Posted on

Reflections Forest Fire Plume

Reflections Forest Fire Plume
Reflections Forest Fire Plume

Reflections Forest Fire Plume

In this high country, a spring fed pond is a rare thing. To find one with a reasonable view of almost straight west is a tall request. Not quite as tall as the smoke plume from this fire. My personal estimate is that thing is 40-50 miles straight west. I’m also thinking it is miles wide at this point. I had just spied it 5 hours before when a neighbor called me as to “what was burning on my side of the hill and where was it.

Spending the next 5 minutes to go up to a high ridge it was instantly obvious mid day. Fast forward to the “golden hour” and driving to a spot where I have a huge smoke filter to photographically work the sunset with. I called back the neighbor to let him know. Short discussion I had to zip off to intersect some other trucks headed this way. All of the ranchers in this region are on a hair trigger about responding to a spark. There is no worse feeling than watching a dry thunderstorm travel over an area only to see a smoke plume.

That fire is located pretty close to the Crow Reservation very near the border so your looking across from Wyoming to Montana here. We were covered by a pall of smoke all afternoon today (as I type this a week ago). I’ve had 2 sunsets to work from this fire so far. I bet it’s going to burn awhile as that is mountain goat country.

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

Title: Reflections Forest Fire Plume

Posted on

Faces Within the Clouds

Faces Within the Clouds
Faces Within the Clouds

Faces Within the Clouds

So how many faces/creature can you see / imagine on these distant storms. A “just after” sunset backshow with the dark clouds below the red being the shadow of the horizon.  Montana on the left, Wyoming on the right.

This large mesocyclone was about 100 miles distant from my ranch a few nights ago. We had just fought a grass fire on ranch and this was the storm that started it all. That was a long day. I finished talking to the Bureau of Land Management fire crew that was going to sit on the “extinguished” burn site. Having someone around for a few days is a good thing after a fire. 

The sun had already set in this twilight longer exposure (around a second). It was pretty dark. The smell of smoke and burned prairie in the air. I watched several snakes come out of their holes to leave the burned area at dusk. We got it out. Well, it was out 2 days later after I extinguished 2 other flair ups lolol. 

At any rate: 

You Pariedolia sufferers, (you know who you are), this image is classic fodder to let your imaginations run wild. The genetically derived propensity to see figures in random data. If clouds, water swirls, abstract patterns etc. set you off in a fantasy world….. good. 

Personally on the left storm tower appears to me to be a Happy Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. On the far right tower is a wolf looking left or a bear looking at you. That’s the best I got out of this but some of you always push the envelope. 

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

Title: Faces Within the Clouds

Posted on

Under the Spinning Top

Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony
Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony

Under the Spinning Top

After a long day of fire fighting, I was done with thanking the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Fire team that stayed out sleeping under the “Stars” outside their fire fighting rig. For this fire, most neighbors, surrounding ranchers and local fire departments had departed before dark. The BLM crew “sat” on the fire over night. They left the next morning for another fire and another set of Meal’s Ready to Eat on the menu. Thank you fire crews and first responders everywhere. You have to love lightning hitting the ground in a tender dry environment full of grass.

That evening on the way home, the lightning show continues. The big round wall cloud that bolt penetrates blinded me at around 20 miles distant. Because this is a time exposure, you have a whole series of bolts recorded in this 30 second time line. One after another over a random few second intervals. I’d say there are 4 flashes in this particular capture. It takes another 30 seconds to process the image internally in the camera. This effectively puts the camera out of commission while it is processing the data. This is why I run 2 cameras alternating back and forth lol. It does keep you busy 📷

That Wall cloud is a really well formed one. I love climbing ridges and getting these views but that was a long day. I gave up after about an hour as the action faded. There are a few more good catches from this event. Long day done.

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

Title: Under the Spinning Top

Posted on

Radiance Framed by Nature

Radiance Framed by Nature
Radiance Framed by Nature

Radiance Framed by Nature

Radiance: (Websters) : the quality or state of being radiant 2 : a deep pink : the flux density of radiant energy per unit solid angle and per unit projected area of radiating surface. (1 and 3 nailed this) I’m thinking that I’m digging the Flux Density here but maybe it’s just me. Of course totally square natural frames and visual tunnels always are a nice hero or two to add to the images mix.

All images are combinations of light, angle and the subject(s) of the composition. My job is to bring them together into a coherent mass… jumble if you will. Coherent being the key word. Chaos is the tendency of the world but bringing order to chaos is what I often pursue. Those are the images that somehow bring a semblance of logic to the disorganization that is so prevalent in our universe. They make sense to our minds sense of balance and proportion. Leading they eye naturally as the masters of the 16th century figured out toward the focal point of the image. Here is a sunburst as the center. Ago old technique, modern technology to look into the eye of the furnace that keeps us warm.

