Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. 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.
This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. 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. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.
Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.
Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.
A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
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 back 6 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. 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. 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 🤠
The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.
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. This posts Dec 8th….
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective.
There is SO much going on here. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” but what to level?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge to the left. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Quandary. Tilting the camera would have ruined the illusion and I actually like the angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon level with the image. The perspective of the grass highlights leaning left, the big level grass table horizonal leading to the right leaning far horizon and sky. wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too.
I JUST got what appears to be a good tilt shift lens set up for my Sony full frame cameras. Stay tuned for some perspectives this winter as I bring this optic tool to bear. Tilt shift is a new game for me. I think I understand the possibilities with it. I’m going to have fun with this technology making perspectives. I will explain more as I get images to share. Stay tuned.
One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.
This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
Mini-Lesson for working on Manual: This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎
Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.
Deer Back Sun Filter Profile is one of about 6 images I’m going to finish from this 800 image timeline. There are many images that are similar but subtly different. I can’t finish all of them as many aren’t as good so….. Number 3 of 6 I believe at this post.
I was able to maneuver around on this small group of deer ruled by this buck. The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. This Sony Alpha 7R4 with a 600 x2 lens on it for an effective 1200 mm focal length at a few hundred feet distance. I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising remember ).
Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a car. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form. I’m still noisy and smelly to them though. Basically I’ve achieved “just another grazer” status with this group. I left them, they didn’t run away from me. If fact I stopped and talked to another rancher down on the county road and pointed them out up on the hill. A rare encounter on a very backcountry road.
We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝
I don’t like to use glass filters to reduce the sun’s brightness. I would way prefer deer sun filters to reduce the glare and block some of the light coming int the camera. lol.
In reality, a glass filter usually give’s me difficult to deal with “Ghosts” of off center images. An extra artifact on the image that I don’t way like a lens flare. So this isn’t using a neutral density filter, it’s done with Manual Mode camera settings. This was take a week ago and is one of a LONG timeline I spent with several animals including this buck and a fawn. When the planets line up, they really line up and it was all business lol. I was working 3 cameras about as fast as I could spin dials get the shot, change up, rinse and repeat. I was moving back as the sun was going down to keep the angle with the ridge as well as moving as the deer grazed or moved.
Long lenses, HIGHest F-stop, lowest ISO, and fast shutter speed but don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera. You will blind yourself. I use a mirrorless camera variety that I am looking at video of the scene. Also your camera might literally have a spot burned into the digital chip that sees the scene inside your camera. Bad idea unless your rig is rated for this. So know what you are doing before you try this please.
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry can be a very contrasty thing after a storm. This vista surprised me coming up over the ridge behind the camera. I instantly stopped of course and started composing the final frame. What dramatic contrast…. I honestly don’t see this very much this pronounced. That was a very interesting (if not cold at -2F) morning up on that ridge. It always is after a storm and the cold. That is BIG country back there.
I call this phenomena spotlighting for obvious reasons. There is about 4-6 inches of standing snow up on the ridges and I’m still driving about in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a new vehicle incoming if Ford will put it in production lololol. (We have a vin now 🙂 ) Winter is coming though and I’m going to have to get plowing some snow to get up in this country. This particular spot is about a mile up a long hill to get to. Roughtly the same distance to the far ridge in the shadows with trees on it. The far right side of that ridge (ridge 4) is a full 2 tiles out. Distances are deceiving out here. The closest ranch house in that direction is about 10 miles of hills and gullies that have to be driven around. That would mean about 20 miles of driving lololol.
All of this ground in this image is underlain by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Dinosaur Fossil Bearing Sandstone. This is prime country to find dinosaurs. I found a partial Triceratops just left of the frame around the corner or a hill so I have some basis for saying this lol.
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
Deer Watching the Sunset has caught a father (adopted) and son moment as the sun was setting into the grass. (amazing it didn’t catch on fire 😀). This is yet another deer filter in front of my lens which reduced light considerably. Any glass filter in front of my lens would have messed this up. 👀.
Photography is something I do every day in deer populated backcountry . I don’t get a lot of chances to get the sun to cooperate AND the deer to be tolerant of my machinations by my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Just 3 or 4 times a year based on history.
I was crashing over sage and high grass to get in position slowly but VERY noisily. (the sage is fine and it’s my private deeded land) Essentially I circled the whole herd over about 5 minutes to get the sun behind them. They see my Jeep all year several times daily so they are not that concerned. It never chases them. I must point out that I have a rock stuck in my right front caliper that is squeeking to all heck. I’m sure they didn’t know I was there… 🤣
There were about 20 deer in this group, one buck and not a huge one. His neck is getting big from the season though. The really big boys haven’t found this group of does yet as rut has yet to start to any degree. Some of the boys are sparring but not in earnest yet. December will be hot and heavy in mule deer country though in spite of the cold Wyoming weather which is certainly incoming lolol.
