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Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light
Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light

This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that morning was climbing up the back of the peaks. Those clouds well past the 130 mile distant 13,000 feet high PreCambrian Cored, uplifted Mountain Range. Parts of Montana and Wyoming in this photo.

It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this photon trap. The sun was JUST rising over my shoulder. I was standing in the long shadow of the ridge I live on.

Getting to see weather move over those high ridges is a rare treat from this far away. These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide “Orogeny”. (Google Word of the day) Cloud peak is 13,175 feet. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east toward my camera. This deep basin is called the Powder River Basin.

The Powder River basin is a major source of clean burning coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns.

Those long fans of sand/gravel/silt and clay, dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. The first two sets of ridges are all Tullock, as are the hills behind them out to the Mountain range. They are all made of sediment that traveled from the Big Horns when they were MUCH taller.

Major Mountain Chain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from continental wide compressional forces. Huge were those forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks weathering to sand and clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed all the way… well just about to my front door.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Morning BigHorn Light

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Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow
Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.

I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.

I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..

This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷

You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.

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

Title: Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

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Sharp Tail Blue Sky

Sharp Tail Blue Sky
Sharp Tail Blue Sky

Sharp Tail Blue Sky

It’s always interesting lighting when subject patiently sitting for me is in the shade. The contrast with the Robin’s Egg Blue Wyotana sky was remarkable to me. The bird itself was a “Score” in the photon capture world I play in. I seldom get this close to any wild creature but “when I do”…… I like to bring a 28 inch long lens along.

It took me over a minute to SLOOOOOWWWLY move from under a roof clearly into this observant birds view. It was perhaps 10 yards away and was watching me like his distant cousin the hawk… This encounter didn’t last more than the next 360 degree sweep of the pocket watch dial. (you guys that grew up with only digital watches / clocks won’t get that 😜) .

I consider these birds as a food bank if shortages occur lol. They hang around here mooching off my barnyard Duck and Chicken feeding “operation”, (read my wifes hobby). I of course get to haul the feed around…. save that for another narrative I’m thinking …..👀

“Sharpies” are certainly plump flying boats. Look to me like a “Cataline PBY” aircraft plowing through the air. Landing is usually a LONG glide and a last second . I’ve seen them literally glide over a mile (with me following on the county road lolol). I find it is fairly difficult though to photograph Gliding Birds while driving along side of them. Easier in the middle of a big field lolol.

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

Title: Sharp Tail Blue Sky

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This Picture Stinks

This Picture Stinks
This Picture Stinks

This Picture Stinks

Running a network of 29 game trail cameras is a lot of work. I have to replace batteries at least once a year plus getting around to check them. I have been known to have to look through image after image of grass setting off the camera wearing out the battery. I’ve seen too dark, too light and then there are the good ones.📸

Taken in pitch black conditions at 1am in the morning, this little one was cruising along a local game trail that I have covered. Many creatures great and small walk their way through here. There is a lake about 1/4 mile down gully and this is how most of the critters in the area get there. The trick is to find where the ‘highways’ are then plant cameras at the height that you want to cover. I like to keep the “target” zone about 10 feet out for optimum focus. Besides placement, the ONLY control you have over a few settings like movie or photo in these game cameras. I find this is THE BALL GAME. I endorse no particular brand of Game Trail Camera. You do get what you pay for I have found.

An infrared flash was triggered by Pepi LePew’s heat signature opening the shutter at the same time. Automatic cameras are wonderful in that I didn’t have to sniff this guys odiferous passing even once. Generally I’m pretty intolerant of skunk smell. Interestingly enough I’m always the one that has to deal with them when trapped. The discussion is alway, “you trapped it, you deal with it”….. I am pretty sure this is why women live longer.. 👀😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: This Picture Stinks

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Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off
Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 100 yards maybe. It took a while to close the distance between us as I spied it. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to my prey if I stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals I encounter. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there I find. I take photos at each stop. Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium. Caught him taking off.

