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.
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. 🤘📷
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.
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. 😜
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.
I attempt to see the world from an entirely different perspective. From under here, there is a feeling somehow of security even though there is a ton of wood over your head being held up by rotten broken branches. What could go wrong there?😜
It’s a busy photo with all sorts of of things going on. Enjoy the looking. I ought to put a “where’s waldo” in some of these images lolol. It was a cool spring morning, still some snow in the hollows. Not long past as this was taken one month ago as this posts. “Summer is coming” and is slowly arriving here to the borderlands. Spring was on a Thursday this year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunset here was clear sky with a single cloud providing filter to the light. This kind of show almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm for sometimes like this. I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It takes very wide perspectives.
Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol. RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.
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.
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
Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.
I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.
I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..
This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷
You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.
I used to do stupid things like go up in the back yard to watch a rain/thunder storm come in at midnight. This was indeed less intelligent than my IQ would indicate my choices might be. Apparently somewhat risk adverse at the time, I was actually driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which while it has a metal roll cage, had a plastic roof. This bolt woke me right up and could have put me right to sleep lol.
Doing a LOT of lightning shots every summer, I ordered “Clever Girl” (my Ford F-150 Raptor) from the factory WITHOUT a sunroof for a reason. IT’s always good to have metal between you and the storm.
Isolated from ground currents probably in the vehicle on rubber…Better than being on foot…. Having said that… I would not like to be under or even closer to that bolt. It felt like an artillery shell being launched. That along with the benefit of being blinded at the same time. Flash bang less than 1 second…
The old “Steel Yard” on the ranch is actually Over that hill. It consists about 1/4 acre of various antique farm implement parts and pieces with a lot of metallic objects. It is roughly 1/4 mile past that ridge line. I suspect the bolt hit a sharp edge there as moist drainage is also over there. I suspect that is where the ground currents went as I noted the sudden lack of Jack Rabbits down there after that too.
That was a very hard core strike from the incoming storm. It was time to go inside which I did post hast having learned my lesson. I’m much more careful now days but working on your porch is about the same thing as the Polaris with the fiberglass window into the metal roof overhead. Inside a vehicle or inside a house with a proper grounding ring around it. Never touch metal in your vehicles during a storm….
This is a 25 second time exposure in pitch black around midnight. Long time exposures at night have unintended consequences. Red and blue colors make pink with both colors being enhanced. The silly long exposure at least with my Sony Alphas give me these hues. I can’t see the real scene of a long exposure on the screen of the Sony to argue with it. This is just a close estimate by the camera of the scene. I just saw a flash… What colors are put out by lightning? All colors…..there was some ambient light from our ranch pole lights too messing the colors up….
Why time exposure? You get multiple bolts with a 25 second or so exposure, ISO 125, f4 to start with… Work from there moving your f stop up a click each shot to adjust to the ambient light conditions as necessary. Review the images for results and pick your poison for the duration of the storm.
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.
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
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.
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. 🤔📷
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 😜
The sun had JUST set and I had traveled about 5 miles south of my homestead to catch this. If I hadn’t adjusted my position, The whole show would have been hidden by the storm. In a reversal of roles, I became a storm “evader” instead of a storm “chaser”. 😜
We have had a good series of spring storms move through over the last week and I have been working them. I spent about 3 hours out in the backcountry yesterday. Most of that time was spent waiting for a particular storm event to occur. Once I have made it up to the ridge tops, I hate to loose my position so high up and head back to the house. As long as I don’t get poured on the two track roads are usually in good enough shape to head back and forth.. I have found out after many decades of 4×4 wheeling off road, that anybody can fall DOWN a hill. Most are not as talented progressing up a hill… Going up a wet/muddy hill is usually a recipe for redesigning landscape in the backcountry. I don’t see much point in that for the long term. Tearing up trails is generally not one of my favorite activities.. 👀🌲🌲🤘
At any rate, this was obviously worth traveling for in my mind. Skies totally lit as this are always worthy of my time in my humble opinion. Hopefully it was worth your’s.
My new F150 Raptor has 1200 miles on it. I spent 300 miles of that back and forth traveling to Gillette from my homestead on the Wyoming / Montana border 2 times. Most of the rest of that mileage occurred on two track roads into this backcountry. Each time I leave my main gate to do photography, I usually cover 10 to 20 miles of driving down roads as you see leading off to the distance. Locally called “Two Track” roads. There are probably well in excess million miles of them in the general three or 4 state area. I have experienced them on several thousand square miles of backcountry in this region over the last 2 decades. There are many left for me to travel even within a few miles from my place I’m aware of two tracks I’ve never taken. This is VERY big country.
Two tracks are unpaved, often unimproved, eroded both across/ parallel to the road. They are certainly unpredictable and an adventure if you’ve never been there before. New angles are a good thing I find.
