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Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Red Fox Siblings Hunting
Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Red Fox Siblings Hunting

Second image in this timeline:

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Red Fox Siblings Hunting

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Local Ranch Yard Decorations

Local Ranch Yard Decorations
Local Ranch Yard Decorations

Local Ranch Yard Decorations

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 😜 )

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

TItle: Local Ranch Yard Decorations

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Waves in the Storm

Waves in the Storm
Waves in the Storm

Waves in the Storm

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.

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

Title: Waves in the Storm

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Lightning Quartet Last Night

Lightning Quartet Last Night
Lightning Quartet Last Night

Lightning Quartet Last Night

Taken 7 days before it posted here. This is one frame out of several dozen that I got from watching this storm. The limiting ridge is several miles away. This is an aimed telephoto shot on an area of sky I was watching. It was a “little” active there. This was well after sunset with a heavily overcast sky above. It was pitch black except for the bolts in the distance.

I use triggered time exposures to capture lightning in my photon trap bottles. This particular image happened over 25 seconds. The first two bolts on the left happened 4 seconds into the exposure. The two others happens within the next 10 seconds with a few seconds of inactivity before the shutter closed. Then the camera too another 25 seconds to perform low noise processed the times for a proper rendering. I work these scenes with two camera quite often to alternate between the rigs so as not to miss much.

Needless to say, this is a busy shot and I’m glad I don’t have burning ground to my south and east. It was raining as you can see from the rain shafts. I’m thinking those bikers got drenched for the second day in a row. A geographic location called “Lightning Flats” is about 15 miles to our east. We could give Tampa Florida a run at times for it’s money. Lightnings a serious deal up here too.

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

Title: Lightning Quartet Last Night

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Boulder Field Sun Filter

Boulder Field Sun Filter
Boulder Field Sun Filter

Boulder Field Sun Filter

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.

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

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Cloud Seeding on the Border

Cloud Seeding on the Border
Cloud Seeding on the Border

Cloud Seeding on the Border

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….😜 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Cloud Seeding on the Border

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Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing
Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing

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… 🤔

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

Title: Moon Tree Surfing

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Wyotana Pistol Training Session

Wyotana Pistol Training Session
Wyotana Pistol Training Session

Wyotana Pistol Training Session

Highest gun sales ever these days…..

Having been certified by the NRA since 1987 as a Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun/HomeDefense instructor. I’ve taught hundreds how to shoot safely personally and in organized class room settings. I’m a currently certified Range officer and past range master/match director of national shooting events. Along the way, I was a Marshal for a few years in a small town where I did more EMT work than cop work. I’m also a decade long commercial FFL/dealer/manufacture of many things firearm related. (I have nothing to sell to civilians sorry so don’t ask please plus I am currently in no position to do classes up here lol. ). The guns and ammo I build are sold by third parties in Gillette so I don’t actually deal with the public.

My point is, as a firearms professional past and present, my advice is to practice/ practice/ practice. Buy what you can manage (control) and don’t underestimate just the presence of a firearm at a bad moment. The problem with showing up to a fight with a gun, is that there is a gun at the fight. Still you need to practice, make things happen automatically…. Learn how to clear jams. How to easily and quickly load magazines. BTW, never ever ever catch a magazine with your free hand. Instead be picking up a fresh one instead for instance. Let the other fall to the floor. Many a person has been found shot with an empty mag in their weak hand. Just saying….

If you don’t have much ammo, draw and dry fire your pistol till your arms ache. Anything you do 3000 times becomes muscle memory. That’s 100 magazines with an AR-15 just to learn the trigger with live ammo. Time to get busy if your not in your top form. Learn how grandpa’s old 45 in the corner loads and works. Now is a good time to learn such things if you don’t already know. Lots of good YouTube videos out there …..

There are many reasons to learn to use a firearm. The most important one is safety. Yours and others your responsible for. A tool in the hands of someone that knows how to use it is a definition of safety. Otherwise not so much. In the three decades I’ve actively carried a live firearm or two, I’ve only had to point them toward a threat as a police officer. I never had to pull the trigger in response to a perceived threat. Things do go into slow motion…..Stress is a big deal, you need to experience it firing a loaded weapon before you do it for real.. Stress kills rational thinking and you make bad decisions. Better to make automatic decisions.

