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Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines
Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines

This is a capture initiated by the -2 degree evening, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST settling down over the ridge with less than a minute left in the day.

Photographic Musings:

Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 1 mile 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 sunset for me 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”.

Shadow line:

I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles into the light. Here I saw this long line of smaller pines 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. The trees are my cellulose filter in front of my lens. Regardless, I had to turn my 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. Be careful pointing your camera into the sun.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sunset Through Frosty Pines

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Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed
Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridgetops. The main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this backshow is Pink. This pink back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise, you miss this show. Several image from this particular morning made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on.

Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to Lavender at times up high. The Blue Line UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun rises that blue band shrinks eventually disappearing just as the sun rises. The red/pink will often work down on the “Red Hills in the distance enhancing their already red rocks (Clinker) with the extra colorcast.

The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

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

Title: Belt of Venus Framed

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Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn
Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn

I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.

The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂

The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.

This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.

Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Light Crack of Dawn

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Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill Trapped Sunset
Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill Trapped Sunset

Windmill weekday, Windmill Junkies Unite. 🤘

I just realized I hadn’t posted a windmill for some time. All you junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal. So I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill has jumped over the setting sun with intent to keep it under his control. Little does he know that the wise old sun will just sneak out the back door lolol. Just a snippit of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers for their loyal followers. Don’t let your mother know you look at things like this… Just saying 😜😀

When the air is full of light snow and other ice AND you can see the sun, hang on. You never know what kind of atmospheric effects your going to get. I go up the hill sometime just hoping the sun will come below the snowing cloud deck. With this much moisture in the air, only the red light makes it through all the ice. This was a while ago when we had fresh snow. Currently there is ice everywhere on the ground from a few warm days. Thick crusts with slick surfaces. The footing is treacherous.

We just missed a big storm this week which went to our south and east. I’d like to see some more snow but I suppose I should be careful what I ask for up here. We need some more snow however. Moisture in any form up here is usually a good thing. The timing however in the spring isn’t always good during calving season though 😔

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

Windmill Trapped Sunset

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Wyoming Wind on Ice

Wyoming Wind on Ice
Wyoming Wind on Ice

Wyoming Wind on Ice

Good New Years Morning to all. Welcome 2020. It’s going to be an interesting year.

On this wonderful morning I noticed the breeze here had left some physical evidence of it’s direction and magnitude. The sunrise off frame was hard to ignore but I got distracted. The rustic nature of this metal building was hard to ignore in this light. The winds the day before while the sun was warming the ice on the roof. Icicles grow when the air is cold but the roof is warm either from within or from without. I can see clearly that the wind was not only steady but quite cold. The sun at 4000 feet is still amazingly strong even in mid-winter. Day time melting or even “Sublimation” (your google word of the day) occurs. These sun induced phase changes from snow in an of themselves will ablate the snow cover significantly during just a short time.

The old building tells many stories. Several generations of additions/ are apparent. The weather has taken it’s toll on the windows. It’s a good thing on a ranch to have a few extra gates sitting around. Many things have been stored within this shelter on the prairie. This abandoned building stands alone against the elements certainly here in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. 4000 foot in elevation, NO trees around it, nothing to block the winds across the plains. Who knows what this building has seen. No one is telling. 🤔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wyoming Wind on Ice

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RockyPoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store
Rockypoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store

Clarence Reece built a two story building in 1907. This became the General Store for the area (Rockypoint Wyoming which is in the North Eastern Corner of Wyoming). Just north west of Devils Tower which you can see from here about 35 miles away. Run by various local characters over the years, the store changed hands a dozen times. It closed finally in the Mid- 1950’s.

These timbers, cut 112 years ago, are the last remains of a building that served a whole community. These merchants who weekly at least, dealt with terrible dirt roads bought a lot of freight through these doors over time. Imagine if you will the old time gasoline pump with the glass top. An ranch kid attendant with a rag in his pocket took care of the windows and checked the oil.

I can’t imagine all the horse team trips to Gillette to hit the railroad in the early 1900’s. Gillette would be a two day trip via buck freight wagon I’m pretty sure from Rockypoint Wyoming. Camping on the trail, no weather forecasts or radio. These folks 100 years ago were tough hombres.

The community dance hall / community center became ground zero of local / national political discussions of course lol. Dances too but the roads could keep the band away. I’m sure they did best they could.

