Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.
The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.
The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀
Ranch Life is full of spur of the moment photo opportunities. Meanwhile down in the barnyard, after the chickens and ducks have had their fill of the grain I reluctantly give them. It was early smokey morning red light that day. The sun was fairly high just emerging from the smoke pall that morning..
I hate to feed yard birds too much so they will hunt bugs (their job). This image of course are the wildling beggars that come in from all over every morning to clean up the mess left behind by the domestics.
I have never caught 5 Meadowlarks all flying in the same frame. (I’ve tried). The “one” on the left is actually two. There are some Juvenile Red Wing Blackbirds about with one dead center flying. All mixed with adult Red Wings… It was a feast for the wild birds short on grain in this drought year plus water is 50 feet away. I understand why they show up here. My domestic birds have been fed here for 15 years every day. I suppose that sets up a series of expectation by local wildlife. Particularly that which can fly over our deer resistant fences.
The barnyard is fenced in well. We mostly keep predators out with low electric wires. Our cats go through it but they have lived here for years. They know the best places.
A full frame capture of a Plump White Tail Doe (tending for a young just off screen). Note NO black on the tail? Not a mule Deer plus the ears are not right either. Taken in one of our corrals, there is a watering hole that is open 24/7/365. Many deer winter over due to the presence of flowing water. They would be forced down river to find fast flowing water otherwise. I bet we water 50 critters not counting birds most days over 4 tanks. Each in different location watering an area of about 3 square miles. I’ve built a little water jet that always keeps the tank open (so far through 1 winter). It saves a LOT of money pumping water.
The critters don’t mind at all. I’m waiting for one of my game trail cameras catching someone drinking out of the water jet lol. I’m still trying to figure out how these guys get in and out of the corral. They get into this enclosure earlier than I like to get up. I couldn’t catch them with conventional gear anyway lol. Too dark that time of morning. I use game trail cameras for that kind of thing usually.
I have all sorts of wildlife encounters around the stock water tanks. More time needs to be spend around those tanks. So many hours in the day….
These two Whitetail Does with fawns still have a yearling hanging with them. Probably the year old daughter of one of them was being a typical youngin’… EVERYBODY was waiting for her to jump that fence line ME included. Took her time…📸
It was a trip to get up high topographically. The trails diverged over a ridge to expose a 5 wire Barbed wire Bull pasture enclosure that the deer were in getting water. There aren’t many 5 wire fences in this country. Mostly 3 wire. When someone puts up 5, it’s for the big animals. His photo is forthcoming lol. I find modern bulls more or less stubborn and not as smart as your average 1 year old. Low and behold it was sharing a pasture with this one year old lol.
Well junior finally decided to risk the jump. By the looks of it it may have brushed that top wire. Having a few minutes between first and last deer to clear. Set up was I was machine gunning the camera at it lept. I have 7 images over this jump. So many good images, so little time to work on all of them. Heck it’s hard enough to look at everything I take let alone an entire timeline of a good sequence like this. I love to see (and photograph) deer clearing things except my own fence lolol. 😜
The lighting was so unusual I pulled up and pursued it as hard as I could. The heavily veiled sun was peaking through up the hill. But not where I was standing hundreds of yards away. The angles were unusual. I was sun shaded but bright spotlights shone through the veil. This high lighting the hillside. This sunrise was a nice variation of the many themes I have experienced. Lots of contrasts and highlights are a good thing lol.
There is a fossil site below that tree… I haven’t really dug much there, just scratching the surface. I know there is a caudal vertebra from some dinosaur sitting up there under the edge of a boulder about a foot from where I initially found it. It’s only a few inches across. There are also a few bone cross sections (outcrop with bones sticking out) under the cap rock. I don’t believe it is worth my time to dig there as it’s likely just a few random individual bones. They are likely NOT bones from the same individual. Bones soon to become fossils were washed into that spot by the Cretaceous Age rivers. (End of the Dinosaur Era). 53 percent of the fossil record is composed of pieces and parts of Triceratops… They were the cows of the day..
Everybody on two legs (theropods like T-rex) at them. The more things change, the more they remain the same. 2 legged creatures of today eat those modern day cows too.
Landscape Ala Borderlands . (Green September 2019)
Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border. Looking over the Ranch Creek Drainage up to 50 miles distant to the far ridge in Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering from where I stand to the the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.
All that low ground USED to have sandy sediments/rocks totally filling the hole between me and the horizon. The erosive power of the Little Powder River carrying one sand grain at a time to the next river eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. Those sediments now reside in the Mississippi River Delta or somewhere along a river bank on the way. All things eventually end up in the sea washed their by water.
Some parts of the ground under us are harder/more resistant to erosion than others. When you see a hill, usually that hill exists because everything else around it was removed. It is a remnant.. There are exceptions like volcanos and glacial deposits. Those deposits show where a hill is made not left as here. But these hills are all erosional remnants. The softer rock turns into gullies and washes. The harder/less erodible rocks make up the high places on a general concept level.
