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Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry
Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.

Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.

This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.

Location: Ridge 1, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

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Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing
Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have to cooperate lolol.

I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Springtime Whitetail Doe Climbing

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Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer
Buck and Doe

Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them. Automatic cameras managed and placed in the correct location is the start of this process. Then the deer have to cooperate lolol.

The buck has it’s growing antlers covered with “velvet” which carries the blood supply to the growing bone. He has a ways to go before these antlers get interesting to hunters. He looks like a 2 year old to me but they might get bigger. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can track mule deer. THey are MUCH more shy in my experience.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 36 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Buck and Doe Whitetail Deer

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Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion
Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

SATIRE:

So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…

Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:

OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

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

Title: Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

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Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds
Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds

This gravel road is headed up into the clouds. Some of this is the perspective CRUSH by the telephoto lens of course. IT really is a steep section of road. It was snowing just up over the lip of the hill. The ridges around here are a whole different environment than the surrounding lower country. We live up in the higher ground where it almost always snows a little more.

We call our place “Little Siberia”. 1: the label was handed down by the previous residents. 2: it always has snow here when the valley has just rain.

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

Title: Pass Into the Clouds

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Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn
Tippy Toe Fawn

Tippy Toe Fawn

This game trail camera is the same camera that captured the doe I posted earlier this morning. This was taken on a different day of course since it wasn’t born just yet when the doe was caught.. This is likely one of her two fawns stretching as far as it could to see what this camera is lolol. I have a whole sequence of two fawns and the mother with the cow lick on her shoulder.

Cropping the top this off is possible. Obviously overexposed at the top right. Only behind behind that tree saved the image.. Automatic cameras….. I could have easily captured this with one of my fancy cameras but the candidness is all about me NOT being there. Thank god for the tree filter. Without that tree, this wouldn’t have been captured at all. This guy has just too much curiosity not to share with you folks. Deer babies are a spring thing….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Tippy Toe Fawn

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Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe
Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

Walking up very carefully to a stock water tank late spring is the doe Whitetail. She is about as pregnant as she can be, weeks from giving birth. Two buns in the oven I suspect. I see a female deer with the same cowlick on her shoulder later in the year on the same camera with a pair of twins.

Brown/white mottled winter days like today at 42 degrees as a high ,sure make late spring days with green leaves look amazing. This “Garden of Eden “capture isn’t far from a wonderful wetland . The warm days of summer are missed up here with our Oct 1 start of winter.

The Game Trail Camera I used for this is one of the more expensive rigs I have in my arsenal. I don’t talk up or endorse any particular brand but this one take quite good images as far as saturation and color intensity. These kind of game trail camera captures are the exception and definitely not the rule. Having a camera in the same place for a long time can lead to a whole series of encounters. Placement is the only thing you really have control of. Most of the Game Trail Cameras you get only have three or 4 settings you have any effect on. They are more or less automatic cameras and your lucky to get 1 out of a hundred images of any use. This one is the exception to that un-written rule.

Square Aspect Ratio to 18 inches.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland

Title: Curious Whitetail Deer Doe

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Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.

This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.

These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Ridge Deer Herd

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Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight
Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight is a 3 second time exposure under very dark Nautical Twilight skies.

Nothing but Moonlight is illuminating this 40 mile deep landscape. The “Red Hills” are the distant ridge across the wide “Little Powder” River valley. I am located 600 feet above the valley floor on the Pass road (Trail Creek) to Rockypoint Wyoming. Looking toward the west/northwest the moon is about as far north as it travels in it’s movement around the planet.

There is no way to properly expose the moon AND gather the very faint light reflected back at my lens. So it might as well be as bright as the sun up in the corner. This is definitely hard to color correct. There were a lot of subtle hues and tones that weren’t natural because of the time exposure. The cloud highlights are indeed excessive as the time exposure allowed it to over saturate. Without digitally replacing that whole area of the image, I decided to leave it as it is.

Photorealism goes out the window a time exposure. They seem to always excessively expose something it seems lolol. Still the technology is very limited in it’s ability to see as well as the human eye which could resolve this. Reading under this light MIGHT be possible under moonlight . No camera on earth could bring this out with the moon’s face properly exposed. To do otherwise would be to have a composite image and not a genuine unaltered photo in this light.

Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road, Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. That’s Montana off in the distance. I am standing about 4 miles from the Montana border and those mountains ARE in Montana. (Wyotana)

Title: Landscape Under Moonlight

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Mule Deer Rut Starts

Mule Deer Rut Starts
Mule Deer Rut Starts

This Game Trail Camera is a good clue that the Mule Deer Rut Starts pretty soon. I would really like to find this guy on a sunny day with a good pro-camera. These game trail camera images are hard to finish each and every one.. They do amazing work for being “Johnny on the Spot” automatic machines though. Now if they would just put a sony alpha body inside I’d pay good money for an automatic game camera that took photos the quality of say a good consumer level digital DSLR camera. I know right where to put it… 📷

This thick necked big antlered 12 point (6 ring hangers on each side how ever you want to classify him. He survived the hunting locally. I suspect he will father quite a few fawns shortly. I believe that rut is about 20 days late this year starting. The rest of the summer was a month late so I suspect they are also effected by the offset weather. This was indeed a very odd year weather wise. Lots of water = lots of grass but fortunately it all didn’t catch fire. There is a LOT of one hour fuel out there at the moment. The cattle are busy eating this all down as I type.

I have to go out and move these cameras today as cattle are back in this pasture. :(. I think there are 9 or 10 of them so it will take a while. I usually take my time but having cattle in with game trail cameras is a good way to get them gooey. Some of them are worth protecting lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mule Deer Rut Starts

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Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge
Perpective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Some winters I work pretty hard to get up into the high backcountry in winter. I’ve never gotten stuck though there have been a “few” moments when I thought I might. Not to worry though as I carry a radio. I also keep properly dressed for conditions, This isn’t my first rodeo up on those ridges enjoying all kinds of weather.

I’ve been up there when I was navigating by instinct before. It can be totally pitch black. You actually can’t see yard lights up here as literally no structures are out there. If you get lost, find fenceline and follow. Having a compass can save your life. I don’t trust GPS at all.

The view is in Wyoming looking north west across the border ant the last ridge called the “Red Hills” which is 40 miles out. Between here and there is the entire width of the Little Powder River Basin with the Prairie Dog Hills before the flats in the foreground (my place. ).

This image was taken with me standing in Wyoming but looking Northwest to the Mountains in the distance. I’m literally living in the borderlands.

You might not that there are no man made structures visible anywhere. Within the frame is roughly 300 square miles swept over of snowy landscape. You have to love winter up on the ridges. I actually plow a two track ranch road so as to get up this high. Before you think I’m a nut, (I am), I do carry a couple of good radios/shovels and supplier. I am always able to contact with others while I “run up the hill”.

Nobody likes up this high as there is literally no shelter up here. I do know of an old 1920’s collapsed sod roof house with a model A carcass nearby up here. This is a north west slope which means the wind funnels up that valley right about to this point. Not a good place for a house. Too much wind to live on the ridges and worse here in this funnel. It’s also further to water up here. Tough place to Pioneer in. Those early settlers were tough stuff.

Location; “Ridge One”, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

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Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline

Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline
Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline

This was taken on the morning of 11/06 (Wednesday) Exactly at sunrise. I don’t fully understand hoe this sun formed but I’ll give you my theory.. “Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline” This was a new one to me.

FIrst of all the sky was lit up pretty well through about 15 minutes of late civil twilight. So I’m watching the clock having picked my spot based on compass direction and brightness. I would point out this is EXACTLY what I was seeing through the eyepiece. At the right place at the right time this blob rose that I could have easily looked at with my naked eye. This is not a particulary bright scene which is why there is so much definition in trees.

No glare at sunrise with a “sun” must be rare. I have this on two cameras at different magnifications and framing. I have only finished this one as of yet. This was a dark scene with little light for right at sunrise. Just color and not brightness if that makes sense.

Theory

The Distorted Sun is of course sending light through hundreds of miles of atmosphere, storms, clouds etc. We actually only see a line of sight sun when it’s up somewhere ABOVE the horizon, any sun touching the horizon is actually below the line of sight. The atmospheric lens bends the suns image around thee horizon to your eye well below the line of sight.

This sun is distorted the absolute heck out of it by that “air lens”. I have not in thousands of observed/photographed sunrises/sunsets seen anything like this before. This is by far a very odd blob for a sunrise. The “sun” disappeared into the cloud banks and more or less shut down this show. I had maybe 20 seconds to get two cameras involved.

I’ve seen very formal distortions in the suns image. Stretched with a vertical elongation or sawtoothed edges I’ve seen. MIrage of the suns edge from bending around the earths surface real time I’ve watched. But I’ve never seen a blob with such color and shape? Never in my career. 😲 (Shaking head).

Filed under weird things I see working “Wyotana Skies”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline

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Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Drinking at Twilight

Catching a Mule Deer Buck Drinking from a Stock Tank at Twilight is a tough one to do in person. This is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (26 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way.

Photograhers notes:

Hints on using game trail cameras:

Each image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current fairly high standards lol. This particular image has been finished to print to 2x3feet at high resolution so you can get really good images from these cameras.

The problem with the actual Game cameras is that they are on automatic all the time. Therefore I have no real creative control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol. Some algorythm decides….. This camera is set at a low flash setting but no IR flash occurred for this twilight color shot. This was late enough in the twilight where the camera could/should have taken a night camera shot in Black and White via Infra-Red Light. Apparently it just got this in above that low light threshold and was still in color. Low light color shots are rare for a game camera. I use 20 and 30 megapixel cameras. I don’t endorse any particular kind though. Each has it’s own uses like a particular screwdriver once you get to know how they perform.

Watering holes and fence openings are obviously good attractions and “funnels” where game will trail. I look for paths up to fences that continue on the other side and often place cameras at oblique angles to the crossing to catch Pronghorn or deer going under and occasionally over fences. Look for fence crossings near water sources too since those will be frequented at least once a day by what ever is around. Leave gates open for a long time if you can and still control your own stock. The wild game will start using those gates more often.

I find that putting cattle into a pasture will pretty much destroy, mame, chew, lick and otherwise waste game trail cameras. Don’t do it for long or you will have a messy sloppy game trail camera with 5K images of a cows blurry side to go through for that one deer that was overexposed by walking too close to the camera…….🤣

It’s illegal to feed game animals in many states. Putting down “chum” to attract the animals is touchy so know your local rules. You can put down corn to feed your livestock, you can plant fields with the right plants they like but don’t put down food for the wildlife is generally the rule for Game and Fish about the country. There are exceptions I’m sure.

The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those funnels.

Have a great evening this Wednesday night.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Pronghorn Buck Negotiating a Fence

Pronghorn Buck Negotiating a Fence
Pronghorn Buck Negotiating a Fence

Here one of my Game Trail Cameras caught this Pronghorn Buck Negotiating a fence crossing. They tend to go to the same place virtuallyevery time to move from pasture to pasture (usually from water to grazing and back). It’s just a matter of figuring out where they usually cross to place your camera in the right place. They are creatures of habit but I’ve seen them do this a very high speed. It’s an amazing thing to watch.

Pronghorns are not Antelope and they are not Goats. They are the lone survivor of the family Antilocapra but they are not Antelopes, they are relatives of the Giraffe family.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Pronghorn Doe Considering to Run or Not

Pronghorn Doe Considering to Run or Not
Pronghorn Doe Considering to Run or Not

This Pronghorn Doe was considering to Run or not… Your guess as to what she did lolol.

I usually don’t get long to take these really close photos. Just a few seconds to bring the camera into play before poof, you see a white butt heading out. It’s better now in the fall that the animals are starting to recognize me. They may or may not bolt at all for the next month before they all migrate to south. They head to the Thunderbasin National Grassland where they herd up for the winter.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Pronghorns Flagging Traffic (Again)

Pronghorn Flagging Traffic (Again)
Pronghorn Flagging Traffic (Again)

Pronghorn tend to flag me down and usually seeing a car coming is enough to scatter the group. These guys were pretty casual and RIGHT on a crest in the road. This spot is voted most likely to have a bad wreck on it. You just can’t see what’s on the other side. This is part of the county road on my ranch so we pretty much drive in the grass going over it. I’ve met car/trucks RIGHT at the top and we don’t get much traffic here (like 5 or 6 cars a day). “Backroads Wyoming”. Filed under things I see about the place….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.