If I were to fear for my life or others and being forced to defend…. I’m pretty sure I have an rather large advantage over someone who hasn’t put millions of rounds down range. Tactical Instruction at the highest levels at some time or another is a lofty goal because… Having an instinctive advantage due to training is a huge deal in a gun fight. Trust me on this. Otherwise your trying to find out where the safety is on a Glock pistol🤔 while someone is giving you reason to need to use it.

As host of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship held here on ranch, I am surrounded by over 300 long metal targets on 4 world class courses out to ranges of 1000+ yards. All because we host the 501C3 non-profit Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship here (cancelled for this summer). But we have raised in excess of 100K for Wounded Vets and families of same. Firearms are a daily way of life in this country. I have some of the best shooters on the planet come up here to train and learn. I learn and work everyday with/about firearms to one degree or another.

Then again… Most of the locals have been shooting moving coyotes at 300 yards from the back of a moving pickup truck since they were 6 or 7 years old. EVERYBODY has a rifle in their truck here. Many of the surrounding ranchers have been Range Officers at our “shoot” over the last 18 years. They know pretty much what the are doing after a weekend here.

Wyoming Laws enable permit-less open carry and concealed carry in most places. Other surrounding states have concealed carry everywhere by permit but open carry is limited to out of cities. Folks that don’t live in the west don’t understand the pervasiveness of the culture. Your state laws will vary, let’s hope for national concealed weapons permits for truckers traveling across many state lines particularly those that have to go into touchy areas.

If your curious what that pistol is, that’s an STI 2011 in 9mm taken during the WTRC competition in 2019 in live competition. Note how fast it got back on target…. Flat with line of sight and the case is close…. “Flat” shooting….

Everybody wear Glasses and Hearing Protection. Know and follow the rules of safe gun handling please. Clean that firearm and have it ready for use.

Facebook, I am a Type 7-2 FFL/Special Occupational Tax Stamp holder (SOT) Manufacture/Dealer.

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

Title: Wyotana Pistol Training Session

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Sun Windmill Tree Clouds

Sun Windmill Tree Clouds
Sun Windmill Tree Clouds

Sun Windmill Tree Clouds

This is the second image from this timeline I am publishing. Each has it’s own merits. I worked this wonderful scene moving around for the different compositions that are hiding from us. Our perspective is “where we are”. The goal of photography is to see past where we are actively moving to the “optimal” perspective possible for the scene at hand. There are an infinite number of options available here only limited by the topography I’m positioned on. There have been so many times I wish for a ladder of just a few feet to change the angle ever so slightly. This is of course why I drive along parallel ridges to work terminator crossings. I can move up and down the opposite ridge as it is my metaphorical ladder.

Terminator: This is the dividing line between night and day as seen from outer space. It’s a good way for me to describe EITHER sunrise or sunset to you if you understand what it is. That visible shadow/light line moves around a globe that is 24000 miles around in circumference one time a day. That is, the shadow of night moves in at 1000 miles per hour over us as the sun rises or sets. Likewise sunrise moves over the earth at 1000 miles per hour likewise. Terminator is an interesting google search… You see it on the moon all the time….

I hadn’t been to this particular location for a while, it’s SORT of off the beaten two track. Anyone notice the photobomber? There are no cattle in this pasture yet so lazy me tends to stay out of pastures I have to open and close gates to enter. I’m getting lazy in my old age… 😜 📸

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

Title: Sun Windmill Tree Clouds

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A Storm is Down the Road

A Storm is Down the Road
A Storm is Down the Road

A Storm is Down the Road

We are by trick of geography quite isolated from the surrounding world. It’s 15 miles to the nearest asphalt highway and 70 miles to the nearest stop light. I’d like to think I’m a fairly astute observer of media as we are well connected to the web here……..