I’m not a hawk expert but I believe this to be a Ferruginous Hawk. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those underwings are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title : Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

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RoadRunner Just Off Frame

RoadRunner Just Off Frame
RoadRunner Just Off Frame

RoadRunner Just Off Frame

I’ve pretty fast with a long lens but keeping ahead of these canids is a job best left to the Road Runners. Occasionally I catch them with great lenses/cameras, other times I catch them with a game trail camera. The best game trail cameras I use are in the 200 dollar range. The best Sony Mirrorless with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens is in the 6000 dollar range. Both cameras take images of what is in front of them if the operator knows how to set them up, quickly I point out, and get the shot. One might get this either way. Humm, I wonder which system took this image? Under the right conditions, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.

Quality of game trail cameras is not the subject of this post as much as this hunting coyote is. I know he is hunting because he is awake. Generally they wake up with a “Coyote Breakfast”. Such menu is widely understood as a Coyote relieving himself next to a tree. No actual food for breakfast involved usually for such a creature. They are always chasing road runners fictionally but it real life, it’s all about the next meal. They do chase the original fast food….. Mostly mice and small mammals but they do get into trouble with ranchers and growers of any livestock. Baby livestock is a favorite snack for a pack of these guys.

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

Title: RoadRunner Just Off Frame

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Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set
Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set

From Front to Back:

The first ridge of Rock, theTullock Formation, (Tertiary Alluvial Fans ) deposited 130 miles from the Big Horn Mountain which were the Source of the sediment. High gradient Streams ran off those distant slopes bringing the debris all the way out here. The first ridge is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills that span the Montana / Wyoming border 8 miles to my west. . It’s rough country out there too lol.

The Second Ridge is the spine of the “Red Hills” 40 miles distant. The Little Powder River Squeezes into the valley behind some 400 feet lower than the second ridge top. Sediments derived from the Big Horn Uplift were the source material. There are considerable area of “Clinker” Rock in those hills. Clinker is natures ceramic. Underground coal fires bake the clay surrounding the coal layers into a red Ceramic thus the moniker of “Red Hills”.

Finally, the March morning back show looking at the last sliver of the setting Full April Egg Moon (Passover moon). The moon heavily distorted from the atmospheric lensing that low in the air. The color is a result of only the red wavelengths making to my camera through that air. 1200mm long lens on a big heavy tripod. 2 second Time Exposure.

This moon is is also known by other name variations such as the Paschal Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and the Sprouting Grass Moon. IT will occur Tuesday, April 7th at 8:35PM, Mountain Time. This image is from Last Aprils Paschal Moon. This Moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April. The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek (a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach).

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

TItle: Horizon Rising Moon Set

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Face to Face Stare Down

Face to Face Stare Down
Face to Face Stare Down

Face to Face Stare Down …. 18in square aspect, ….. It’s a game trail camera capture again.👀📸

I’ve kept a couple of game trail cameras pointing at this spot for well over a year now. I discovered this is a major game intersection point where game either goes under or over the fence. It is the local pass between the grazing pasture and the local water trough. We have a solar panel driven well about 300 yards down drainage from this point. For generations animals have been stopping here for a variety of reasons. Birds stop here too as the fence line is the first/last place to land above the water. The topography guides the flow of the animals here.

I’m thinking this is a little close for proper “Social Distancing these days. The play remains the same but the actors have changed .

Satire for a paragraph or 3 : ….

The local Pronghorn population is known for their awareness of world events. Their network is face to face of course. I don’t translate Pronghorn very well yet. Or as the Commercial says, I’m OK at reading Pronghorn lips. . I translate their written language much better as that is very straight forward. Usually forward in the direction they were moving when they left the cuniform like tracks in the ground. What if they are writing a story as they run along. Oh wait….they are :

Some Pronhorns was cajoled by “Sneaky. So he probably heard news from “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. Passing it on here in this capture “Down Yonder By The Fence Line”.

“Sneaky Pete’s” the windmill’s role up here is complex but generally his role is one of an information broker. My side of the “Deal”. I give him publicity and enable his photobombing of my landscapesSituated with a world class view, “Sneaky” knows all that happened around him. who originally heard it from the chickens that eavesdrop under my radio shacks. There is a whole network of connected creatures up here in Wyotana. For giving “Sneaky Pete” so much time, he sets up stuff like this for me in return. 🤔😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

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

Title: Face to Face Stare Down

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Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers
Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story.