I own the back 1/2 of the Rockypoint 1940’s dance hall. It is a good structure that I resurfaced when I moved here in 2000 and it remains as a shop building.

Location/ Title : Rocky point Wyoming

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Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap
Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap

It was cold, it was foggy, it was frost that morning. These moms were bunching up to gain a little extra body warmth from their neighbors. Their breath was lighting up in the low angle light. Living in sub-zero weather that is actively hoar frosting has got to be challenging.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area. More to come this week as I’m working some images from this area currently.

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

Title: Frosty Milk on Tap

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Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge
Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Winter leaves a few nice scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have so many choices where to point my cameras. There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow. I am always trying to adhere to those rules. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and vertically. The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. The Visual tunnel to the mountains 40 miles distant is just above center. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”. So I clicked lol.

Those are the “Red Hills” off in the distance. We actually have more snowthan in this image as I type this. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface. Coating everything.

This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is very close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.

2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

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Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night
Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night

It was around 11pm and my Mastiff’s wanted out. It was the beginning of a 24 hour snow but it was still rain at this point. The drizzle covered anything exposed. That is a 400 watt LED stadium light. It is as bright as the sun versus the total black here in the backcountry. According to nasa, when it’s dark here, it’s as dark as the north Atlantic Ocean. I can see lights effecting the sky from towns hundreds of miles away. Particularly if I go up high and look around. (Billings, Gillette, Sheridan for starters). You can’t see the actual city lights but you do see the glow in the sky on the horizon. The cities light pollute the local “seeing” and not at all here, 70 miles from the nearest town.

I don’t do much dark night photography these days. I’m not sure why but I do need some sleep sometimes.

Photographic Musings:

I did this without a tripod as I was only hunting for the highlights in this image.. Negative space here is as important in the composition. I wanted to razor edge the settings. So you need light in the camera AND a fairly deep focus. Compromise. ISO 1000 for sure. (or a tripod) and minimum handheld shutter speed of 1/50th. That only leaves f-stop to set. . If your far enough away, you’ll have some leeway in f-stop. F-stop primarily going to be set low numbers here to gather light, damn the reduced focus depth of field as a result of the low f-stop setting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Reflections: Ice Covered Night

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Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show
Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

Awaiting a new ride. According to the Ford Website, the 2020 Ford Truck is “In Production” at the moment being assembled. The last truck I purchased new was in 1999.

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

Title “Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show”.

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Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever
Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle were required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates that fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

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Echinacea on Ice

Echinacea on Ice
Echinacea on Ice

Echinacea on Ice

This silhouette on ice is in full disclose a left/right mirror of the left side of this flower head. Limited by reality I am not within my digital darkroom. I took the silhouette against this wonderful orange Alpenglow sky. The seed head hides the sun totally.

As I said this is ART. IT looked strangely incomplete and unbalanced. I simply mirrored the other side to make an ice world of reflections on the seed head. There is a cross and some face figures inside of the dark area if you are prone to seeing anthropomorphic images in random data. (seeing faces in clouds etc). ART yes but just the totality of the image. Not the left half… When I combined the left 1/2 of the image with it’s mirror was the moment art was committed.

Sun reflections through the ice are in the dozens in this capture . I can’t imagine a better cellulose filter to reduce the light of that bright bright sun . Be still my hear as I definitely like highlights and miniature sun images lol. My cameras work best with moderate amounts of light. Using natural filters like this seed pod is a favorite topic of mine. Conveniently there was ice the night before 😃📷 Without that seed pod in the way, the sun would have overpowered the camera at the settings I used for this capture.

Note: Will all the photorealism I do, if I don’t play a little now and then, I start making mistakes.

2×3 Aspect to 36 inches wide

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Echinacea on Ice

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Coyote Prowling on Thin Ice

Coyote Prowling on Thin Ice
Coyote Prowling on Ice

Coyote Prowling on Thin Ice is an unexpected Game Trail Camera Capture. I have 4 good shots of this guy walking by here on 4 different days. (so far).

There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans.

This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds. From what I’ve seen, they can bite you about 30 times per second per second.😀. I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.