There are times up here I feel we are watching the storm in the distance from afar. The expectations, the eventual realization of the reality, finally the lost sense of normalcy are all heavy on my mind. But unlike the storm in the distance, we have many choices that may be made. To turn back usually isn’t an option in any particular timeline we are experiencing. Einstein has his rules after all and we must obey…..🤔

So onward inexorably toward the storm we move with no other option but to make it through. The path can be treacherous, full of pitfalls with negative effects, change, and and a loss of control perceived or otherwise. Adversity brings opportunity now and then. Like walking barefoot down this road.. Does it feel like we are in a river only able to swim to one side or the other? Maybe, but we are still ALL in the same river regardless. 👀

I’ve just had a couple of days of writers block where I didn’t want to write these narratives/pages. I finish images those days. Then this image came by my desktop and kicked me back into retrospective and forward thinking thought at the same time. This image is so metaphorical to the world situation we find ourselves in. Each of us traveling within our own sphere of influence experiencing our own storm conditions. Watching the various issues arisen in our travels appear, only to drop by the wayside mostly occurs in retrospect. The information technology age changing the way we think and act by the second. Changing our expectations. Quickens the pace they do. Driving a herd to a degree. Some of these issues may not drop along the way…. Don’t give up so freely what others have given all for is my advise.

The roads may all be different, the storms that effect us will move on to another with time. Properly considering your journey is paramount in it’s ultimate success.

Be Safe All and god bless

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

Title: A Storm is Down the Road

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Posting a Meadowlark Singing

Posting a Meadowlark Singing
Posting a Meadowlark Singing

Posting a Meadowlark Singing

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. 🤘📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Posting a Meadowlark Singing

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Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair
Blue Bird Mated Pair

Blue Bird Mated Pair

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)

Title: Blue Bird Mated Pair

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Turtle Butte Borderlands

Turtle Butte Borderlands
Turtle Butte Borderlands

Turtle Butte Borderlands

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Borderlands

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Pronghorn Point Mitten Butte

Pronghorn Point Mitten Butte
Pronghorn Point Mitten Butte

Pronghorn Point Mitten Butte

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.

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

Title: Pronghorn Point Mitten Butte

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Frosty Lake Scene

Frosty Lake Scene
Frosty Lake Scene

Frosty Lake Scene

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. 😜

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

Title: Frosty Lake Scene

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Cloud Mirror by Frank Bliss

Cloud Mirror by Frank Bliss
Cloud Mirror by Frank Bliss

Cloud Mirror by Frank Bliss

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

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

Title: Cloud Mirror by Frank Bliss

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Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond
Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

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Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light
Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light

A little Science this PM..

This silhouette “halfie” (almost) caught my attention for the extreme stepped gradient around the sun. I call these bow waves and don’t see them live real time very often. They are in reality natural diffraction artifacts from the thin slit in the clouds that the sun light is passing through. Ripples…. When light (or electromagnetic waves) passes through a thin slit shaped window, lightwaves ripple like water. The Physics of this moment should not be discounted. The slit was very thin, precisely what one needs for this natures “experiment”. The mind of the guy that figured this stuff out (Huygen) was right up there with the best. “Huygen diffraction” would be a good google search for you for continuing education on this. Constructive/Distructive interference of waves is the discussion which is lengthly. I’d never get it past my grammer checker (Nazi SS training in that program trying to explain all that) lololol.

So the bow wave here is literally Ripples around the Island of Light that the Sun’s Disk represents in this metaphor. Capturing ripples of light that are natural is hard and fairly rare. Note: I could do this in the digital darkroom very easily but this one is the real thing. Not a digital color shadow radius artifact. The whole discussion lies about the cloud “slit” which is the initiator of the diffraction process that provides this variable gradient around the sun. If you have a gradient like this with a complete sun, it’s the result of an artifact within the digital dark room treatment the artist (at that point) is using on his previously raw photo. (unedited photo=raw photo out of the camera). This capture is entirely unedited or I would have had landscape detail down in that black negative space.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Slit Islands of Light

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Red Dragon Fly

Red Dragon Fly
Red Dragon Fly

Red Dragon Fly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies (they don’t bite you). That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare.

Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic Period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water. They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

Title: Red Dragon Fly

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Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze
Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it is hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the tippy top. It was variously gusty / windy that morning at 5 AM.

These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are truly AMAZING circus actors. As far as I can tell they are total masters of their environment!📸 This bird was sitting about 150 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by gaining elevation up to them. Leaves will shortly be getting in my way of seeing into their cloistered world.. Soon the curtain will be drawn except for the coming and going of the birds from the rookery here on the ranch.

The rookery/colony is only a 6 nest group along a remote backcountry lake. The only visitors to this place are me and who ever hays the ground around the lake that year. 99 percent of the time no one bothers this area. I have a game trail camera under their nests but I won’t get there for some time as disturbing the nests is not a good plan. I won’t get out of my truck if I’m within 300 yards of these guys.

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

Title: Blue Heron Balancing in the Breeze

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Diamond Back Rattle in the Sky

Diamond Back Rattle in the Sky
Diamond Back Rattle in the Sky

Diamond Back Rattle in the Sky

There are so many things this “look” like. I’ll just keep my Pareidolia mostly in check and limit my visualization of a rattle snake rattle rising from the plains and or a face looking left with quite a hair doo… Back to my “normal” programming…

Talk about uplifting… IT was a day full of isolated thunderstorms with this being the start of one. Just about every direction had a small storm dumping about. This Isolated thermal column seemed unusual to me and I’ve been watching clouds for a while. I usually take images of things that make my jaw drop. I had to yank a really wide lens into service to capture the whole thing. This image is over 110 degrees tall so the top is almost straight overhead to the zenith in the sky.

Working LONG focal length lens most of the time, I have to literally “step back” and look around me. If I don’t I miss many things that are often more interesting than what I’m trying to photograph. I had run up the east hill to see if there were any rainbows behind me (in this view). When rain shower move over the area and there is SOME sun, I’m watching for rainbows.

Chasing rainbows leads to photographing clouds sometimes but I’m not a stickler for being particular. If nature is showing off for me, I’m more than happy to capture her attributes. We need more of that rain

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

Title: Diamond Back Rattle in the Sky

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Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall
Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

I captured this in my photon traps RIGHT at sunrise May 11th, 5:36AM. Pre-Civil Twilight each morning I evaluate as to whether to take a box of cameras out into the backcountry. I take many sources of information into consideration. Sky above was over cast solid, it was deeply dark. You understand I can’t see the eastern horizon from my house due to a 400 foot tall ridge that way. Plus it was TOTALLY overcast and lightly snowing around 5:15 am. That’s pretty much a no go signal. 

Fortunately, I have a camera sitting up high on the ridge with an east view. This is a good thing sometimes. I don’t get color in it during early twilight but I can see the horizon. The sun slit of light with a cloud deck above was enticing. Up to the top… There were many good captures from this timeline. All those back at the homestead had any idea the morning was beautiful over the east ridge. 

I have to be timely to get a high enough position to line up another hill top over a mile away with a ridge behind over 6 miles out. The rising sun behind. This is just a thin slit of color on the horizon. A huge long lens looking through a snow squall filter made for a nifty morning. I am able to do this alignment two times a year from this location. Strongly controlled by topography, my angles for photography are. I’m slowly building a good map in my head where to be and when… 

So this was taken through a snow squall right at sunrise. The sun mostly unfettered and very bright for about 4 minutes. Sol was just starting to ascend into the cloud deck above as this was taken. Obscured by that cloud deck for the rest of the day. Snowed most the morning amounting to not much. . 

This was a phenomenal scene viewing through my optics. The human eye has no chance to see such a thing. IT would be blinding to watch. Only with technology can we reach our mind into such a furnace. Hold your thumb out at arms length. The thumb would easily cover the area of the sky that this whole image encompasses. 

If you look carefully/closely at the “glare” under the rising sun / falling horizon, you can see the individual snow flakes frozen in space and time. This is a case where I could see the phenomena better in my camera’s viewer than here on the final image. In the view port, areas that are in focus have white highlights on them which makes them stand out. 