This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

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Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective
Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

This is indeed what a flat tire looked like 100 years ago. This old solder is tied along a fenceline high in the backcountry I suspect it’s 1930 vintage or before. The cattle every year rub on this wheel. Over the years this old wagon has had thousands of cattle rub and scratch on it. Wood rots very slowly here with 50 to 100 year old items like this still just looking like barn wood. Steel however will last a very long time.

I’m not sure what happened in the history of this device but I suspect the wagon it was supporting was overloaded and a rock appeared to start the dimple in the wheel. Once started the collapse cascaded and stopped the wagon in it’s tracks. This particular wheel was about 5 miles away from the nearest general store of the era so this might have not been a terrible thing. I suspect the 5 mile walk must have occurred in nice weather without wind, rain or snow to hinder the now on foot traveler to get help. There was no AAA tire service to come fix the rig either. No cell Phone, no landline phone, no radio. Word of mouth carried by hoof was the high technology of the day in this remote backcountry.

The red light from the JUST rising sun over my right shoulder is bouncing back off the projector screen the hoar frost on the trees provides. This is a common color I see when the “Belt of Venus” pink light comes down on the high ridge tops.

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

Title: .Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

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Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast
Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point last summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.

Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. This is the second of two finished images from that encounter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

2×3 feet at full resolution.

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

Title: Pronghorn Fawns Incoming Fast

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BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape
BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The lighting for this was subdued to say the least.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. The width of those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here. You are quite zoomed in here. 👀📷

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

Title: BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

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Wild Flowers and a Raptor Feather

Wild Flowers and a Raptor Feather
Wild Flowers and a Raptor Feather

Wild Flowers and a Raptor Feather (only 4 months till flowers up here in the borderlands) When Simple is elegant…

I call these wildflowers Rock Daisies but they are growing on an eastern exposure of a long sandy ridge. Please correct me if I’m wrong on the ID. The soils on ranch are mostly sandy and well drained with exceptions of some hillocks of bentonitic clay soils (gumbo). A Sunny well drained sandy hillside is a prime environment for these. These daisies spread in clumps around the landscape. I’m driving by this remote spot on a two track I might travel on every couple weeks randomly.

Mid-winter I can still smell the summer scents of nearby sage patches pungent upwind of my position. Pollen circulates from dozens of flowering species including many tree species. This is the time of year my eyes start reacting. Something rare here called humidity was in the air at this capture. Taken on a rare mid-day photo outing.

I don’t know which raptor owned this big feather because it might be a small feather from a very big bird. I don’t have a clue how to key a bird on an individual feather. If you do, pitch in your knowledge below please. As to the identity of this feathers owner, your guess is as good as mine.

I saw the occurrence as a good one and thought it worthy of catching it’s photons in my photon capture boxes.

One must leave the feather where it lay as owning/possessing/selling/putting on the shelf in the living room is illegal under federal law. No raptor parts pieces may be owned without tribal affiliation or federal permit. Some old Raptor parts (feathers/bird mounts, claws etc) are grandfathered as antiquities. I came across a great horned owls body a few miles into the bush over a decade ago. I left it lay. It had wonderful claws all mummified by the dryness and sun out here.. Long since they all have been destroyed by the weather. Some laws are a shame but preventing the trade in these birds is the end game of the regulations and it get’s a pass as such (barely with a frown). Letting things decay seems silly but hey, what do I know. It’s a complex issue I’m sure. . The disreputable among us ruin it for the rest of us.

Reference (50 CRF 21.31 of federal Regulations.) Takes a federal permit to hold, move transport any of these. Don’t pick them up. There are serious penalties. I’ve left hundreds of random feathers up here on the prairie over the decades.😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wild Flowers and a Raptor Feather

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Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape
Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.

Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms

Photographic Musings.

This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.

