜📷

With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground. I consider winters here easy.

I spent a decade living / working in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course. I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Green Season in Wyotana

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Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight
Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

This kind of capture is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (29 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way. I watched this MeadowLark time and time again land on this post with animals crossing the funnel this gate creates. This one is the best by far. Pure infra-red Game Trail Camera capture in a very early twilight environment.

Photograhers notes:

Each game trail camera (GTC) image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current standards lol. The problem with Game cameras on automatic is I have no real control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol.

Apparently it just got this below that low light threshold and was still in black and white. The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is 3 levels of exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those wildlife funnels.

Have a great evening this Tuesday night and be safe out there. It’s an interesting world you guys live in.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

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Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan
Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well.

Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier this season before leaves are in the way, I am able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. They are sitting on eggs currently It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas.

I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Great Blue Heron Wingspan

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Duck Walking on Water

Duck Walking on Water
Duck Walking on Water

Duck Walking on Water

Jesus Duck to say the least. I’m not sure if much besides his feet are actually in the water. Humans can’t do that lolol. I’m pretty sure he / she was showing off for the two ducks just on shore that were watching this impressive display. I’ve seen ducks do this only a few times. The opportunity to catch one on camera was a pretty rare event I’m thinking….I’m tickled anyway… 😜📸

This was taken last summer as evident by the grassy shores and green reeds bokeh’d in the foreground of the frame. Shooting a long telephoto I sat in my portable blind (my old Jeep Grandcherokee last summer since replaced with a Ford F-150 Raptor). I spent about an hour watching this scene clicking away at the ducks in the water waiting for the Great Blue Herons (my actual targets for this photosession) on this lake. When the Herons show up, I’m generally not pointing at the water very much. The Heron’s nest 50 feet up the Cottonwood trees, the ducks not so much.

Ducks get my attention during the lull in other activities typically. I was focused on this guy swimming only 50 feet away…. It decided to do his Jesus thing and I machine gunned the camera catching this moment in Space and Time. It’s the small things that I really enjoy. I still consider myself as a Landscape Photographer. I am however, an opportunist and fairly quick on the draw with these long lenses.

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

Title: Duck Walking on Water

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Faces Art by Frank Bliss

Faces Art by Frank Bliss
Faces Art by Frank Bliss

Faces Art by Frank Bliss

This is ART… Did I mention this is art? Sometimes I take a few moments to be something other than a photorealistic Landscape Photographer. It keeps Frank from Being a dull boy with all work and no play figuring into my world 😜📸 Well over a dozen faces in this easily…

Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it. It’s not just clouds of course. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic. Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. . Looking behind me to the eastern back show a bit after sunset on summers evening is a good habit.

Many photographers get tunnel vision and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. Taking many forms, these billowing clouds can be impressive. The shapes are random but usually fairly consistent in one way or another. I swear on a stack of geology books that I did Everything to this image in the digital darkroom lol. . It’s not a totally natural image.

However, If you look enough at clouds, you see some very odd things 🙂 I simply finished the faces of what I saw in this cloud system.

The hard part is being there with a camera (Rule 1 of Photography).

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

Title: Faces Art by Frank Bliss

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Forest Fire Smokey Skies

Forest Fire Smokey Skies
Forest Fire Smokey Skies

Forest Fire Smokey Skies

With forest fires way to our west this last summer, some of the sunsets were seriously moderated by the smoke. Any particulates in the atmosphere will act as a defacto filter that reduces overall light along with a color filter. Low in the atmosphere, all colors but the red were effectively prevented from making it to my camera by the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Normally Yellow light would be a component of the lowest sun but not under these extreme conditions. Up higher in the sky the RELATIVELY unfiltered light was blue (ish). The smoke effecting the sky show from top to bottom. I’m not looking forward to fire season this year. It has been very dry so far heading into early summer shortly.

In all fairness, last summer was a better fire year “up here” though some local smaller fires broke out. We were wet all summer thank heavens. Unfortunately, places like California Burned but we were mostly out of the serious smoke from those events. I’ve seen HORRIBLE air quality here from forest fires west of us . We’ve had days where it was just plain unhealthy to go outside.