This “Golden Hour” capture is classic to the intensity of the sunsets in air full of ice. Alpenglow glow colors the air golden. Only the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset qualify as the “Golden Hour”.

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

Title: Radiance Framed by Nature

Posted on

Landscape CO2 Pipeline

Landscape CO2 Pipeline
Landscape CO2 Pipeline

Landscape CO2 Pipeline

This beautiful portrait of a 10 mile long landscape was taken early this spring. The winding red gravel county road gives you a sense of access but this is big country. There are many two track ‘roads’ through out this remote backcountry. Literally thousands of miles of travel between the fences separating pastures several square miles in area. Open a fence and keep going. Making sure you close it behind you if it was closed to start with.

Off in the distance is a linear feature in the landscape. Manmade. That is a trace of a CO2 Sequestration line. It was laid near here a decade ago. Excess CO2 is from Wyoming being used to inject back into the periphery of a big local oil field. The peripherally injected CO2 pressures the oil to migrate to the center of the oil field where wells pick up the oil. Then the CO2 is just left in place permanently sequestered deep underground. It sounds like a great idea on many levels but there are of course issues that are not for this forum.

That linear scar is hundreds of miles long across Wyoming and Montana. It was an invasive process for any local having HUGE equipment and crew daily for a month or so interrupting normal ranch operation. Lots of traffic for the duration of the project. Having said all that, the vegetation is well maintained by the company several times a year killing off noxious weeds that take over freshly disturbed ground. That is a 36 inch high pressure line. A lot of CO2 from the oil wells, natural gas wells and coal scrubbing gets put in there never to be seen again.

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

Title: Landscape CO2 Pipeline

!– The text field –>
Posted on

Sage and Sunset

Sage and Sunset
Sage and Sunset

Sage and Sunset

The sage was thick to walk through. I always check for tick before I even get back in my ride. Walking the high ridge lines with camera gear during warmer summer months is problematic that way. I pull one or two off almost every time I walk around. Now if ticks attached to grasshoppers, I’d be good with them. I had one ALMOST get attached next to my watch band on the back of my wrist. Shivers…. ugg.

Photographic Musings:

First of all let me say that Sage brush is VERY hard to get to be the right color. Talks about fine adjustments in the digital darkroom. That slightly bluish green is unique to sage and is a challenge for everyone to get right. Particularly in high dynamic range images as this. Shadow Detail looking into light….

So anyway, the golden sky this time of year is the rule rather than the exception. The sun is slowly setting and rising a little bit more south on the horizon each day. The wheel, it keeps on turning.

The sun is already setting to the left of the peaks on the far ridge. (the Red Hills) Soon I’ll be chasing images of the sun setting behind the Big Horn Mountains. Those mountains are left of the sun in this image. Soon…. Remember they are 130 miles distant and with this wide shot. The distance makes the 13000 foot tall peaks hardly discernible at this focal length. This capture taken with a 90 degree wide lens which is right about what most people see normally. That’s about 22 mm focal length for a 90 degree Field of View (POV).

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

Title: Sage and Sunset

Posted on

Windmill Blowing Off Steam

Windmill Blowing Off Steam
Windmill Blowing Off Steam

Windmill Blowing Off Steam

There are all sorts of characters up here on the ranch. This over looking the the now dented roofs of our home stead in our “Back Yard”, this 20 year old air pumping windmill was vent. This is what happens when you hold it in too long I suppose. One never knows what these guys are up to. I really don’t have any control over their actions thusly am just an observer. Not being sure why he was mad as he was. Sticking around wasn’t the best of ideas. I do my best to keep every body to get along. Hate to get involved sometimes. (It’s a years long narrative if your new to my world lolol).

Back to my “normal” programming. (more normal anyway).

Just to mention to you fellow pareidolia “sufferers” the large frog on the left ready to stick his tongue into the fray. There must have been a large insect off frame right I didn’t notice in time. Getting everything in frame is hard sometimes. 4 of the 5 lenses I use daily are zoomable. Every possibility is covered that way. I like to think I can take a photo of anything that I can see and somethings I cant. I only use one fixed lens and it is the widest single lens I own at 10mm. This was 200 mm at some distance from the foreground. Both types of lenses have their benefits. Generally the fixed lens has more accurate images. You have to back up to fit your subject in the lens though lolol. Not with a zoom…😜

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

Title: Windmill Blowing Off Steam

Posted on

What Do you See

What Do you See
What Do you See

What Do you See

I take photos of cloud formations that look as if they might be a good test for your anthropomorphic visualizations. Pareidolia is the tendency to see familiar shapes in random data. This totally unaltered image of a small late afternoon thunderhead that wants to grow but turned into perhaps a polar bear with big eyelashes and Grouper Fish lips. Everybody that has this “ability” see’s something different though many of us see the same thing as well. There is some commonality in our “condition. Some will see a cloud, others will let their imagination flow and come up with other alternatives. IT was a beautiful Wyotana Twilight. My favorite time of the day.