The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)

Title: Moon Light Only Landscape

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Spot Light Shaft Rainbows

Spot Light Shaft Rainbows
Spot Light Shaft Rainbows

Spot Light Shaft Rainbows 

Here is a Unique rainbow. I see a lot of variations on the classic arched colorful rainbows. There are doubles, very rare triples and quads, complete circles and regular arches. This one definitely stands out in my mind. When I climb up on the high ridges, I’m never sure what I’m going to find. When rain comes over us I start getting ready to go up hill. IF the sun comes out, there are always rainbows but their presentation is always in doubt. 

This one certainly didn’t disappoint. What is going on? Well “Spotlighting” is a situation where clouds block all but individual shafts of light. Like a spotlight on a theatre production stage. With enough moisture in the air, even the individual shafts can be visible. They usually go unnoticed on their own. You can clearly see the shaft coming in from the upper left. They are pointing directly at “W” Butte 30 miles distant from my cameras location in Wyoming. 

Shooting across the Wyoming / Montana border here up into Montana. “W” butte is a well known Landmark and a wonderful site for the communication tower that is there. I personally have never seen this phenomena before and I see a LOT of rainbows. I never know what I’m going to find when I go up into the backcountry. The 180 mile across horizon to horizon Sky doesn’t hide it’s secrets from me very much 🤔👀📸

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

Spot Light Shaft Rainbows

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Sunrise over State Ground

Sunrise over State Ground
Sunrise over State Ground

Sunrise over State Ground

As I drive down the county red gravel road, I look to my left. Traveled a bit further to pull over safely. The paucity of traffic up here makes me drive even more carefully as I pull over at the strangest times. In the last 2 years I believe I’ve met less than 10 different cars / trucks out on the backroads working sunset/sunrises in this backcountry. . This image on “Section 36” taken 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border . This is nothing like AREA 51 just so you know… . Section 36 in any particular township is the “school” section. That square mile reserved by the govt for the gov’t to be used for a school building.

This is a “School Section” mostly state owned ground 660 acres in size. It is leased to a neighboring ranch to me. A square Mile of State ground. Private ground past on the far Ridge. The pyramidal hill on the right skyline is “Mitten Butte”. Back in the 1950’s, the view the Parks Road /Trail Creek One room School House had. No neighbors then either. Only two signs of that old building… Some concrete foundations remain over a bank where they. Secondarily an old oil burning furnace about 3x3x5 feet still sits on the prairie marking the site where most of the local ranch kids learned the basics. It was a mile plus walk from our homestead where quite a few of the local kids came from to school.

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

Title: Sunrise over State Ground

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Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet
Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet

I hadn’t thought about this image for a while but it needed to be updated and posted in January 2020. Out of season images are a good thing this time of year lolol. The weather was warm late spring which this year was a month late. Spring actually occurred on a Friday last year (2019). While Fall was on a Tuesday. I remember those days well but either side of those 2 days were brown season and white season. Interestingly this last year, a third season kicked in. A rare green season. Last year was so wet that it was green through August. I haven’t had to fight a fire for 2 years which is a very good thing.

This bloom is purple mustard I believe. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.

Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title:Sunset over Purple Carpet

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BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait
BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

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

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

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Glover Moth Purple on Blue

Glover Moth Purple on Blue
Glover Moth Purple on Blue

Glover Moth Purple on Blue (plus green and orange lichen too….Wyotana Summer is a good thing…

6 months out of season for your pleasure.

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 that flower hanging over that tree branch. 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.

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 in 2019. Being chilled, the Glover had no interest in flying away. (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. That 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 either and a pin. Lots of photography done that way 😔

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

Title: Glover Moth Purple on Blue

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Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive
Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).

Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.

If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.

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

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

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Twilight Over the BigHorns

Twilight Over the BigHorns
Twilight Over the BigHorns

Full Screen is a good choice for this. . Twilight over the BigHorns was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight. I was returning home from a Photographic Road trip. My driveway offered this view as I returned to base.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The Big Horns of course are 130 miles from my camera at this location. The long lenses I use crush the perspective. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

Photographic Musings focusing on :

Shutter speed:

When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim. I use very sensitive gear and this late, handheld camera work is silly to attempt. This is a 2 second time exposure. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring. 2 seconds you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and a rested camera.

My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…

Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..

Walking human 1/200th.

Running anything 1/800th

Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th

Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th.

