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…