I’ve always thought that Coyotes were “Wiley”. Hunting on thin Ice isn’t the brightest things I’ve ever seen.. This particular lake isn’t frozen at all at the moment as I type this…. That ice was 1/2 inch thick at most. If she keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw.

I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks.

2×3 aspect up to 36 inches wide.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote Prowling on Thin Ice

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Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough

Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough
Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough

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.

Photographic Musings:

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”.

Shadow line:

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough

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Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset

Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset
Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset

Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset is a capture miles into the wilderness of the Wyoming/Montana border lands. I am always looking for frames and compositions, play of light and shadows.

The pine trees were coated with a thin layer of ice on the windward side and ALL the grass was coated. I found a spot where the light was funneling in through that break in the trees. The Sky was incredible but alas this kind of show is fleeting. I only have a few minutes before it darkens up and everything goes to bed for the night.

Many deer bed down on this ridge and I’m always walking upon their “melted” spots in the snow along the rim of the hill. They usually are bedded on the down wind side of the hill. I’m thinking I need a game trail camera or two down in those bedding spots. Sunsets like this don’t happen every day, some are boring, some are clear sky but now and again, I get lucky. The skyshow turns on and I get a few minutes to work intensively. Lots of operational tempo ongoing during that final 15 minutes of the horizon rising to the sun to cover it.

The show is not over usually with the sunset. But it is hard to predict what will happen to any particular sky. I try my best, I’ve come home before with a WONDERFUL twilight show that suddenly developed while I was coming off the ridge lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset.

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Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…

There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.

The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.

I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

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Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles
Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Satire: This young punk pine tree was sure that getting his needles “noodled” would upset his adult mentors. The 1/8th inch of ice sure gave him a frosty “do”. I suspect he was about ready to go hang out down in the gully where he could watch things move down drainage at a geologic pace. It’s not a very exciting place to grow up out in the backcountry.😉

Back to my normal programming…

SO it was -2, I was walking a high ridge, the pines were all ‘noodled’ on the north side of the tree. . The sun has been up for maybe 20 minutes so thusly is just cresting the ridge. The crisp air is moving and seeping into my gloves/mittens which are almost always my limiting factor. I’ve worked up here with -30 wind-chills many times. I’ve had various cameras (mostly old used Canon 5D’s) freeze up at those temps. . Rapid temperature changes aren’t good for anything but you don’t want to keep your cameras cold either.

“Winter is Coming” (If you don’t know the classic reference by now, you need to read a few books lolol). I actually enjoyed the audiotapes of “game of thrones” tremendously while building things in my shops.

In reality it’s been here since Oct 1 and the day before was fall. (fall was on a tuesday this year). Oct 1 is when winter started up here which continue till April anyway. Winter does bring certain photographic opportunities however and I enjoy the crisp cold. It’s easy down here at 4000 feet after living at 6200 feet in Jackson Hole for a decade. Warm here but MUCH windier here in the borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

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Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to Sunrise is a view right as the sun was coming up over the hill. The grass was just starting to highlight, the air was very crisp at -2 degrees. I tend to work wide lenses in really cold weather. They do better with a shivering photographer I think. Long lenses don’t like the shake lolol.

It had snowed about 4 inches but the 1/8th inch of ice that covered everything was problematic walking around the uneven slopes. The footing was treacherous as seeing sticks under the snow was not a sure thing. THe reason they call fallen logs snag, is that they snag you walking near them lolol.

Perspectives that go from closest focus (12 inches with this lens) to infinity are a challenge to compose. Having the snag as a leading line is an easy choice but the ice covered snag was sure novel to me. I worked this hillside through this entire sunrise…. until I got a tad chilled and then headed back to the Jeep. A few dozen good captures came from that morning. Winter has sure come early this year.

I can still get up on the ridges though and today (a week ago as this posts) is 50 degrees and muddy. We get a bit of a warm snap before it get’s serious lolol. I figure by late November this year we’re going to have a foot flat +and it won’t melt till late February. Winter is long here in the borderlands on the high ridges.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

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Perspective “Brace Yourself”

Perspective "Brace Yourself"
Perspective "Brace Yourself"

Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..

This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫

So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.

I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.

I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective “Brace Yourself”

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Keeping Water Tanks Open

Keeping Water Tanks Open
Keeping Water Tanks Open

Keeping Water Tanks Open is a constant battle in sub-zero weather (like here at -2F). Perspectives are fun aren’t they 📸.