Of course it is this ability that we are trying to teach to our computers for facilitating facial recognition. Once AI becomes heavily involved, it will be a big deal. Stay tuned for that. The machines ability to do facial recognition now is amazingly sophisticated. Our brains are more creative but not as fast nor as systematic as the AI will be.

Evolutionary Biologists will tell us that the ability to see faces out of limited information (dark forests) kept our ancestors alive longer than those that didn’t have that ability. The psychiatric establishment at one time considered those with this tendency to be psychotic and often would put the “patient” away for a “treatment” in some wonderful home for the insane. Let’s not forget that piece of history as those that forget such often live to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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

Title: What Do you See

Posted on

Peachy Keen Alpenglow Twilight

Peachy Keen Alpenglow Twilight
Peachy Keen Alpenglow Twilight

Peachy Keen Alpenglow Twilight

The color of Alpenglow here in the borderlands of Montana and Wyoming (both states in photo) depends on the physics of the moment. Peach and Cranberry are what I consider the rarest of colors. This peach color is one I rarely see.

I study light plus the processes that facilitate it’s delivery to my photon traps (cameras). This Mule Deer Doe was attune to my presence but hardly concerned with it as there is a lot of elbow room around here. She was chewing on some rose hips by the looks of the brush she’s standing over. Chewy and she was putting some effort into it lol. This time of year the backcountry is full of tasty morsels.

You will note the marked brown color of the grass here in mid-july. This is going to be a big fire year unless the rains start falling hard and fast. We got clobbered July 5th by a Hail Storm throwing a 1/2 hour of 2-3 inch chunks at the grass. The grass this year between the grasshoppers, the hail and the drought is going to be a tough crop to bring in. Running the machinery will hardly if at all pay for the fuel to do so. Having said that, I just spent close to 1000 dollars getting our ranches 5 ton grass fire truck up and running. That truck is a post all by itself someday.

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

Title: Peachy Keen Alpenglow Twilight

Posted on

Sunset Red Rain Bow

Sunset Red Rain Bow
Sunset Red Rain Bow

Sunset Red Rain Bow

I saw one of these Red Rainbow featured on the web famous “Drudge Report” one day recently. I had to snicker when it happened. I’ve got at least one other red rainbow somewhere but this one was July 4th 2020 in the late afternoon. Right at sunset as the red light from the setting sun behind me color cast the back sky and earth. The precipitation acting like the “Belt of Venus” reflecting the red light that made it through the atmosphere to here. I’m usually getting this in the winter but we had storms everywhere at the moment.

I’ve heard red rainbows called rare. I would say I’ve seen them a few times in my travels but only one other time with a camera and I’d have to search for it as it was years ago. Rule number one in photography is “Have a camera with you”. I like to add “at all times”. It’s much easier to take a photo if you have a camera I’ve found out. Wisdom of being old I suppose.

A train of storms moved just east of us where climbing a 400 foot high ridge give’s one a “viewpoint” that few enjoy. This particular timeline of July 3rd- 4th gave me lightning bolts, numerous rainbows, full moons and sunsets all in the same 12 hour period. Marvelous photographic environment to say the least. I was out with a box o’ cameras for hours during the 4 terminator crossings of the 3rd and the 4th of July 2020. I really was hoping for a lightning shot in this red-bow. It wasn’t to be. You can’t wish things to happen. I was set up for it. Just didn’t occur. I have other rainbow shots with lightning from that afternoon but not with the red bow. Lightning in rainbows is not easy. I’ve gotten several captures from this sequence of storms. 📸

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

Title: Sunset Red Rain Bow

Posted on

July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set
July Buck Moon Set

July Buck Moon Set

This is the first image from the July 2020 full moon from this timeline. I’m still down loading images from the last 2 photographic trips into the backcountry. In the last 15 hours I’ve taken photos of the moon, rainbows, lightning, and (rainbows with lightning in the photo too). I’ve been very busy.

A significant portion of the twilight this particular morning provided obscured (at best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over sun illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. THe moon disappeared as it touched down into that slight white hazy layer above the ridge. Show to the west over…now back to the east.

What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.