The only good part about the big unchecked fires brought on by mismanagement of the forest litter, is the wonderful photographs they bring on downrange of the fires. Having fought a few fires over the years, I will tell you they are terrifying. If you’ve ever seen a 200 year old 50 foot tall pine torch and was fighting that fire anyway, you might be my friend.

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

Title: Forest Fire Smokey Skies

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Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Mitten Butte Tree Frame
Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Mitten Butte Tree Frame

Locally this “Pyramidal Hill” is called Mitten Butte. The orange Alpenglow behind on this Frosty Morning was saturated. Taken a more than a week ago.

Tree frames are elegant in their forms. Smooth curves mixed with contrasts and details. The landscape curves blend themselves into the frame with the silhouettes / negative space bordering the color from the long traveled sunlight. Dropping away to expose the sun rising up, the horizon moves closer to the light.

The actors of this stage show had only one in the audience. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Only 3 or 4 images from this twilight my be worthy of finishing from that pile… None the less, you have to be there to capture the image.

More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are not rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt”. It’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory with short existence on earth (It’s comprehension might be a bit challenged though lolol). The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension. Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that.

There is much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.

Twilight Landscapes are all dark…because they were/are 😁

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mitten Butte Tree Frame

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Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer
Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Boy talk about attitude…..👅 . I actually don’t see this too much. Blue Tongue to the wind is something that might happen every few minutes. They don’t lick a lot I’m thinking….

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…

The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch under the ear. This is a female sans the patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. They take about 20 foot long single strides when running . These guys own the title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

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

Title: Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

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Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show
Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. This was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold. It was “breezy” this morning few weeks ago (as this posts). At 15 degrees F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50 and CAN be t-shirt weather. A Jackson Hole “Ex” resident, I’ve literally walked around in -20 on a calm day in a t-shirt.. I dress in layers and it’s a “dry cold” lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Working in really cold conditions with cameras:

I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now. I’m getting wussy in my old age 😜

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.

I even had my Ford Raptor to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.

Working out of a car window in the cold:

You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

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Old Backcountry Cowboy Shack

Old Backcountry Cowboy Shack
Old Backcountry Cowboy Shack

Old Backcountry Cowboy Shack

Oh the history… Deep in the backcountry of Wyotana, is this old tin covered shack. It was used for many decades. From as early as 1900 some structures survive the years intact out here if the windows remain. Windows generally keep everything wild that might decide to overnight out. Cattle Pressure usually destroys windows in abandoned structure UNLESS they are in a fenced in an enclosure or corral area surrounded by other buildings. This on an abandoned homestead where the main house burned many years ago. It is indeed protected from cattle pressure.

This bunk house housed many hired hands over the years. All working on the larger ranch that used to head quarter at this site. Families came and went with the turning of the calendar. Generations perhaps of cowboys ‘passing through’ on their life journey. Father and son partnering, time passes, as eventually do the keys to the door. The number of boots passing that door must have been countless. Lives long since past. The poker games on the only table. The frost on the window ghosting one of the many hands passed with Aces and Eights. None of us has the perspective of this surviving relic of a past age. But perhaps to be a future alternative to the reality of todays world. We might all circle back to that life again.

Live in “interesting times” :

Maybe boring is better but change is of the essence wafting in the breeze. Not to worry as change has always been part of our existence here. It is as certain as life itself. When we become complacent and “used” to our lives, expect the unexpected. Things sneak up on you otherwise. Suddenly everything your “used” to changes. Then we reflect our thoughts to the stability of the old ways and realize that is where we belong. It is after all where we all came from.

I’m thinking I’m going to start practicing some more 1880’s technology than I already play with…. 🤔

Oh… the image…. Wonderful Alpenglow lights the background on an icy/snowy/frosty winter like spring morning. I love prodigious Alpenglow gradients during late civil twilight ❤️

Location: “Wyotana”, The Montana/Wyoming borderlands…

Title: Old Backcountry Cowboy Shack

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Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture
Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture

These guys are ghosts anyway. At 2 PM on a moonless overcast night, this Coyote was prowling around one of the ranches well treed washes. Several miles into the backcountry my Trail Camera String of 29 rigs (as of spring 2020) has a great capture every now and then. This pregnant female is a good indicator that the species will survive way up here on the high ridges of the MT/WY borderlands.

If I am smarter than the Wiley Coyote caught here, I anticipate where they will walk, place my Trail Camera at 18 inches (hopefully above the flat snow level). I find 18 inches is about perfect for most work. Putting these cameras in the perfect place is a matter of looking for and finding signs of animal heavy use. The cattle pressure up here obliterates or obfuscates a lot of subtle animal signs/marks/tracks. I also try to figure out where I’d go if I were a Coyote . I’m not aware of ANY dens ON the ranch. Surrounding ranches I’ve generally been on but haven’t searched as well as I’ve looked about my ground. This is BIG country with lots o’ hidy-holes.

According to the camera, it was 5 degrees F with a new moon when this image was taken. Game Trail Camera Captures using Infrared vision/flash are ALL grainy and lumpy. This is because there is literally no light at this capture. It was likely black as pitch in a box on the top shelf of the basement closet.😜📸

The 200 dollar game trail camera does a lot better in this environment than any several thousand dollar pro camera lolol… Still the relative quality is of a newspapers low resolution dither of dots….. Tough in pitch black lolol.

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

Title: Infra-red Coyote Capture

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Moon Sign

Moon Sign
Moon Sign

Moon Sign

Right Turn “Clyde” series…. (Lot’s of detail in that dark )

This was less than easy to do. Handheld long lens rested on the Ford Raptor’s open door, (Clever Girl herself) with the 48 inch Rigid LED light bar lighting up the reflective sign. The trick of course is to get back far enough to get both objects in the infinite focal length. Then you still have to place enough light on the sign…. Now I handicapped myself by sticking with the truck. I could have walked back another 100 yards with a monopod and still have the same light on the sign.. I’m not always tolerant of windy/cold and this was a windy/cold night. Taken about an hour and 20 minutes AFTER sunset, the only real sources of light was the 98 percent April (Pink) Moon and my headlight. That is a dark night sky behind.

There were stars but even this crazy high dynamic range camera couldn’t sense/see them. The clouds right around the moon that were lit up, made it into the cameras data stream. Getting any detail around a moon of such wispy clouds scantily covering a moon is not something I’m able to accomplish some nights. Very very iffy that process. I’m thinking an average cell phone is not going to capture this.

This April 2020’s moon was every present for 4 photo-sessions in a row. I can’t remember a full moon interval where I’ve gotten to work it so much. The April supermoon, our orbiting partner was as close as it gets this year to the earth for this.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Sign

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Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Raptor Dive Bombing Heron
Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Photobombing Hawk. This image is so deep it almost looks almost fake to me but I swear I did NOTHING to this other than some shadow work to bring out some hidden details under the birds wings. The edge detail on those birds is just SPOT on focus as fine as I have ever seen at this 150 – 200 yard distance. The trees behind were blurred (bokeh) as I relented F-stop/depth of focus for gaining shutter speed here. I gained sharpness doing so in the zone that is in focus. The lighting was early morning hard right over my shoulder. I’m thinking the “field of focus’ is maybe 4 feet deep at this distance. The 3-D appearance of this stunned me in it’s depth. Closing speed has got to be 100 MPH. Both birds were cruising with the hawk veering away the last second!

Calling this unlikely would be an understatement lol. I was tracking the Heron with a partner of his across the tree line. 50 feet high Cottonwoods house their nests. A 1200 mm lens, 28 inches long resting on my trucks glass. (lens is padded) I saw them incoming a ways off . Fortunately I had a few seconds to “spin the dials” in anticipation of a 1/2000th sec shutter speed. (see above for some more camera on manual mode hints) So I got lucky on the light. I was “machine gunning” the camera rapid fire. I also caught this raptors partner diving in as well but it is well out of focus in that capture. A total of 3 hawks dove at this Heron Pair that had already claimed a nesting spot on the trees. They are all building nests at the moment down at the ranches wetlands.

Raptor War: This week I found a Red Tailed Hawks body at the base of the tree the Heron’s nest in. Photo of such on my web gallery. It lays there still as it’s illegal to collect any piece part or even a feather of a Raptor or most other migratory non game birds. (Fed Laws) I’ve seen Herons there every year for 20 years.

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

Title: Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

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Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club
Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

The Tres Amigo’s here are walking back home from a long winter down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.

So for this shot I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming to my ranch. I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is the long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area on the maps. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn anywhere.. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club