We keep 4 or 5 big tanks open over around 4 square miles of ranch land open for business by a small but high pressure jet of water shooing across the surface to disrupt it. This works really well until you start getting sub 20 below and really windy which blows splatter about. I get some interesting ice sculptures that way.😝

I find both Mule and Whitetail deer that are used to drinking at a particular spot relying on that spot all summer, will not stay around without a water source. Lots of food up here but not so much running water in the winter. So everyone that needs it will stop by here and fall into the range of 3 or more game trail cameras lolol. I do get some good images near water tanks with out a doubt. Hope this gives you some ideas…

The hard part is getting the Flow just right lol. Too much and you splatter plus waste water. Too little and you get frozen over regardless. Like most things in life, you have to “tweek” and use your best “WAG” to set the flow rate. You just have to check and bring a good sized ball peen hammer to break away ice sculptures in the really windy cold weather. We get a lot of -20 wind chills most winters. I suspect this winter will be a rough one by all signs to date.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Keeping Water Tanks Open

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Sunset and the Steel Wheel

Sunset and the Steel Wheel
Sunset and the Steel Wheel

This Sunset and the Steel Wheel capture during a short skiff of winter weather in mid October is a reminder of our past AND our future. 🤔

This old plow displays the past very sell. . First Settled in 1906, this ranch was The Garst Families challenge. They lived year round in tents for 3 years…. It took that long to build a house in 1906. We tore that building down in 2012. Of course incorporating various beams from the old house into the design of the Log lodge that replaced it. I suspect this plow has been here since the beginning. It has seen it all pass by it’s final resting spot. 😍

Photographic Musings:

I find hunting perspective with up close focus foreground and the background to be challenging to set up . Up close and Far images are Wide angle plus close focal distances with a deep focus field is a lens well worth looking for. Keep one in your lens/tool bag and you’ll be taking images like this in no time.

I find the hardest part of this is to remember the horizon. The skyline SHOULD always be level. My tendency is to line up on what’s up front. It’s not until the I see the screen on the comoputer do I discover the horizon is tilted lol. This usually ends up with you having to crop the image. Good quality consumer level cameras have perhaps a 24 meg image. Those can be blown up to perhaps 20 inches for a 2×3 aspect. Not enough pixels still have enough resolution to see detail in a print blow up.. You don’t need to be cropping away image if you set your composition up originally in the camera. Make a note of where the horizon is before you click please and save the crop. Pixels are a terrible thing to waste 😜

Location:Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset and the Steel Wheel

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Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

Frosty ComTower Guy Wires
Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

WIth these Frosty ComTower Guy Wires being covered by 1/8th inch of ice, they had a sag in them but not too muchmuch. I have seen them much more heavily loaded. This tower has been on this ridgetop for over a decade now. There was a LOT of thought that went into this connections.

Engineering is not my forte but I’ve had to dabble at times. I’m a ham Radio Operator plus our business band so we need a com tower lol. This is 1 of the three cable connection points that holds up the 60 foot tall structure on a tall ridge. It sees other towers in the area which enable us and others to get broadband up here. Our internet is pretty fast at times. (at times being the key phrase lol) .

There is an 8 foot long dead man 4inch diameter pipe. Thus is attached well the Rod that comes out of the ground attaching to the turnbuckles. The cables are all triple clamped of course. Look carefully at the rod as it comes out of the ground. There are spikes welded to it.

Those Points at the base dissipate static. This takes some potential away from the tower itself. Everything is thermite welded copper connections, lightning there instead of the taller tower that has smooth edges. Sharp point metal attract lightning. These are the points of ionization /static build up dicharge. They are a good start to a plasma ionized air channel to a lightning bolt. There is a ring and a “star” of recycled copper water pipe buried several feet deep as a ground plain and a grounding network.

This system has been in a lightning rich area high on an exposed ridge with a 60 foot tower of steel pointing straight up to the sky. For over a decade, I’ve never lost any Equipment to lightning up there so far. The building there is a faraday cage literally. Lightning has stayed out of there to date.