I still have to fly by the seat of my pants when the sun is rising behind me with a beautiful sunrise. Simultaneously this moon is going to disappear in a few minutes. Storms were going through the area. Best possible photographic conditions in my opinion. 😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: July Buck Moon Set

Posted on

Crepuscular Rays from Above

Crepuscular Rays from Above
Crepuscular Rays from Above

Crepuscular Rays from Above

An irregularly shaped cloud cooperated here in this unusual lighting display put on for me here in late June 2020. It had been sprinkling all day with dark evil looking but harmless clouds. Lots of moisture in the air…. My biggest fear is lightning at the moment as this country is dry for the year. Missed the water that day. Fortunately, by means of compensation, the weather provided me this spot lit stage . The 10 miles to the first dark ridge in deep shadow was the hard part to capture with it being quite dark versus the ultra bright clouds. A cameras ability to bring out the dynamic range of a photo is something you want to buy into if your looking for a camera.

This display is an inverted downward “crown sky” (as I call them on my gallery). They are fairly rare while the more typical upward pointed rays at sunset more often are seen. I MIGHT see one a year this well developed. All the water vapor/moisture in the air along with actual precipitation acted to reflect the light to my lens. Of course I have many versions of this and will finish 3 maybe 4 of them. I’ve seen a few of this kind of show over the years. I suspect I could count the number of Crepuscular displays so complete I’ve captured to around a dozen.

Jagged Clouds are responsible for passing light. It’s the wide perspective of that light streaming through the gaps in the clouds that lends it’s fan shaped view to the observer. The phenomena makes it appear as if the sun is a mile or two above the cloud deck. Just follow the angles lolol. I assure you, the sun is a “few” miles up above the clouds. 😜

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

Title: Crepuscular Rays from Above

Posted on

Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie
Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

These two week old fawns are following their mother across a pretty good run along side of my Pickup truck. There of course was no threat from me. Pronghorn tend to run along with vehicles just to remind themselves they are the fastest land animal in North America. Typically they will do their best to speed up and run across the road in front of your vehicle. Since the local backcountry speed limit is 45 mph, typically, they can and do pass you. I’m not sure if there is an evolutionary advantage to telling your pursuers that you are faster…. Maybe next time they won’t try??? 🤔 😜 In two decades of riding these backcountry gravel roads, I’ve only hit one Pronghorn with a vehicle. We custom build bumpers just for such things on our vehicles so no damage to the truck but the Pronghorn didn’t do as well. 😔

Mom had twins because last year was a banner year for grass. Her body reacted and doubled down on the survivability this summer. So far, it is early July and the Grass is totally brown. The grasshoppers are already competing for the meager grass crop cut short by both a dry year cutting mandibles. The grasshoppers are as thick as I remember them since I’ve lived here but I assure you that they could and probably will get worse. India, Saudi Arabia and Africa are having REAL Plague of Locust Biblical stuff at the moment. Let’s not go there please ☹️ It’s going to be hard on that mother. ….

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

Title: Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

Posted on

Looking Across the Watershed

Looking Across the Watershed
Looking Across the Watershed

Looking Across the Watershed

The 40 mile landscape across two drainages from this viewpoint this early summer. The Trees are in the Little Powder River Valley. Beyond the far ridge is the Powder River Valley. It’s like Yellowstone over there without the tourists and the exotic wildlife. All of this is grass and cattle county.

All this ground is eroded on top of a network of Tertiary Alluvial Fans. These are large aprons of sediment spreading across the land eastward from the Big Horn Mountain Range. It eroded spreading sediment out many miles in each direction. These sediments actually filing the greater geologic feature, the “Powder River Basin”. It was a sedimentary bathtub/down warp to be filled up before the aluvial fans could spread from the uplift. Those Big Horns were relatively taller in the past with the valley next to them much lower. That by the way is why the coal swamps formed there. They were formed on the low ground next to high mountains.

The sediments exposed in this image are mostly alternating of beds of Sand/Silt and Clay this 120 mile distance to the source. Over time the more recent rivers have cut down across the older beds between here and the distant mountains.

I’m not usually at tree level down in the river valley floor but this was a rare trip to the highway. Those travels cross part of this a little lower is the drainage.

I’m normally 10 miles off the right frame where I live about 400 feet higher in elevation than this “low” country. Across the river valley, the Mountains are in Montana. I am standing in Wyoming by at least a mile looking this direction. Most of my images have both states in them. Sky of one, ground of the other or both lol. I consider 5 miles either side of the border as the mythical land called “Wyotana”. Added together the 10 linear miles over the length of the Montana / Wyoming border would be 3700 square miles or 3 times the size of Rhode Island. I suspect the population of Wyotana is a thousand at the most.

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

Title: Looking Across the Watershed

Posted on

Mooning for You

Mooning for You
Mooning for You

Mooning for You

Mooning for You

I find the Moon to be quite a character of note here in the highlands. Seems I’m always finding him sitting down on the job. OK, give it a short break before the climb. I’m sure he belongs to some union giving him 5 minutes ever 30 minutes for a rest. He obviously is not a rancher.

Heck, It’s a LOT of work to climb up with all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit. Think of the huge mass that has to be “lifted” over our heads. Yet Again, I caught it sitting down on the job, playing “king of the hill”. This is not the first time I have images of this kind of on the job sitting around. Who am I to question how the moon does his job.

I bet there is quite a view up there. This being a telephoto image of a hill top 400 feet higher than my location on and adjacent ridge. This can be mountain goat country. If there were only mountain goats that lived here. Instead I have celestial objects summiting hillocks holding prime overlook territory.

Wyotana is indeed a magical place. There are many ways to look at any scene, each angle has it’s own story.

Factoid. To determine if it is a rising or a setting moon. :

If the three small craters at 2 oclock are pointing up, it’s a rising moon. If those lined up three craters point to 3 o’clock, then the moon image is a setting moon.

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

Title: Mooning for You

Posted on

Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Lighting Under a Mesocyclone
Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of a ridge in a metal object (vehicle) seems somehow logical if you want to take a photo of lightning. I also think that sticking metal lenses out windows might be a good idea 🤔 ⛈. Of course a high ridge is a wonderful place to watch a lighting storm as long as you don’t mind being on the target list.

Sitting in a car covered by metal and not touching metal is a good thing in a lighting storm. I run my cameras on a lightning trigger and don’t have to touch them unless I move them. The one thing I actually flinch for, is the really really really loud crash when a bolt hits nearby. I’ve been VERY close to bolts before. It’s not my favorite part of that particular photographic game. I like automatic cameras in this case lolol. 📸

Photographic Musings:

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out. The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait. Turn on some tunes…..

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

Title: Lighting Under a Mesocyclone

Posted on

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset
Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Often I climb a ridge only to be clouded out of a sunset. To be honest, I was worried about this particular night’s cloud cover shutting me down. Just a thin band at altitude but below it snuck out a full blown solar spotlight. I call these sun slits where at the last second, the clouds part enough for our furnace to shine though.

The cluster of buildings is the Homestead of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I don’t publish too many photos of the place but it’s a good scale to the breadth of this wide angle image. The largest white roof at the rear of the compound is about the size of a regulation foot ball field for scale.

The difference between an enormously bright sun and a now shadowed landscape is tremendous. The dynamic range necessary to see the extremes exceed the human eyes ability. Looking into the sun would cause you to avert your gaze. But you could probably see the landscape around it if you don’t stare directly at the sun. Cameras see the world entirely differently and not as well as the human eye. They can see into the bright better than our eyes can. They can see into the dark better than our eyes can. WHere they eyes win is being able to see both at the same time. Cameras don’t have the dynamic range the human eye has. Technology is catching up with us though. It won’t be long until the cameras are better. At least the ones I can afford to by now can’t do it.

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

Title: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Sunset

Posted on

Glover Moth on Columbine

Glover Moth on Columbine
Glover Moth on Columbine

Glover Moth on Columbine

When I had this Glover moth over for a stay in my refrigerator for a night (I caught him by a porch light, zip locked eventually cooled him down to 34 degrees). The next day was sunny, bright/blue, warm with scents of various blooms in the air. I definitely put him on these flowers in one of the homesteads many naturalized gardens. . He was happy to hang on though. Being torpid/cool and slow from that stay in my fridge, he was enjoying the heck out of the warming sun. Giving me precious time….

This Glover Silk Moth has a 5 inch wingspan. It’s as big as your hand. Found all along the east/west slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Coincidentally that is also where our ranch is located roughly lol. Liking my backyard apparently. Like most silk moths they eat various plants during the larval stage. The adults do not eat. They are interested in reproduction not ingestion lol.

This one was hanging out on this flower one summer morning. Being chilled from the refrigerator, the Glover Moth had no interest in flying away at first. (He did in about 15 minutes. Forever in my world for a photographic subject actually sits for me. Better, lets me move them from place to place to find the right frame. Here is a thick bundle of columbine in our gardens against a blue sky of my choosing.

