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Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands
Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands

The January Wolf Moon

Diving into the morning low sky mist, the incoming light from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth) has lessened from it’s peak. .. IT had just snowed the night before. Moisture was thick in the air.

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Tree and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. 

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that anyone photographer could need. 

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

Title: Moonset over Winter Highlands

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Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds
Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds (A MUST for Full Screen)

Ducks were EVERYWHERE taking off that morning for parts unknown but likely south of here. The Cattle Hang here because the rancher feeds them nearby AND there is liquid water. The fog while freezing is still warmer than the air surrounding this microclimate.

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.

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

Title: Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

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Islands in a Sea of Mist

Islands in a Sea of Mist
Islands in a Sea of Mist

Islands in a Sea of Mist

I set sail early enough under this sea to achieve the vantage point I knew was on the hill. The fog bank moved over my homestead a full hour before sunrise. A window in that cover to the stars gave me a good idea of how thick/tall the bank was. I jumped in my rig driving through this lavender pea soup. Not until I climbed enough ridge to get above they tops of the waves of clouds that were hugging the ground rolling in.

The “Islands” at 30 miles from my lens, were looking back at me. The Missouri Buttes were a big sign post to the wagon trains known to them as the “3 Sisters”. Remember that those 3 hills are all related volcanic necks. Made of hard rock. they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower (left off frame about 20 miles), but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana), (Crook County/Campbell Count line about 4 miles south of the Montana/Wyoming border. Looking south east.

Title: Islands in a Sea of Mist

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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.