Contrast is king in this photo I’m thinking. 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

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Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation
Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

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Driving into the Western Sunset

Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana
Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana

When your on the local “main road and yourDriving into the Western Sunset on the Backroads of Wyomint and Montana was taken on the Equinox when the sun set straight to the west at 270 degrees corrected for magnetic declination. This section of road is by coincidence also straight east and west. The horizon is 50 miles out and the sun is a minute from being covered by the rising horizon. (You know the sun is not setting but the horizon is rising about 4 inches the time it takes a rifle bullet to travel 1000 yards….. It only take around 3 minutes for the sun to be covered by the horizon once it touches the sun. This varies with the season because the tilt of the earth’s polar axis with the solar ecliptic

It’s starting to get icy more often. As I type this we’re in the middle of a snowy period. Winter is coming (contemporary reference)


Location, close to the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Driving into the Western Sunset

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Frost Feather

Frost Feather
Frost Feather

This Frost Feather was actually on the bottom of a very well insulated window taken from the inside out with a flashlight doing the highlighting. Dark as pitch outside. COLD AS HECK…

Seeing this as it was small…

This was a TINY 1/2 inch growth which was just screaming to take it’s photo as frost is so Fractal in it’s design by the master architect of such things. Window frost forms as a pane of glass is exposed to sub-freezing temperatures on the outside freezing the relatively moist air on the inside.  Water vapor from the air condenses as frost on the inside surface of the window.  The picture above demonstrates a patch of window frost about the size of U.S. Quarter Coin. .  Window frost often makes elaborate patterns as the crystal growth is strongly influenced by the window surface because scratches, residual soap, cleaning streaks, etc., can all modify the way the crystals nucleate and grow.

Damage?

Window frost was more common in the before about the 1970’s, when houses still had single-pane windows.  Snow used to actively blow in the windows of the 1970s ranch house we first moved into up here lol. The newer double-pane windows are working far better insulators and thus not so cold on the inside surfaces. Frost can cause damage because as it melts, it transfers moisture to whatever is next to it. If that’s a wooden window, it can discolor varnish and crack paint or even damage the wood. Frost can also melt off single-paned windows and seep down into a wall. resulting in damage of one kind or another.

If moisture is not handled swiftly and completely, mold can begin to grow. Keep it warm and dry inside to avoid the frost. A dehumidifier will help. But the best way is to replace older inefficient windows with double or triple layer windows. Boy they make some nice ones these day lolol. (Ours are 20 years old and one just lost a seal 😖. ).

We had a lot of moisture/rain/snow today. Wet year overall so far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Frost Feather18 x 18 inch square aspect.

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The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in “Belt of Venus” Alpenglow

The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow
The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow

When many focus on the sun rise , I usually turn around several times during a photoshoot as the back show can be better sometimes.
Here the Big Horn Mountains are bathed in the “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow. Just a tick of sun now hitting the high peaks to the left on the “Red Hills”… (their real name)…..It pays to turn around now and then lol…
This landscape stretches 130 miles to the peaks across the Powder River Sedimentary Basin (where 30 percent of the electricity generated in the US is powered by the coal from here. ) The Red Hills are 35 miles out at this site.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Crisp Cold Apples

Crisp Cold Apples
Crisp Cold Apples

We had 4 inches of heavy wet snow on trees fully leafed. These are crisp cold apples lolol.

It will make them sweet :). Never froze.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice is an image I captured last winter that I converted to Black and White, then colorized it appropriate to the piece. Often looking into the sun will give me an UMBER coloration and this was no exception so I brought it back into the level of reality that I recall at the time. I really messed with this so it is indeed a hybrid ART/Photo Image.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Misty Mooing in the Morning

Misty Mooing in the Morning
Misty Mooing in the Morning

It was 14 below the Cows were mooing in the mist that morning down by the geothermal water discharge at a local oil field. The 150 degree water from 5000 feet down is treated then released in holding ponds that never freeze, and always mist/fog at subzero air temps…. Hoar frost is the rule not the exception near these warm water ponds.

Location: D road, Crook County Montana.

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Alpenglow and a Windmill at -20 degrees F

Alpenglow and a Windmill at -20 degrees F
Alpenglow and a Windmill at -20 degrees F

Golden Alpenglow behind the Windmill… It was 20 below zero at th3e time…. I took this last winter down in a very remote part of northern Campbell County. This windmill has views of the Devils Tower and Missouri Buttes but those are to the right of this angle. That is ice not flowing water.

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands.