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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

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Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout
Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. This was specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. I love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. I specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. Love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce
Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce

The metadata attached to the image showed 45 degrees F. . The ice was not thick to begin with. You can see the tracks behind the canid as he trots along the shoreline. He’s right on a razors edge here…. I’m thinking that this is not a good habit for a coyote to have. Hard to argue with the image though lol. He’s just a few pounds from breaking right through to the lake below. It’s not really deep where he is but there are deeper spots around the edge of this lake.

It’s got to be easier walking than on the shore but that ice was NOT that thick. I have several captures of this fellow over several days doing this same thing. Each is unique in it’s perspective as I have several cameras covering this area. Each camera has it’s own characteristics of color and exposure based on light conditions. They are after all…automatic cameras.

I’m currently running 29 game trail cameras. It takes several trips to check them all. I usually do it while I’m actually at a location. I’ll be picking some cameras up for the winter. While others I’ll refresh the batteries and let them run all winter. I’ll check them in the spring, swap out SD cards (modern digital image storage chip). Then freshen the batteries is the final task. A good game trail camera will use 16 – 24 AA batteries a year.

18 x 18 inches square aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote About to Pounce

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AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet
AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

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.

Title: AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

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Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun
Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun

LOL, filed under things I see here on the ranch. As I drive around the ranch, most cattle this time of year are VERY tolerant of ranch vehicles. They learn to associate the running engine and the rig with feed or hay. When they get fed, it’s a noisy, smelly scary looking contraption unrolling a bale or two. There is a lot of grass in this field that is still accessible to them though. Keeping herds of cattle in the backcountry is hard work.

There are still bales to pick up this year. Cowboys are still in the process of being gathered even now in Early January where a tractor can reach them. Hay Tractors don’t care too much about snow until it gets several feet deep. We have to keep the cattle out of the pastures the bales are still in. Our small herd of 34 Corriente Longhorn is corralled right now with me feeding them a 1200 pound bale of hay every three days. This keeps them away from the hundreds of bales in their normal winter pasture. We’ll have this snafu fixed shortly. Tough to get it all the hay gathered before the snows.

This beautiful night was calm for the beasties on the plain. Both wild and domestic critters were enjoying the lack of wind that evening. Mid Winter up here in the Wyoming/Montana backcountry is harsh, long, not much sun. It’s COOOOLD when the wind blows. With no wind, I walk outside for quite a while in a t-shirt at zero. It’s so dry and if it’s still, you can’t feel the cold. I’ve heard it does get still up here occasionally. Just a rumor though…😜

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

Title: Angus Under Setting Sun

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Perspective Geometry of Nature

Perspective Geometry of Nature
Perspective Geometry of Nature

Perspective Geometry of Nature

I drive a lot of backcountry during sunrise and sunset. Every time I get a chance, I walk about and see what I can see. . The natural curves and angles that I run into create a fabric through which I shoot the back ground. The curve on the branch, approaching the curve of the hill. The crossed branches drawing your eye to the center of the visual tunnel this creates. All fodder for my photon capture boxes 👀.

The branches here form a natural letter x (which i have several of now). I am always looking for natural letters in my walks. Some days I cover WAY more ground than others. It depends of the weather of course and the lighting. If I am actually working, I made a decision several hours before to be in place for the sunrise/sunset. Good photography requires that you actually be there with a camera when the light is worthy of chasing. Having a map in my head of where all the “attractions” are helps but random meetings like this stop me in my tracks.

Random backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷

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

Title: Perspective Geometry of Nature

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Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out
Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart on a fence. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds a 20 feet apart lol. The left one is closer to me than the right (rear) one. They took off just after I came to a stop and started machine gunning the 1200mm lens.

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 sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

These Hawks look to be both the same sex… Might be wrong..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

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Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting
Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

A clandestine meeting down Yonder by the fence line was occurring when I interrupted it. I suspect it was a lively discussion of one meeting with two different opinions resultant from it. Just like humans do. There may be some territorial statement ongoing during this capture. That’s good hunting ground behind them. There is about a 100,000 mice and other small voles/prairie dogs/ rodents out there for the taking. Who looks where takes on a big meaning lol.

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds are 30 feet apart lol. I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. On bird is definitely bigger than the other. 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 sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

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Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. 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.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare 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 and Devil’s Tower

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Killdeer Chick Up Close

Killdeer Chick UP Close
Killdeer Chick UP Close

Killdeer Chick Up Close

I’m thinking that to get any closer to a 20 day or so old Killdeer chick, a trap would be involved. This is a wild bird out in the summer grass . Parents are all about doing their bad acting of a wounded bird to pull me away. I’m not so sure the little one thought he was in much trouble. The adults sure put on a side show that is certain.

The only way I could get this close was from inside a vehicle. Cars/trucks are mobile blinds and most animals are not afraid of them. This baby of course wasn’t familiar with a vehicle being not that old. These guys are tiny when young. They fly pretty quickly but this guy didn’t take off. He just scampered around the grass.

Killdeer as a group are bug eaters but will eat seeds. The young feed themselves very soon with the parents supplementing their diet early on. They are quick starters you might say. This group was within 100 feet of one of the ranches water holes. I see them in my game trail cameras regularly there. I understand they have been known to wet their chest feathers to cool the eggs in a hot environment. I’ve never seen them raise two broods a year as some do. I watched this guys parents for several months. They didn’t start a second nest at least in that same spot.

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

Title: Killdeer Chick Up Close

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Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset
Twin Pillars at Sunset

Twin Pillars at Sunset

Picking a spot for perspective images is often a matter of thinking like a mouse. Using the camera to see reality from that mouses Perspective is what I’m always trying to do with a good sky. Close/Far captures are always a challenge. You have to have the right lighting though. Shadowss are every bit as important as the light. Keeping balance is of importance.

The Backcountry is full of old married trees. Trees that have lived together and will only divorce with their demise. The pines here have wondrully tecture bark. Add that to the perspective, the wonderful sky. that sunset dominates the background.

This was mid fall. The grass this year stayed green through August. This is the first time in two decades of living here that the seasons were so far off. We had more rain than normal and it was regular. It’s not unusual to go a month between showers in the summer. Fires everywhere this year but here. We got very lucky. Lilac were blooming on the 4th of July. As far as I can tell, everything is a month late. Well except for winter which started October 1’st this year. Fall was on a Tuesday I remember..

I spent the morning (before I typed this) clearing over a foot of snow off some two track roads. I’m blocked off now from most of my paths up on the ridges. I need to get up high Big Sky shots and back to trees like this. ” Winter is coming”. (Classical Refrence” This is the first time I’ve plowed up on ridge one. I suspect it will not be the last. More images like this incoming as I rework my portfolio📷👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twin Pillars at Sunset

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Moo Moo Sunset

Moo Moo Sunset
Moo Moo Moon

Moo Moo Sunset

As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.

Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??

This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moo Moo Sunset

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Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks
Killdeer Nest on the Rocks

Killdeer Nest on the Rocks 2:1 Aspect.

This is the second Killdeer sitting on eggs that I have in my portofolio. It is silly hard to get close enough to a Killdeer to take an “eyebrow” photo. To get a Killdeer sitting on a nest without triggering it’s wounded bird display is a slow motion process. Their instinct is to play injured bird to draw you away from their bare nest. They carry on for a hour if that is what it takes to get you distracted from where their next is. It is job one for the little guys. They are actually a member of the Plover family if you keep track of such things.

This parent was sitting on 5 small eggs surrounded by rocks. Nothing soft at all. From humble beginnings….. This patch of stones are a Killdeer’s idea of good camo for little eggs that look like stones. They are dutiful parents.

I have many photos of day old chicks running around with their parents playing their part to draw me away. Of course I ignored them and took images of their chicks. Once I know where something is….matter of time Killdeer are a hoot to watch. They are a challenge to watch out of “character” and doing natural behavior. That is besides their bad acting career lol.

This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 40 inches x 20 inchs at 300DPI. 2:1 aspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Killdeer Nest on the Rocks