That Moth’s antenna system is a magnificent development that I as a ham radio operator am jealous of. 🤔😜 I see several of these guys each spring. Running into them around the ranch headquarters compound I find them near the lights in the cool nights here. They get cold over night and are pretty slow until the sun warms the day. I am usually out pretty early on sunny spring mornings looking for critters JUST LIKE THIS. My “Catch and Release” approach with an over night in a fridge simply slows them down for the night and lets me have a much longer “encounter” with any buy you can catch. Just don’t take them below freezing overnight.🤔📸 Way nicer than Ether and a pin. Lots of photography done that way 😔

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

Title: Glover Moth on Columbine

Posted on

Sunscape over Landscape

Sunscape over Landscape
Sunscape over Landscape

Sunscape over Landscape

Right into the sun Captures with layers of landscape are actually one of my favorite images. I’m not sure how many of these I’ve taken. Likely they certainly number in the hundreds. Probably only 50 or so have been finished and published from my archives of photos that need to be finished (extensive). I think it’s a 70’s thing of mine… Could be just me

Photographic Musings:

I prefer to do photography without additional “filters” in front of my lens. Pointing such right into the sun usually gives me ghosts of the sun I can’t fix in the digital darkroom. If your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range the mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 versions I used for this, you will have to use Neutral Density screw on glass filters in front of your lens. Those will act like sunglasses to your camera so it can actually see what’s going on. Please don’t try to do this with a DSLR style camera. They have direct light paths to your eye and blinding has happened. The Sony Alphas are a mirrorless design that is entirely a video in the eyepiece. No direct light path to blind you.

The trick on all of these is to not overexpose the sun but yet have enough detail in the shadows to bring out the horizons. It’s a knife / razors edge of tweeking exposure back and forth. You could also adjust f-stop since it’s not as critical here but is useful for eliminating light at high settings. Pointing a camera at the sun is an exercise in turning down the camera to light a LOT before you point it at the sun (hint). Don’t burn a spot in your cameras digital sensor…. . 👀 📸

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

Title: Sunscape over Landscape

Posted on

Meanwhile Down By the Lake

Meanwhile Down By the Lake
Meanwhile Down By the Lake

Meanwhile Down By the Lake

The Black Angus Cattle herd out on “open range” were “Watering up” late in the afternoon. This natural spring fed lake watered several hundred cattle at about 30 gallons or more a day per adult. They usually fill their tank then get up the hill to better grass. All here are cows and calves. I doubt there are any bulls in the mix just yet but it won’t be long before it’s that time again. 

This is about as green as it has gotten this year. Part of it is this particular area is drier than others but over all it is indeed going to drought. The water is good sweet water with a tad of the cow next to you flavor I suspect as cattle have a pretty tough stomach. If you drink that water though there might be some intestinal ramifications lol. 

I drink NO natural waters without ultra fine filtration. THe cheapest way to filter your water is one of the many “straw filters out there). They are inexpensive protection, just don’t let them freeze after their first use. Honestly I haven’t had to resort to using even a stock tank for the 20 years I lived here. I always bring adequate supply in the form of frozen water bottles in an ice chest. I stuff water bottles in every spare crevice of my ATV and truck. This is dry country, almost a desert at 14 inches of rain a year. Carry enough water for 3 days minimum with you is my advice. Being without water is a bad thing…

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

Title: Meanwhile Down By the Lake

Posted on

Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down
Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlark Touching Down

Meadowlarks were named by Audubon noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. This is the second image I’ve published from this timeline.

They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots which this is. I’ve discovered that, you can slow down and stop with a meadowlark usually not moving (your in a car), but if you move any after you stop, they will fly away. You get one chance set up lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Getting any bird landing is not easy but getting small birds like Meadowlarks at the moment of touchdown is a matter of luck in my opinion. Even if you know where they are landing, it’s a crap shoot to point a long lens at any particular part of a branch. Rapid fire Machine gun shutters yes but you have to react quickly to trigger the “shutter”. (Mirrorless cameras have an “E-shutter). I shot this whole timeline with a 1/1000th second exposure. Longer is a bad blur risk in contrast, faster takes a LOT of light. It’s a trade off under the conditions I was shooting in. IF you want to freeze those wings, small birds and bumble bees….1/4000. Then you suffer from having to turn up your ISO to compensate (camera sensitivity.).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Touching Down

Posted on

Deer Hotel Vacancy

Deer Hotel Vacancy
Deer Hotel Vacancy

Deer Hotel Vacancy

There are deer beds all around this and the nearby trees. This hill is blessed with a good 360 view around it. The deer almost always pick a spot where they can see some area. The grass is crushed down around the shelter. It’s an improvised windbreak and rain shelter. As they say, ANY shelter in a storm.

Trees growing out of boulders, breaking those into smaller pieces are always instructive. How a living thing can exert enough force to split stone? Admittedly freezing and thawing of water is certainly partially responsible for this. I suspect the initial crack the trees allowed the progenitors seed to settle. It germinated of course. The crack began by freezing water. That tiny little seed sprouted and continued the hundred year long process breaking rocks into smaller ones.

