Languishing in my “to do folder” unnoticed from last spring was this little chubby gal fawn. She obviously has a lot of attitude. She was all business with her twin just off frame moments before. Now shes prancing about sticking her tongue out. You will notice the rounded belly of a baby that obviously has spent some time on the spigot. Moms lunch counter the two share. They mix that with tasty morsels from the buffet around them. I’m sure there are many good looking plants that tasted terrible though. Learning quickly is a trait of the species but this one is a mere baby when this was taken.
The deer live on what they forage . They are tougher than cattle with regards to eating certain plants. For instance, deer can eat pine needles and not abort their fetus.The turpentine in the pine needles can and will cause cattle to spontaneously abort.. So certain pastures with pine trees are not good winter pasture for cattle. Deer have a very tolerant system to deal with such things.
This fawn I have followed over the summer. This is miss “Perfect Ears” I’ve spoken of in other posts. She is always lagging behind the other two. More curious of things I believe. She is more than cooperative and tolerant of “Clever Girl” driving around, stopping and sitting with a big eye sticking out the drivers window…. I hope we have a mild wet winter… I miss the spring already….
Have a great night all from my workstation here on ranch 🙂
These two Red Fox were obviously on the hunt during the daylight out on the open grasslands. Intent on some movement ignoring me entirely. With hundreds of thousands of acres only separated by porous Barbed Wire, they wander large areas. The Unlimited hunting opportunities for them makes a pair like this grow fast. There is a lot of mice this year eating grass that was beat up by hail. These two are likely siblings.
Foxes get a bad reputation for attacking chicken houses. I’ve had 30 or more chickens for several decades now. Never had a fox get them. Currently we are protected by an electric fence barrier to anything bigger than a house cat. Of course the chickens get put away at night inside of the cages enclosure. The ducks are on their own. They sleep under the stars. Have to feed the Owls somehow lolol.
I’m pretty sure based on my observations, foxes are not pests to be shot at but a critical part of the ecosystem up here. Being omnivore, they certainly eat small mammals like squirrels, rabbits and mice. Bird are certainly on their menu list though. Mostly small birds I point out lol. A large part of the red fox’s diet is made up bugs and other invertebrates. Even crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and crayfish. Most don’t know they eat berries and grass for their fruit/ grains on the food pyramid. Tough world up here as there isn’t a convenience store on the corner to get a drum stick and a bag of chips after all.
I get a few “Cathedral” Skies every year. This happened a week before this is published. Assuming you haven’t just returned from two weeks of Spelunking deep under a rock somewhere, we are living under a Pall of Smoke from western fires. Most of the west is enjoying unhealthy air qualities, and high temperatures. Low humidities, dry lightning strikes and a drought year long term continue to press the US.
This was not a short sky show either. 1/2 an hour… forever for me. I went into a how often do I see such a thing and started really accumulating clicks at a serious pace. The image changed by the minute with the rays changing / morphing as the clouds moved. The “Crepuscular” rays slicing through the heavy smoke above highlighting it with white unfiltered light above. Red Light traveling through miles of atmosphere making a shaft spreading below the sun.
Taken with one of my widest lenses. A 12 mm full frame Sony G series. The resultant image is well over 90 degrees wide and very tall. This is a major contender for the Largest Crepuscular display I’ve personally ever seen in my travels. It was a very unusual meteorlogic situation. Certainly an irreproducible set of circumstances. I’ll never get another chance like this in my lifetime I suspect. I took several hundred images on several cameras. There are many variations on this theme. Some are amazing like this one.
The Telephoto time exposure of a gigantic spiral Lightning bolt. It was following the easiest path of least resistance. It’s hard to know but I’m betting this was a ground to cloud lightning. That is of course just a guess. Obscured is the top of the bolt. The shaft of falling hail blocking even the strobe passing behind.. The back of this mesocyclone had a pretty good down draft along with it. Down Drafts from big Mesocyclones tend to shake my Raptor quite a bit lol. I’m usually turning it 90 degrees to the action. Usually facing my window into the wind and rain. That’s hazardous duty for cameras lol.
