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.
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 I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar.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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.
The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.
Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.
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.
T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸
As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.
Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.
Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.
This MesoCyclone was Veiling the full Moon. Enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye. Using a 20 second time exposure, some lightning flashed during the interval. Details in the clouds that are seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. Time exposures over a second tend to overexpose the full moon badly. Even a moon that was unveiled. Limitation of the technology.
Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this rotating storm was around 100 miles across. Containing the energy of an atom bomb expended over it’s life.
The view I had of this storm was perfect enabling me to photographed it. I was up in the higher backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars. No other man made light sources in view from the highest mountain top around kind of backcountry.
Various colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples that were native in the camera’s software in this image. 20mm lens, cropped in a bit. I wouldn’t go over 20 seconds with a 20mm as longer would have blurred the starts. That time varies with the focal length of the lens so look it up on google lol.
This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔 Taken Mid Summer 2019. 2×3 aspect.
I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 70 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind me in about 15 minutes from this capture. 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.
We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.
That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.
A mere 6 months ago, middle of a warm summers evening, a sky show broke out…. THe evening was fairly calm with a light breeze. The air contained some grass pollen, some cottonwood pollen so my nose was a little stuffy. You could feel the relative humidity climbing as the air cooled down. Traveling up and down topography, you could feed obvious temperature changes as you moved from falling and rising air.
Every Once in a while, I like to do one of these vehicle mirrored images showing both sides of the sunset (in this case). It’s a commonality that all of us share. Most of us anyway have occupied the driver seat of a vehicle or two.
The Corriente’ Long Horns were out in the middle of a big grassy I sold this vehicle December 31,2019 . I loved my 15 year companion a 2005 Jeep Gran Cherokee. It worked very well for photography of the backcountry. It would pretty much go anywhere my ATV would which is saying something. The king is “dead” long live the king.
The 2020 Ford Raptor I am breaking in as a photographic platform is performing stellar in helping me find light. (so far) Already it has gone on paths I wouldn’t have taken the jeep on in mid-winter. It is stable, allows some movement inside of long lenses. It has WAY bigger mirrors plus they move out of the way with a button’s push. I will see what I get when the light is worth trapping. So far it gets me there…
Hiding a major inflexion point in earths history…..
Reading earths book: Musings.
When the Bolide (google this) struck the earth at the End of the Cretaceous, it spread a thin layer of Iridium (an element) rich dust all over the globe. This impact occurred down in Yucatan Mexico. The rocks that make up this ridge/pass are from that moment in time. There the “K/T” iridium layer exists somewhere.
Now what does a geologist/photographer do with a hill like this…. The Bolide) Crashed into the earth, killing the dinosaurs, and many other animal groups on the planet. Huge upheavals in food chains ensued. Major extinctions do that of course and here we are. Our ancestors survived the conflagration. I traced the Rock Formation that is dinosaur bearing (Hell Creek/Lance formations) to end on this hill. The type of rock changes and SOMEWHERE in the photo, is that 4 inch thick layer of debris from that major impact. You can only tell exactly where it is from taking detailed samples up the rock section then running them through a mass spectrometer . One just looks for the Iridium spike (Iridium as an element is common in outer space but rare on earth. The impactor vaporized enriching the surface in that rare element.
The number of fossils and the diversity seems to be slowly declining near the top of the section but I don’t have HARD numbers on this. Don’t discount the pizza oven effect from the Bolides ejecta reentering the atmosphere. Massive tsunami’s hit further south. I’m sure this area got cooked. Later a blast wave plough through at the speed of sound. Anything that wasn’t under water, in a burrow or somehow hidden was killed outright on this hemisphere. The climates changed markedly and initiated a failure of major populations of animals to successfully reproduce. Ultimately it’s the inability to reproduce that causes extinction. No matter what the cause.
Chasing LIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before.
I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the outline. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.
I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting on the cars passenger window on clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.
Antique wagons each have their own tale to tell. Especially in this shape. With over 50 plus years of cattle rubbing, the wear has taken it’s toll. They have to itch on something I suppose. Needless to say, the cattle pressure on this old soldier has taken it’s toll. Not to say the weather, the freezing and thawing, haven’t had their effect. The fact that it is still even half way together speaks volumes for the quality of construction.
There are a lot of miles on those old wheels. 15 miles to the nearest general store. An all day round trip with a team. This vehicle was the ultimate convertible. You pay MORE for a convertible now lolol. How did that get switched around?? I’ve never owned a real convertible lolol. Imagine 12 hours in the wind, the rain, a storm that comes out of a blue sky out in the open.
All the metal work on this wagon is in serviceable shape. Plus it’s about all there. It would take quite a craftsman with a cause to rebuild this to new. We actually have a very nice newly built buck wagon on the ranch, in the barn, under a tarp. It’s not moving anytime soon lol. It belongs to my son’s fiancee. We don’t however had a working team of horses at the moment for it. I don’t have a photo of it (yet) even though it’s been out there for years lolol.