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Mooning for You

Mooning for You
Mooning for You

Mooning for You

Mooning for You

I find the Moon to be quite a character of note here in the highlands. Seems I’m always finding him sitting down on the job. OK, give it a short break before the climb. I’m sure he belongs to some union giving him 5 minutes ever 30 minutes for a rest. He obviously is not a rancher.

Heck, It’s a LOT of work to climb up with all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit. Think of the huge mass that has to be “lifted” over our heads. Yet Again, I caught it sitting down on the job, playing “king of the hill”. This is not the first time I have images of this kind of on the job sitting around. Who am I to question how the moon does his job.

I bet there is quite a view up there. This being a telephoto image of a hill top 400 feet higher than my location on and adjacent ridge. This can be mountain goat country. If there were only mountain goats that lived here. Instead I have celestial objects summiting hillocks holding prime overlook territory.

Wyotana is indeed a magical place. There are many ways to look at any scene, each angle has it’s own story.

Factoid. To determine if it is a rising or a setting moon. :

If the three small craters at 2 oclock are pointing up, it’s a rising moon. If those lined up three craters point to 3 o’clock, then the moon image is a setting moon.

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

Title: Mooning for You

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WhiteTail Buck Velvet Antlers

WhiteTail Buck Velvet Antlers
WhiteTail Buck Velvet Antlers

WhiteTail Buck Velvet Antlers

The Beautiful White Tail Buck was walking down a steep trail 10 feet from where I planted a quality 30 megapixel Game Camera. For some reason this camera take wonderful images in this forested gully time and time again. I wouldn’t move it for anything lol. It has given me more fine images than any other game trail camera in my arsenal. I looked through over 9000 images to find the several dozen good images in the timeline. Several thousand were of grass and trees blowing in the winds up here. Even in a sheltered treed gully, 30 mph sustained winds for hours can rack up several shots a minute lolol. Moving vegetation will trigger the game camera.

This location has seen Foxes, Coyotes, Mule Deer, Whitetail as here, skunks, porcupine, raccoons and Bobcats captured on the automatically triggered cameras. I currently am running a network of 29 cameras which I maintain and check periodically. “Periodically” being the key word as it might take me up to 6 months to get back to a camera at times. This one was out there for two months without checking it. The grass grew during the time I planted the camera and the time this image was taken lol. This trail cam has been the best performer of the group. Location, Location, Location is the key in Game Trail Cameras. It’s one of the few things you have any control of with the automatic system.

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

Title: WhiteTail Buck Velvet Antlers

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Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

Pregnant Mule Deer Doe
Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. It is obvious her look was annoyance with me. I’m patient though and tend to wait out such attitude. It wasn’t long before she was back grazing with the group around her exhibiting normal deer behavior. They more or less are accepting my Black Ford Raptor as just another Big Smelly Black Angus moving across the Prairie. I seldom scare the local wildlife or push them intentionally. I have found that if you pressure wildlife, they will run from you next time you see them. So for me to get really close to the wild inhabitants of Wyotana, I have to be very respectful of personal space.

Most of the Does are VERY pregnant this time of year. The wheel of life is turning seemingly with a quickening in the late spring. The quantity of newborns born at one time assures a new generations. Deer have a few predators up here but human’s riding their machinations account for the majority of deer fatalities. In the two decades I’ve driven extensively in deer/pronghorn country, only a few over a dozen deer have been “hit” by our families cars. Less than one a year average. We have never filed an insurance claim from a deer impact.

Having discovered early on putting a custom made front bumper / crash bar/ deer bumper on any vehicle that will support it is necessary. Cars… no reason to put a 500+ pound chunk of steel on a Toyota lol. The pickups and SUV’s that we own are all graced with a significant steel front end. Hitting a deer at 60 mph or so is no fun certainly for the driver OR the deer. Bright bright bright headlights help too. Being able to see a 1300 pound Black Angus at night on a gravel road is a good thing if you are traveling. Cleaning a deer you hit at speed off your vehicle takes a while. Trust me on this. My son lost a passenger Mirror from swishing past a deer. They do hit you in the side sometimes ☺️

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

Title: Pregnant Mule Deer Doe

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Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset
Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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.

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

Title: Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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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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Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch
Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch

IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.

The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.

Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…

I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .

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

Title: Blue Heron Launch

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Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise
Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

On the crest of this backcountry ridge, trees grow out of boulders. This hill top has a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy but trees must penetrate them. Close Far Perspectives are worthy of working I think …

The Cretaceous rocks are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming. Differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. The cattle don’t like the footing on this hill top knob.

Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

I digress, Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang.

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

Title: Perspective Bark Lichen Sunrise

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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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WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame
WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over here but she still have some divots in her coat. A silky light tan to white look is the rule for healthy animals.

I actually don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I’m not that fond of them as they chase the larger Mule Deer Away when they move in. The Mule Deer are MUCH larger and less spooky. IF one has to hunt for any reason, most (certain me) would prefer to take a Mule Deer for the same priced tag…. We don’t have BlackTail Deer up here like you left coast residents.

I seldom can get close to them. I caught this one driving by her in the backcountry. Then she had to cooperate lolol. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well. Having only a few second. Having Cameras generally pre-set up for wildlife photography is a good thing BTW…. . This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder. The shadows were very long and the unfettered sun was quite bright.

This is a long lens telephoto shot of course. I haven’t worked out a deal with them to sit for 55mm portrait lenses to date. I’ve heard that “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is working on that diplomatically…… (years long narrative if your now lost). 😜📷

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

Title: WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

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All Work and No Play

All Work and No Play
All Work and No Play

All Work and No Play

Makes Frank a Dull Boy of course. I was cruising the back woods of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and came upon these two titans fighting for dinner. One wanting dinner and the other not wanting to be dinner. Not to be one to intrude on important negotiations, I just too the image.

Since Triceratops is found in the fossil record at over 50 percent of the fossil content and T-rex only at 3 percent, conclusions: There were 15 times the number of Triceratops walking around than there were T-rex. We don’t know for sure if Triceratops herded as a group. A group/row of nose, brow and shield horns were formidable but not a match for the speed and power of the bird like predator.

I say bird like because T-rex was a member of the dinosaurian raptorian group. You may remember Velociraptor from Jurassic Park the movie. T-rex is related to the “Avian Dinosaurs” in many ways. They are often drawn now with feathers in patches by educated paleontologic artists. Bone structure, the way the bones fit together, their respiratory system are all very very very birdlike…

Dinosaurs didn’t die out at the end of the Cretaceous as is widely believed. The avian dinosaur lived on slowly loosing tail and teeth developing into those familiar birds flying about our skies. Occasionally those repressed gene will express itself and say a hen will get teeth. The tail is in the chickens genes too. It’s a matter of proper timing during embryonic development. Any doubt, just watch a Great Blue Heron Hunt….

We actually do have dinosaurs up here but they aren’t moving very fast. The Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formation(s) are dinosaur fossil rich. Not JUST dinosaur here of course. There are fossils of snails, clams, amphibians, fish, crocs, alligators, turtles and even a few small mammals represented in these old terrestrial river sands. Currently the ranch collection holds in excess of 10K fossil specimens.

(Note just so you know, Grass during the dinosaur era was JUST developing in India first during the Cretaceous. It spread around the world but not untill later. They didn’t have bamboo forests)…

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

Title: All Work and No Play

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Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts
Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

The Rain Shafts over the Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . Weather over the far ridge. The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out.

This is about 4 miles from our ranch. That direction is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles from my homestead.. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here. The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Historic Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association. It is managed under the Trail Creek Grazing Association. Old original buildings out here. In this remote backcountry were certainly built out of locally milled wood. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand. The 1950’s marked the last updates to the main house. Still utilized for hunters with year round caretakers living on site. That barn is classic.

Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

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Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun
Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.

The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….

She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use Sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

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Two Bucks for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light
Two Buck for the Light

Two Bucks for the Light

With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. Spring 2019… Bedded Deer Bucks chewing what ever goodies they regurgitated. … yumm… The grass that time of year is a wonderful brown/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens.

F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings (ISO and Shutter Speed) compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Two Bucks for the Light

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The Birds on the Border

The Birds on the Border
The Birds on the Border

The Birds on the Border

That’s a LOT of BlackBirds (maybe cowbirds) in one photo. The flock surrounds the camera. This is a well placed game trail camera capture that is located at a water tank. I occasionally get migrating flocks pass through the cameras field of view. This was in mid-April when we still had some snow on the ground. I often place cameras around natural game attractants and in funnels.

As I type this it’s getting time to work sunset. I’m considering a bit early to pick up a couple of chips and service some game trail cameras. I will often leave cameras for months at a time between visits to their location. They keep a good eye on things for me when I can’t be there. It’s truly amazing when they catch and what they catch. Most of them use 2 different cameras. On for Infra-red night images and one for day images.