Based on empirical observations, Tampa Florida takes the record of lightning events/ strikes I understand. I spent years in that area. Having a memory of quite a few good storms over the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, there are moments up here…. Well let me tell you that 30 miles east of here is a little place called “Lightning Flats”. Right up on the North East Corner of Wyoming. Let’s just say it has it’s share of strikes over there. I know of animals getting killed by lightning up here. I’ve never known anybody killed by lightning to my knowledge. One is much safer in a vehicle as long as you stay away from metal and sticking long metal tubes out open windows….😜 👀
Late in the timeline of that day, into civil twilight at Dusk. The Landscape was barely visible to me so the exposure times elongated further than that storms anvil. The rising column of air going up over 30K feet at least. Only the red rays survive the atmospheric gauntlet to reflect back at my lenses. The storm is 80 miles to the north east and is classified as a Mesocyclone. A big lumbering spinning top of a weather system, they are massively powerful. The higher, the more powerful. Anybody under these things are certainly aware of it. You’d have to be several stories under ground to ignore the presence of this kind of hail storm.
How badly your effected by the passing of these as they move across the prairie, depends on your location. If it randomly moves over where you are, there is usually heavy rain, hail up to softball (we had such sized hail hit us back in 2008) sized, lightning with possible tornadic activity. Strong down drafts also can cause massive damage as those hit in Iowa in early August 2020. These are were we get most of our precipitation during the summer months.
Heaven forbid they stall directly over you below a down draft. We got 4 inches or hard rain over 45 minutes about a decade ago. Sheet wash ankle deep was running down the hill and around my house during that event. They are not a daily event but we do see these every other week during the late green and early brown season. Life on the high plains has it’s exciting moments.. 😜
Setting is the Trail Creek Drainage, 3700 feet elevation, grasslands with trees around the homesteads (ranch headquarters). Small ranches are 5 or so square miles with big ranches being 100 square miles in this region. Mixed terrain, grassland, woodland, river and lakes. A bit dry at 14 inches a year precipitation. 45 degrees north latitude or there about. Cattle Country big time with genuine lifetime long cowboys about with their stock trailers behind their pickups.
Ranches in this country have unusual things about their back yard. Using a long telephoto I crushed distance here. The homestead is about 2 miles distant from my camera. The Pronghorn Herd was about 1/2 of a mile out. This small gathering of Yard ornaments is a mixed batch. Fawns and Doe Pronghorn mix it up with the buck around somewhere grazing. He keeps them in line more or less until someone “more deserving” comes along for the job. They didn’t care about me. I was way outside their red line. They are jumpier as a group than they are singly by far.
The old Homestead has been remodeled and is very nice now. The original owner that lived there for decades just recently passed to an overlook position up on high. Loads of stories about that cowboy. He actually touched my son’s back with a brand by accident. It left a mark. Brandings get interesting sometimes lol. The wheel keeps spinning.
The folks running the place now store a “bit” of hay about as many cattle winter over on this range and get fed nearby. Bales are always of interest to local wildlife from small rodents to the Raptors and Canids that feed on them. I’ve seen numerous Red Fox around Hay Stacks in the past hunting mice. I could never sneak on on them though. They want nothing to do with a vehicle. You MIGHT get a long distance photo of a tail running away if your quick. Photographers that get eyebrow close fox photos have my respect lolol. (you know who you are 😜 )
This “Wave cloud” does not have a specific classification to scientists, there are various situations that form wave patterns. I’d call them “Stair Way to Heaven” clouds if the name were not taken already lol. (classical reference). Finding a stable thin layer of atmosphere that the temperature doesn’t get colder with hight. This stable layer can be disturbed by waves of adjacent air to move along it. Similar to water waves in a pond. It that stable layer has enough humidity, a cold wave crest will cause cloud formation. The cloud evaporates on the way down the wave. I have only seen this phenomena a few dozen times and never this well developed under a mesocyclone. Every other time it has been a herring bone sky under altocumulus sky cover. This was unusual to me anyway.