You are looking across the MT/WY border at the moment. All the trees in this image are in Wyoming where I’m standing. (about 400 yards east of my homestead). The “Mud Hills” in the distance are 10 miles out into Montana. I call this area Wyotana. 10 miles north and 10 miles south, separated by the ridge Bliss Dinosaur Ranch occupies. So I get views in all directions from this high point. A land of many uses for the landscape photographer 😜📷
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.🤔⚒📷
(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.
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…
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…
It’s always interesting lighting when subject patiently sitting for me is in the shade. The contrast with the Robin’s Egg Blue Wyotana sky was remarkable to me. The bird itself was a “Score” in the photon capture world I play in. I seldom get this close to any wild creature but “when I do”…… I like to bring a 28 inch long lens along.
It took me over a minute to SLOOOOOWWWLY move from under a roof clearly into this observant birds view. It was perhaps 10 yards away and was watching me like his distant cousin the hawk… This encounter didn’t last more than the next 360 degree sweep of the pocket watch dial. (you guys that grew up with only digital watches / clocks won’t get that 😜) .
I consider these birds as a food bank if shortages occur lol. They hang around here mooching off my barnyard Duck and Chicken feeding “operation”, (read my wifes hobby). I of course get to haul the feed around…. save that for another narrative I’m thinking …..👀
“Sharpies” are certainly plump flying boats. Look to me like a “Cataline PBY” aircraft plowing through the air. Landing is usually a LONG glide and a last second . I’ve seen them literally glide over a mile (with me following on the county road lolol). I find it is fairly difficult though to photograph Gliding Birds while driving along side of them. Easier in the middle of a big field lolol.
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.
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.. 👀😜
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 😜🤔👀📷.
I’ve pretty fast with a long lens but keeping ahead of these canids is a job best left to the Road Runners. Occasionally I catch them with great lenses/cameras, other times I catch them with a game trail camera. The best game trail cameras I use are in the 200 dollar range. The best Sony Mirrorless with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens is in the 6000 dollar range. Both cameras take images of what is in front of them if the operator knows how to set them up, quickly I point out, and get the shot. One might get this either way. Humm, I wonder which system took this image? Under the right conditions, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.
Quality of game trail cameras is not the subject of this post as much as this hunting coyote is. I know he is hunting because he is awake. Generally they wake up with a “Coyote Breakfast”. Such menu is widely understood as a Coyote relieving himself next to a tree. No actual food for breakfast involved usually for such a creature. They are always chasing road runners fictionally but it real life, it’s all about the next meal. They do chase the original fast food….. Mostly mice and small mammals but they do get into trouble with ranchers and growers of any livestock. Baby livestock is a favorite snack for a pack of these guys.
When I see a Full moon rising at the horizon, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This particular lone tree up high on a ridge has faced the worst wind/weather this high country can throw at it. It is a true old soldier. (April Egg/Fish/Pink Moon 2020)
The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from the parallel ridge is was working in the dark for this capture. The moon is a little further behind the ridge.
Photographic Musings: Clear as a bell this evening. I worked the sunset but this moon rose about 80 minutes after that. It was dark and a true night sky. About half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. This I captured only because I was moving along at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy lolol. Light is VERY fleeting.
I work the Moon’s “Shadow” line on parallel “opposite” ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. This is where the cool stuff suddenly pops up to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see lighting that is virtually impossible to capture with the technology. This moon is relatively easy by comparison lol. Of course, a full moon behind trees is a very common occurrence. It happens every time a full moon is up, at many angles millions of places around a woods. It’s being in the right place at the right time with the right gear to catch the image. That is the hard part.📷
I’ve been watching the Great Blue Herons slowly trickling in from warmer climes. All to set up house up in our wetlands. We really don’t see many of them. We don’t have a lot of lakes up here on the high ridges of the MT/WY borderlands. I was photographing the tree line populated with 6 Heron Nests last year, 3 of them remain. The Herons zipped off from their nest with 3 Red Tails Harassing them. I quickly took advantage of the absence. Drove my portable blind (Ford F150 Raptor all black) under the trees so I could get close and change the “chip” in a trail camera I had planted behind where the birds nested.
Busy with these guys, I photographed an aggressive encounter between a Red Tail Hawk and a full sized Herons about 2 weeks ago. I believe this dead bird is the result. Of course nature is cruel. Red Tails are spunky little raptors and I sure wouldn’t want one harassing me. A big war is ongoing in the Wetlands… I was photographing a Heron flying over the nests. Just then, a Raptor flew into frame right as I rapid fired the camera. Raptor and Heron in the Same frame flying opposite direction. Posts next week it will📸..
I would point out that a Great Blue Heron is 5 feet tall with a 5 foot wingspan weighing in at 5 pound. A 5x5x5 bird is nothing to mess with. I compare Herons with the Dinosaur Coelophysus without the tail and teeth. They are bad a** with those pin pointy beaks. It would be like me at 6 foot 200 pounds taking on Andre the Giant in the ring. Not even fair.
This is the result I believe of a real estate dispute. I actually have a photo of a raptor and a heron in silhouette facing off over who is getting the nest above this body for the night. I think the Herons won this one. Just saying 📸