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Twilight Over the BigHorns

Twilight Over the BigHorns
Twilight Over the BigHorns

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

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

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

Photographic Musings focusing on :

Shutter speed:

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

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

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

Walking human 1/200th.

Running anything 1/800th

Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th

Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th.

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight over the BigHorns

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Time to Change Pants

Time to Change Pants
Time to Change Pants

Time to Change Pants was taken by a Camera with a lightning Trigger on top of it.

I know this is out of season. I’m mixing into my daily posts refinished (to current standards) most of my older portfolio (4000+ images left to do. I digress..

There are many manufacturers of Lightning triggers and I endorse NONE of them….. Like game trail cameras, they all have issues I think lolol. In theory, they detect a bolt and automatically triggers the shutter. Your camera settings are highly variable depending on the light so I won’t . I will tell you that 1/4 of a second is a good shutter speed. I’m really glad I wasn’t standing by the camera just under a tin roof (to keep it dry (ish). I was inside my house tending to a project and about jumped out of my chair.

To this day I don’t know what in the barn yard this het. The trees are about 100 yards out from the lens across my “front” south facing yard. Since one bolt is behind the trees fingering down to the ground, I would assume that the bolt is to the rear of the trees. It looks a tad closer than that like it might have been inside my fence.

The time between the flash and the boom was non-existent so it was quite close. (5 seconds roughly for sound to travel a mile). So as a result of this photo, I’ll be using

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands, front yard.

Title: Time to Change Pants

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Birdie Sanders

Birdie Sanders
Birdie Sanders

Birdie Sanders was a European Robin Fledgling that was in my back yard Wind Break Woods last summer

Being a baby, his flight or fight reflex was not well developed. He could mostly fly to low branches and get away. Because it’s a baby, slow deliberate movements and this 800mm at about 15 feet was the equipment to have. Any closer would have flown.

This is a full sized image in a 2:1 Aspect up to 40×20 inch at high resolution. He was actually pretty curious about me but I didn’t want to attract my cats to the area so I didn’t linger. I managed to get a “few” images for the portfolio lol. I love the green grass summer bokeh from those ware lazy days of summer. This guy has migrated south already if he survived the summer and the one day of fall. (It was on a tuesday this year).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Birdie Sanders

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Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Devil's Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect
DevilsTower/MissouriButtes 3:1 Aspect

This Capture of Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is very high resolution composite:

It is composited from three high resolution 1200 mm telephoto images combined back into one image in the digital darkroom. Left image + center image+ right image = this photo… This is not taking a cell phone and swinging a phone lol… I’m considering this one of the best daytime shots I have of Devils Tower from the Pass at Rocky Point and that’s saying something 📸 This is a distance of 35 miles. The sun was setting golden hour, the air was full of ice but hadn’t gone pink just yet. Maybe 1/2 hour to sundown.

This image was taken from the snow line on the pass I was on but you can see the valleys were not covered at this capture about 10 days ago as it publishes. The snow we got last night and today took care of the snow cover in the valley. We’ve had a very early winter up here so far. The long term forecast looks to be cold and snowy. We always need the moisture but it’s a trudge sometimes to deal with all the snowfall each year.

In all fairness to the rough weather we have here in the NE part of the state. Hat’s off to the folks in Jackson Hole and the high country along the western part of the state. It’s relatively mild living here compared to the decade I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming. We used to get 6 feet flat in the back yard every year. Closer to the range folks would get 10. Cleaning snow off roofs is an industry there :).

We just enjoy MUCH more wind than Jackson Hole does. I’m not sure anyone living there appreciates the difference but I may be wrong. Migration of Wyoming folks are moving outwards not toward that area. 🙁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

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Junior Stove Door

Junior Stove Door
Junior Stove Door

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door:

Found out near by a 1930’s Remote Backcountry Homestead located on my place. This cast iron Junior Stove Door (wood probably as coal is a bit south and wasn’t free). The 1920’s issue “Junior” was found in an over bank “trash” dump from that old Homestead which inevitably is over the lip of a nearby gully. The original stove probably rusted out or cracked from overheating but this door survived. Nothing but steel and glass out there as MOST of the wood from that place has rotted over the 80 intervening years but there are nails and pitfalls to watch out for. Dangerous place to walk about I think.

The Homestead was abandoned after the father died of an acute appendix. He was unable to get out to medical help due to winter in the 1930’s. I met one local Women (a daughter of that man) that grew up out there in the Late 1920’s and early 30’s. Little House on the Prairie was a castle compared to this log structure these guys built. The woman fed this stove door more than a few times as an adolescent, bare footed in the summer, dirt floor in the kitchen with a goat hanging inside the door. (I’ve seen the photo and have a copy but don’t own it, the family does). I’m sure this Junior Stove Door was just inside the log cabin door. Piles of wood waiting their turn for the flame.

Background in the Back Country:

This I met that daughter as a “getting” elderly woman of then in her 80’s. She several times brought her extended family out to the site to see humble beginnings. I managed to navigate them out there (way out there lol).


The problem with going there were the many problems for big SUV’s. . Getting a group of 15 people that far in to sage and past a few deep gullies is always an interesting task for the new off road drivers of their ‘SUV” that has never been “off pavement”. Going off gravel, off two tracks through the open prairie is always fun to initiate new drivers lolol.

Someone close to her contacted me when she was in Hospice. We made a bouquet and tray with artifacts from the homestead she grew up on. A ford emblem from a ford truck, a bit of running board made the “plaque portion. Wildflowers decorated the 1930’s patina’d mason jar included on the small “tray”. I wasn’t there when she got it. 😔 That little family in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana lives on as one of it’s matriarchs closes her circle of life. There are a LOT of stories like that but have been lost in the shadows of time.