Another form of wave cloud is a lenticular cloud often accused of being UFO’s. Those are mostly formed over significant geographic high points (mountains, big ridges etc). Saucer shaped. But they are also related to these and a similar phenomena. I’ve never seen them trail 20 miles off into the distance before. That is the ranch communication tower about a mile from my position. This was an unusual storm that moved over for this. It was mostly wind and rain. No hail and little lightning. Not very strong but interesting none the less. I never know what I’m going to see when I climb up these ridges.
For a Black and White Game Trail Camera Night Shot, this came out pretty well lolol. 📷 Grainy as would be expected of an Infra-red camera.
Each game trail camera shot has issues. I spent some time working on in the digital darkroom this to fix them. The result was good enough to get published second today on my timeline. I love photos that tell stories. This has a wonderful obvious one.
A Mule Deer Buck Listening to a Meadowlark Sing it’s melody in the Twilight.
The bird on the post in silhouette is a Meadowlark. I know them very well, trust me it’s a Meadowlark. It’s singing it’s heart out to the Spring Velvet buck (you can only see one growing horn at this angle) . He was in antler growth mode in early June when this was taken. I have no question that buck is listening and watching that Meadowlark. Being the State Bird of 6 Western States, the Meadowlark’s are sort of hard to ignore even at 4:55 AM. What a way to start your morning 📸 . Actual sunrise that morning was around 20 minutes later. You have to look but there is a grazing buddy of the buck over on right frame.
Game trail cameras lag months behind as I only pick them up when I pass them. That might be 1/2 a year depending on the season.
I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee
Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.
The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.
From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…
Crimson Sunsets with a boulder field acting as a sun moderating filter. Otherwise the glare is such it makes it very difficult to catch the detail in the clouds above. I point out that cloud frame is a Pariedoliac’s dream with a dozen faces, figures, creatures and imaginary anthropomorphic shapes. I’ve got horses, dolphins humans faces. I swear I did not put those shapes there or add dots for eyes or any of those cheating activities. This is a totally natural image with a pretty much closed down camera to light. That sun is bright. The human eye could not look into this scene.
Taken at the top local top of the world with a hard boulder covered butte top protecting the sandstone below from erosion. Most buttes are built by cap rock protecting the softer sediments below from being removed. Ridges are formed because everything softer was carried away by water moving one grain of sand at a time. Just lots of time.
Photographic Musings. High F-stop for the deep focus plus loosing some light. (you’ve got an overabundance of light here). Low ISO because you sure as heck don’t need a sensitive camera here. Shutter speed is going to be fast but the boulder filter can lengthen that out a bit. Each of the Manual settings is a double edge sword. If you want deep focus, you need a lot of light. F-stop is your iris size inside the lens. A pin hole gives you very deep focus fields. But a pin hole doesn’t let in much light. Manual is all about balancing light.
Most of you know I maintain a network of Game Trail Cameras across my ranch. Various trails and natural choke points are favorite places of mine to plant them. I have to decide WHERE to put them. This is based on WHERE the unknown creature destined to walk in front of my automatic cameras will inhabit eventually. I noticed a well used path down near a local lake where small animals obviously had tread prior to my discovery of the local highway. Out comes a game trail camera with a view of the path.
Of course I have no control over environmental lighting. Moving animals at night are hard for Game Trail Cameras to freeze. This one did pretty well but at 5:15AM, just a bit before sunrise that day, there was enough ambient light to freeze this little canid (I think a Fox of some sort). What was REALLY interesting was the breakfast it had in it’s mouth.
I wish I knew the back story of this. I can only by implication assume the fish was dead on the shore. The other alternative is he did some early morning fishing which would be different for sure lolol. The Fox may like his sushi from a gas station refrigerator next to the automotive fluids aisle. You know, a little past prime perhaps?? There was a pretty good grass fire here on ranch lately so maybe he had that fish cooked first. Back to reality, the lake is getting lower and a fish may have been trapped in the shallow. At any rate, caught him with his breakfast. Yumm. 😜
Can you find the Comet??? It’s a big comet plus it is in the photo….👀
Here I caught Comet Neowise trying to hide. I consider myself a landscape photographer…. Images in my mind of mountains and Waterfalls come to mind. Instead I get trees with their own mystical ways of trying to conceal others around them. The comet knowing this, took full advantage to hide from your faithful photographer. In all honesty this is supposed to be a naked eye comet but hiding apparently is a Cometary tendency…. 😜
Using time exposures at night is an interesting pursuit if not outside my preferred work environment. Backcountry at night is an entirely different type of travel. Of course I have excellent lights on the Raptor but they tend to overpower with long time exposures. Instead I used a small handheld flashlight over 20 seconds and hand painted the trees with light. Sweeping over trees I wanted highlighted several times with the beam over that interval. Places I wanted dark, I didn’t sweep the light across so much.
