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Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon
Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

At first I had an imaginary shark hunting the water in the distant. The waves covering all but the dorsal fin. No wait… perhaps it’s a sail boat at a good breeze in high seas. The crest of the wave hiding the hull of the sailing ship. The illusion of waves swelling in the open ocean is unmistakable. I’m often taken by flights of fancy. The freedom to search for what could be is sometimes more compelling that for what is. On that segue…

I watched this moon descend into the cloud bank on the right 15 minutes earlier. Wrote it off for the session. I figured it would be obscured. From that point on, it was just until I looked back to the horizon. Looking the other way… Preoccupied I was working the sunrise on the dawn side of the sky. I was aware (back of my mind) when the moon was setting. Having done this a few times I finally did glance around at the other horizon JUST in case. I was surprised when I looked up to see this vision. The clouds had moved to the right leaving a window to the really low moon.

Now this was taken with a huge long lens. These totally screws with your perspective. Zooming up on the relatively small mountains, makes the moon looks big. That ridge is 40 miles distant. The place I set up for this backshow of the sunrise that morning was high enough to give me views both ways. Around 4000 feet which is high ridge country in this corner of Wyoming.

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

Title: Setting Sliver Smokey Moon

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Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset
Front Row Seat Sunset

Front Row Seat Sunset

The horizon is a ridge 40 miles out. Those bumps are full grown pine trees making the saw teeth on the horizon. The perspective is deceiving. The area of the sky covered in this image is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. Telescopic lenses literally give you a front row seat by crushing distance and thusly perspective you perceive. Such large celestial objects are possible. The relative apparent sizes mess with you… This actually makes the trees look HUGE relative as the sun. 863,000 miles across for that sphere, 50 feet for the tree. Based on that comparison, the sun must only be a few thousand feet tall. (shaking head side to side)…. Early Scientists/observers had it rough. They came up with the “Flat Earth” theories….

All the smoke in the atmosphere these days is good only for photography. Giving me crimson, yellow and black as my entire color pallet to capture. Three color, color schemes are fairly hard to find in nature typically. You have to narrow your search with the telephoto. There was a MUCH bigger sunset on going all around this close up. Many more colors started to appear. But when looking directly into the furnace, you only capture what light makes it to the camera. The smoke stopping ALL colors but Red/Yellow =Orange from making it to my photon traps. I can only record what is sent my way after all . I’m pretty sure that the time spent watching backcountry sunsets is not taken off your life’s timeline by the powers that be. It’s all free time….

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

Title: Front Row Seat Sunset

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South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer
South End Northbound Deer

South End Northbound Deer

Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts

Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)

Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.

This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.

The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.

The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.

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

Title: South End Northbound Deer

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Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure
Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure

This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.

I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…

Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.

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

Title: Veiled Moon Time Exposure

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Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset
Right Turn Clyde Sunset

Right Turn Clyde Sunset

I have accumulated a series of right turn signs photobombing objects near, far behind or on them I’m trying to take a photo of. The series name came from the Orangutan star in the early 1980’s Clint Eastwood Movie “Any Which Way You Can”. Having lived in Jackson Hole for the Decade of the 90’s, it was a classic to watch locally and see the familiar sites. The Great ape when told to “Right Turn Clyde”, would throw his hand out to the right, usually into somebodies jaw. That person typically needed a good punch in the story.

Photographic Musings:

The lighting was silly hard to do this with. It took a tripod to get enough depth of focus to capture this. Telephoto of course from some distance back. It’s the only way to do this. The settings are highly variable depending on how much light you have. The more the better. There wasn’t much here to collect in my photon capture boxes.

As a photorealist, I reproduce images dark if it was dark out. That sun was as dim as a candle in the window across the street. IT was in the process of being snuffed out like that candle by the cloud bank behind the Pall of Smoke. Neutral grey light background and just a bit of light from my truck on the sign. Those surfaces are holographic at times. Messes with your camera big time lol.

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

Title: Right Turn Clyde Sunset

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Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective
Smokey Sunset Perspective

Smokey Sunset Perspective

My sense of Proportion mixing with the admiration of the cowboys that built all of the 30 miles of fence on and surrounding our ranch. Pastures being shaped by topography as often as by choice. I wonder how many fence builders / fixers that have passed this way before. Dozens of good (and bad) hands over the years I suspect. I’m just the latest to stretch, patch and otherwise tend to the pasture borders.

Rotating pastures is good husbandry of the land. One big pasture is inefficient as cattle center around the water. Ranchers have found over the years that open range just doesn’t work. Rotating keeps any particular area from being overgrazed (assuming you have any grass at all un-like this year). Fences make ranches work. They also make work for ranchers lol.

The smoke Pall covering the valley distant spans the 40 mile distance to the “Red Hills”. The last ghostly ridge is what you can see of that range.

The one good thing about a Smokey Atmosphere is the effect it has on the incoming light. Mostly it just absorbs all the shorter wavelengths such as Indigo, Blue and Green. That makes orange and red disproportionately abundant (otherwise known as “ColorCast”). When you have a LOT of Red, Orange and Yellow light, everything takes on a strange “Golden Color” thus the “Golden Hour”.

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

Title: Smokey Sunset Perspective

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Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence
Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence

(Satire)

As I follow the full moon traveling along the ridge lines, I saw this situation develop. As I travel parallel ridge lines, I descend as the moon ascends which keeps the moon “rolling” along the crest. Ridges here travel for miles and have deep gullies adjacent. My options are many to watch the lunar progress. So I’m moving along and stop. Suddenly the moon stops moving too. Seemingly confused by the wire obstacle in it’s path. Hard to get that much cheese from here to there over that so to speak… That fence line would have been a cheese slicer for sure.

So to avoid being cut into cracker snacks, I figure it will take some computational power at least similar to the computers in Apollo spacecraft to make this maneuver. While I’ve seen the moon do many things. I’ve never seen it hike a fence. I see the same look on his face as I see on a Mule Deer. You know, that look just before they jump a fence. Sort of a mix of determination and blank stare if you break it down….. 👀

So this time delay sure could have thrown off all those critical tidal charts. That let alone the full moon effecting human behavior for longer. Full Moon and all that. To that point I’m sure this indecision slowed him down on his rounds. Must have made it up later though….But an apparent feat of athleticism as I continued my trip. I turned around, moved a few feet and JUST when I looked away and moved, it had jumped. Must have since when I looked back, it was on the other side of the fence…

Back to my “normal” programming…..

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

Title: Moon Considering Crossing Fence

Moon Considering Crossing Fence

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Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Good Smokey Morning Sunrise
Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

Of course this is very dark. It looked like a refrigerator bulb across the yard. ONLY the red through yellow wavelengths were making it. Not many of those either. This reminded me of the Eclipse we witnessed down at Douglas Wyoming a few years back. The way the subdued lighting had everything awake but on hold. Almost like a pause before the curtain opens for the screen play to follow.

We’ve had smoke for two weeks now and I’ve worked every terminator crossing (look that up if you don’t know it) during that interval. Except this AM as I type this. A small cloud system came in and blocked my eastern view with nothing but a gray slate screen. Sort of like the internet was down in the denial. I was so used to getting up and about, shock to my system…. The nights are very short in the summer. It’s a good thing I don’t need much more than 4 hours of sleep. (as long as I get a nap during the day lol).

I’ve spent a good deal of time doing photography these days. This intense a smoke pall for so long is fortunately a rare event this severe. This plume(s) is equal or in excess of any I’ve experienced in my 20 years living in Wyotana. It’s been an interesting “disaster” year all around now with twin hurricanes landfalling on the Gulf Coast. I did some post-graduate marine biology teaching down at the Gulf Coast Marine Lab in Ocean Springs Mississippi. Those guy are getting clobbered as I type this. (Shaking head side to side).

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

Title: Good Smokey Morning Sunrise

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Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective
Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

First of all, this is the SUN, not the MOON. (Weird eh? ) Zooming in on Terrestrial objects in front of Celestial objects is often wrought with technical issues. Damn the torpedos, it’s the composition I was after of course. Dark Scene…..

