Posted on

Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road
Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road

I love the lighting on this red gravel road in remote Wyotana. Golden hour a week or so back…

The High country here in my part of Wyotana has rare arteries of easy gravel travel sparsely dispersed. One path often looks like another. It’s often hard to get there from here. Turning east on a local gravel road may end up taking you north so driving by dead reckoning might live up to its name. I have a name for tourists using GPS as their only source of direction finding. IT’s called “Death by GPS”. I’ve had GPS in several vehicles tell me to turn in places that lead to nowhere. I don’t trust GPS very much without some secondary information confirming the computer… Being led into a Cul-de-sac is not ideal for cross country travel in my experience. With all the visitors planning backcountry trips….

True Local Story: A semi-truck driver from urban Illinois was following his GPS around the backcountry. He went by my place and took a turn into a 100 square mile cul-de-sac into the backcountry to our west. Well it was summer time, 95 degrees, mid-day, sunny. He high centered his rig trying to turn around 5 miles into the middle of nowhere. Stuck He had little water and had to walk almost 2 hours to get to the first shade shelter which had no water. By the time he got to the first ranch and found a hose with some shade, it was a close call. He missed a solar well on my property by about 800 yards. It took him 6 hours to get a ride. He was SOOOOO lucky. As I say, Death by GPS….

No one knew he was there. You need to know your route, use a compass, plus the compass in your head, make sure you are expected at your destination and someone knows where you intend to go. Try not to deviate from that plan. Have days of fluids too…. Just some advice from a long term Wyotana backcountry geologist/explorer. It’s hard to argue with hard paper maps.

Location:, near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pass on Trail Creek Road

Posted on

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley
Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.

Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.

Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these

Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.

Title: Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Posted on

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise
Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

As I travel the misty backcountry mornings, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this twilight,

It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. While it won’t keep deer from penetrating, it does a good job of keep adult cattle out though. It has served it’s purpose for at least 50 years and probably much more. There is no oral history regarding this or that fence line that I have gathered over the decades I’ve lived here.

There is 30 miles of fencing up on this small ranch alone. Imaging how much work that was over the decades to 1: install and 2: maintain BLOWS my mind. 99 percent of the fence posts were hand dug. If you haven’t dug a 5 inch post hole 2 or 3 feet deep, you haven’t really experienced life. Trust me on this. I’ve had numerous first time newcomers that are not ranch wise get fairly well educated by handing them a t-post pounder/driver and a t-post to put in. There are 10,000+ t posts in 30 miles of fencing. I’d estimate there are hundreds of corner braces anyway. A hundred year old ranch has generations of little (and big) jobs invested in them. Black holes for work they are.

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

Title: Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Posted on

Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds
Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in the morning after sunrise last summer. A very deep focus close/far perspective of a long hill to a pass/crest in the distance. I was watching these wonderful clouds over the “hump” on the drive up. Stopped, set up, CLICK. A complex sky is a treasure but that morning was a treasure chest with all the rare contrasts the whole timeline. .

In the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Travel is much easier on the gravel roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress).

How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

RIght at the moment we are dealing with ice and mud alternately. Spring storms are incoming typically. Most of our precipitation comes in the spring.

2:1 Aspect Diptych 2-20inch square images. Eagle head in the clouds if you look up top right. FIsh in the cloud lower left lolol.

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

Title: Pass Up to the Clouds

Posted on

Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground
Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground

From the top of the pass one can see 45 miles to the higher peaks of the Red Hills. The far ridges high points are right at the same elevations around 4100 – 4200 feet as where I stand. The intervening Little Powder River Drainage starting near Gillette Wyoming runs north into the big drainage in Montana. The water droplets here flow first into Trail Creek then immediately off into the “Little Powder River. This flows into the Powder River then the Yellowstone River, then the Missouri all the way to the Mississippi. All the sand grains that used to be between where I stand and those far peaks have been removed by the above described river system. It took a few days.

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

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

Title: Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Posted on

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass
Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

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

Title: Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Posted on

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Posted on

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Posted on

The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing
The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing

I watch this melodrama many times a week. This was a mere opening act in a performance governed by the laws of physics and whims of mother nature that morning.

The Conductor Raises His Wand……. Tap Tap Tap

Photography is indeed a form of art. To learn to draw the eye and mind into an image without the ability of a painter to “make stuff up” takes a while. Composition is all about bringing a story to the observer (you) while engaging / pulling you to look deeper into the image. To bring out memories in you mind, by placing the image into proper perspective. This is my simple goal in each composition. Doing what I do is easy as I’m just following the light trying to encompass it’s meaning.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, northern Campbell County Wyoming about 70 miles from the nearest 3 color traffic light. There are a few red flashers at 50 miles away. No AAA… I live on the same ridge but 4 miles further north of this spot. I can’t see this much of northern Crook County anywhere else I know of or have been to. This ridge blocks my view to the south east direction. I love the sunrises from on top of this ridge. An equally as big a view exists on the west side of this ridge. It’s looking across to the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles away. I can see about 80 miles in this direction to the horizon. It is a 210 mile horizon to horizon sky from up there. Public Road 📸

Title: The Orchestra Starts Playing

Posted on

Crimson Rocky Point Sunrise

Crimson Rocky Point Sunrise
Crimson Rocky Point Sunrise

Crimson Rocky Point Sunrise

This post on December 21’st during the solstice was taken a week ago. This is just about as far to the south that the sun will set from this location. I’ve never found a location to take the sunset behind the Missouri Buttes (right side of the horizon in the distance. I’ve looked too. The forth bump just to the left of the buttes is the Devil’s Tower (Bear Butte). This angle is from a neighbors driveway up on the highest ridge around.

Maintaining a “Blue Snow Free Zone is something I advocate since it rarely exists in nature. I’ve examined this very discussion quite seriously from my point of view/history in color work as a background. I concede a single exception under certain conditions in early morning twilight or late evening twiligh. From a brightly projected sky like this, you can get a blue/purple tint to the normally grey shadows in the snow. I have only photographed one other twilight that has enough color from the twilight sky to suffuse into the snow cover. That one was two winters ago and was a dark Crimson not orange like this. Needless to say, the “colorcast” here was extreme and I consider this a very rare twilight color combination.

My new Ford F150, all black and shiny, should be my ride by the time this posts. My point of view and angles will change several feet higher. I’m not sure of all the ramifications of this, but I’m pretty sure I’m in for a better ride with this F-150 Raptor. My jeep has about 6 inches of suspension travel, the Raptor has 14 inches. I’m seriously looking forward to getting it under me. As I type this, my Jeep Grand Cherokee is cleaned out of all my stuff and is ready to “go to town”. I won’t use it again except the trip to town for the trade. That Jeep and I have been together for 14 years.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Rocky Point Sunrise

Posted on

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Posted on

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

Posted on

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect
MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. 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. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. 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 a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formatoin and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

Posted on

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.

This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex

. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.

There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.

Erosional Remnants:

Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

Posted on

Reflections Off an Old Friend

Reflections Off an Old Friend
Reflections Off and Old Friend

THe morning I took “Reflections Off an Old Friend”, I didn’t know at the time I was going to trade it My Grand Cherokee off off this year. (Sad as I like that car but onward)…

This image represents one of the best mornings I’ve seen up on that high point in the many times I’ve been there.

Location: Trail Creek Pass to Rockypoint Wyoming, Campbell Country…

Posted on

Equinox Road Alignment at Sunset

Equinox Road Alignment at Sunset
Equinox Road Alignment at Sunset

At both equinoxes, the Road Alighment of this East/West road is perfect to the setting sun. Any good east west road will do but this one has a 60 mile horizon looking over the Trail Creek/Little Powder River Drainages in the northern Wyoming/Montana borderlands.