Boulders populate the hill top around the trees. The hill top itself owes it’s existence to the resistance to erosion by those same chunky sandstone boulders. Being harder than the sandy rock that used to surround them, they now protect the sand under them from washing away. Mostly the entire hill is here because it was more resistant to erosion than the rocks that once filled the surrounding valleys. Geology is full of absolutes like this. One conclusion has to lead to the other. Sand from the Cretaceous Dinosaur fossil bearing bedrock forms the soil horizons here. The Rivers that carried the sands sorted the clasts very effectively into a mostly uniform 3 dimensional fabrics of lens shaped sandstone/siltstone/mudstone beds in a 700 foot thick formation called the “Hell Creek/Lance”. I’m t standing on that formation at the moment. There are dinosaur fossils under my feet. 👀 ⚒ .

I’m loving the lighting and contrasts here. Full Screen is a must.

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

Title: Deer Hotel Vacancy

Posted on

Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown
Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Catching a Meadowlark at all is an accomplishment as I’ve never seen them lining up outside my studio for portraits, yet… With the right negotiation skills I’m sure “Sneaky Pete” the windmill could make it happen by promising to make them famous. As far as I know, that deal has not been cut yet. (years long narrative if you don’t understand). At any rate I’m always tickled when one of these singers performs for me. The estimate is about 20 percent of the Meadowlarks I see, let me get within good photo distance from them. All of my encounters are random as I travel about our ranch here in Wyotana.

So I’m coming back from a high ridge. I placed a cut branch a few years ago on a ridge with a view. It is conveniently located within excellent telephoto range from a trail I travel often. Usually I go out to photograph when the light looks interesting to me. If that changes I’ll return back for the trip to the homestead. Several miles of two track roads later I approach this. Stopping, turning off the Raptor, and wait. From the surrounding acreage, Meadowlarks came and went over the next hour. I was happy to facilitate their becoming “famous” 😜

What was really nifty about this was the wind was blowing at least 30 mph. It made for some interesting postures. The photographs of which will slowly work their way into my published work flow.

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

Title: Meadowlark Launching for Parts Unknown

Posted on

Lavender Sunset Backshow

Lavender Sunset Backshow
Lavender Sunset Backshow

Lavender Sunset Backshow

During sunset a few days ago, I habitually turned around during a very colorful sunset. After picking my jaw off the dirt…. Looking over your shoulder can often be well worth your time. Certainly true in bear country but up here during sunset, the back shows can be as impressive as the sunset. The scene was dark so is the image.

I’ve very interested in trying to get the colors scheme accurate to the scene I experienced live. This one is very blue/cyan to my normal published image because that is the actual color of the sky at that moment. I was shocked that it wasn’t just grey with tinged pink clouds, but the cyan was there. I made a mental note of it. It was a rare color in my experience. The drift from day to dusk twilight was a colorcast experience on this evening. This sky was complex all around the periphery of my viewpoint. More or less the whole atmospheric dome above me was worthy of photography that evening. I was happy to comply working it with 3 different camera/lens combinations on a rotating basis lol.

Oh, the repeating cloud pattern on the horizon is a series of Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. They are a fairly rare phenomenon, where a cloud produces a billowing breaking wave pattern. They occur when there is a strong vertical shear between two air streams, causing winds to blow faster at the upper level than at the lower levels. Filed under rare weather phenomena lol.

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

Title: Lavender Sunset Backshow

Posted on

Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens
Sunset and a Wide Lens

Sunset and a Wide Lens

At the top of a drainage, standing on the top of a pass, any water that runs off after falling here will go through 5 rivers to reach the Gulf of Mexico. In Wyoming and Montana are located the head waters of many a watershed. The strip roughly 10 miles shared between both states… Wyotana of course does not exists at a place in time and space. It is a mystical place of undetermined dimensionality along the 45th parallel 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. I’ve seen many things that amaze me and quite often remarkably. Having lived here for only 2 decades I have certainly missed a lot and am not as good a rancher as I could have been. Spending anytime up here teaches you respect for the land and for others that endure the hardships here.

This land imaged above is barren of human intervention. Only a few barbed wire fences keep the perimeter on pastures several square miles in size for herds of thousands of cattle. There are by far way more cattle in this land than there are people. Locally we are around 1 person per square mile density… I last heard 125 people were in our voting precinct covering 256 square miles of land. There are a few non-voters under 18 living about but not a lot. We are a community with a lot of elbow room as you can see by our back yards. Closest neighbor is 3 miles+.

