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Pronghorn Mother With Twins

Pronghorn Mother With Twins
Pronghorn Mother With Twins

Pronghorn Mother With Twins

Boy this was tough lighting. When the late “Golden Hour” afternoon long traveled photons arrive, there is a tendency for them to be skewed significantly toward the reddish side of the spectrum. The fur colors of Pronghorn I’ve looked at very carefully over the years considering what different colorcast light does to it. This image runs the gamut literally.

Pronghorn fawns seem to be darker than their mother in every situation I’ve ever seen. This is about as red/tan as they EVER are. Even under this red light. Granted I’m just looking at my local population so it’s not a controlled observation. Pronghorn are generally very lightly colored tan. Darker animals are usually made that way by the photo editor boosting the color of the rest of the image. This brings along the coat to the color of a deer. I’ve seen some lighting turn them darker. Shade versus sunlight is another factor. In this image, it was the color of the sunlight that made it hard for me (the photo finisher) to get the animals to look the right color. If I let the raw image through un-edited they would have been VERY red.

All these Pronghorn are females. Males have dark cheek patches. There is still a lot of grass out on the prairie but there are a LOT of grasshoppers happily consuming already dry, headed out stunted grass.

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

Title: Pronghorn Mother With Twins

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A Bug in Her Ear

A Bug in Her Ear
A Bug in Her Ear

A Bug in Her Ear

I was watching this pretty Doe finally surrounded by the herd this summer. I’m thinking 40 feet away with the animal filling the frame. It’s taken a while but I’m now getting the local herds to accept me as just another animal. By the end of the summer I’ll be taking “eyelash shots”.

So I’m seeing a bee fly around as a highlight on my videoscreen (a white flash generated by my camera). This was followed by a surprised look on the Mule Deer’s face. You could tell she was puzzled for a second and then she started shaking her head. I have several good captures of this unusual pose/activity. I usually click the “happy” machine gun switch on the camera and a dozen frames a second fill up the cameras buffer. It will take 60 in a row before that buffer is full I have found out 📸 .

I’m not sure if she got it out right away but I was certainly glued to the screen. I’m thinking she either had it stuck in one of those ‘mule’ ears or if she got stung for some reason. This went on for maybe 30 seconds. Grazing started shortly after so no permanent damage occurred at least to this girl. The bee’s condition on the other hand is in doubt. One of the problem with big ears is they are a big target lolol.

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

Title: A Bug in Her Ear

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Twins and Their Mom

Twins and Their Mom
Twins and Their Mom

Twins and Their Mom

Last year was a good environment to set up for multiple births of Pronghorn fawns this spring. Ultimately it may have been a cruel trick as while there is still grass growing, it is very dry. Worse, grasshoppers are thicker than recent memory. Malathion is a well used fumigant but it kills the good bugs too so it is a double edged sword. Some ranchers sprayed by plane over their ground. They have grasshoppers too as far as I can tell. The point is, later in the year, the Pronghorn are going to be competing with the jumpers for food I’m afraid. We are even taking precautions around our greenhouses to properly seal them from the invasion.

Each Pronghorn mother during estrus releases 6 eggs (I have been told). All of which fertilize, the mother sloughs off an appropriate number based on the environmental conditions. Twins and even triplets on the good year like last year. IT was green until august. This year, it’s only early July and it’s brown already. I know of one set of triplets and have seen several twins with various moms. These guys were typical fawns galavanting around like they own the place. Mother was typically ignoring them but keeping her eye on the surrounding threat matrix. Getting terribly close to Pronghorn babies is not going to happen regularly. I only have a few Does that tolerate my trucks presence. Others not so much lolol.

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

Title: Twins and Their Mom

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Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped
Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

I can’t tell you how many have inquired how the “REALLY” fat pregnant Pronghorn Doe is doing. Well here she is with her brood. I understand that female Pronghorn release 6 eggs which all fertilize. She sheds the ones her body determines she can’t take care of based on the environment. Last year was a very green year. This year is a grasshopper year. Cutting grass early this year is the game before the grasshoppers eat it all up.

At any rate, I’m able to approach this female closely as you know if you are following me. That feeling transmitted quickly to the young ones. At first they were a little wary of this big black Ford F-150 raptor around them. Before long I had circled around them to get them fully in the sun. What was really hard was catching them all 4 together. Watching the group for about 1/2 hour, I only caught this one image of them all bunched up. Typically the fawns were being kids exploring and jumping around like all juvenile animals on the plains.

I have MANY image from this timeline. It’s not often I’m tolerated so well by a Pronghorn group. I hope this relationship continues all summer unaltered. We are about to cut the hay in this field so they will move. I’ll have to figure out where they moved to though. That may take a while as this is a big place. I know where they water though which is a good place to start. 🤔 👀 📷

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

Title: Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

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Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge
Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

A lone Pronghorn doe grazing, from about 1/4 mile away on a parallel Ridge; I had just a little elevation over the historic sheep herders cairn on the right. This morning was one of long shadows. Only this part of the sky exposed to the sun, was photoworthy. The southern part of the view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on the eastern horizon. Those clouds blocking the sun behind. The mists further obfuscating the clear view that way. I turn my lenses off away from the rising sun to my right. All in order to catch the back show in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape.

This view, looking north into Montana with the foreground in Wyoming. Living on the border high on several ridge, I have extensive views in all directions. This is a dryland ranch meaning no running water year round. I do however have views to dream about (as I do dream in full color) on the right morning. This particular morning at 5:30 AM at sunrise was as good as they come. That is without invoking deities to improve the view.

These heavily dissected Cretaceous and early Tertiary terrestrial sands/muds between me and the farthest ridge have all been removed by little rivers. That whole basin, previously filled up to the brim with sediments in the past. However, one sand grain at a time this land has slowly been moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. These sediments making up the rocks here were on that very trip. But the Cretaceous Rivers carrying them got all choked up and dropped it’s load. Wait 66 million years….Those old sediments hardend, then re-eroded recently. That sand stationary until now when it resumes it’s journey on the the ocean. The ultimate sink. This just a way stop along the journey.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

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Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride
Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride

As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.

Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.

I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.

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

Title: Taking Life In Stride

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BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT
BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

I used to do stupid things like go up in the back yard to watch a rain/thunder storm come in at midnight. This was indeed less intelligent than my IQ would indicate my choices might be. Apparently somewhat risk adverse at the time, I was actually driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which while it has a metal roll cage, had a plastic roof. This bolt woke me right up and could have put me right to sleep lol.

Doing a LOT of lightning shots every summer, I ordered “Clever Girl” (my Ford F-150 Raptor) from the factory WITHOUT a sunroof for a reason. IT’s always good to have metal between you and the storm.

Isolated from ground currents probably in the vehicle on rubber…Better than being on foot…. Having said that… I would not like to be under or even closer to that bolt. It felt like an artillery shell being launched. That along with the benefit of being blinded at the same time. Flash bang less than 1 second…

The old “Steel Yard” on the ranch is actually Over that hill. It consists about 1/4 acre of various antique farm implement parts and pieces with a lot of metallic objects. It is roughly 1/4 mile past that ridge line. I suspect the bolt hit a sharp edge there as moist drainage is also over there. I suspect that is where the ground currents went as I noted the sudden lack of Jack Rabbits down there after that too.

That was a very hard core strike from the incoming storm. It was time to go inside which I did post hast having learned my lesson. I’m much more careful now days but working on your porch is about the same thing as the Polaris with the fiberglass window into the metal roof overhead. Inside a vehicle or inside a house with a proper grounding ring around it. Never touch metal in your vehicles during a storm….

Photographic Musings:

This is a 25 second time exposure in pitch black around midnight. Long time exposures at night have unintended consequences. Red and blue colors make pink with both colors being enhanced. The silly long exposure at least with my Sony Alphas give me these hues. I can’t see the real scene of a long exposure on the screen of the Sony to argue with it. This is just a close estimate by the camera of the scene. I just saw a flash… What colors are put out by lightning? All colors…..there was some ambient light from our ranch pole lights too messing the colors up….

Why time exposure? You get multiple bolts with a 25 second or so exposure, ISO 125, f4 to start with… Work from there moving your f stop up a click each shot to adjust to the ambient light conditions as necessary. Review the images for results and pick your poison for the duration of the storm.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch ,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

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Wyotana Mule Deer Train

Wyotana Mule Deer Train
Wyotana Mule Deer Train

Wyotana Mule Deer Train

I was following this group for a while. They were not terribly concerned. The herd was moving from grazing pasture to a water tank about a mile distant from where they were feeding. I find they tend not to wander too far from their water. This “gang” is about 1/3rd males, 1/3 pregnant females and 1/3 yearlings. All of the males are just now in velvet with fairly new antler buds coming in. The largest set of antlers in this group is about 4 inches long. Those horns will grow rapidly over the next month or two.

