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Hawk Flight Path Composite

Hawk Flight Path Composite
Hawk Flight Path Composite

Hawk Flight Path Composite 30″x10″ triplet (3:1 aspect)

Certainly I am not an expert on extant raptors. I know a bit about Avian Dinosaurs, this is the Bliss DInosaur Ranch after all…. That being said, I “believe” that this is a “Ferruginous Hawk. A single bird along it’s flight path. In other words, this is the same bird against the very background it was flying past. (A composite/multiple exposure of sorts) . (Red Tail versus Ferruginous is a tough one. ). I’m sure someone reading this will know instantly.

The bird is actually below me topographically. It was actively flapping to keep or gain altitude and was on an hunt. Mouth open giving a screech. Camera on rapid fire of 10 shots a second. I was high on a ridge several hundred feet above the surrounding ground. This hawk was actually making enough noise for several birds lol. He was calling so much, I’m sure he was telegraphing his presence to the prey.

This guy actually circled twice which gave me enough time to tweek the camera and catch him on the second pass. I don’t see hawks from above too often. Passing by me twice was a gift from him to me. He must have seen something down there and wanted to check it out twice. He didn’t give me a third opportunity. Hunting appeared better else where. It was soon flying off. Not a bit worried about whether I took his photo.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hawk Flight Path Composite

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SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck
SpringTime Velvet Buck

SpringTime Velvet Buck

I know this buck as “Goal Post. He only has one brow tine on the horn on your right. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the third year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.

I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.

I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.

2×3 aspect up to 3 feet

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: SpringTime Velvet Buck

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Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera
Fawns Running at the Camera

Fawns Running at the Camera

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. I only got 6 of the running fawns in this frame. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I had been there a while. The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them.

When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal. stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults.

This group ran by my Jeeps I’d say within 20 yards. I get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns. If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. I actually was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me.

I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Fawns Running at the Camera

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Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower
Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

Hunting the wild Pasque Flower. Located on east facing slopes, they are not that common here.. I never really see them growing anywhere without a partial tree cover canopy over them. The south and eastern slopes here tend to collect a bit more water. Snow collects there blown from the north and west slopes. These are wild Crocus effectively. Commonly called “prairie Crocus”. The HAIRY bell shaped blooms are distinctive. Tissue paper delicate, transparent to bright sun with a very photogenic subject for a study of highlights.

Catching these guys usually involves being on your stomach. Please be careful where you lay down. (Besides the occasional Prickly Pair Cactus)….this is cattle country. You definitely need to watch what you roll around in lol. I have put my (then) un padded jeans covered knee on a prickly pear before. I also put my hand down once getting up on a prickly pear. There is definitely some hazardous duty pay situations out here in the backcountry. I now wear Goretex™/waterproof pants with knee padded pants when I work in the back country. I highly suggest good outer wear and layers in this country.

Since these little 6 inch flowers are random and rare in their distribution, you have to actually hunt them down. I have found them in small groups of 4 or 5 plants Harder is finding them on the upper part of that eastern slope where they can be worked photographically. In order to get low angle golden sun on the plant, they have to be on the edge of the forest. This limits your opportunities tremendously if your hunting the wild crocus.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Hunting the Wild Pasque Flower

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Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber
Windmill Sunset through Timber

Windmill Sunset through Timber

Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms the light from the silhouetted areas.

Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.

I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.

Good news is, my new ride (F150) is in Nebraska traveling on a semi, due next week at our local dealer. I ordered it Oct 3 and it was a 2020 so it is certainly one of the first off the assembly line. Give the dealer a week to prep it by putting on the dealer installed accessories So about a week from when this posts…just before xmas, some of my shots will be from several feet higher perspective. Stay tuned lolol. My first new truck in 15 years. I’m looking forward to a better ride quality as well as clearance/snow capabilities I haven’t had with my Jeep Grand Cherokee.

In a few more years, I’ll be showing you branch details with the sunset. Cameras will exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction.

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

Windmill Sunset through Timber

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate
Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate

The well known ranch rule is.: If the gate is open, leave it open. If the gate is closed, close it after you pass through.

I will leave gates open to allow easy passing of game through the fences. They don’t have to crawl under the wire or jump over it. This particular area is a busy summer area for game, not so much in the as winter water is more than a mile away. It has to be moving water of course to not be frozen in this environment. Dryland areas like this evacuate of all ungulates during the colder months of the year.

I usually put game trail cameras on open gates but I had just removed several from this spot due to the oncoming winter. Not only will it be difficult to tend to those cameras, they would capture almost nothing that time of year. I tend to keep them around those water sources that are kept open. We trickle a jet of high pressure water into 4, sometimes 5 stock tanks all winter. It keeps them open nicely and should provide some nice ice sculpture images this year. Wildlife hangs near the water for good reason. Trapped near an island water source surrounded by dry land with LOTS of food. It’s not a bad way to spend your winter if your an ungulate. The one thing we usually have enough of is deer fodder/food.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Open Gate

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Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets
Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.

Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.

Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

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Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise
Trees Beard at Sunrise

Trees Beard at Sunrise

Pareidolia:

This phenomena is the ability to see faces in common objects. The scientists say it developed in our species due to infants need to smile when they see a face. The smile engenders loving care in return. The babies (a million or so years ago) that smiles more, were cared for better on average. They grew to adult hood and reproduced. Rinse and repeat cycle over and over and over. We are teaching computers to do facial recognition using essentially the same process. The ability to see shapes out of random data is a survival skill.🤔 This “ability”/curse used to be considered a sign of psychosis “back in the day” before it was recognized as being absolutely normal lolol.

Taa Daaa. (or un taa daaa? which is a classic reference), This captures was during a wonderful morning of bronze mottled/rippled cloud deck with the sun just cracking the horizon. IT was dead calm on this ridge top which is not that common for me.

Trees Beard here is of course a distant cousin of the Ent’s of Tolkein’s masterpiece. (If your not a geek and don’t know). They were walking/talking tree creatures of great age that watched over the forest like shepherds. That’s all within the frame work of the Two Towers book out of the trilogy.

At any rate:

I also see a wolf’s head outline in the negative space the trees provide. Some may see a horse. Something else?

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Beard at Sunrise

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Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4
Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!

That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜

Back to my “normal” programming.

I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer 13 Pronghorn 4

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Back Country Buck Rake

Back Country Buck Rake
Back Country Buck Rake

Back Country Buck Rake

Winter is bleak and the snow is deep in the hollows. The restless wind of the borderlands, the sun, the grass fires have all contributed to what lives on this landscape of Tertiary river sediments. All this ground is composed of debris carried by rivers about 130 miles across the Powder River basin ALL the way to the Big Horn Mountains. That is a big apron of sediment 130 miles out. My ranch is about 8 miles over that hill from this location.

There was a snowstorm coming in and I drove JUST ahead of the storms shadow for about 10 miles. I of course was snapping the wonderful lighting all along the way. I have this antique grass rake from this side and looking through it at the sun. All taken from the road via telephoto. I will never leave the right of way taking photos if it’s private land unless I have permission ahead of time.

A seat is missing from the top of the center support for it. This was certainly horse drawn at one time or another in it’s history. A pair of horses with harness ruled early farm life in this country. As technology advanced but even more importantly, because servicible here. A host of various machinery was used to pull farm implements. Some had actual tractors other bought army surplus crate Jeeps freshly returned from storage depot. All produced during World War II. Many a Willis pulled a hay rake during the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Location: About 8 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Back Country Buck Rake

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Back Country Sun Dog

Back Country Sun Dog
Back Country Sun Dog

Back Country Sun Dog

This big old sun dog happened one cool sub-zero morning. Ice crystals refracting light were falling out of the air in front of my camera everywhere. All the white speckles are ice crystals close to the camera. I was just driving along a high ridge as is my typical backcountry drive. It suddenly appeared as I was driving along. The ice fall moved over me.

Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Alternately, refraction from drifting in freezing moist air at low levels as diamond dust as here. Those “mock suns’ are from the aforementioned “Diamond Dust”. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was VERY bright.

This half circle halo is 22 degrees from the sun. These 22 degree refractions are present with and without mock suns in my experience. This particular Sundog even has a sun pillar above AND below the sun itself. Pillars develop as a result of ice crystals slowly falling through the air, reflecting the sun’s rays off of their hexagonal flat surfaces.

I’ve only seen one better sundog off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area at the Village mid winter back in the 90’s. This was a few miles back in the backcountry pretty much across the border with sky in both Montana and Wyoming. .

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

Title: Back Country Sun Dog

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Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion
Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

SATIRE:

So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…

Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:

OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.

That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.

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

Title: Mitten Butte Volcano Illusion

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Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset
Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

OK, it’s a halfie with the horizon 1/2 way up the frame…. I don’t produce a lot of halfies but this one is worth of your time I feel. A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a mouse on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, these seeds wait for a grass fire to open up and “seed” themselves. The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Pine Cone Sunset

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Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks
Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Landscape Morning Fog Banks

Some would call this a cloud bank, however if you look closely, it extends all the way to the ground. It was slowly heading our direction reaching us within an hour of this capture. The morning was beautiful, calm, clear overhead with a clear sky sunrise to my right. The approach of this cloud bank obscured the sun for the rest of the day.

This location has a wonderful view toward the northwest over the Montana border (I’m standing in Wyoming). There is a natural frame here (or 10) on this ridge. It is only a few miles from my homestead and a relatively “easy” drive to get up the hill. This time of year snow drifts about. I suffer long periods where I am denied access to locations up on this ridge. The view without that cloud bank is about 60 miles, with about 6. I have more images with this cloud bank literally rolling in at ground level.

I definitely consider myself a landscape photographer. As an artist, I actually photograph very few people (as I don’t see a lot of people here). I think in 20 years of running around the backcountry here I’ve run into 3 different people I didn’t expect to see randomly. All had a good reason to be there. (Pipeline inspectors and local ranchers looking for lost bulls). The pipeline people call me now first as they should. The ranchers have free access.

Not that I will turn down offers by local wildlife to pose for me. Then there are the always the famous photobombing Windmills known as the “Pete” brothers. I have no control over their actions. Fortunately, windmills get tangled up moving through timber. These high forested ridges are Windmill Free Zones. 😜📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Landscape Morning Fog Banks.

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Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light
Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

The beautiful little girl was in perfect morning light with a very wet nose. She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye. Longest eye lashes ever these guys. Then you don’t have a hat brim, they must be the next best thing.

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…

The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch. This is a female sans the patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

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

Title: Young Pronghorn Doe Morning Light

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Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather
Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

Springtime rainy weather would be amazing at the moment. Leaves are sprouting with bugs about. This grey/brown spotted woodpecker is a rare fixture up here. This is the Red Shafted Flicker Version. This variety lives here in the west. A different version lives to the east and north I understand. Omnivorous by nature, they are notorious ant eaters. He was digging into old wood. Sticking it’s beak into old wet rotten logs was it’s goal. It was looking for grubs, and found them. Fruits, nuts, betties, even seeds in the winter omnivores they are.