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

Title: Sunset and a Wide Lens

Posted on

Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree
Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Finding a Huge Mesocyclone Spinning 50 miles+ off in the distance, I’m thinking “Perspective” 📸 So I had a “Far Object’. This little Spinning top of a storm with the energy of the atom bomb spread out over it’s lifetime. This is just the right 1/3rd of the storm. I easily could have made a triptych out of the total storm. Over an hour after this capture, I was chasing this storm and indeed took a very wide composite image of the sunset projecting red on this storm. Both daylight AND twilight captures of this storm are now in my portfolio. 

These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as potential monsters if they roll over you. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. Yes tornadic activity can occur out of them. Hail is also a HUGE threat. 

They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow more mid-day . 📸 Having passed right over us. This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across. Still Blue with white clouds, the twilight colors later in any sunset timeline are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere.

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

Title: Backcountry Mesocyclone Lone Tree

Posted on

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals
Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :

So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….

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

Title: Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Posted on

Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns
Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

As the solstice is tomorrow, I thought I’d show you what a Bighorn Mountain sideshow looks like with a far northern sunset. The sun is WAY off to the right of the frame. The landscape ladder here climbing off to the 130 mile distant 13000 foot tall peaks leaves me speechless more times than not. Now this is a very long lens which crushes perspective. The second furthest ridge is 40 miles away from the ridge I’m standing on. My elevation is about the same as the saddle on that second to last ridge. The red layered badlands are only 10 miles distant.

Geologic Musings:

Those red banded layer hills are all Tullock Formation. The rocks exposed on the surface all the way back to the Bighorns have been carried there. A complex process by rivers of the past. These moving eroded by the elements, sediments off the peaks. All running down slope from those world class hills. At one time there was a smooth ramp all the way to the peaks to my feet. It was a smooth slope that huge alluvial fans were deposited off the Bighorns. The middle of those alluvial fan stack are dissected at right angles by the Big Horn, the Powder and the Little Powder Rivers.

The rocks I stand on are older Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstones with their share of Dinosaurian fossils. (Hell Creek/ Lance Formations) These older sandstones are dipping toward the Bighorn’s Powder River Basin being downwarped with the formation of that regional structure. About a mile off my ranch’s west boundary, the alluvial fans overlapped the Cretaceous River Sands. The dinosaur fossil bearing rocks diving deep off toward the mountains.

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

Title: Summer Sunset Sideshow Bighorns

Posted on

Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Missouri Buttes Golden Hour
Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Driving up to the pass on Trail Creek Road to Rockypoint Wyoming, there is a view that tourists don’t get to see. These “little” volcanic “necks” resisting erosion and the ride to the Gulf of Mexico. The express train to the Ocean is always running though the schedule is a the whim of the environment. The sedimentary aprons around them consisting of smaller detrital chunks of the peaks piled up waiting for their ride down river.

Lighting being what it is, I chase it. Sometimes it get’s away from me. Occasionally I don’t have a camera with me (I know, Rule number 1)… If I’m in a vehicle though, I definitely have camera(s) set up for capturing an image. I say that if I can see it, I can photograph it. This looks to be a few miles out from my camera. More like 30 miles distant from my lens. Telephoto lenses crush perspective bringing in distant objects up close and personal.

This was taken during a golden sunset with the background sky being lit up by the color of the ambient light traveling through the atmosphere. The ice there reflecting the sunlight a creme soda colored look over yellow color cast peaks composed of Tertiary Porphyry Igneous rocks. Also known as the “Three Sisters”, these landmarks greeted many a pioneer in covered wagon along the trails to points west.

Location: About 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Posted on

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge
Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Or is that Chaise Lounge? 😝

This late spring, the grass is not that high yet as it’s starting as a dry year. It may appear this Pregnant Pronghorn Doe was standing in high grass. Nope.. If you look carefully, you can see her hind leg folded up as she is actually bedded down. Also she would stand well over the Yucca right behind her. She rests unafraid of my presence. I actually thought she was standing while watching live in the camera. After a few minutes she didn’t move anything but her head I figured that out lol. That head is on a constant swivel as all Pronghorn practice situational awareness routinely. In my experience, they are on situation Orange most of the time and go red at a pin dropping. She can go from 0 to 60 even while pregnant as here though I suspect 50 might be her top speed capability in her “sensitive” condition.

Setting aside very difficult to capture Pronghorn Eyelash close shots of wild animals, the Holy Grail of Pronghorn Photography are bedded animals. Certainly I use long lenses that bring creatures up close and personal. However this was intended as a landscape composition that happened to have a Pronghorn in it lolol. I can’t tally all the things that have to align just so to get a capture like this. The layers of this composition are many (I count 9) which I LOVE to find while randomly driving along remote two track roads. I find new angles every time I go out here in Wyotana. This country is beautiful every which way you look.

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

Title: Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge