Some tasty morsel in front of him, this velvet antlered Whitetail buck considers the possibilities. Boy I wish we had this grass now. Fully headed, green, what a concept. Not any of this around here now except the deer eating straw with few heads. Yuccas are still providing some flowers locally. My deer may move off their normal range because of the crushed grass from the 2-3 inch hail storm for 1/2 an hour we had a few weeks ago. That plus drought plus grasshoppers have changed the landscape a tad this summer. You can tell it’s a white tail buck as the facial patterns are all different than a mule deer and the ears don’t look like a hairy mules ears. Whitetail are way more gracile than Mule Deer.
This wash drains about 300 acres (1/2 square mile) of ranchland. I believe water has recently up to his knees running in this based on high water marks in the gully. Flash floods are a real thing with all these Mesocyclones lately floating around the high prairie lands. The Wyotana borderlands east of here get’s it worse than we do. After all, there is a map location called Lightning Flats. It got it’s name for a good reason. While Tampa Florida may hold the title for most Lightning ever, Lightning Flats will give it a run on a good day. 😄
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana) (Note: Game Trail Camera Capture)
IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.
The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.
Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…
I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .
Getting eyebrow close with a big macro lens is always an exercise in “damn the torpedos”. When ever I dive into a flower rich environment to catch bees in action, I run the risk of pissing some body off lol. To date I have never been stung. I’ve had a couple of wasps dive bomb me though. Probably because I was too close to the entrance of their rock nest (cave). I spend hours every month of the summer chasing these guys. I have some new technology this year so we will see how they come out.
I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys this summer. The limitations of the optics are such that deep focus fields in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
With ALL Macro shots, light is your friend. The more, the better. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best…📸
Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds for you Pareidolia “sufferers”. You know who you are lol?. The colorful flowing finned fish living in little pint sized fish bowls as most of us have had one time or the other. Most of you don’t know my wife and I owned the only pet shop in a good sized college town for 6 years… I’ve had fish since I was 12 years old non stop. I still run an aquaponic greenhouse with several hundred pounds of live Tilapia with 128 square feet of vegetables growing off of it lol. In other words, I have fish branded into my brain lol. I also detect several uses in mirroring this image around the 1/2 face in the lower clouds.
Sunsets in the backcountry fall into so many varieties I have to develop a way to catalogue them. The high white clouds are in unfiltered sunlight passing through very little atmosphere. The lower clouds are bathed in light that has traveled many miles through surface air. That filled with particulates and moisture. Only the longest red wavelengths at the base make it through the longest path through the thickest air. This is a pure red, yellow green, blue, darker blue twilight gradient. The sun is still up in this capture. The sun is highly obscured . It might as well be twilight lol.
That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️
So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.
That butte is capped by the Fox Hill Sandstone. That formation was derived from the Beach Sand the Dinosaurs were sunning themselves on. I expect to find those little umbrellas in frosty mixed drinks as fossils there. I see a host of sun chairs and umbrellas on that beach. Ocean sediments are on the surface east of there. Terrestrial sediments to the west of that butte. All Cretaceous in age. All three environments (sea, beach, and land) occured coterminously. Those are just lateral environments as we have today. They did migrate with time and have a complex relationship underground based on the gradual movement of the land based (terrestrial sediments) laterally. The google word for this is “Faces Geology”. It’s a complex concept. Have fun with that.
My new F150 Raptor has 1200 miles on it. I spent 300 miles of that back and forth traveling to Gillette from my homestead on the Wyoming / Montana border 2 times. Most of the rest of that mileage occurred on two track roads into this backcountry. Each time I leave my main gate to do photography, I usually cover 10 to 20 miles of driving down roads as you see leading off to the distance. Locally called “Two Track” roads. There are probably well in excess million miles of them in the general three or 4 state area. I have experienced them on several thousand square miles of backcountry in this region over the last 2 decades. There are many left for me to travel even within a few miles from my place I’m aware of two tracks I’ve never taken. This is VERY big country.
Two tracks are unpaved, often unimproved, eroded both across/ parallel to the road. They are certainly unpredictable and an adventure if you’ve never been there before. New angles are a good thing I find.
You are looking across the MT/WY border at the moment. All the trees in this image are in Wyoming where I’m standing. (about 400 yards east of my homestead). The “Mud Hills” in the distance are 10 miles out into Montana. I call this area Wyotana. 10 miles north and 10 miles south, separated by the ridge Bliss Dinosaur Ranch occupies. So I get views in all directions from this high point. A land of many uses for the landscape photographer 😜📷
Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite: I know there are a bunch of you that are withdrawing from a paucity of windmill images in your news feed. I will try to keep up with your insatiable demand. You know who you are but don’t let your partner know you look at this stuff…. 😜📸
This is “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill doing what he does best. Photobombing my landscapes. I only tolerate him for his negotiation skills with the various creatures around the ranch. I give him credit for many good animal “sittings”. (Years long narrative). He is also a reasonably good scale for an event this big lolol.
Sunrise was just starting to crack over the ridge who’s shadow I stand in. The Windmill up slope reaches up to be illuminated. But the ramp leading to it is in the dark. This corresponds to around 18 minutes after sunrise most of the year. To see rain shafts moving across the valley beyond this shallow ridge is a sight to behold. The morning sun’s color components from orange to the non-colorcast white clouds high up. All in a smooth gradient up the center of the frame.
The high clouds reflecting white uncolored light back to my camera. That light passed through much less atmosphere. The orange light cast by classic atmospherically filtered photons. Those survivors reflected back to my camera are what you see. Shorter wavelengths usually become absorbed on the long trip through the atmospheric gauntlet/filter doing it’s job. . . 🤔👀😜
The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of their nesting season on Ranch. I have only seen 4 Herons so far but it’s early. We expect 5+ inchesnow/single digits over the weekend (a week ago as this posts). The Ranch has “left the light on” for others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 6 nests in the trees across the lake from my camera where this mated pair is building a nest. The third is probably waiting for a mate that is out hunting.
The group obviously weren’t worried about my truck as the three were mostly motionless for 20 minutes all through my maneuvering. Left them still standing like this as I backed up to leave. I drove away as the sun disappeared. It seems they just don’t care about my Black Ford Raptor. I have not been much of a concern to these birds. Many local wildlife are already familiar/tolerant to my 3 month old rig. Many see it at least 2 times a day on average.
Natural behavior occurs while I’m in this rig. I just drive around like I’m a grazing animal. Stop, Start, turn, sit a minute. The truck is all black and only a little smelly/noisy. Just like a Black Angus cow :). Going really Slow in a factory “Baja truck”…. only in America.. 😜🤘📸
I approach groups of animals living here on the huge grasslands with respect. If I scare them, I don’t get to photograph them. Of course most wild animals sense your approach early. At my crossing some pre-determined line in the sand, most bolt. Learning where that line in the sand is becomes pertinent towards the pursuit of the image.
I find stopping well back, take a few photos, figure out the light, get your settings up for a quick exit shot, then move. I usually readjust my settings for quality, get the composition set and click. Then go back to settings for speed (faster shutter, more ISO and or bigger aperture/fstop.). Move closer….rinse and repeat until you get the shot. (you might think this is “tough” light to work…. You would be right).
Most of the time with really long fixed (non-zoomable) lenses, I fill the frame, get the shot and leave without causing the animals to move. (Pronghorn excepted since they move regardless). 😜
Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.
The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜
I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then. Forest fires up wind veil the sunsets as this and give the whole world an eclipsed feeling. 🤔👀
This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the Artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface.
Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book. The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Cretaceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly un-fossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀
Strawberry flower just lost it’s petals (fertilized), Mantis Egg Sac lower right and a precocious hatchling first to appear…. I’m thinking he is just under a quarter inch long.
There should be a few more of these Praying Mantis Eggs about. IF I see any more hatchlings I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 1 inch away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 This was taken down in my aquaponic Greenhouse where it never gets below 65 degrees all winter. Taken about a week before this posts.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. I believe this is the 6th generation of hatches I’ve had down in that artificial environment here mid winter. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol.
Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 They are constantly moving back and forth to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds. I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but as here in a Green House , this is their 6th generation now of Mantis babies under that roof. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot tall under grade “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using no soil, just water (except for some orchids where I have some Hydroton™ nuggets involved.)
The stripe of orange Alpenglow under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the cloud deck This image was taken ON the border line of Montana / Wyoming.
The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. That is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀
I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.
Here over a week into March, We are still 2.5 months away from this scene. I’ve had about enough of winter already. It started October 1st, been pretty steady since. I understand we might see 60 next week… the melt water has been flowing already but is still in the smaller ponds. We hopefully will get some spring snows as most of our moisture comes from spring snow storms. We get 14 inches a year.
The ridge in the foreground running off to the right was where I found a 20 percent complete Triceratops. Hell Creek/Lance formation Cretaceous Sandstones and mudstone complete drape this landscape covered by such green.
Springtime is prime dinosaur hunting season. The long winters freeze/thaw cycles, breaks up a little bit of the exposed sandstone surface everywhere every year. There is 700 feet of Hell Creek Sandstone here. This is terrestrial sediment moved over the Dinosaur’s beach below. Filling up the epicontinental ocean to the east.. The area I’m in is “middle/upper Hell Creek in the 700 foot zone about 200 feet from the top of the formation roughly. It’s hard to decypher beds are dipping right toward me at 50 feet per mile diving into the ground behind me into the Powder River Basin. Huge rivers meandered about. The sand transported from the now eroded source mountains to the west.
THe Big Horn Mountains were lifted out of the craton AFTER these piles of sand (the hills are made of sandstone) were deposited. The rocks these hills are famous for containing fossils of the Late Cretaceous Age dinosaurs. T-rex, Triceratops, and Duck Bills wandered on these sands. . The geology under the ground here is as transparent at the air in my mind.
Boy I miss summer. I will say that there were some mosquitos out at this shooting. Some crimson to purple to blue gradients pop up each year but not many. I got a good one here though. The alpenglow ice that gives you summer crimson blends in like an acrylic paint into blue higher in the sky forging purple out of the mix. It’s a natural rare gradient that I see a few times a year. Real purple is much rarer in the world than you would think looking at forums. Beware of the electric blue images you see but this is a real color mix showing purple.
The grass was high, the hay bales in the distance attest to an expenditure of diesel fuel to gather each 1 ton bale. The big tree just across the inlet has a landing below it that I have several game trail cameras. They have taken hundreds of creatures from coyotes to Herons walking right in front of that wonderful cotton wood. This lake is literally miles from the nearest gravel county maintained road. I can’t tell you how many little places of zen like this exist in and around my ranch. I’m pretty sure infinity comes to mind for the time I have to spend here in my short human existence. Cowboys 100 years ago built the dam across this spring. It watered generations of cattle walking the Miles City Montana to Newcastle Wyoming Trail on the way to Texas.
Backcountry Windy Day Windmill (A little summer storm off in the distance, might be some wind )..
Windmill Weekend: Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Kids, don’t let it out that you look at images like this, it might get back to your mom and dad. If your parents find out, your likely to get grounded.
Soooo, that is actually the red gravel backroad curve all landscape photographers love to have in their green spring image. The storm to the south darkening the horizon. Delineated by a spot lit stripe of full sun. Those hills are about 8 miles distant from my camera’s lens. The row of trees is 3 miles out.
Telephotos Crush perspective and bring things otherwise separated objects into the same focus if you use the aperture correctly. This Windmill is about 200 yards out. This is far enough from the camera to be in it’s infinite focus zone as is the sky in the distance. In manual mode you have to use a high f-stop number for this. Close far focus perspectives from me are ALL f22 or higher depending on the lens. Really long telephotos might go f74 which is a pin point hole in the lens to let in light. ). You get some diffraction effects at high fstop if looking at bright point light sources like a starred sun. High F-stop use will also reduce the amount of light into the camera. You have to compensate by using a longer exposure or a higher camera sensitivity, or both.
I traveled 180 miles to get to this windmill before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this trip but this was the best capture of the drive. I was doing a presentation to a committee for a donation to the our 501C3 fundraiser for wounded warriors we hold every July.
The butte behind was such a good background I was torn how to compose this and settles on this. I had to stay on the road as this was well fenced off plus it isn’t my ground so I tend to stay off working only from the road. There is plenty to do from the road I point out.
Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in southern Campbell Country. . . There is big backcountry down there south of Gillette. . Very few 7-11’s about but commerce / ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming.
Middle of the day with the sun behind me is a rare image for me lol. Mid summer and me getting away from the ranch is a rare thing. I often go on short road trips 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.
I was driving along a two track trail with the bright lights of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV. Big Bright LED lightbars are a fixture on all the vehicles I routinely take into the backcountry for photography. Not only do they help you see what you don’t want to run into, they show you what you do want to find lol.
So, after a long sunset photographic work session, I spied this Prickly Pear Cactus Boom down on the prairie as I was passing. There was still some residual color in the western sky and I was determined to get it. This flower just happened to have a green beetle within enjoying the relative safety of this environment. Can’t blame him really. Scented room with a view until I came along with my smelly noisy UTV I suppose. At any rate, I’m sure it all calmed down there as I pulled away.
Prickly pears belong to the Genus Opuntia which contains over 150 species across the globe. The deer in this country grow fat on cactus “figs” grown on the low paddle shaped cactus. These cactus have been used in Mexican cooking for hundreds of years. Take off the spines, and they cook like vegetables. I’ve eaten fresh prickly pear and I compare it to a cross between water melon and bubble gum.
A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.
I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking ahead 3 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am and how fast this is happening. . The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
Bumblers are sort of rare these days mid winter We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠
I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-November kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.
Perspectives from the viewpoint of a kid climbing a tree, at least that is what I was after here. I always look at a scene and zoom in to that alternate view in my mind. I try to extend my perspective from where I stand to where the light is calling. These little areas of zen seem to just appear in front of me. Wyotana backcountry is rife with old ground, ground not disturbed by humans at all (except maybe for fires). . Lots of it by the hundreds of square miles. This is several miles off the nearest county road.
Wonderful 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. 📷 I’m always looking for visual tunnels….
This shows the icy backcountry snow getting a crust on it with a few above freezing days. These followed by subzero nights. The crust actually makes it harder to get around because your wheels are always trying to climb on top of that crust. Your basically in 4 holes all the time coincident with your wheels. Plus the snow becomes like ball bearings…. It’s about time for a big snow though. February is a busy snow month historically. The wet season of course is in the spring when all the biggest snows are. Usually LATE spring around late April or early May have have memorable storms historically.
Taken just after a gentle spring rainstorm. The air was fresh and drenched with moisture. 99 percent relative humidity has everything wetted as you see here. A drop of water with it’s little moon following dropping from the flower’. A strong scent of wet sage was lofting across our homesteads lawns, the tips of my tennis shoes wet from the grass. Green Green Green, the “Bokeh” (good google word) here was ideal for a gentle background to the Giant ornamental onion from the orient. This one is just starting to bloom and had pulled back a little with the rain falling. The Allium flower isn’t a terribly long lasting bloomer but boy are they great in clumps of 8 or 9 bulbs in a spot you want conspicuous for a few weeks a year.
Allium giganticum means Giant Garlic interestingly. Probably from the similarity in shape of the bulbs and not the taste I’m thinking. Otherwise the classic Crocodile Dundee reference would be “needs Allium”. … (if you get that I’m worried about you😜😜) Even Bumble bees were temporarily grounded due to the rain. I went out just as it let up. Rain and Cameras = Hazardous duty pay + overtime. I’m pretty careful with water. Taking photos next to or over water with a good camera is like taking photos next to a flame with plastic clothes on.
I could take this photo with the background in focus or not in focus. High f-stop numbers will put that in focus. Low f-stop numbers give you a thin field of focus and you only get the flower sharp. It is a good tool in your Manual mode tool kit to actually decide what and how much of your image you want in focus.
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.
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. This is a Gillette Owned Christmas Star up on a high hill overlooking the city. Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day. I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover.
I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel. I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away…
Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
Why do the Pronghorns Cross the Road? Well because they are Pronghorn lolol. Wyoming is home to about 1/2 of the worlds Pronghorn. Most of them cross the road in front of you when ever they have to go out of their way to do so. 😜🤔
I thought this vibrant green grass from the month of May. May is officially the end of the average last frost in this area. Well this year we had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July. Every season was a month late. Except the fact that fall was on a tuesday this year. The next day there was 4 inches of snow everywhere and that was October 1st. We really didn’t have an “Indian Summer” this last fall. Now in Mid-Winter I’m enjoying looking at some of the artsy things I did in the spring.
This image was not so much about the Pronghorn but more about the colors/contrast of the red gravel against the grass. Both textures and colors combine for the stage of a classic Wyotana Scene. Drive the backroad gravel on open range sometime. (Get off the highway). You WILL have pronghorn try to beat your car to cross the road in front of you.
Having said that, over two decades living 70 miles from town, we have unfortunately hit/been hit by some wild animals driving our cars. In 20 years, we are 13 deer, 2 Pronghorn, 1 coyote and one cow. Total damage to vehicles, 1 side mirror, one shock steering stabilizer and a broken bolt on a license plate bracket. Good Bumpers 😀
I’m always on the look out for framing deer inside of antlers of the foreground animal. A little out of season perhaps.
With all the cold weather coming in this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.
Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.
Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)
Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.
I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. This gal with her ears/neck all back lit/highlighted. It is obvious her look was annoyance. . That automatic camera probably flashed a red light at her. How undignified of the automatic Game Trail Camera to click/whir/or buzz taking a photo. A lot of the manufacturers claim no light and no noise. The animals are aware of the cameras. 📸👀
This particular Browning camera does WONDERFUL daytime stills. It’s nighttime camera looses to several other brands.. I generally endorse no particular brand as performance varies with each shot randomly. As a result bringing one of these images into the world of art on the wall takes some doing. Game Trail Cameras give me very candid images with an insight into the world of deer (and other wildlife) that we would not have with out them.
This is in a wonderfully wide wash from about a square mile of up stream drainagle. This valley get a little sporty about the time those summer rains cause it to flash flood. The cottonwoods do fine with the soaking. I’ve only seen this particular wash a few feet deep. I move game cameras on this valley floor up onto the trees for the summer.
The camera is no tilted as you might suspect. Set up to catch just this pause, right at the toe of the steep slope out of the gully. Everybody seems to stop right here, look into the camera, then run up the bank lolol. I’t a perfect game funnel. Access to this camera becomes difficult with midwinter snow blocking the way.
OK, a little out of season but some summer color seemed like a good idea. A little up close and personal..
What a beautiful bug. The legs are startling in the color gradients they present. In nature, bright colors usually means “Stay Away”. Well these guys do not bite or sting posing no real danger to humans and our familiars. They are however considered harmful bugs to be eradicated as they are a major agricultural pest. They cause millions in damage to a large variety crops. Also called Shield Bugs or Chust Bugs.
You may remember a Macro close up I did of a Tachnid Fly a month ago. A big gold Hairy Fly…. Those Hero’s of the Flies lay eggs in the Green Stink Bug and will paralyze the pest devouring it from the inside out. So we have both sides of that parasite / host equation right out in our back yard. We have apple trees here but we have not had excessive Green Stink Bug problems. Natural predation is obviously working up here at the moment.
These guys are found throughout North America unfortunately. Large Stink Glands grace both Nymph and adults of the species. Able to discharge LARGE amounts of a foul smelling liquid when they feel threatened. This fluid used to be used on an industrial scale to add odor to some acids thusly reinforcing their own odor. Long since that process has been modernized utilizing modern artificial aromatic compounds.
Location: Backyard, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana) That’s a piece of Fossiliferous limestone he’s walking on.
I look at literally thousands of Game Trail Camera images a month these days. Less now because I can’t get to a lot of my cameras until snow melt in the spring. For now those cameras are on their own. Every once in a while, I get an image that just blows me away. This one was sitting in a “To Do” folder I went partially through today. Taken this last summer along with a lot of others and it slipped my attention until now.
Game Trail Cameras are of course limited by the technology of the camera built into the device. This image drives my OCD crazy but I left it un-touched. I was just scrolling through hundreds of black and white night images so randomly this popped up on my screen. I about fell out of the chair. As I say, the image has problems but “holy deer perspective POV batman” say’s Robin. This totally took me by surprise. Probably 1 in 10,000 images comes out this nicely from those cameras. As a photographer/graphic artist, I get enough good images from my network of 29 of these to make it worth my time once a month to visit as many as I can. I usually go out about 1/2 an hour earlier those days to stop and swap Data cards.
This is a White Tail by the bone structure in the face I believe. More gracile than the Mule Deer sub-species that shares the range. Usually there is an uneasy truce but the white tail tend to force out the Mule Deer I understand. We have both but the Mule Deer are bigger, easier to approach and know. I don’t know ANY of the Whitetail around here by an identifying mark. I have several Mule deer that I have known since they were fawns. The white tail tend to head down into the valleys during the winter. The Mule Deer stay on ranch for the duration of the cold drinking water from stock hydrant/tanks we keep open all the time.
This is such a wonderful play of colors on this sunset, I thought it worthy of Christmas Eve. I’ve photographed well over a thousand sunsets going into twilight. This one ranks right up there. I often start in the golden hour then staying up on the ridges through the maximum twilight. I’ve gotten many images of this period after sunset. Often heading home from working catching photons. Not many twilights I see are this vibrant. Within this cacophony of colors, every color of the rainbow is displayed .
Lots of dust and moisture in the air effect western sunsets. I’ve never experienced better sunsets than I’ve seen here on the Montana/Wyoming border. Montana is to the far right and Wyoming is to the left on this image. As seen from my ranch, the little Mountain range on the horizon is the Big Horn Range. A 50mm lens took this scene.. Your eyes see the world in a very similar way to a 50mm lens. Typically, I often post close ups of the peaks from this distance. This is the way that your eyes would see the scene. The mountains really do look that small. Your thumb held out at an arms length would cover the 13,000 foot tall peaks over 130 miles distant from my lens.
This should give many of you an entirely different perspective of the close ups of the Big Horn Mountains than I normally post. Good long telephoto lenses will do wonderful work if you have them. Buy them generationally as lenses last a long time. It’s camera backs that are throw away after a few years. I actually have to repair several cameras a year as I wear out the controls literally. If you work on manual all the time, your spinning exposures and fstops every photo virtually.
I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂
I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.
I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .
Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.
Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.
Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.
These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.