I have never found a nest before and am always on the lookout. I know most of the “wildlife” trees and keep my eye on the comings and goings of things. I’ve never seen one of these dive into a hole in a tree before…. I’m counting the day however..📷

I find them difficult to approach with long telephoto shots being the rule not the exception. I’ve actually captured a few with game trail cameras in the past. Some of those images are wall worthy when ever I get around to finishing them to current standards. I see them often but have found that when they see me, they don’t stick around too much. We really don’t see them much out in the backcountry but I do see them around the homestead in the side gardens. I consider them to hanging around the variety of vegetation around my homestead. The ecosystem here in the ranch main compound is vastly more diverse than is the regular backcountry grassland. There are also more cats…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Northern Flicker Enjoying the Weather

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Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill
Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill is doing what he does best, get into my landscapes. I have no control over his actions…..😎 (years old narrative).🤣

The window to the Big Horn Mountains from my ranch has 130 miles of atmosphere between my high ridge location and those 13,000 foot high peaks… I see them maybe once a week. It was windy but this is still a 1/15th second time exposure in order to blur the windmill sail.

This was a missed post so I manually posted this this AM. I’m not sure how I screwed it up but here I am working live and not a week out lolol.

Have a great Friday and be safe in all you do.

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

Title: Perspective: BigHorns Blurred Windmill

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Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds
Pass Into the Clouds

Pass Into the Clouds

This gravel road is headed up into the clouds. Some of this is the perspective CRUSH by the telephoto lens of course. IT really is a steep section of road. It was snowing just up over the lip of the hill. The ridges around here are a whole different environment than the surrounding lower country. We live up in the higher ground where it almost always snows a little more.

We call our place “Little Siberia”. 1: the label was handed down by the previous residents. 2: it always has snow here when the valley has just rain.

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

Title: Pass Into the Clouds

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Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag
Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

There is a LOT of texture on this twisted snag. It sits on a steep slope. There is little wear by cattle rubbing on it there. Cattle rubbing destroys things up here faster than freezing and thawing. I attribute most of the damage to old wood wagon wheels here to cattle rubbing against them.

It’s called “Cattle Pressure” . This acts heavily on fences and panels . Where cattle are crowded together such as corrals such becomes serious generating a lot of outward force. So this trees falling on a steep slope keeps the cattle way. If it was much steeper or wet, it would keep me away.

The Twisted pine is literally spun around. All from uneven wind loading. Branches on one side of the tree unequally are exposed to the constant wind. These are worse on the ridges. Pin trees end up getting twisted. Mostly into cork screws like patterns.

A fallen soldier like this is perhaps 80 years dead. There is only 14 inches a year average of rain a year here so rot is a very slow process. The result is very weathered surfaces and wonderful patterns that stand out well in the right light.

I’m pretty sure there is a white Unicorn in the white sun saturaturated area. A natural spirit in the sky looking left to right. I’m a victim of seeing images instantly out of random shapes as clouds or other data. This tendency to see patterns in random shapes used to be considered a psychotic symptom. Modern medicine says normal. Recognizing anthropomorphic shapes out of random data is something we have trained computers to do. (facial recognition).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Perspective: Twisted Pine Snag

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Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet
Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

Not many Western Meadowlarks were singing the morning I got this capture. We are in their breeding area

It was not funny to the Meadowlarks as it was to me. This particular snow made it hard to find a place to alight. IT stuck to everything. Other birds occupied ALL perches in all directions. Worse: No one wanted to walk in the several inch thick sloppy wet snow. It was sticking to everything including the poor birds feet. A favorite perch were the electric wires around my compound.. There are other photos of that as well lol. There were many good captures this day.

Meadowlarks are insect and seed eaters. They are very well adapted to life up here in this remote grasslands up here on the high ridges. I’m sure they time their arrival or departure based on insect availability I suspect. They watch the weather pretty closely lol. The whole prairie was full of Meadowlarks this day and no shelter in this storm. The snow stuck to his feet made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one dealing with it lolol. There is companionship often formed in misery……..

Meadowlarks left this year around early October when winter started and heavier snows moved through. We’ve had a constant barrage of storms with just a bit of warmer relief since. 40 degrees and still is T-shirt weather in this country. We’ve already been below zero this year.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Getting Cold Feet

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Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close
Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

I have no idea of how the physic of the color center of the flake operated. It is not false color and I didn’t do it in the digital dark room. It’s not a digital artifact. Somehow there must be a polarizing film such as melted water there? But the physics say there must be a second polarizing film to draw color out of white light like this. I worked polarizing optical microscopes used in mineral analysis for years. Somehow “crossed polarizers” formed for this image to occur.

Captured using a 1:1 “macro” rated lens. (90mm Zeiss/Sony) I was able to zoom into this piece of natures artistry. As they say, no two flakes are ever the same. There are MANY different kinds of macro lenses. If you have questions about this PM me. I used an LED flashlight for the source of light hand held but there was not a polarizing lens on either the camera OR the flashlight. How this happened is beyond my level of understanding. I’m just happy to have captured it lolol. 📷

Geometric purity always amazes me. The geometric forms created under the rules of nature become phenomena… One thing I have observed and confirmed personally as a scientist over my travels, is that growth of any crystalline substance is orderly. A repetitive process, the materials used in the construction of the snowflake arrange themselves into a limited number of predetermined orientations. Science right in front of us.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snowflake Polarizer Up Close

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Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral
Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Etherial Light in the Cathedral

Photographic Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments. Try manual mode sometimes…… Only three main things to learn….. Just saying.

When ever I try to capture a fairly bright sun, I actually use no lens filter in front of this or any other of my sun shots for several years now. I use mirrorless camera gear that shows me the image on a video screen. This prevents me from being blinded doing this twice a day when I’m working photography a week at a time. DSLR cameras in contrast to Mirrorless Cameras have a direct path for light to your eye. Yup, you can blind yourself doing this once.

With the right gear rated to do this, turn down your ISO to 100 or lower if your camera will go lower), turn your fstop to the highest number of the lens your using has. (this closes the “pupil of the lens to a pin point). A LOW F-stop will open up the lens and you’ll have overexposure PLUS the tree will be out of focus). High f-stop numbers give you a long depth of focus. As well high f-stop reduces light. (sort of important looking into the furnace).

The last of the three things you adjust in manual mode is Shutter speed. This last setting is your variable with the first two setting taking priority in getting this image. It may take everything your camera has for a fast shutter say 1/3000ths of a second. My Sony Alphas will hit 1/8000th of a second for a LOT less light.

Many consumer entry level cameras don’t have enough dynamic range built in. The ability to shut down light enough is part of that.. Then you use a screw on glass filter in front of the lens. Called Neutral Density filters, available at any camera shop for your lens. Coming in different degrees of darkness, they cut down light. In my experience, they give you ghosts to deal with in the image. This is why I don’t use them..

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

Title: Etherial Light in the Cathedral

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Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate
Out the Back Gate

Out the Back Gate

This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile.

In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set far to the left side of the frame is still lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Jeeps drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.

I use “RC-2” mounts on everything. You have to buy tripod heads All my tripods and all my cameras all mate up properly (or that is the plan). I JUST got two of my Sony Alpha 7RII cameras back from repair (takes a month usually). At any one time I usually have one camera out being repaired. I’m pretty hard on the cameras, spinning dials all the time in a hostile dusty environment. Cameras will last longer if you use them on automatic and don’t spin dials (moving parts) that wear out and stop working after 50 or so thousand adjustments. However running a camera on automatic is like owning a supercar and having the computer drive you down a traffic free winding mountain road.

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

Title: Out the Back Gate

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Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning
Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).

Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.

This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Brace for the Morning

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Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night
Reflections: Ice Covered Night

Reflections: Ice Covered Night

It was around 11pm and my Mastiff’s wanted out. It was the beginning of a 24 hour snow but it was still rain at this point. The drizzle covered anything exposed. That is a 400 watt LED stadium light. It is as bright as the sun versus the total black here in the backcountry. According to nasa, when it’s dark here, it’s as dark as the north Atlantic Ocean. I can see lights effecting the sky from towns hundreds of miles away. Particularly if I go up high and look around. (Billings, Gillette, Sheridan for starters). You can’t see the actual city lights but you do see the glow in the sky on the horizon. The cities light pollute the local “seeing” and not at all here, 70 miles from the nearest town.