The two dead trees (one standing and the fallen soldier below) were killed when this steep hill side slumped/slid about 20 feet shearing off their deep roots killing the trees. The jumbled surface around them still less than a century old, testifies to the earths inexorable movement toward the ultimate sink, the sea. The newspaper headline reads: Neowise Comet Hiding over Century old Landslide lolol.
I sure had to look twice at this. Ok, three times…. Maybe it’s just me….. 😜 It sat in my “Images to finish” pile for a few weeks, it kept popping up. I finally gave in and finished it. First of all it was VERY colorcast by the last seconds of the day sunlight painting the scene. IT was horrible to color correct back to reality. The illusion / confusion is just so durn unusual that I had to give in. Usually I’m placing problem children like this at the 6PM post position lolol.
Doing some quantity of photography of ungulates, I often get interesting “alignments of deer or Pronghorn. Usually easily when they are in herds. These two were all by themselves. I was actually quite a ways out from them. Having said that, the back doe wanted nothing to do with me having never seen a big black truck around before. They were out by some salt blocks mooching off the ranch.
Ranchers do a LOT more for the wildlife than most non-ranchers understand. Feeding our cattle supplements birds, mice, deer, pronghorn and all the creatures that in turn eat on those. For Instance: We have kept 4 stock tanks open 365/24/7 for 18 years now. Believe me in this cold country, unfrozen water keeps these guys alive and around here. We pump that water which takes electricity. We only need to keep one tank open for our stock.
The deer are known for eating into hard collected haystacks. Powder River and Little Powder River Drainages are all rich in deer. An equally large number of partially eaten hay bales in stock yards lolol. Wildlife management is very important. Sometimes supporting them just a little makes it all possible. Take off the edge so to speak 🤔 .
OK, perhaps the title is a little misleading lol. That RARE roll cloud (arcus cloud) was just a spectacular exhibit of atmospheric cooperation for my close / far perspectives. Roll clouds are usually affiliated with a series of smaller storms. Often confused with wall clouds which are potentially quite dangerous. These rare long clouds may form near advancing cold fronts. Particularly, a downdraft from an advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, thus forming a cloud.
When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form. Roll clouds may actually have air circulating along the long horizontal axis of the cloud. These do not morph into tornados. Unlike a shelf cloud, a roll cloud is completely detached from their larger parent storm cloud. Pictured above, a roll cloud extends far into the distance as series of storms approached in July, 2020 on the MT/ WY border.
The scene was a tad idillic to this photographer. The hues in this light were wonderful. Light long traveled through the atmosphere has a decidedly pink tint to it. This of course imparted on to the landscape, rebounding to my lenses.
The seeder, a 1920′-30′ machination, has been sitting in this spot for a bit and is a favorite “close” of mine for my perspectives. I might have taken a few images of this before….😜 📸
This is Peter’s long distant cousin Bubba. Bubba Bunny is not that common around the Ranch as our ranch cats consider them fair game. Even the larger Jack Rabbits give us a wide birth. We have 6 Barn Cats (vaccinated and well cared for). The best small rodent control devices created are cats. The cat’s fortunately don’t bother my flock of ducks and chickens but somewhere along the line these long eared fellows became menu items. I had to get way away from the homestead to run away from their influence to photograph one.
I haven’t seen a plague of rabbits since I’ve lived up here but historically there have been some major problems resulting in some state wide hunts. The state used to offer bounty on the Jack Rabbits (this is a cottontail) with some hunts filling up the back of pickup trucks overnight. They were out of control occasionally. They needed predation to take care of their numbers. Some of the problem was the elimination of a portion of their natural predators. The introduction of western hybrid monocultural grains probably had as much effect on their growth spurts at various historical moments.
