The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.
So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.
There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.
If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.
Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.
The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.
Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.
Meanwhile out on the grassy prairie…. with a view… the 30 mile distance to the Red Hills looks crushed to just a few miles by the telephoto “distance effect”. I’ve always said that telephoto lenses “CRUSH” perspective. It certainly does here. From where I stand. There are 5 ridges (drainages) between that “tallest” ridge in the distance. The perspective here is misleading though.
The 3700 feet elevation I’m standing at is right at the same height as the lowest saddle between the big peaks in the distance. (furthest ridge. The ground I’m standing on is sloping downward about 400 feet over the next 10 miles to the Little Powder River valley. The big ridge? I wonder Why it’s called the “Red Hills”. It might be their generally brownish red color certainly. I’ve seen it scarlet in the red tinted morning light at times.
Mostly this red is from an abundance of generally reddish “Clinker” rock. Clinker is natures ceramic. It is formed at the boundaries of underground coal seam fires. The century’s long burn fires the coals surrounding clay layers into a porous ceramic. Lewis and Clark thought it volcanic in origin. They were wrong on that one. Oh the wonders they experienced. I believe Jefferson enabled that group. If you don’t know the story, it’s well worth googling. History in general is valuable to understand so as not to repeat it’s mistakes.
This is a reasonable gathering of Pronghorn for this early in the season. They have their reasons I suspect. Oh wait, rut is slowly building. There is already a lot of banter going on within the herds. To this day I have not been able to work myself into the middle of a wild Pronghorn herd of this size. Deer yes, Pronghorn ….. no ☹️ . I’ve been close but never IN the herd surrounded by the animals doing natural things. I think they are collectively more paranoid than individually.
Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.
I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘
Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️
Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.
Grazing as a herd left to right across the landscape of our pasture. Right at our entry cattle gate. We are not a large ranch for this area with many operations 10 times our physical size and cattle capacity. This country is primarily Black Angus Cattle Country. This summer pasture can either be a hay field or eaten down by a herd depending on the year. Ranching on a dry year as this is difficult. Add to that the uncertainty of cattle pricing and this is going to be a rough year for ranchers. We lease a majority of our ground to another who runs cattle here in the summer. Trucking them to their other property for overwinter feeding. Living on a land of many uses as this ranch has been my honor.
The ground the cattle graze on is home to the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship (2nd largest team precision rifle event in North America I have been told…. Just another use… Never took many photos here either…
Then there is: Right under their feet are Dinosaur Fossils. Those along with fossils of a portion of the rest of the fauna alive in the rivers. Sand from those rivers formed the ground here. Derived from those sediments, sand and minerals enable the grass to grow. Mountains west of the BigHorns that are no longer there supplied it. Sand in the form of a 700 foot thick blanket of river sand spread over 5 states and into Canada. Mostly these Dinosaur fossil bearing formations are underground, here it makes the soil the cattle feed over. I’ve actually found Dinosaur bones sitting in the grass up here. Vertebra a foot in diameter kind of fossil bones in the grass. Maybe the Sign in the image should say “Large Livestock”. 😜 📷
As the solstice is tomorrow, I thought I’d show you what a Bighorn Mountain sideshow looks like with a far northern sunset. The sun is WAY off to the right of the frame. The landscape ladder here climbing off to the 130 mile distant 13000 foot tall peaks leaves me speechless more times than not. Now this is a very long lens which crushes perspective. The second furthest ridge is 40 miles away from the ridge I’m standing on. My elevation is about the same as the saddle on that second to last ridge. The red layered badlands are only 10 miles distant.
Those red banded layer hills are all Tullock Formation. The rocks exposed on the surface all the way back to the Bighorns have been carried there. A complex process by rivers of the past. These moving eroded by the elements, sediments off the peaks. All running down slope from those world class hills. At one time there was a smooth ramp all the way to the peaks to my feet. It was a smooth slope that huge alluvial fans were deposited off the Bighorns. The middle of those alluvial fan stack are dissected at right angles by the Big Horn, the Powder and the Little Powder Rivers.
The rocks I stand on are older Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstones with their share of Dinosaurian fossils. (Hell Creek/ Lance Formations) These older sandstones are dipping toward the Bighorn’s Powder River Basin being downwarped with the formation of that regional structure. About a mile off my ranch’s west boundary, the alluvial fans overlapped the Cretaceous River Sands. The dinosaur fossil bearing rocks diving deep off toward the mountains.
Driving up to the pass on Trail Creek Road to Rockypoint Wyoming, there is a view that tourists don’t get to see. These “little” volcanic “necks” resisting erosion and the ride to the Gulf of Mexico. The express train to the Ocean is always running though the schedule is a the whim of the environment. The sedimentary aprons around them consisting of smaller detrital chunks of the peaks piled up waiting for their ride down river.