The geology of this country is integral in my photography. Yours too. The geology controls what we have access to. T%%he topography is created by the characteristics of the ground you stand on. Geology……….
Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.
This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.
Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.
Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.
Winter is bleak and the snow is deep in the hollows. The restless wind of the borderlands, the sun, the grass fires have all contributed to what lives on this landscape of Tertiary river sediments. All this ground is composed of debris carried by rivers about 130 miles across the Powder River basin ALL the way to the Big Horn Mountains. That is a big apron of sediment 130 miles out. My ranch is about 8 miles over that hill from this location.
There was a snowstorm coming in and I drove JUST ahead of the storms shadow for about 10 miles. I of course was snapping the wonderful lighting all along the way. I have this antique grass rake from this side and looking through it at the sun. All taken from the road via telephoto. I will never leave the right of way taking photos if it’s private land unless I have permission ahead of time.
A seat is missing from the top of the center support for it. This was certainly horse drawn at one time or another in it’s history. A pair of horses with harness ruled early farm life in this country. As technology advanced but even more importantly, because servicible here. A host of various machinery was used to pull farm implements. Some had actual tractors other bought army surplus crate Jeeps freshly returned from storage depot. All produced during World War II. Many a Willis pulled a hay rake during the late 40’s and early 50’s.
Location: About 8 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.
I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).
So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂
An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.
Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.
I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry can be a very contrasty thing after a storm. This vista surprised me coming up over the ridge behind the camera. I instantly stopped of course and started composing the final frame. What dramatic contrast…. I honestly don’t see this very much this pronounced. That was a very interesting (if not cold at -2F) morning up on that ridge. It always is after a storm and the cold. That is BIG country back there.
I call this phenomena spotlighting for obvious reasons. There is about 4-6 inches of standing snow up on the ridges and I’m still driving about in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a new vehicle incoming if Ford will put it in production lololol. (We have a vin now 🙂 ) Winter is coming though and I’m going to have to get plowing some snow to get up in this country. This particular spot is about a mile up a long hill to get to. Roughtly the same distance to the far ridge in the shadows with trees on it. The far right side of that ridge (ridge 4) is a full 2 tiles out. Distances are deceiving out here. The closest ranch house in that direction is about 10 miles of hills and gullies that have to be driven around. That would mean about 20 miles of driving lololol.
All of this ground in this image is underlain by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Dinosaur Fossil Bearing Sandstone. This is prime country to find dinosaurs. I found a partial Triceratops just left of the frame around the corner or a hill so I have some basis for saying this lol.
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. 😍
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 😜
Windmill Herringbone Sky My Landscapes are always being “photobombed” by “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. I have no control over his actions. 🤣 Windmill Weekend: 🤘 Windmill Junkies Unite!! Musings:
Nice sky that night. It disappeared (moved on quickly) before the sun got into the sunslit at the bottom of the cloud deck. It was still an interesting sunset. I love this kind of perspective using a VERY wide 12mm lens. This is a HUGE section of the sky with a wide 12 mm Zeiss lens just screaming perspective. I call the wedge of light at the horizon a “Sunslit” and as soon as the sun dropped below the cloud deck, most of it evaporated (literally lolol). The rest of that evening had just a bit of this going on. I found a few more applications for this sky (Compositions) up the hill on Ridge 1 where I get to interact with all the old growth trees up there.
Sneaky Pete is not an old windmill. He is about 20 years old. He pumps air for a small barnyard pond that we like to keep open for our ducks in the winter. The bubbles break open the surface under all but the coldest winters. It give the ducks a place to escape to. Their little pond has frozen over a few times and they walk up the hill and spend that time with the chickens because there is a small pool in their cage with running water there. The ducks number over 30, the pool is about 4 feet long by 32 feet wide and shaped like a kidney lolol. Sneaky Pete does a lot for the ducks….😄
5:50 AM as this posts. Enjoy the day and be safe in all you do.
Taken Saturday evening as I was on my way to photograph the sunset. Animal cooperation and good lighting only align now and then so I missed part of the sunset working this little cottontail. (not a jack). These are not big rabbits by nature but they are well adapted to this harsh/cold/dry/hot/wet climate here on the Border with Wyoming/Montana.
Caught just as he bolted up that steep hill, this fawn paused, then started running. Click, Click every 2 seconds… The particular Browning Trail Camera takes very nice photos. It gives me an initial 20 meg image which is better than most cell phones.
I saw this lighting while driving along a ridge (the tree is actually on a high ridge but I was one step higher for this… It’s actually a very long telephoto shot….. I actually backed up to take it. What you can’t see here is the gully system about 100 feet deep and 400 yards wide between me and that tree lolol…