The sun had set a minute before. The wind on the peaks were certainly gale force pushing snow a thousand feet into the air or more. I’ve had more sun behind the “Big Horn Mountains” this week than I’ve had in 20 years of trying to get shots like this.
Bear in mind that the range is 130 miles away from my ranch. I’m look at a VERY SMALL part of the sky at 13000 feet high peaks. Twice a year in the late fall and early spring the sun sets behind the BigHorn Mountains. The angle changes depending on where you are from the range. At this distance, you need really long telescopic lens ability to get “this close” from my place. I suggest an 800mm lens to start..
This is an 800mm lens and the image is a 2:1 Aspect ration 40 inches by 20 inches at 300DPI. I personally love silhouettes and pursue them as readily as images showing the detail of the trees on the peaks in daylight. You gotta love huge mountain chains 📸
Boy do I have images from this week of the Big Horns 📸.
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.
From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.
I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.
All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).
A Wind and Solar Set is a pair of usable energy alternative where nothing else is available.
I’m using “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill to pump air to de-stratify a small pond (it helps keep it open some too for barnyard ducks).
The ranch has 24 big solar panels generating electricity which mostly does water pumping in remote sites. The are most cost effective where they are no where close to electric lines. I think we have 3 wind generators set up and working small things like battery charging. As such I’m probably one of the greenest guys you know. We still pump lots of water.
The coal generated electricity pumps water to water the livestock. It’s about 30 gallons of water a day per cow in the summer. A herd of 200 cattle ( small herd) will drink 6000 gallons of water a day on a hot one….. Solar does one of our pastures completely. It was expensive to put in.
Windmills earned their keep historically with a plethora of brands dotting the landscape. There were a lot of these in this country which got electricity very late in the mid-50’s. Telephone in the 60’s. SO many of those windmills were the primary source of water for the ranch. Some places had springs up here on the “high ground” but not too many.
Most of the easy water was down in the river valleys. We are a ‘dryland’ ranch with a couple of spring fed lakes but no running water all year. We do have streams and washes that get exciting during heavy rains. Flash floods happen all the time down in the gully system around here. There is water storage on the surface here but Windmills definitely made a difference in the ability to settle the west. This Wyoming/Montana borderlands country was settled late in the early 1900’s by small ranchers.
Anybody see a face to the right of the Windmill Sail? I didn’t do it. Natural faces in clouds…
Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:
I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.
That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.
Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.
Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.
This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.
This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜
This particular Black Cat Considering Halloween is a scary thing.
In Old Britian and Europe, a black cat walking across your path was considered good fortune. Always setting up arguments with the pagan past, churches thought the cats were associated with witches. This “familiarity with witches comes from Pre-Christian/Pagan Europe when witches weren’t looked down upon. . It was the church, who apparently thought the witches were contemptuously evil and changed their reputation through sermons to the populace.
Aloof to the fuss, black cats were still seen as good luck, until the witch hunts of the 16 and 1700’s in the US and Europe caused them to be affiliated with bad luck. It probably was not a good time to be a witch I’m thinking…. So starting in the Middle Ages because it was thought that a witch could transform herself into a black cat and back again at will which leads to why black cats are still associated with the harvest festival such as Halloween. In some places still today, black cats are considered good luck. Others…. not so much lolol🤣
Factoids: Black Cats almost all have golden eyes and they tend to be healthier than other color cats. Black fur has a survival benefit in camo and not being seen particularly on an inky night. Black cats are more difficult to “Re-home” according to rescue agencies which know such things. More black cats are male than female but the Black fur turns brown in the sun for extended periods so if you want your cat black, keep it out of the sun. 🤔
The end of October is a time here in the winter(ish) borderlands when the fur starts growing quickly into a thick blanket on the barn cats in order to accommodate the coming polar vortexes that sweep over our humble abode each winter. We have seen30 below for a week one year but 20 below every year is common. Keeping everybody fed everyday is the chore here…. Water also needs to keep running to stay open. No room for mistakes in winter here.
Before you notice he (neutered) isn’t wearing a tag, none of my “Barn Cats” wear collars as they 1: don’t leave the compound much as it is way too far to the nearest neighbor across wild country and another domestic cat encounter. 2: would instantly get caught in a fence, a hole or otherwise hang themselves on all the wire surrounding a remote Wyoming/Montana ranch. 3: we have all shots and tags current neutered cats. I’ve had the same 6 cats for 8 years roughly now. We’ve only lost one cat mysteriously in 20 years….. The BobCat’s don’t like our electric wire. 😲
Needless to say, these guys are bad a** tough fellows. They survive Wyoming winters outdoor unheated with access of course to a large barn (no wind inside). They have picked some warm places and sleep together a lot. Someone saw 4 of them in an automobile tire one day. Coiled up inside happy and warm… I wan’t there or I’d be posting that photo lolol…
I do feed them freely but their sole purpose here is to hunt mice which without them, would build up to plague populations with the grain that moves through here. Well fed cats mouse better than hungry cats interestingly enough. They are well acclimated to this environment and know where all the hiding places are. Each is friendly to a cat to humans vaccinated and vet checked…. My nephew who is living on ranch, is spoiling them badly as they show up to his porch now at a designated feeding time every day now lolol.
Happy Halloween. Share freely.
Location: At the ranch Homestead, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Here’s where I spent the other evening at sunset. The Borderlands are such that when I take a photo east and or west, I’m usually having parts of both Montana (distance) and Wyoming (close) in the image.
There were small storms in the area spitting either snow or rain depending on your elevation at the time. I waited to go out until the sun was just above the “sun slit” under the cloud deck. Watching what is going on has saved me a lot of time here and there lol.
This is a nice little isolated lake not far from a road but you really can’t see it from the road. Most travelers up here drive 100 yards from this and never see it. Spring fed of course
I’m sure it was seep 100 years ago. So the ranches damed it up along with many other ponds decades ago.
The Horizon is falling across the sun’s face here Up close and Personal. The sun is actually not rising here. Remember that during a sunrise, it’s not the sun that is moving, it’s the horizon that is falling relative to the fixed ball of nuclear fire. Professional long range ballisticians/shooters even compensate their aim at long distances for the horizon dropping or rising shooting straight east and or straight west over the flight time of the bullet.
The atmospheric lens consisting of hundreds of miles of low angle air density changes (inversions) and moving air current distort several things. 1: The sun is not actually line of sight here, it’s actually and physically BELOW the horizon because the aforementioned “lens” is bending the light around the globe to make it look like it’s above the horizon lol. It takes a few minutes for the actual line of sight and what you see to get back in sync. 🤔 2: The edges of the sun (in the VERY sharp image) is sculpted by the “roiling” air. I often watch it live real time through the lens. Mirage in miniature along that normally very sharp edge.
Perspective is Everything #6 (Down Yonder by the Fence line) was taken because the highlights on the fence stood out like a sore thumb. This was a nice stainless wire untouched by rust and it was popping for me. Just the highlights please📸
This is actually a very wide angle shot.
Location: Northern Campbell Country Wyoming borderlands.
During the smoky days of the summer of 2019 we only had a few weeks of forest fires giving us red/umber sunsets up here in the
high backcountry of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming. The Rim of the Powder River Basin immediately to our west and western Edge of the Wyoming Black Hills at my doorstep easterly. We have 180 mile horizon to horizon views here.
I live and work in this environment if you don’t know me or follow me yet.
The Bliss Dinosuar Ranch sits on a series of high ridges high above the surrounding drainage here on the Montana/Wyoming border literally. We are 70 miles from the nearest 3 color stoplight here but there is a 4 way red 50 miles away🤣
I prefer to drive in the backcountry on two track roads which I do about 10 miles of day of. I encounter many strange beasties and beautiful scenery along the way.
I usually have 6 or 7 camera/lens options with me and hopefully I’m able to capture just a tad of the little zen like things I see everywhere up here.
This Doe is bathed in bright Golden Light while it was moving through high grass in front of one of my better game trail cameras. The sun was seriously in the frame and gave me a monster lens flare. Very stylish these days I hear. I see a lot of them in movies now as a (nice touch) in the film). This was a tough light environment for this camera and it did pretty well lol. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This wide 2:1 aspect image was taken that very First Moment of Twillight When the Sun Just Went Down.
Its a simple sunset and with real unmolested colors. Remember I’m a photorealist. What you see is how I remember it.
A 2:1 aspect ration can print to 50 inches is possible with some of these wide prints. Also some of these wide aspects can be broken into three separate images for a triplet on the wall.
“Highlights of Grass” is a result of my tendency to use cellulose filters of all kinds to reduce the glare coming into my photon capture boxes. Highlights of course are my target here and the fine hairs on a head of healthy grass is a good place to hunt those photons.🤣
Perspective is indeed Everything. #3 Rock Shelter and similar images are done with a REALLY wide angle close focus lens. It’s a little tricky to do at times but properly framed, these winter images are simple subjects with spectacular perspective. (January 2019)
It is snowing here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch this morning. We have at least 1/2 an inch on the ground and it’s still coming down hard here pre-dawn. It’s still early….But deep in the winter when I can’t get around so easily in the backcountry, I literally have to plow a couple of miles of two track road to get up on this ridge.
Stay tuned for more of these being “refinished to my current standards. My posts will be mix and match for the next few months to populate the new gallery we’re building with my portfolio. Only 5K more images to go…. 🤣
Happy Oct 1…. Holy cow where did the summer go… ?. 🙂 Be safe out there. New post every 3 hours.
All from a shaft of light happened one evening late when I wasn’t out in the backcountry but in my side yard. This piece of grass had avoided the string trimmer all year it seems.
It caught a shaft of the light from the setting sun and screamed at me to “take my Photo”. Just the highlights maam 🤘🤘