However since about 1880 they have been in general population decline with notable exceptions notably. Locally this year I have noted a lack of Whitetailed JackRabbits. These little cotton tails are around and are hunted of course. They are only seasonally pursued by law. Jack Rabbits are hunted all year.
Jack Rabbits will attack you if they feel threatened or provoked. Being charged by a Jack Rabbit was no fun for me. I didn’t enjoy the prospect.. It happened very quickly. He had evil intent but he lost the fight. Jimmy Carter had a golf club, I had a bolt action rifle in .257 Roberts at the time…. He ceased being a threat 25 yards out. I would never shoot a cotton tail unless I was really hungry. Well if he was the size of a Jack Rabbit I would too lolol. Good Rule to Follow: Don’t charge at a guy that builds guns and ammo for his day job.😜
I call this Moon/Tree Surfing. Actually it’s me riding the moons “Shadow line” on the opposite parallel ridge. The higher ridge between me and the moon gives me a 500 yard distant foreground with the moon somewhat further behind that. I will drive along these ridges looking for places where the moon thinks he’s not being seen. Unsuspecting…. So I catch him carefully resting on the local vegetation as here. He’s just lifting off as he saw me. He certainly doesn’t need some high plains paparazzi posting his photo in the “Post” sitting down on the job. I me he has a strict schedule to keep and many things rely on the Moon’s time keeper.
From a strictly technical viewpoint, I get to do this kind of daylight illuminated foreground and the moon behind only once a month on average.. Some months the window is closed entirely by weather. Clouds do a good job obscuring what I know is going on behind them. Fortunately this was a very clear evening of July 3rd. The moon appeared full for two sunsets (3rd and 4th) plus a sunrise between. It was definitely a weekend to photograph the moon if you have the gear and the inclination. The air has been clear lately to boot making the “Seeing” on the moon’s surface good enough maybe to get out my big lenses from storage. Humm… 🤔
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. 📸
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. ….
Good Monday Morning to you all from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I awoke today to pea soup thick fog blanketing the area which of course was dewey spider web hunting time. Did that a while this AM. I’ll take moisture any way I can get it. We might be getting some rain over the next few days if we are lucky (this was written June 29th). This week we are actively working on our fire truck so my posts this week are between tasks.
To this image. I am always trying to have a couple of “hero’s” in an image. A sunset by itself is beautiful in it’s simplicity. A starburst in it’s own radial existence is the wheel (hero 1). Then there is the lens pinhole artifactual starburst (hero 2). In my experience, the most complex sunsets are more eye appealing generally speaking. In and by themselves.. Add some depth though…. I see many opportunities in any one scene. Certainly this Antique Deering Seeder long ago abandoned became a favorite foreground object of mine to work with these big Wyotana sunsets. It has had a view to die for decades on this remote ridge. I love Close/Far perspectives and setting them up👀 📷
This might be straight forward with an infinite focus cell phone. Hard for me to say as I don’t use them as cameras much Not so easy with a manual mode DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. The camera made the star around the sun. The High F-stop setting (as high as the camera would go) led to that. It’s an artifact produced by the optics and a regular “star” of my close far perspectives. Remember that F-stop is a double edged sword. You turn it up, you get really a thick layer of focal sharpness from close to far. Plus a sun star…But you loose a LOT of light turning UP the F-stop. You have to compensate for that with the other two settings (shutter speed and ISO/camera sensitivity). Focusing this close is knowing where to set your camera.
That 5112 foot tall Devil’s Tower National Monument is standing 1267 feet high above the surrounding ground. There is an intervening ridge JUST covering the base from this spot. The high ground looks pretty close. Those columns of phenolytic porphyry are pretty distant/ big and stand out in this well lit Tower and shadowed landscape. The summer rain dump behind the tower is the reflecting color of the light reaching the suspended ice from the sun. That all reflected back to my lens.
The Tower exposed from burial by thousands of feet of sediments, stands unsupported. Those rocks used to surround the tower. Supporting the hard rock volcanic neck up many thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The surrounding “softer” sediments were removed. All by the action of 2 rivers. Little Missouri River plus the Belle Fourche River Drainage. Those two drainages providing the bulk of that erosive work locally. The soft rock easily removed. While the harder material remains as mountains. Removal of material is how most mountains take their shape. Nature is a sculptor of magnificent skills. Those expressed by the breadth and majesty of it’s creations.