I don’t do much dark night photography these days. I’m not sure why but I do need some sleep sometimes.

Photographic Musings:

I did this without a tripod as I was only hunting for the highlights in this image.. Negative space here is as important in the composition. I wanted to razor edge the settings. So you need light in the camera AND a fairly deep focus. Compromise. ISO 1000 for sure. (or a tripod) and minimum handheld shutter speed of 1/50th. That only leaves f-stop to set. . If your far enough away, you’ll have some leeway in f-stop. F-stop primarily going to be set low numbers here to gather light, damn the reduced focus depth of field as a result of the low f-stop setting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Reflections: Ice Covered Night

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Sun Slit Across the Valley

Sun Slit Across the Valley
Sun Slit Across the Valley

Sun Slit Across the Valley

I watch the sky both morning pre-dawn and pre-sunset to see if the photons emitted are worth capturing. I am always interested in layered landscapes. The series of parallel Ridges here frange from a few miles out to 40 miles for the large ridge. The biggest ridge you CAN”T see is the ridge that is cutting off the bottom of the sun. That ridge is called the Big Horn Mountains. Even though you can’t see the ridge, it stops the sunlight dead in it’s tracks. When the sun sets at this spot, it always sets above the first tall ridge (the Red Hills) as the ridge behind is a light blocker whether you can see it or not.

This is a dark capture as the sun was heavily veiled in this capture. There was so much moisture in the air as this was a day before the Dec 1 Storm Came through. Anybody else notice Oct1 and Dec1 were both big storms?? Maybe it’s just me lolol.

As I type this at 3:40 in the afternoon, 40 minutes till sunset, the scenario for sundown seems to be coming to something like this. A sunslit can be wonderful if it lights up the cloud deck above the “slit”. I will make a decision within 15 minutes of whether to go out or not. It depends on what I’m seeing as it takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography when I have about 4000 images to refinish seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol.

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

Title: Sun Slit Across the Valley

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Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape
Perspective: Golden Backcounty Landscape

Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.

I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.

Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).

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

Title: Perspective: Golden Backcountry Landscape

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Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth
Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

Grove of Snowbound Old Growth.

These frosted Pines stand along against the elements high on a remote ridge. They have long survived backcountry wildfires. . The lack of branches down low help keep them safer from grass fires. . Their isolated island also helps prevent fires from taking them. These survived a major fire in the late 1930’s that burned all summer in this area. Only the winter snows extinguished that long burning fire. There are still many snags around from that fire. A lot of seasoned firewood has come from those snags. Some still stand as a stark reminder of natures wrath. Partially burned and totally now “wildlife” trees.

I don’t take a lot of Black and White images. However, this scene seems made for the genre . Frosted Needles and boughs are the rule in this shot. Each with 1/4 inch of ice everywhere on any exposed surface. There has been a lot of slowly freezing storms come through this fall. All starting out with rain or freezing drizzle. Then they turn to snow so an ice coating under a foot of snow makes for interesting backcountry driving.

I can not travel easily now in the backcountry. Over a foot of snow from the last storm put a hitch in my giddy-up. I try to be safe and not stick myself back country. It’s a long walk back. Having said that, I do carry several radios including a ham radio to which I have a repeater on my communications tower. I’m pretty much in communication if needed. Cell Phones usually aren’t much good up here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Grove of Snowbound Old Growth

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Sunrise Through the Knothole

Sunrise Through the Knothole
Sunrise Through the Knothole

Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).

Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.

Photographic Musings:

Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.

Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.

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

Title: Sunrise Through the Knothole