Each image from this particular camera tends to be a little grainy. Other cameras have other issues with the quality of the .jpg image. But they all share the silly candid nature of the wild creatures that wander by my photon traps. I’m currently running a line of 29 game trail cameras. Many of them are due to check this time of year with all the early spring migration and animal movement. I’m opening certain gates to create wildlife funnels of easy access/egress. There are usually cameras planted in those areas.

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

Title: The Birds on the Border

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Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass
Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….

I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.

Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.

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

Title: Flower Moon Rolling in the Grass

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Morning Meadowlark Making Song

Morning Meadowlark Making Song
Morning Meadowlark Making Song

Morning Meadowlark Making Song

I find Meadowlarks a difficult critter to photograph. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Ford Raptor as it approached. I stopped literally about 20 feet away. Typically, they will fly but he stood at his “post”. At that close distance, with an 1200 mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. All meadowlarks are “flighty”.

As a group they they have been back in this country for 4 weeks as of this post in mid May. This is a bit early based on what I’ve observed the last 2 decades here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Morning Meadowlark Making Song

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Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera
Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlarks were named by Audubon noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry near my homestead. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots as this.

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore.

This guy is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. He was very tolerant of my Vehicle as it approached. I slowed to a stop about 20 feet away. I’m not usually so lucky…. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a backcountry wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Genernally not during Meadowlark season lolol 😜

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

Title: Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

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Five Deer Watching Sunset

Five Deer Watching Sunset
Five Deer Watching Sunset

Five Deer Watching Sunset

These 5 were caught in early twilight. These deer were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click…. I know this this grouppretty well as they are seen almost every sunset walking between their grazing area and one of my water troughs. We keep that water available all year (for the last 20).

They are pretty used to me being around but are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening.

Photographic Musings:

Remember F-stop? It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up F-stop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critical….. Though it was sure impressively fully involved with the long wavelenths that made it through the atmosphere. Getting a longer depth of focus is what F-stop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

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

Title: Five Deer Watching Sunset

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Whitetail Deer Crossing Road

Whitetail Deer Crossing Road
Whitetail Deer Crossing Road

Whitetail Deer Crossing Road

White Tail Deer Get their name from an obvious anatomical attribute. They are much more gracile than Mule Deer which co-inhabit these environs. To me it always appears that these ungulates are walking “Tippy Toes” across the road lol.

I’m assuming the same old answer of “to get to the other side” applies to the classic question. I was able to anticipate their walking across the road in front of my Ford Raptor as I was traveling. I was able to stop and turn at a right angle to the roadway to give me a full side view out both my window at their future path. Sure enough they continued on and gave me the pregnant single mother “shot” of the morning. The buck apparently was no where to be found 😔. Single motherhood is a way of life in the ungulate world. The bucks are all off at some boys club hanging out together all summer. Like a nightly card game except it’s 24-7 until the rut… 😜📷

This pair is of course a pregnant mother (left) and her yearling (right). The mother is still a month or so away from giving birth I’m thinking. They were traveling alone in the backcountry when I came along. They felt it was necessary to run in front of me instead of completely away from the road.. Whitetail Deer are not as bad as Pronghorn for running in front of your vehicle but worse than Mule Deer in my experience 👁👁

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

Title: Whitetail Deer Crossing Road

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Spring Time Buck in Velvet

Spring Time Buck in Velvet
Spring Time Buck in Velvet

Spring Time Buck in Velvet

A mere 10 months ago, this Mule Deer Buck was crossing the road “to get to the other side” (according to “Sneaky Pete” the windmill). The Sweet Clover was in bloom, the bees were filling their hives with honey from it. The 4 year old buck was just starting to grow his antlers which already have a 5×5 configuration.

I know this buck as “Tweeddle Dee” because I’ve seen him do a Tweedle Dumb thing or two over the last few years lol. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the forth year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.

I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.

I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.

2×3 aspect up to 3 feet

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Spring Time Buck in Velvet

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Backcountry Look Out Duty

Backcountry Look Out Duty
Backcountry Look Out Duty

Backcountry Look Out Duty

Sometimes I actually have time during an encounter with wildlife to compose the image. The Ying and the Yang of this stood out “Biggly”. This gal was 50 feet above me and about 200 yards out. She was walking slowly unafraid of my presence. Then she paused and surveyed all that lay before her. This high ridge has AMAZING views off to where she is looking. I have to think that she is aware and appreciative of the vista I share with her daily. I believe to the depths of my soul that I have seen deer watch the sunset right along with me. Enjoying the whole show. I’m usually trying to get them between me and the sun lol. Occasionally I’m trying to be between them and the sun. Either way, I’m always maneuvering for the “angle” lolol. 📸

Certainly she is quite aware of her environment. Enhanced smell, excellent hearing with those big mule shaped ears with eagle eyes/excellent night vision. I’ve watched deer carefully as my photographic OCD brings me into close proximity with them regularly. They have “watched” me too lol. There is a certain amount of familiarity the local deer herds have to me and my vehicles. They are still wild have no misconception about that. They just think of me as another creature out here that has never done them any harm. A good photographer will never scare or ‘push’ the animals. You won’t get another chance to take their photo later if you do.