Lighting being what it is, I chase it. Sometimes it get’s away from me. Occasionally I don’t have a camera with me (I know, Rule number 1)… If I’m in a vehicle though, I definitely have camera(s) set up for capturing an image. I say that if I can see it, I can photograph it. This looks to be a few miles out from my camera. More like 30 miles distant from my lens. Telephoto lenses crush perspective bringing in distant objects up close and personal.
This was taken during a golden sunset with the background sky being lit up by the color of the ambient light traveling through the atmosphere. The ice there reflecting the sunlight a creme soda colored look over yellow color cast peaks composed of Tertiary Porphyry Igneous rocks. Also known as the “Three Sisters”, these landmarks greeted many a pioneer in covered wagon along the trails to points west.
Location: About 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This late spring, the grass is not that high yet as it’s starting as a dry year. It may appear this Pregnant Pronghorn Doe was standing in high grass. Nope.. If you look carefully, you can see her hind leg folded up as she is actually bedded down. Also she would stand well over the Yucca right behind her. She rests unafraid of my presence. I actually thought she was standing while watching live in the camera. After a few minutes she didn’t move anything but her head I figured that out lol. That head is on a constant swivel as all Pronghorn practice situational awareness routinely. In my experience, they are on situation Orange most of the time and go red at a pin dropping. She can go from 0 to 60 even while pregnant as here though I suspect 50 might be her top speed capability in her “sensitive” condition.
Setting aside very difficult to capture Pronghorn Eyelash close shots of wild animals, the Holy Grail of Pronghorn Photography are bedded animals. Certainly I use long lenses that bring creatures up close and personal. However this was intended as a landscape composition that happened to have a Pronghorn in it lolol. I can’t tally all the things that have to align just so to get a capture like this. The layers of this composition are many (I count 9) which I LOVE to find while randomly driving along remote two track roads. I find new angles every time I go out here in Wyotana. This country is beautiful every which way you look.
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.
Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀
This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.
The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.
I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. This is a rare sunset early golden hour photon hunt. I’m not usually headed this direction in the afternoon with a tendency to go deep backcountry. This hunt was a road trip mostly watching the storm move through. My bucket list is to get a rainbow against this scene….
Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument is on the left. The “Three Sisters” (right) as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic necks. Exposed by eroding the material away from above/around them.
Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed on sand grain at a time. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. Rivers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin. The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).
The lighting this evening was spectacular. I find you are where you are when the “Golden Hour” hits with it’s long shadows and rich earthy tones. This is big country here in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana (looking southeasterly into Wyoming). Thousands of square miles of less than 2 people per mile population density.
Thank god, been waiting for this a while…. (since OCT 1, 2019). The water falling is washing away the brown to leave the green underneath. This must be why all the flood water is brown downstream right? 😜📷
With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground. I consider winters here easy.
I spent a decade living / working in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course. I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.
A lowly pond deep in the backcountry flats below the ridge my ranch is situated on. About 300 feet lower than my homestead where the Artesian Waters from rocks 250 feet underground. This water works it’s way to the surface via cracks…faults… My homestead gets water from the same formational source. But it only rises from it’s source 500 feet deep in my wells to 250 feet up the pipe. Down low topographically though, there are quite a few ponds up on this particular area as the Fox Hill Formation below is a wonderful Aquifer under pressure from up dip of the formation. Geographically, this unit stretches from Alberta to northern Colorado with analogues/ similar depositional environments further south. The western interior sea during the latest Dinosaur Era (Cretaceous) provided the barrier islands/beach for this grey sandstone with shale interbeds to accumulate.
Fox Hill Formation is a MAJOR source of ground water around big cities. BUT the water from the Fox Hill is typically diluted. IT takes purer water as it is very high in total dissolved solids (TDS). Drinking high TDS water is a good way to get kidney stones. We use reverse osmosis filters for all our drinking water. The animals drinking this are on their own and generally do OK. I did have a wonderful 7 year old quarter horse die of a kidney stone. The complications probably from drinking this water. Most animals do fine.
As the Fox Hill unit is dipping about 50 feet per mile toward the west (towards setting sun). This means that to the east it is higher giving a “hydrologic head” . The miles to the east the formation is physically a lot higher. So if you have a water bearing sandstone higher than you. Plus a crack between it and the surface, you get “spring fed ponds”. Artesian simply means that water is flowing from underground. The water flows upward to the surface because the water bearing sand is WAY above this location miles to the east. Just because water is “Artesian”, doesn’t mean it’s safe or much good to drink. It just means it’s flowing on the surface…
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
A wooden Tower Windmill WAAAAAY out in the middle of Nowhere in the Backcountry. It’s about 20 miles from my homestead to work this one. Gravel Roads lead close to this but I have to leave the highway to get this close. It’s a LONG walk with camera gear…
WOW, I see a lot of lit up twilight skies in my work (that is what I do lol) . This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. This lighter/softer twilight not as intense as some but soothing none the less. Everyone needs some purple in their lives at least once a week. I actually don’t see real purple very much, the gradient between the red and the blue made it. Mixing colors on the sky’s pallet.
My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. The skies gradient from yellow to red to purple in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns do not look quite that large as they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.. (Wyotana)
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.🤔⚒📷
A little out of season but it helps me to keep the spring in perspective. This last winter was 6 months long. It started Oct 1, 2019 and is just ending here in early May. Green Grass is upon us.
Taken 2019, this image has been sitting around in a “To Do” folder for about 6 months. I’ve got older images than that to finish. Job security on those days when you don’t quite have enough newly taken images that are worthy of your or my time. There have been a lot of ‘clear sky’ days of late which I tend not to work very much. This particular day was an exception however.
The Grass was totally coated with Rime snow and frosted beyond my normal experience. The Buck was in rut thusly pursuing the doe scenting the air actively at the time. Generally the temperature was up among all the bucks hormones flowing freely in the air.
The fairy tail landscape was so bright that even the sparkles in the foreground appear muted by comparison. The “reflectivity” of the landscape was about as high as I’ve ever seen it that morning. The effect is not as obvious here in this capture but to call this a sunglasses moment would be appropriate. I was trying to capture the sparkles in the foreground and had to keep the exposure dark (ish) to show them off. They were phenomenal to me at the time.
The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).
That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.
This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.
That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.
Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.
This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.
I’m always saying I work “Parallel Ridges” photographically but actually showing parallel ridges isn’t easy. These long shadows during this late golden hour moment accentuate the topography in this landscape. The coloration was natural in this low light civil twilight sky. Atmospheric Ice will do this. It’s called “Alpenglow” if you haven’t googled that before. …
Autumn is in full effect for this country. Most of the ranches trees are behind me but this treed gully provides some foreground color in this image. A lot of grasses have a reddish hue to them as well as the various deciduous trees in the valley.
There is a lot of ground covered in this frame. 40 miles out to the far ridge which part of the Red Hills up in Montana. I’m on what I call Ridge one which is about 1 mile inside of Wyoming. I really enjoy working this country with cameras. There are infinite angles and slopes to work ridge lines to properly corral light into your camera. Wild life encounters set off the experience. I never know what I’m going to run into up here. This is a land of many uses.
Your actually looking across 2 good sized river valleys. Ranch creek is the first big valley in the distance. Ranch Creek eventually feeds the Little Powder River which resides in the second valley. These small rivers removed all that sediment between the tallest peaks. The ground used to reach between the peaks and filled in all that valley area. Little rivers do LOTS of erosion over a LOT of time by a LITTLE at a time. 🤔⚒
Actually this is indeed a 98.5 Percent Full April “Pink” Moon but the images title is a classic reference to a Movie Line. If you know from where, you could be my friend lol.
This is a very long 1200 mm telephoto shot with the sun being mostly up behind me with a brief over lap. Having the two celestial bodies at the horizon with daylight and a full moon is a one or two times a month opportunity IF the weather cooperates. Of course I have the moon lowering in the sky from about an hour before this. This particular one the last shot of the timeline consisting of several hundred images.
I am standing on my ground which is the same elevation as the saddle between the two far peak. That range of mountains is called the “Red Hills” and is 40 (forty) miles distant from my camera. The Intervening Little Powder River Valley 500 feet lower than the far ridge removed all that ground between here and there. A sand grain at a time the 20 foot wide “Little Powder” River carried all that sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico, through several tributaries. Some of it is still in the river banks along the way. All things eventually work to the sea.
This, looking westward barely diagonally across the Wyoming to Montana border. The moon setting at 279 degrees. I prepositioned myself just so it would set between the peaks. Fore knowledge of how things work makes your photo session “predictable”. It helps you choose to use the map in your head. Google: ‘Moon Compass’, and work the choices.
Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There are still spotty snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in.
The first rule of photography is get the shot. The second rule is get it right !. Longer time exposures give your camera a chance to gather light the easy way. You always want as LOW and ISO as you can get away with. Low light images like this look wonderful if done on a tripod. Not so much hand held. I use a clamp on my car window with my favorite tripod head on it that mates to my cameras. Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.
The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.
Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.
Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant into Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.
Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks with no dinosaur fossils. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch at one time. All gone now 🤔⚒
During some years past, those alluvial fans have been totally eroded from my place and have left to the Mississippi River Delta. Carried down the drainage one sand grain at a time. Some is still in transport I’m sure. The layovers along a sand grains journey to the sea can be long.
‘ Residual Petrified Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers previously above where I stand that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there on the surface…. isolated. I have never seen it “in situ” in Cretaceous sands so it came from above literally. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls straight down over geologic time as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana
This is a land of many uses with a long history to tell if you can read the book that is open in front of us.
Corral with a View (Moon Setting from my side yard. )
Back in the cold January of 2020, we had a little more snow on the ground that we do now in Mid-March 2020 as this posts. This is a corner of our corral system from just inside the fence of our front yard. Looking west this small part of the corral system. This enclosure was being used to keep some 1200 pound hay bales. Safety from the small herd of Corriente’ Longhorns we keep about. Corriente’ cattle are seriously able to take care of themselves in the winter. Like Bison they paw at the snow to expose the grass under the blanket. Angus and most purebred domestic breeds lack enough instinct to perform this task.
The mountains in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. The Little Powder River Basin between myself and the Red Hills. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming ridge.
This Waning Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. This was a full moon a few short days ago. I chase the moon from time to time. Here such that it is in the same image as the Pink Blush from the “Belt of Venus”. A variety of Alpenglow . Sunrise over my shoulder with a pink back show. If your going to be “Stuck” in a corral as stock, it might as well have a great view. 😜📸
I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then. Forest fires up wind veil the sunsets as this and give the whole world an eclipsed feeling. 🤔👀
This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the Artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface.
Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book. The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Cretaceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly un-fossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀
We do get some wind up here now and again. One breezy morning with the wind over my left shoulder, the sun was rising over my right shoulder. Emitted from the sun, my back was bathed with un-impeded infra-red heat. The wind was certainly not moderated by any but that on my back.
In case any of you have never tried photography under high country wind conditions, consider the weight of your tripod. My Ford F-150 Raptor weighs around 6000 pounds and isn’t that terribly large so it is a pretty good tripod. Better pointed into the breeze lol. Working from inside your vehicle free handed if you have the light to perform such stability magic. Resting the long lens I’m using for this on the truck window. If you use a window mount, I’m thinking it’s a matter of WHEN you break your tempered window with the leverage of the system. You have to not jostle them. 🤔📷
10 miles out are the “Prairie Dog Hills” and looking across the Wyoming/Montana border are the Red Hills off in the distance. The border is where the line of trees in the center running right to left. All the grassy area this side of those trees is is corner of our place. Past that mark is as I say, another state. I own land in Montana but not that particular direction. More over my right shoulder lol. Most of my photos have both states landscape or sky in them somewhere.
Two Track to the Red Hills (Late fall 2019) Rain shafts right sky 📸 The horizons shadow just left lighting up all the landscape behind me. So I turned and CLICK.
Wide landscapes of a sunrise backshow are one of my pursuits as really pretty ones are not that easy to run into randomly. . It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of mostly un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east (to say Illinois) , I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. In this country, it’s a post here, a fence there with some trails disturbing the landscape. Closest ranch house (help) to this scene is about 2 miles.
The population density of our 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 Wyoming but the Mountains on the right are in Montana. Thus borderlands lol….
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.
Musings on Deep Backcountry Travel
Some times 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 in this high country above the drainage anywhere. Pretty well maintained gravel is our 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 lol. 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).
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken 6 months ago. The grassy remote ridge top I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Little Powder RIver Valley and the Powder River Basin lie between the Mountains and my ranch. Geomorphologically, I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day until June 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
For a 30 (ish) Horse Power Tractor, this 1939 International “M” Tractor had 270,000 made by 1954. It only weight 5400 pounds and has a 4.1 liter gasoline engine. This one runs if I put gas in the tank and hit the starter. It needs new rubber. This is out back near our corral system, in our yard but way off the beaten path. (We live in a 10 acre fenced in deer resistant compound ).
We keep a few big bales of hay around in case we actually have to feed our small herd of Corriente Cattle. They generally don’t need extra food but will happily take it lolol. The vistas from our homestead are BIG to the south west with 130 mile view when conditions permit. We have way more snow than the low lands we overlook. It’s a stark difference our front yard versus 300 feet lower topographically down by the rivers. No or little snow down there which is not a good thing. I consider the local snow cover as light this year. (March 3, 2020).
Mostly multigenerationally fixed / patched fences, old ranches have complex Corrals lolol. Those fences take a LOT of cow pressure particularly near the alleys. A 1500 pound bull pushing hard will be defined as “Cow Pressure”. . You might get 30 years of reliability, if a corral is made of treated wood posts. Corrals made of steel, it lasts a century or two. Oil Well pipe and sucker roads, cables, panels, wire panels, you name it are part of the fixes. Repurposed coal mine rubber belts (4 – 6 feet wide) for alleys. I have seen a host of other materials incorporated into many corrals. Free(ish) fencing is very popular. I’m seeing 4 different types of fences just in this photo. There are dozens of fencing generations in this grandfathered 80 year old corral system. Some originally built about the same time as this Antique Tractor.