These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight over the BigHorns

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Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals

Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals
Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals

At midday when the sun is shining brightly, look for soaring “kettles” of Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals over grasslands. These groups appear as barely visible wisps from afar with the unaided eye.. I think there is around 300 here…(Rough guess). Circling, right side coming at the camera the left side going away in the spiral.

The birds are using the thermals and keeping their flight muscles toned for the journey that lies ahead. Off to Nebraska First where they gather by the thousands on the Platte River where they put on some fat.

Sandhill Migration:

Several species of Sandhills (at least 6) with 3 being non-migratory and the rest are migratory. Cranes are diurnal or daytime migrants and use thermals to their advantage. They will hitch-hike a ride with the thermal higher and higher up to an altitude of a few thousand feet. They then will glide southward in wavering lines losing altitude as they go until they reach the next thermal, spiraling upwards to repeat the process. Rinse and Repeat is the play of the day. This method of migration is highly energy efficient, more so than the powered heavy on-flapping flight of other species such as the Canada Goose… On a good day with the right thermals, cranes can travel up to 500 miles but 200 to 300 miles is more typical. Finally in the late afternoon, they seek a wetland of some type to noisily roost in for the night. They depart the next morning with weather permitting, until they reach their next destination on the journey.

This Flock was following along the back edge of a snow storm that lasted a day. They were clearly waiting for it to move on so they could get past it and hung out just circling round and round getting higher with each revolution. Eventually they headed south toward the back of the snowstorm visible in the distance only to find another thermal and jump on board.

Location: Somewhat over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana Borderlands.

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Perspective #9: Through the Steel Wheel

Perspective #9: Through the Steel Wheel
Perspective #9: Through the Steel Wheel

Perspective #9 Through the Steel Wheel was just taken a week ago. I was watching this big cloud cover the sunset when a crack in the cloud let this light through. I had mere seconds to catch this before it disappeared again. Light happens only when it does. 5 minutes before this, I was sitting on my computer and just happened to notice this setting up . I jumped in my jeep and ran up the closest hill where this old soldier lives. He’s seen thousands of sunsets in his spot. Countless…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Boys Will Be Boys Even at Night

Boys Will Be Boys Even at Night
Boys Will Be Boys Even at Night

Even at Night, Boys will be Boys. Like there just isn’t enough time during the day, these guys are fighting around 10pm one evening right infront of a very good game trail camera in a properly laid out alley of exposure. Too close and you white out the animals. Too far away and you can’t see much. This one was just right but WHAT? I never knew bucks fought in pitch black lolol. I’m always learning new factoids about animal behavior up here…

I can just hear someone now….”OK guys, take it outside…” and this is what they got 😂.

No stars in this night sky, pitch black out, overcast. It get’s as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean up here according to NASA’s map of such things.

2 by 3 aspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Moon Setting over the Red Hills

Moon Setting over the Red Hills
Moon Setting over the Red Hills

This sliver of Moon setting over the 40 mile distant “Red Hills” from my vantage point was the last setting/bit of the full Hunter moon this year. This is deep in twilight and was a very dark environment. This is actually a 1 second time exposure. There really wasn’t much light from that moon sliver…. It was still pretty dark with these pro Sony cameras just being able to make out the landscape.

Normally, the amount of light put out by the moon lighting up the clouds around it all the way down but you can’t capture that with current technology…. It’s pretty hard to get that in the camera unless you have something to filter out most the moon light. Here I’m using a ridge to balance the difference between the two light levels. The moon isn’t overwhelming the faint glow from the clouds with this little sliver. A “Ridge Filter” so to speak. Got the glow in the clouds😄

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time

An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time
An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time

This Cone Flower (Echinacea) is a wonderful summer flower with this silhouette captured from one moment in time. There are millions of them on this ranch being ubiquitous in the borderlands.

This kind of sunset lends itself to silhouettes with a particular lens I like to use for it’s smooth as silk bokeh.
Obviously this is from this summer and not current. I will be posting a mix and match all winter with summer photos creeping in where ever they occur in my workflow. I have a folder with close to 1000 images to finish at the moment lolol (laughing maniacally) …..

Location: Bliss DInoasur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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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.