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

Title: Backcountry Look Out Duty

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Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play
Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.

I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.

“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.

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

Title: Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Windmill Twilight Play

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Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off
Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 100 yards maybe. It took a while to close the distance between us as I spied it. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to my prey if I stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals I encounter. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there I find. I take photos at each stop. Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium. Caught him taking off.

I’m not a hawk expert but I believe this to be a Ferruginous Hawk. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those underwings are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title : Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

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RoadRunner Just Off Frame

RoadRunner Just Off Frame
RoadRunner Just Off Frame

RoadRunner Just Off Frame

I’ve pretty fast with a long lens but keeping ahead of these canids is a job best left to the Road Runners. Occasionally I catch them with great lenses/cameras, other times I catch them with a game trail camera. The best game trail cameras I use are in the 200 dollar range. The best Sony Mirrorless with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens is in the 6000 dollar range. Both cameras take images of what is in front of them if the operator knows how to set them up, quickly I point out, and get the shot. One might get this either way. Humm, I wonder which system took this image? Under the right conditions, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.

Quality of game trail cameras is not the subject of this post as much as this hunting coyote is. I know he is hunting because he is awake. Generally they wake up with a “Coyote Breakfast”. Such menu is widely understood as a Coyote relieving himself next to a tree. No actual food for breakfast involved usually for such a creature. They are always chasing road runners fictionally but it real life, it’s all about the next meal. They do chase the original fast food….. Mostly mice and small mammals but they do get into trouble with ranchers and growers of any livestock. Baby livestock is a favorite snack for a pack of these guys.

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

Title: RoadRunner Just Off Frame

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Siamese Silhouette Buck Ridge

Siamese Silhouette Buck Ridge
Siamese Silhouette Buck Ridge

Siamese Silhouette Buck Ridge

Merging together silhouettes will if the lighting is conducive for such. One of these guys is a “butt head” it seems…. Your choice as to which one 😜

The Alpenglow from the suspended Atmospheric Ice was the backdrop for this evenings stage play. As I move from one photographic opportunity to another working the light, I see many things. Some are worthy of your time so I point my photon capture boxes in that direction trapping a few.

I watched these guys watch the setting sun between my main job of taking snap shots of the actual sunset that night lol. Deer definitely check out the sunset. I’ve seen them do it. The evening progressed from blinding bright sunset to the right saturated tones of the twilight. The “boys” got back to the main business of finding tasty morsels on the hillside.

These two Spring antler growing bucks have their bony horns covered in “Velvet”. This time of year (about a month from now) is prime antler growth time. I actually have a smaller “Stag” buck up here that still has it’s antlers. HE’s an oddball though. Everyone else shed theirs in January as did these two. The grow back very quickly with a blood vessel rich “Velvet” skin nourishing the growing bone from the buttons on their skull cap.

Yes there is actually a small cave passing all the way under that boulder. One can crawl in there with all the other creepy things that might live in such a place if you had to get out of the weather. (from the other side lol). That hole is the back window with a view over my shoulder…

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

Title: Siamese Silhouette Buck Ridge

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Forest Framed Full Moon

Forest Framed Full Moon
Forest Framed Full Moon

Forest Framed Full Moon

The joy of my work is that I get to see scenes like this. There of course is some discipline involved being up on those high ridges I frequent chasing light. Mostly it involves just kicking my legs over the side of the bed and getting up. I rise up pretty early in the summer with very short nights coming my way. Working the light often involves short nights. I might go third shift this summer and stay up from sundown to sun up, sleep during the day. It’s possible this is a better schedule for me as I’ve done it the old way for years lol.

Photographic Musings:

The Close / Far Perspective in Low light is a function of how low the light is (chuckle). On the one or two mornings a month when the sun is rising coterminously with the moon setting, I hope to get a window to the moon. When I saw this cloud band cut across the Lunar Disk I figured that was the end of the show. Fortunately that was an incorrect conclusion.