2×3 landscape aspect Make a cool wall hanger for someone named Junior lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door.

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Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals

Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals
Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals

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

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

Sandhill Migration:

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

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

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

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Fawns Morning Drink

A Fawns Morning Drink at the water hole on a foggy morning
A Fawns Morning Drink: Trip to the Stock Tank

After a long trek, it finally made it to the Stock Tank to take a fawns morning drink after a walk across a divide from an adjacent pasture at least a mile away. These stock tanks (4 of which I keep open over about 3 miles of water pipeline from my main well all winter flowing water for who ever drops by) is critical for the local deer population. Most of the Pronghorn Migrate south about 20-40 miles but the deer stay around and probably couldn’t if I didn’t keep this resource available. Been keeping water sources open for 20 years in the backcountry.

Framing a Game Trail Camera image is like adjusting your underwear. You think you know know how you want to do it. Butt you definitely know it when it’s right and then only after you take a few steps (photosI mean 😄. Most of the cameras preview/show you a photo of what the camera is seeing but it is when the camera is “Open”. Not much help… So you set it up pointing it basically blind just generally pointing it in the right direction. Then there is the assistance I get by animals nudging the cameras,. They help by licking them, trying to chew on the nylon straps that hold them to trees etc. The animals are always trying to help me by cleaning the cameras with their tongue…. ewwwwww. I see some goooey things stuck to lenses now and then lolol.


This was early foggy twilight plus the Infrared Flash from the Camera. I left the white eye in for a change. Perhaps it should be all black ?. This was obviously from the early summer as the Fawns have all lost their spots a few months ago. I have a folder of over 1000 photos from this summer yet to be looked at let alone finished lolol. Job security 😀

18×18 inch square aspect

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Fawns Morning Drink

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Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains

Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains
Every Color Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains

There is literally every color of the rainbow in this image lol. The wedge at the middle of the horizon is the silhouette of the Big Horn Mountains where the sun is setting directly behind. There are only a few weeks a year I can take these but historically the weather window has been closed for most of the time. I consider these hard to get with the sun directly over the peaks 130 miles away. I have to move many miles north now to keep getting this chance as the sun moves rapidly down the range more progressively each sunset in the years timeline.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Perspective #9: Through the Steel Wheel

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Boys Will Be Boys Even at Night

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

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

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

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

2 by 3 aspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Moon Setting over the Red Hills

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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An Echinacea Silhouette From One Moment in Time

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInoasur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in “Belt of Venus” Alpenglow

The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow
The Big Horn Mountains Bathed in "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow

When many focus on the sun rise , I usually turn around several times during a photoshoot as the back show can be better sometimes.
Here the Big Horn Mountains are bathed in the “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow. Just a tick of sun now hitting the high peaks to the left on the “Red Hills”… (their real name)…..It pays to turn around now and then lol…
This landscape stretches 130 miles to the peaks across the Powder River Sedimentary Basin (where 30 percent of the electricity generated in the US is powered by the coal from here. ) The Red Hills are 35 miles out at this site.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Heavy Wet Snow on Trees with Leaves

Heavy Wet Snow on Trees with Leaves
Heavy Wet Snow on Trees with Leaves

Here is a flat light shot from Oct 1 as it was still snowing…Heavy Wet Snow on Trees that sill have leaves is not ideal. Natures pruning shear hard at work. There were lots of branches from this but surprisingly nothing big. The 70-80 mph wind storm we had a month ago already took out the weak ones lolol.

All melted off now…. snowed since and probably again when this posts.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s Best Back Yard Drift of 2018/19

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch's Best Back Yard Drift of 2018/19
Bliss Dinosaur Ranch's Best Back Yard Drift of 2018/19

Here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, we keep track of the “Best” drift in our backyard each year, this was the winner in the winter of 2018/19.

That fence is 6 feet high at the top rail. Stark image📸

Location: our backyard fence, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Smokey Sunset in the Backcountry

Smoky Sunset in the Backcountry
Sunset in the Backcountry

During the smoky days of the summer of 2019 we only had a few weeks of forest fires giving us red/umber sunsets up here in the
high backcountry of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming. The Rim of the Powder River Basin immediately to our west and western Edge of the Wyoming Black Hills at my doorstep easterly. We have 180 mile horizon to horizon views here.

I live and work in this environment if you don’t know me or follow me yet.

The Bliss Dinosuar Ranch sits on a series of high ridges high above the surrounding drainage here on the Montana/Wyoming border literally. We are 70 miles from the nearest 3 color stoplight here but there is a 4 way red 50 miles away🤣

I prefer to drive in the backcountry on two track roads which I do about 10 miles of day of. I encounter many strange beasties and beautiful scenery along the way.

I usually have 6 or 7 camera/lens options with me and hopefully I’m able to capture just a tad of the little zen like things I see everywhere up here.

So many photos, so little time.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Backcountry Square Dance

Backcountry Square Dance
Backcountry Square Dance

I came upon these two bucks swinging to the sound of my Jeep thumping I think. A backcountry square dance so to speak…

They were all about who was boss at that moment and I was lucky enough to catch it. This is the only time I’ve ever seen this behavior in White Tail deer and I’m with them all the time. I got a pretty good sequence of photos of this but this is the second where I had two deer on two feet between them.

They did this for about 30 seconds by my time warped memory and photographic timeline. I just happened to have a 1200mm lens handy all set up for wildlife out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.