Devils Tower National Monument is about 40 from my vantage point on the Pass to Rocky Point Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. I’m standing Campbell County Wyoming. This is the view that tourists never see as they are all on the other side of those hills. You can see South Dakota from this site on a very clear day…completely across Crook County Wyoming. That is a BIG county 80 miles wide anyway.
As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass would be covered by the white blanket. The composition was an obvious and not unwelcome deviation from my normal eyebrow close images of the wonderful little bird.
This seems to be a popular well aged cedar post with all the white decorations sitting on the top. When ever you have many acres of birds with one taller post, it is going to be used as “THE” perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.
These little guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out traditional bird feeders around my homestead as my 6 barn cats would make short work of that. I do feed any comers certainly but chickens/ducks intentionally out in our barnyard when I feed our flocks. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock donating about 1/2 a gallon of it to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that feed trough. I can’t blame them.
The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring but I seldom see them in the barn yard. It’s going to be a grasshopper year, I am afraid so they should be well fed. 🤘📷
A volcano blows up on the border of Wyoming / Montana. Here we are 40 miles from the closest historic Volcanic Field and those haven’t gone off for a LONG time. I wake up to shaking the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away… Back to my normal programming: OK, this is NOT a volcano.
A simple sedimentary sandy remnant, Turtle butte has great aspirations. But Alas I suspect turning into a cinder cone volcano is not going to come about in the scheme of things. If this were really a volcano, I’d set up an outdoor hot dog and marsh mellow stand for the tourists. I mean based on buffalo encounters at other volcanos, they like to get close to things a tad out of their league. I wonder why it’s called “Turtle Butte”? 😜
The Volcanic Fields regionally are several and spread in various time periods. Some being of serious world wide significance. Yellowstone of course is widely known as a “Super Volcano” the explosion of which would create a rough few centuries afterwards. There are many smaller volcanic complexes of various ages around the region. A pipe here, a sill there. The 16 or so million year history of Yellowstone starting out in Washington / Oregon culminating with a hot spot in Wyoming/Montana/Idaho. The Snake River Plain showing the path of the hotspot and a sequence of volcanic calderas across the continental scale landscape over that interval. That is a whole different scale of event for another time.
For Blue Monday: A mated pair and a perspective with the female being on a post that is a good 3 feet closer to my camera as the left post. (Thus the “Slight” out of focus way closer female). That camera was actually focused between them to get them both “close”. If I focused on one or the other, one would always be way out of focus. So focus between 😜📸 .. (all about F-stop, this was in deep shade and I had no where to go….).
The 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. The female just blue on the tail and wing tips.
These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. These guys were jumping around myself in a rare meeting with a couple of neighbors. We were too close to their nesting area…As soon as we changed position, back to business seen and zipping about and then back to this place. He was flitting around, she was watching mostly . I just by happenstance had an 1200mm camera set up with me. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure. We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The Thrasher owes it’s name to it’s life style of “thrashing” about in leaf litter looking for insects of all kinds. Swinging that beak back and forth will stir things up in any ground litter. An opportunist, I’m sure it would eat small mammals such as baby mice or amphibians as well. It is omniverous as heck with that sturdy beak. Fruit and berries are also on it’s list of favorite snacks. Little Feathered Dinosaurs flying around us sans tail and teeth.
I don’t see a lot of them. They are the state bird of Georgia visiting Warm Wonderful Summer Wyoming just for a taste of the high country. We just had our first 90 degree day on the 31’st of May 2020 which portends a warm summer to me. It has been dry. This bird flew a long way to get up here and we welcome him to the ecosystem. We never seem to have enough birds that like grasshoppers lol.
Truly, the best thing about the Brown Thrasher, are their never ending vocalizations. I understand 1100 songs have been deciphered in their playlists. Most learned from other birds. They tend to sing each twice then move on. I’ve only heard them a few times and they are indeed versatile. I wish I had recordings. Aggressive birds and they will defend their nests. Don’t push them. They will actually hit humans and dogs hard enough to draw blood.
Twilight Over the Borderlandsis a capture standing on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill. EXACTLY 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover “better” ground that way. Everyone walks the trail… I seldom do.
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.
Low Light photos as this are very hard to capture as the animals are moving plus a close/far perspective with a telephoto lens. The combinations of what you are asking your camera to do is contrary to physics. A cell phone might do better than a 5K dollar camera rig in this case lol. Getting a LONG focal field in low pre-dawn/twilight is an exercise in how long an exposure you can get away with at high f-stop settings. Here at 1/10th of a second, the term “Forever” applies to how long the exposure is versus how fast a Pronghorn moves. Getting the landscape is easy. Getting a non-blurry Pronghorn on that landscape is a challenge at 1/10th second….
The Large Conical Monadnock called “Mitten Butte” looms two miles in the distance for perspective. I’m estimating 200 yards for the Pronghorn with the horizon being 30 miles at this angle. Mitten Butte is totally on State Land being on the “School Section” of the 36 square mile township we are located in. The rest of the foreground is part of the Ranch. This point she is standing on is a toe of “RattleSnake Ridge”. I like to work that ridge as I have mostly all season access to this hill side. No Bentonitic Mud there either…. It’s also on a trail that leads to water…. This makes it a regularly traveled route by numerous animals including this photographer.
Compositional ART but I did nothing to the image other than clean it up a bit. Oh, and I rotated the image 80 degrees. Originally it was randomly oriented. On the window pane to the artificial horizon created by tilting the camera. This was a pre-dawn window scene on a cool/frosty late April morning with a distant yard light providing the illusionary moon behind the trees. This forest scene is full of fractal frost trees with their “reflection” on a 2 dimensional surface (window pane). The 3 Dimensional perspective was apparent in the lens of this very small portion of a window. This image covers no more than an inch wide area. This hopefully will be the last frost image from this year until October. 🤔📷
Photographic Musings… Little things:
There is so much to take images of in the macro world of ultra close focus lenses. Most “Macro” lenses don’t magnify per se. Only considered 1X, their main ability is to focus VERY closely. There are Camera lens macro’s that go up to 5X but you need a LOT of light to make that work. I note that any of the “unusual” Chinese manufactured macro lenses you might want, you might want to get shortly….. Just saying.. 😔
Rarely do I use a tripod in my own house. For this moment, there was very little light for this. To get that light back, several seconds of time exposure eliminates hand held free wheeling with a camera. I use 4 different Macro lenses. Each for different purposes being tools in my kit. This was a Sony/Zeiss 90mm Macro on a Sony Alpha 7RII camera body. Simply shadowed by an LED sidelight for the depth. The bokeh effect on the yard light is prismatic too lol. I noticed the rainbow only in processing the file on the big screen. I usually don’t miss color like that. …. Some diffraction by the ice going on. Seeing the potential of that light then aligning it to the scene was the goal. 😜
I spend a portion of the time spent examining scenes before me for candidates requiring a “Mirror/Mirror” treatment. As I suffer from Pareidolia badly. Seeing faces or familiar shapes in clouds or other random scenes is a genetic defect. I received this from both my parents. I have it so badly that I see 1/2 of a face. This controls compositions with the intent to use the 1/2 face to make a “whole’ face from. I have no control over this attribute of mine. This mental game was considered a psychosis historically. Not so much now… Honestly the tendency runs wild most of the time. I must admit. I’ve been known to cultivate such imaginings a time or two. 😜👀
SO, this is ART…. I re-emphasize the ART part…. If it wan’t ART I would have removed the dark blue (it’s a blue Monday post after all). I find that clouds are mostly grey expect near twilight lol. So I take a real photograph, and mirror it right to left (in this case). Color to taste and that’s all I did to this… 2 minutes maybe extra digital darkroom time over my normal 15 minutes. Nature comes up with the creatures that live in the “totem pole” that runs up the center where the mirrors merge. There are SEVERAL more faces buried in that area if you study it. Now if I could just figure out how to make a living with this
Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.
So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).
I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.
These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.
About this photo:
The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.