There were a few more stragglers spread out behind the group off frame with 20 total in this group. Only 15 in the frame as my telephoto will only pull back so far. I’m thinking this was 300 yards out as I recall the scene from my position of being left behind by a fenceline I couldn’t cross. The sun had JUST popped over the ridge. The shadows were very long and what stood out more than the deer to me was their shadows. If this were only on snow lolol. (better shadows but I’d sure like the extra water going into a dry year already 😔.)

The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring which is just now happening. Then they break up into smaller groups soon. Finally small groups does with fawns. Boys Clubs of buck only buddies form quickly. Only to regroup again later in the fall again. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wyotana Mule Deer Train

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Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose
Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

With perfect light, these three cooperated for a “sitting” for my telephoto. I was sitting about 50 yards out from them in my Ford Raptor and was SLOWLY working my way toward them. I take images as I approach, stop, move a little closer, take some more and so on until I get the full frame image I was looking for. Now it always doesn’t work for me with Pronghorn being as spooky as animals come. The only way I can get this close is by working up to them.

Boy are they Pregnant each and all. Last year was a very good year for precipitation. I never had to start my fire truck (second time in 20 years). So I’m thinking that 2 out of three (right two) probably have twins in the oven. It’s still a while till they birth so I will be keeping my eye open for fawns in the grass when I travel before too long. Deer will birth sooner than the Pronghorn.

It’s that time of year of renewal up in the high country. The green grass is rocket fuel for many creatures. Must be wonderful after dried salads all winter for them. I don’t feel too sorry for Pronghorn since they eat a lot of sage brush lolo.. I suspect their diet is improving rapidly with the oncoming green. The brown season is waning. Long live the green season!☯

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

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Whitetail Sprinting All Out

Whitetail Sprinting All Out
Whitetail Sprinting All Out

Whitetail Sprinting All Out

This White Tail Deer doe was literally moving out. Running with a small group racing across the road in front of my truck. Caught here just as she came over the road hump to run into the compression of the ditch. The physics of this moment caused my eyes to widen. I’d be plowing into the far bank of the ditch…. Not this little gal…

Seeing the situation develop ahead of time, I managed to pull a 45 degree turn in the road while stopping. This gave my lens a clear field of view to the group. Having only a few seconds, I’m known to have cameras pre-set up for the lighting of the moment. This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder.

Whitetail turn this wonderful light tan color in the spring. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I really don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them as they are WAY spookier than Mule Deer. I’ve heard that when Whitetail move into an area, the Mule Deer move out. I see the Whitetail leave each winter migrating to lower climates in the drainage. The Mule Deer overwinter in this high ridge grass prairie having the whole ranch to themselves for 7 months of the year.

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

Title: Whitetail Sprinting All Out

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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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AerMotor Windmill and Two Starlings

AerMotor Windmill and Two Starlings
AerMotor Windmill and Two Starlings

AerMotor Windmill and Two Starlings

A second post for my Windmill Wednesday. Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.

Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.

This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

AerMotor Windmill and Two Starlings

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Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner
Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

The sun JUST set over my shoulder. The shadow of the ridge blocking the light has moved just off his face as I pulled up. Pink Alpenglow in the eastern sky behind him. Crips air moves down the runnels of the drainage off the ridge crest. You can feel the change in temperature as the warm sun disappeared behind me to the west.

Obviously this was a lucky capture/encounter . Driving deep backcountry and being a photographer is an always an interesting driving issue. Be safe at all times is my rule. You get complacent with the low traffic up here.

Having said that: It is possible at any time that I just might pull over, stop quickly or otherwise change speed. Photographers tend to be a little un-predictable on roads lolol.

I saw this guy sitting on the pine top and managed to stop several hundred feet away with my Raptor turned about 70 degrees to the road about 1/2 in the ditch… Perfect to rest a long lens out the window. I do keep track of what is around me pretty well and any traffic within a mile lolol. . I was out for over an hour that AM driving backroads and never saw another vehicle. This is typical not unusual. I’ve been out hours covering many miles before and not seen another rig pass or be passed. Only ranchers and oil trucks up here (to pick up oil from the fields). Sunset and sunrise hours are pretty low traffic. Most nights I never see another vehicle.

Please correct me if this isn’t a Ferruginous. I don’t pretend to know my hawks but I’m familiar with raptor anatomy quite well. My collecting Raptorian Dinosaur material out of the Cretaceous sands that cover my ranch is a good school.. There are even some fossil bird teeth in the ranch collections from the Cretaceous. Teeth of his old great great great great great … grand-daddies lolol. Fossil names/ID’s I’ve down but not so much the extant raptors. I even drive a Ford Raptor…… (top hat Riff thump thump) I actually didn’t have much time for this capture as I was heading out… Once I got this I was outta there. 😉

To have these random encounter guys stick around long enough to get your camera into play is a gift. I’m tickled to have had this raptor sit for my lens, I drove off with it still sitting there lolol. Knowing when to leave is a big part of working fleeting light. It was pretty over the ridge…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

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Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset
Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

This low pointy feeder band was forming in front of me and flowing toward the larger storm system right.

This marvelous sunset is the result of a complex weather system moving through. Complex skies with multiple layers / levels are usually worth stalking at sunset / sunrise. There is just off frame right and above, a single huge rotating Mesocyclone storm. The air is rife with ozone. A mimic of a slight chorine smell as with any compound that will react with your sense of smell. The wet sage was ALMOST over powering the lightning induced tri-oxide. You might say the atmosphere was “Sporty” that evening.

Having passed right over us last summer at sunset (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It provided me with a long feeder band into it’s wall cloud right at sunset. The yellow color low is atmospheric dust ice and moisture stopping all the colors with shorter wavelengths BUT red and yellow. The clouds high are white as that light didn’t travel through the atmospheric gauntlet at that angle. Still blue sky there.

These storms are HUGE, dominating the landscape. They are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience 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. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. The cloud canopy straight up is still white

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Mesocyclone Sunset

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Missouri Buttes Windmills Perspective

Missouri Buttes Windmills Perspective
Missouri Buttes Windmills Perspective

Missouri Buttes Windmills Perspective

I traveled 30 miles one way to get to this windmill. Left before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this scene from start to near finish as this was. I left back for home a few minutes after this shot. Snow all gone mostly…

Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in Crook County off Jenkins Road. I wouldn’t suggest traveling Jenkins road if there is any drifting doing on since the county may not plow it for a few weeks. This is a big backcountry up here and no one lives on this particular stretch of road. Very little commerce but ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming. There is a small bird hanging out on the sail of the Aermotor Wind Engine. That windmill has seen a local ranch house inhabited then abandoned nearby, but the mountains seem to have not changed very much over it’s shoulder.

It had snowed the whole drive there and I was leaving the first tracks on the road both ways. I often go on road trips for hours up on Wyoming/Montana backroads and not see another vehicle. Breaking down is not an option up here without LOTS of survival supplies this time of year. Blankets, sleeping bags, food and basics are all on board. I do have a very good radio that communicates via repeater from 30 miles away if necessary. Not to worry.

Location: 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) (Looking into northern Crook County Wyoming

Title: Missouri Buttes Windmills Perspective

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Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase
Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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 30 feet maybe. It took a while and I’m really surprised it didn’t fly away. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to the animal to stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals in. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there. I take photos at each stop. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 22 feet deep and the background is totally bokeh’d out . Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium lol.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. 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 orange nares are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster
Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

This is a 2 feet x 3 feet image at full size. Now I know this is out of season .I’m reposting some images refinished to current specs from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the late winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining on me at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

Photographic Musings:

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out. The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

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Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset
Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

This is actually a morning back show looking at clouds sitting over the Big Horn Mountains 70 miles behind the dark ridge (the Red Hills) which are 40 miles distant. The cloud resembles a mesocyclone incoming and it was a weather system rapidly moving in on us. The moon was soon to dive behind the approaching spring storm. A mix of rain/snow and sleet proceeded to move in shortly afterwards that morning.

The moon here is a Waning Gibbous JUST past the full March Supermoon known as the Worm Moon. March is the month birds start digging worms out of the ground thus the moniker.

The two antelope had just run across the road in front of my truck, the male with them was still on the other side of the road. Separated from their leader, they stopped and waited for him Click . As I moved he broke stance and ran right in front of my truck as a sign of disregard to my presence. I have found that as a matter of principle, if Pronghorn CAN run across your path, they WILL run across your path.

I’ve only hit ONE pronghorn in 20 years of driving these backroads of Wyoming. I would indicate that as a family we have hit 13 deer and 2 antelope in the same time. I have personally hit 4 of those deer. Total Damage in all those collision to my vehicle… A broken license plate bolt and a lot of car washes. I spend a LOT of money on really good vehicle bumpers. Saves my insurance company a bit as I have never had a claim on a vehicle. Does it lower my insurance???? Maybe….

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

Title: Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

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Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere
Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

I have enjoyed having this optic glass sphere for the last couple of years. Generally I don’t carry it with me. Occasionally I will give in and throw the thing in my camera box.

Sitting on top of a hard steel Oil Well Drill Bit. The close/far perspective is a tough one for depth of field. Even at maximum / highest f-stop for the lens, the close part of this focus was too close to ALSO focus the background. I think a cell phone would have done this better but what’s the challenge in that lol. Really close / far shots are difficult to get both objects in the Depth of Focus field. At least with most lenses I’ve ever used. I’m sure there is one out there that will focus at 8 inches all the way to infinity. I Certainly haven’t found it yet lolol.

Now that drill bit…. Oil, discovered in the 1960’s, provided a lot of cash flow to the ranch.. . A lot of drilling ensued with a few of the wells producing a significant income to the rancher/owner at the time. As all good things come to an end, the oil companies removed about 1/2 of the oil. The rest remains in situ. That percentage is about all the technology of the time could remove. There will be some point in the future where that oil will get recoverable and drilling will start again. More efficient processes now to squeeze the remaining oil to the well head.

50 years after drilling. There are very few indicators that 3 oil production platforms were up and running for almost a decade. There are vague topographic changes in the landscape where a dozer cleared off the pads used for the drilling. Some small containment berms near each pad. But collected carefully and put in a pile in out ranches bone yard. At least a 1/2 a dozen of these big heavy drill bits lay. I’d say they weigh 100 pounds each or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

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Two Track to the Red Hills

Two Track to the Red Hills
Two Track to the Red Hills

Two Track to the Red Hills (Late fall 2019) Rain shafts right sky 📸 The horizons shadow just left lighting up all the landscape behind me. So I turned and CLICK.

Wide landscapes of a sunrise backshow are one of my pursuits as really pretty ones are not that easy to run into randomly. . It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of mostly un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east (to say Illinois) , I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. In this country, it’s a post here, a fence there with some trails disturbing the landscape. Closest ranch house (help) to this scene is about 2 miles.

The population density of our 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol. I am standing in Wyoming but the Mountains on the right are in Montana. Thus borderlands lol….

Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Musings on Deep Backcountry Travel

Some times I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up in this high country above the drainage anywhere. Pretty well maintained gravel is our country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there lol. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Two Track to the Red Hills

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Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

Backcountry Meadow at Sunset
Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

A summer image from here on ranch for those of you with cabin fever here in mid-March. Can you feel the warmth of the summer evening?. How about the smell of pine and sage wafting in the breeze. Cotton wood pollen makes me sneeze as does grass pollen. It’s pretty humorous I choose such a place to regularly keep Kleenex in business. .

In the remote borderlands area of Wyoming and Montana I live on, we have fairly severe winters plus they last till May. Fortunately I have the perspective of living 10 years in Jackson’s Hole Wyoming. I used to get 6 feet of snow flat in my backyard every winter in Jackson. My drive way was only a few hundred feet to the plowed road. I had an Chained up 4WD ATV with a snow blower on the front. Much Less wind in Jackson…🤔 I’ve done -40 in Jackson Hole but only -30 down here 2000 feet lower topographically. I’m over 400 miles crow flies to Jackson up here in the N.E. Corner of Wyoming/SouthEast Montana.

Here in the borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming, we deal with drifts some of which are significant monuments to the ferocity of the breeze about at times. Way more wind up here on the high ridges of the western most Wyoming Black Hills. Unfortunately my drive way here is 1/4 mile long. It’s also warmer here. Jackson is 6200 feet above mean sea level, we are 3730 to 4055 feet elevation above sea level at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch homestead. That’s a little over 300 feet of difference in elevation in the topography here.

Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record. A shadowed backcountry with my head/camera JUST in the light above the far ridges shadow.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special for a clear sky evening. . There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore.

Title: Backcountry Meadow at Sunset

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Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show
Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local deer are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol.

This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

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SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills
SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills (off season)

The perspective on this wide angle shot was amazing to me and I see this view regularly. Wyoming is on the left and Montana is on the right looking west right down the 45th parallel. (1/2 way precisely between the Equator and the North Pole coincidentally) This became a well dissected landscape. Rocks fractured due to freezing ice/ dry cycles is a huge process.. Boulders break into smaller and smaller iterations with enough time. Each sand grain thus formed actuates from the motion of wind and water. One sand grain at a time, the hillocks wear down, wash to the Gulf of Mexico

I stand on Cretaceous age sands but the Olive green tainted hills distant are younger age. Their rocks formed from sediments washed over 130 miles away from the BigHorn Mountains. This outwash from that massive tectonic uplift so far away transported here in the form of a “Fangclomerate” deposit. Those beds deposited eons after debris from the Big Horns filled up the tectonic “bathtub” . Located at their eastern mountain front (called the Powder River Basin).

The current rivers/hydrologic regime wore many thousands of feet of that debris off the older sediments I stand on. That just to expose them to the sky. All the dirt/rocks/sediment that USED to be above me, is currently all in transport to or in the Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi River Delta. Just like the Prairie Dog Hills are made of sediments in Transport From the BigHorns (their source), to the gulf of Mexico (sink). Ultimately all of this ground will wash into the Gulf. That is assuming all precesses we observe today, continue into the future (a primary assumption in Geology/science)

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

Title: SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

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Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning
Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning

I bit out of season… I need summer, right at sunset….

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. They are also VERY loud I point out lolol.

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 scene perfectly in my mind just as if I actually took the photo. 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 in the vehicles passenger window on window clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt flash. 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.

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

Double the Trouble Lightning

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Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Red Tailed Hawk Attack
Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Red Tailed Hawk Attack

Yet another capture from the network of 28 game trail cameras I maintain up here in the borderlands. Captured at the moment of the hawk strike. I’m thinking this was a bit hard on the “other bird”. (unidentified unlucky bird) while it was sitting on the post. Imagine just minding your own business. Suddenly, it was hit from behind/above. This is the definition of a bad day I’m thinking🤔👀📸

I’m not a hawk expert. The distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I’m betting this is a red tail’ed 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.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). Catching an image like this with a regular camera is highly unlikely . I have never witnessed a hawk attack on another bird anywhere any time in my travels. I’m out in the backcountry all the time. I suspect my presence or the activity of the vehicle I’m in precludes any raptors taking game around me.

Game Trail Cameras captures are all problematic from a photo finishing aspect. I did my best to “fix” the inadequate technology. When they make a really good quality game trail camera, I’ll buy them. Until then, I’ll have to live with these photon traps as they are. I also have an image of him flying away with this hapless meal.

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

Title: Red Tailed Hawk Attack

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Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill
Three Amigos and a Windmill

Three Amigos and a Windmill

So many Satire filled narratives apply to this image with so little time/space. I’m thinking several classical themes here. One of Don Quixote in the lead wanting to dual windmills mixed with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The second theme is the Three Wise Deer” out of the east. Boy I sure could get off on a tangent with that one.🤔😜

As it turns out this little group of bucks are brothers from other mothers. The one on the left is a 2.5 year old, the middle a 3.5 year old and the leader a 4.5 year old. Small, Bigger, Biggest and all that. Doing compositions while deer are moving is a matter of anticipating where they are going to be and get lined up before they get there. These guys were definitely walking/moving along which tends to quicken the timeline and the “pressure” to get the shot. I did have the ability to move a little and I was at least 100 yards out. As a result of my position I had about 20 seconds of moving and shooting to get the composition.

Photographic musings: Automatic Crap… (there are still layers of software in a modern camera your using I point out that run all the time).

I don’t use autofocus at all. Nor do I use any automatic settings on my camera as I’ve found they get in the way more than they help. The Dreaded Manual Mode turned on, the auto functions turned off…. 2 times the battery life at least. Image stabilization while nice in theory, is something I seldom use. It is VERY battery power use intensive particularly with the really big lenses/apertures. It is my suggestion to turn off all that auto crap including that hidden adjustment. Automatic White Balance. (Google This).

Square to 18″

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

Title: Three Amigos and a Windmill

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Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych
Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych (2- 20″x20″ images)

That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.

That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.

Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.

Title: Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

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Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

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

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands
Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands (America’s Serengeti)

This is a must to take full screen. The Pronghorn’s are well camo’d in this image with huge alluvial fan deposits in the distance. Those sediments eventually turning into those rocks were transported from the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles back over my shoulder.. OF course I’m standing where there used to be rocks like that but erosion has removed them. Those layers were at one time continuous all the way back. Now rivers have cut big valleys in the apron of the mountains. Geologists regard things in a strange way 😜👀

So for this shot I was traveling from my ranch to Gillette Wyoming. , I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is a long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. 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: Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands