Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.
On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.
With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
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.
Oh Christmas Tree (with all due respect to Mario Lanza I changed the title to my image to Oh instead of O….)
Even the Wildlings way out in the backcountry have decorated trees to enjoy this Christmas day. A trillion of these moments in space and time happen all the time. It is a matter of realizing the possibilities and having the technology (in your hand) to capture the image.
Each and every one of these trees was casting a hugely contrasting shadow. I just had to pick the place where I could see the whole shadow. Again topography controls / limits my photography. That gravity thing is also a problem.
This well blown snow accumulates around the Yucca Plants. While where I’m standing is only about 6 inches, there are places in the hollows where it’s knee deep. Getting here was half the fun of this photograph 📸🎄 I’m locked out of most of the backcountry now. I have to plow a road if I want to get up on the big ridge. A couple of miles of plowing but I like to wait for a big storm to come through and blow around. Let it drift abit before I take the time and diesel fuel to clear a path.
Hope Christmas morning was blessed with family and gift giving to all of you. It’s right around noon as this posts and it’s gonna be time for a nap sometime soon lol.
I drive a lot of backcountry during sunrise and sunset. Every time I get a chance, I walk about and see what I can see. . The natural curves and angles that I run into create a fabric through which I shoot the back ground. The curve on the branch, approaching the curve of the hill. The crossed branches drawing your eye to the center of the visual tunnel this creates. All fodder for my photon capture boxes 👀.
The branches here form a natural letter x (which i have several of now). I am always looking for natural letters in my walks. Some days I cover WAY more ground than others. It depends of the weather of course and the lighting. If I am actually working, I made a decision several hours before to be in place for the sunrise/sunset. Good photography requires that you actually be there with a camera when the light is worthy of chasing. Having a map in my head of where all the “attractions” are helps but random meetings like this stop me in my tracks.
Random backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷
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.
Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough is a capture initiated by the -2 degree morning, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST coming over the ridge but about 15 minutes after sunrise.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 20 miles out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunrise is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles. Here I saw this long pine bough covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. You’ve GOT to turn your camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment.
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.
There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.
If your buying gear soon….
Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way.
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.
Perspective is Everything #6 (Under a Snag) is another one of those captures from this habit of crawling under things in the winter. I’m not sure when I got that tendency but it has led to some interesting perspectives this being among them.
Many of my posts will be out of season over the next few months. Random seasons will be the rule not the exception. I will still post current captures as I push them into my work flow. Enjoy these perspectives there are quite a few of them but it will take me a while to get them uploaded. (year) lolol.