I photographed this moon until it sank into the notch on the ranch on the right. Having prepositioned myself to position it setting in that notch. I find I am easier to move that either the ridge or the moon so you have to be accomodating to the Physics of the moment… 😜. This was a 250mm lens. I can bring to bear 1200 mm on that horizon for an up close and personal look. Posted in another place of course. Knowing where the moon is going to set is a simple matter of exploring a search of “Moon Compass” in Google. At least one of those sites will tell you where and when it will set. Then all you have to do is decide where to be when it sets. Being able to set and read a sighting compass to correct for Magnetic Declination changes will help in this endeavor. I use my personal 40 year old Brunton™ Geologists compass for such things. 🤔👀📷

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

Title: Forest Framed Full Moon

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MeadowLark on a Wire

MeadowLark on a Wire
MeadowLark on a Wire

MeadowLark on a Wire

Meadowlarks named amazingly by Audubon himself. Noting them “neglected” by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them as well. The melodic enchanting song is a constant here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. A lot of grass is growing up here along with the afiliated insect population. These guys thrive in this environment.

The Species is the “State Bird” of 6 Western States!. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me. Wyoming was the 6th and last state back in 1927 to grant it that honor. Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Oregon, North Dakota and Wyoming are the list.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots. I’m often listening to their song driving along slowly around my place. I have found that if I pull up to a bird as close as I dare in my vehicle, if it didn’t fly, it probably won’t until you move your vehicle at all. If you move just a little they are outta here…. 😜 I can count on one hand the number of Meadowlarks that let me move to get a better shot once I had come to a stop. This was one.

This was a very windy day thus the sporty feather-do hair cut and the “cow lick” on his shoulder. It was a 30/20 day. 30 degrees F and 20 MPH winds that morning. He was happy anyway…… First Meadowlark I worked this year. Early bird…

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

Title: MeadowLark on a Wire

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Golden Hour Windmill Morning

Golden Hour Windmill Morning
Golden Hour Windmill Morning

Golden Hour Windmill Morning

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. . . 🤔👀😜

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

Title: Golden Hour Windmill Morning

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Blue Heron Sunset

Blue Heron Sunset
Blue Heron Sunset

Blue Heron Sunset

The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of their nesting season on Ranch. I have only seen 4 Herons so far but it’s early. We expect 5+ inchesnow/single digits over the weekend (a week ago as this posts). The Ranch has “left the light on” for others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 6 nests in the trees across the lake from my camera where this mated pair is building a nest. The third is probably waiting for a mate that is out hunting.

The group obviously weren’t worried about my truck as the three were mostly motionless for 20 minutes all through my maneuvering. Left them still standing like this as I backed up to leave. I drove away as the sun disappeared. It seems they just don’t care about my Black Ford Raptor. I have not been much of a concern to these birds. Many local wildlife are already familiar/tolerant to my 3 month old rig. Many see it at least 2 times a day on average.

Natural behavior occurs while I’m in this rig. I just drive around like I’m a grazing animal. Stop, Start, turn, sit a minute. The truck is all black and only a little smelly/noisy. Just like a Black Angus cow :). Going really Slow in a factory “Baja truck”…. only in America.. 😜🤘📸

Photographic Musings:

I approach groups of animals living here on the huge grasslands with respect. If I scare them, I don’t get to photograph them. Of course most wild animals sense your approach early. At my crossing some pre-determined line in the sand, most bolt. Learning where that line in the sand is becomes pertinent towards the pursuit of the image.

I find stopping well back, take a few photos, figure out the light, get your settings up for a quick exit shot, then move. I usually readjust my settings for quality, get the composition set and click. Then go back to settings for speed (faster shutter, more ISO and or bigger aperture/fstop.). Move closer….rinse and repeat until you get the shot. (you might think this is “tough” light to work…. You would be right).

Most of the time with really long fixed (non-zoomable) lenses, I fill the frame, get the shot and leave without causing the animals to move. (Pronghorn excepted since they move regardless). 😜

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

Title: Blue Heron Sunset

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Coyote Hunting the Shoreline

Coyote Hunting the Shoreline
Coyote Hunting the Shoreline

Coyote Hunting the Shoreline .(Game Trail Camera Capture)

There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans. This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds. From what I’ve seen, they can bite you about 30 times per second per second.😀.

I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.That ice was 1/2 inch thick at most. If she keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw.

I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks. 2×3 aspect up to 36 inches wide.

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

Title: Coyote Hunting the Shoreline