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

Title: Sunrise Through a Snow Squall

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Feather Filter for the Sun

Feather Filter for the Sun
Feather Filter for the Sun

Feather Filter for the Sun

Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.

To use randomly obtained feather to grace an unveiled sun is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Anything to reduce the light into the camera (filter).

Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Working cameras, my mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun to start with. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a star shape into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps operating a camera outside that normal envelope.

Any attempt at a photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷

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

Title: Feather Filter for the Sun

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Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera
Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

Meadowlarks were named by Audubon noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands. A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry near my homestead. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots as this.

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.

This guy is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. He was very tolerant of my Vehicle as it approached. I slowed to a stop about 20 feet away. I’m not usually so lucky…. At that distance, with an 1200mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a backcountry 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. Genernally not during Meadowlark season lolol 😜

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

Title: Meadowlark Posing for the Camera

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Spotlighting Across the Border

Spotlighting Across the Border
Spotlighting Across the Border

Spotlighting Across the Border

This a view from my position just inside of Wyoming at the border line with Montana. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.

High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment as this. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. Looking over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. The Montana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Wyotana is way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. The ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within feet of where I stand. This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formation and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.🤔⚒📷

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

Title: Spotlighting Across the Border

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High Ridge Veiled Sunset

High Ridge Veiled Sunset
High RIdge Veiled Sunset

High Ridge Veiled Sunset

(Illusion of a Tsunami wave coming into the shore but it’s all clouds)

Getting just the right angle toward a sunset with the foreground is a challenge sometimes. I wander the hills sides and ridge tops of the remote borderlands of Montana/Wyoming. I the the big distances in either an UTV (Polaris Ranger Crew) or my Ford Raptor F-150. The distances in this area are such that covering a lot of ground is a necessity to find these locations. I always ride to the distant ridge but usually am walking around for the duration of what ever event I’m photographing. My timelines smoothly go from mounted to unmounted captures. 

By walking or riding along parallel ridges, I’m able to see first and quickly compose these scenes. As I’ve always said, if I can see it in my environment, I generally can capture the scene in these high tech photon traps I use. 

Photographic Musings: 

Looking into the sun is an “edge of the envelope” activity that is best left to mirrorless cameras as I use. DSLR cameras are dangerous to do this with as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. Mirrorless cameras have a video screen inside of the eye piece viewer. There is NO direct light path to blind you with concentrated light from the lens. Please don’t try this with a DSLR camera. You CAN capture this with a DSLR but you have to do it without looking through the camera WHILE you are taking the image. Set up your rig before you point and don’t look through your DSLR camera at the sun… 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: High Ridge Veiled Sunset

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Red Robin in the Snow

Red Robin in the Snow
Red Robin in the Snow

Red Robin in the Snow

Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)

There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.

You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…

Title: Red Robin in the Snow

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Sunrise Through A Veil

Sunrise Through A Veil
Sunrise Through A Veil

Sunrise Through A Veil

As I’m driving along the slope of a ridge roughly parallel to these married trees, I see many opportunities. Frames work by me rapidly but obviously as I travel. I usually have to keep about 1/2 an eye on the terrain as there is nothing like a deep game trail that will ruin your focus. I’ve had them bounce cameras around more than a few times. As I work the opposite slope of this valley, I have chance after chance of just this kind of “Japanese” image from the hills of Wyotana. Veiled suns are always worth of pursuing photographically in my experience. Particularly if you can get a “Close / Far Perspective working. Distance from those trees is your friend 👀📷

Realize of course that I would be blind looking very much into the brightness of such a vista. At this point in the sunsets timeline, the light is waning with a decided chill to the air. The warmth rises and the cold fingers of air from above run down into the valleys. Markedly cooler temperatures as the light gives way to the dark. I am fortunate to use technology that lets me evaluate the wonder of such scenes. I see live real time images as this in my view finder. Mirrorless cameras are WONDERFUL that way. You couldn’t even look at your focus with a DSLR camera without risking your eyesight. If you don’t know the difference between the two camera types, it’s time to do some homework. Particularly if your considering a purchase. I now consider DLSR cameras as the “Beta Max” of the current production camera world.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunrise Through A Veil

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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