The sun always moves to the right the same time it’s being covered by the horizon. That shift right has not much to do with the suns motion. After all the sun doesn’t actually set. The earth spins so the horizon is actually rising to cover out window to the furnace. The movement precludes LONG time exposures to get the landscape.

This is an odd perspective produced from me as the tree was really too close, the ridge still too close. Fortunately the sun is mid-field that is perfectly in focus. It is after all the point (huge) of interest here lol. The rest of the image is just a place holder for the odd scene’s relative position. It gives the viewer a frame of reference.

Sure is a deep brown sky though. It is essentially acting as a N50 neutral density filter lol. This was actually VERY LOW light as in camera shake and the leaves rustling in the breeze were a thing. When the sun is a little more bright than a candle at 100 yards, it’s like taking a photo of the moon literally. In fact the sun here was darker by a significant factor than the setting moon.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Smokey Brown Sunset Perspective

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Seedy Perspective of Smokey Sunset

Seedy Perspective of Smokey Sunset
Seedy Perspective of Smokey Sunset

Seedy Perspective of Smokey Sunset

Perfect weather for a Close / Far Perspective:

I see this Antique Deering Seeder almost every day as it is located on a ridge with a view. Better I have all weather access to this spot. The Sunset that night was accented by the continuing fires west of us. We’ve only had one fire on ranch this year so far. That’s pretty good (knock on wood and where is that salt). This is the beginning of many smokey sunsets (since that is what is currently the rage around here). The air quality is considered “unhealthy” to endure by the powers that be. I am fortunately in an air conditioned truck except when I drive around with cameras sticking out my window. That might be hazardous duty of some sort. ☹️

The seeder has has this amazing view point for decades. Perhaps dating back to very early in the 20’s or so. I suspect it’s horse drawn nature was necessary early on. Gasoline would have been difficult and expensive to obtain. Horses thrive on the available fuel. There is a significant suspicion that much of the grass in our larger fields are resultant from the activities of this fellow. Clearing the sage brush must have been exciting lolol. Fires I’m sure played a significant role there along with a plow later. Then enters the realm of this Cadillac of Grass Planters of it’s day. Changing our environment for the “better”. Boy are there lots of varieties of grass up here now. 😜

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

Title: Seedy Perspective of Smokey Sunset

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Smokey Sunset in the Boneyard

Smokey Sunset in the Boneyard
Smokey Sunset in the Boneyard

Smokey Sunset in the Boneyard

Holy Smokes (sorry bad pun). Sitting in the grassy field 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road, this old freight wagon may have been here as early as 1906. It hauled freight for decades traveling the minimum 30 mile round trip to the nearest General Store. Both Rockypoint Wyoming and Biddle Montana were a day trip from this location by horse drawn wagon.

Bulk flour, sugar, salt, cow medical supplies, canned foods, canning supplies, seeds, cloth and every other household good you can imagine. The settlers survived this remote backcountry without electricity until 1956 (I understand). No telephone until 1964. No broadband internet until I built piped it in via Microwave in 2012 where it is distributed to various ranches and a local school 30 miles distant. This place has seen it all in the last 120 years. I’ve been here 20.

Wood exposed to the elements lasts a long time here. Even non treated wood. The generally dry (a few inches a year long on being a desert) environment here preserves many things. Nothing decays quickly I know of ‘petrified animals” (cows mostly) that have died. One is well over a decade old. It seems leather is preserved a long time too. I’ve found old leather shoes in an 80 year old over bank trash pile left from an old homestead.

The mentality then wasn’t to bury non-burnable trash but to throw it over the nearest gully bank. Out of site out of mind. Mostly the early homesteaders didn’t have plastics so only glass and iron are present in the landfill. A few early ‘plastics” mostly antique car parts/pieces are out there in the old dumps. Most of the ranches today are made up of many smaller original homesteads. We have 3 original homesteads on this ranch.

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

Title: Smokey Sunset in the Boneyard

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Subdued Moon Setting Perspective

Subdued Moon Setting Perspective
Subdued Moon Setting Perspective

Subdued Moon Setting Perspective

The August Full Moon Setting over two ridges and a cloud band. I’m low down in the drainage looking upward over parallel ridges. The first a mile out. The second ridge is about 7 miles out with the cloud bank further down range. The moon is a bit further out there past that. So thus a 4 layers landscape. That cloud bank was rising rapidly to cover the moons face.

The very early daylight or late twilight depending on which second this was taken. Very close to sunrise. This was the last image from this timeline. As soon as the clouds rose to cover the moons face, I was done. IT was a very subdued color with an obvious bias toward a red colorcast. All of the color on the clouds also hitting the light parts of the landscapes in the foreground. To the best of my ability, this is exactly as I saw it. Such subtle tones are rare at sunrise or sunset where intensity is usually the result. Only during twilight or smokey days do I see such lighting.

This one was a tough one to get right. As an avowed photorealist, I try REALLY hard to reproduce here the scene I saw there. The scene was somewhat dark as the sun was Just being exposed by the falling horizon. A slight ridge to the east blocks out the earliest light, I was in shadow taking the photos being a LOT lower than that far butte.

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

Title: Subdued Moon Setting Perspective

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Good Evening from Wyotana

Good Evening from Wyotana
Good Evening from Wyotana

Good Evening from Wyotana

Finding this landscape was a long ride. Getting up these ridges can be a chore, other places you can drive right up. It’s all about the perspective of the height of the hill. The 40+ miles wide Little Powder River valley is off in the distance. The Wyoming / Montana border is between myself and the sun at the moment. Both states being in the photo. The Wyotana area has it’s own character with a mixing of the two state cultures. No difference across the line.

The land is big and unpopulated here. An average of a little over 1 person a square mile I believe is about right. I seldom see lights other than car lights across a valley this wide. Pole lights are few and far in between. I thought the reflective lakes were a nice touch of mother nature to throw into this. Those are both spring fed artesian lakes. My ranch mostly covers the ridge right of the right lake. This location is about 300 feet higher than my ranch’s average altitude. I have a hill that is 50 feet lower than this spot but the view is entirely different as you might suspect lol.

I thought I’d end the day with an end of the day image. This was just about the last image I took that timeline. That was the end of a 3 hour photo session on the backroads of Wyotana.

Title: Good Evening from Wyotana

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Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

Moon Rising Rocky Cliff
Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

The convoluted bedding of the Hell Creek Formation Sandstone bedding in the foreground is a long way from the moon. The same moon was peering down over it’s deposition here on the Cretaceous piedmont existing 66 million years ago. Similar to a tropical North Carolina with Mountains to our west Paleo-geographically BEFORE the Bighorn Uplift. Those mountains were eroded away prior to the Larimide Orogeny Mountain Building episode. Those mountains all turned to sand grains I stand on. That moon back then was a little closer and bigger however. Dinosaurs looked up and watched it loom bigger over head (for another post). Our ranch is covered by this Formation at the surface. A known dinosaur bone deposit is about 1/2 mile distant from this spot.

Paleontological Musings: A series of MAJOR Rivers flowed around here in the Late Cretaceous. Some certainly as big as the Missouri River swept back and forth across the landscape. Leaving behind sand but snaking back and forth meandering on a surface it can’t cut down into. Shuffling and reshuffling the sands. Several times a fossil dinosaur tooth were excavated. Only to be redeposited dozens of times. Over the 3 million years this particular sand conveyor belt sedimentary system survived. Leaving about 700 feet of sands. This is literally sandstone country. We have more sand that most public beaches lol.

Upon the Ancient river dropping it’s load. When something else heavy covered it. Sediments flow like plastic. Pushed around underground like silly putty under your boot and a hard place. We get all sorts of various sandstone creations by mother nature occur in this country. Hydraulically reworked soft sediment deformation is a common occurrence. Boulders are left behind. The softer sands around them are blown or washed away. Those boulders were hardened. Cementing minerals in ground water responsible. That passing through the sands. The boulders cemented obviously better/harder than the sand that blew away exposing them. These sands moving down river to the “sink” filled up the Cretaceous Interior Seaway over time. Then the asteroid slammed into Mexico……..

I only get to play with a low full moon with the sun still up one or two times a month assuming the weather cooperates. Here the sun had just been obscured by a low cloud bank as it was setting. Low light makes this close/far perspective much more difficult to obtain. Of course the really hard part here is getting something like this close chunk of ancient river bed in focus. In focus at “infinity” along with the moon in the background that looks very large rising over this ridgeline. I’m shooting at least 400 yards away ( almost 1/4 mile) from that pile of rocks. Distance is your friend when attempting this type of composition. 📸

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

Title: Moon Rising Rocky Cliff

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Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines
Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines

I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee

Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.

The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.

From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…

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

Title: Sunset View through the Pines

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Parks Ranch Distant Fire

Parks Ranch Distant Fire
Parks Ranch Distant Fire

Parks Ranch Distant Fire

This looks bad at first glance. One sees smoke rising from a structure. Trust me the century old house of the Historic Parks Ranch stands un-affected by the blaze 50 miles distant. That is just a REALLY big fire. Burning Hot in the drought ravaged Wyotana area to our west. This fire was just past the Powder River drainage on the Crow Reservation I believe. Perspectives, curved tree line, crepuscular rays and smoke plumes. PLUS an old ranch homestead with some blue sky peaking through. Very hard core, real world Wyotana in action.📷

I find that Really big fire plumes make interesting illusionary additions to background architectural constructs with in telephoto photography. Crushing distances like 50 miles versus a few hundred yards together is what telephotos do best. Add smoke, a sunset to an amazing old building well preserved and you have quite a composition in and of itself lol. I don’t get really big smoke plumes exactly in front of sunsets too often. I worked this over about 10 miles of north south backroads in both Montana and Wyoming. Those hills in the distance right are in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.

The most local actual newspaper from the small town Broadus Montana claimed June was the Driest on Record. I may have mis-read that. It’s durn dry here with July a bit better with all the water we got from that 30 minute long hail storm throwing up to 3 inch stones at us. Pool Table Ball sized stuff. This ranch avoided that hail storm, it went Just next door hitting us.

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

Title: Parks Ranch Distant Fire

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Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole
Perspective Through the Knot Hole

Perspective Through the Knot Hole

The morning that showed me this view was 14 hours earlier than when I typed this narrative. It’s rare that I take a photo and schedule it to be published the same day. Sort of like being a bouncer choosing who gets to enter a nightclub. If your a “looker”, you go right to the front of the line. There are several thousand images for me to finish at the moment lolol. They are sitting in a folder on my workstations desktop called “Images to finish”. Job security 📸

The texture on this wonderful old snag from 100 years of exposure to the elements. It is harsh here in Wyotana with hot high altitude sunny summer days and terribly dark cold winters. Wood rot here take a LONG time as 14 inches a year average of precip tends to reduce rot. There are a LOT of “Snags” around from the 1930’s fire that “burned until the snow fell” up in this country. This one developed even more character as those orangish spots are bruises from the hail storm that threw up to 3 inch ice balls at it. The Mountain in the knot hole is known to me as “Turtle Butte”. It is precisely on the Montana/Wyoming border about 1/2 and half. 🤔

This is the second of a series with this Snag. I worked it a few years back as well. The lighting was entirely different then and it hadn’t hailed lol. The old masters would go back to the same place again and again to get different light. It was harder to travel then. I just work a very large area of backcountry photographically.

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

Title: Perspective Through the Knot Hole

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Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise
Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.

I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.

This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.

Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.

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

Title: Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

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Portrait of a Backcountry Sunrise

Portrait of a Backcountry Sunrise
Portrait of a Backcountry Sunrise

Portrait of a Backcountry Sunrise

A Couple of old soldiers standing on this saddle of this mile distant ridge. The perspective long telephotos give you is crushed between the two ridges here. The far ridge is 8 miles out from my camera. Sort of a “Close/Far” perspective.

These trees are old growth that survived a major fire in the 1930’s that “burned till the snows fell”. There is a mix of grass and forested areas in this region. Our ranch is about 25 percent ‘treed’ pasture. The rest is just grass and sage with a few dinosaur fossils mixed in on the surface. That is prime dinosaur hunting ground amid those small outcrops. I never know what I’m going to find walking areas like this.

Photographic musings:

Twilight Landscapes are much easier before the sky gets too bright. Photography is a light balancing act. Having your camera try to see into the dark needs a tripod or sandbag to stabilize the camera. Extend your exposure so you can get more light. Take that gained light away by turning up your f-stop to a higher number giving you a longer field of focus in return (Double edge sword) Only of course, if you want to have it all in focus instead of just those trees lolol. To sum that up: giving up light you gain with a longer exposure then taking it away by turning up f-stop to give you deeper focus…. Then you have only ISO (Camera sensitivity to adjust to give you a proper exposure.). You can also adjust for a longer shutter too if your brave.

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

Title: Portrait of a Backcountry Sunrise

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Landscape CO2 Pipeline

Landscape CO2 Pipeline
Landscape CO2 Pipeline

Landscape CO2 Pipeline

This beautiful portrait of a 10 mile long landscape was taken early this spring. The winding red gravel county road gives you a sense of access but this is big country. There are many two track ‘roads’ through out this remote backcountry. Literally thousands of miles of travel between the fences separating pastures several square miles in area. Open a fence and keep going. Making sure you close it behind you if it was closed to start with.

Off in the distance is a linear feature in the landscape. Manmade. That is a trace of a CO2 Sequestration line. It was laid near here a decade ago. Excess CO2 is from Wyoming being used to inject back into the periphery of a big local oil field. The peripherally injected CO2 pressures the oil to migrate to the center of the oil field where wells pick up the oil. Then the CO2 is just left in place permanently sequestered deep underground. It sounds like a great idea on many levels but there are of course issues that are not for this forum.

That linear scar is hundreds of miles long across Wyoming and Montana. It was an invasive process for any local having HUGE equipment and crew daily for a month or so interrupting normal ranch operation. Lots of traffic for the duration of the project. Having said all that, the vegetation is well maintained by the company several times a year killing off noxious weeds that take over freshly disturbed ground. That is a 36 inch high pressure line. A lot of CO2 from the oil wells, natural gas wells and coal scrubbing gets put in there never to be seen again.

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

Title: Landscape CO2 Pipeline

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Curve in the Gravel Road

Curve in the Gravel Road
Curve in the Gravel Road

Curve in the Gravel Road

Compositions dominate my thinking with the scenes I visit daily. LONG shadows completely crossing the flat road tells the early hour. The Whitetail Deer Doe having watered across the road is now on her way back to her feeding grounds. I love the tension created by curves in the landscape even man made ones. With the deer as the off set focal point, I felt this is how the frame should exist.

This image is in late may when the still pregnant. I suspect this is the doe that had twins I photographed just recently. Generally if they are tolerant enough to let me photograph them once, a second time is way more likely to occur. I will never chase them off by my actions and usually drive away leaving them effectively unbothered by my big black smelly noisy pickup. I have found that if I scare or chase animals, I will not ever get close to them again. I’m very patient with them these days. The wildlings are slowly getting used to my presence.

I haven’t seen many Mule deer this year. Mostly Whitetail which is not necessarily a good thing. When Whitetail move in, Mule Deer usually move out. Mule deer are much easier to photograph. More importantly they are a better game animal. A LOT of people feed themselves with Mule deer up here stocking their freezers for the long winters. It takes 2 Whitetail to give you the meat of a good Mule Deer. (Hail, Grasshoppers, global Pandemic, economic depression and NOW Whitetails are pushing out the Mule Deer???? I mean COME ON……. 😜 )

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

Title: Curve in the Gravel Road

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Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing
Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing

I call this Moon/Tree Surfing. Actually it’s me riding the moons “Shadow line” on the opposite parallel ridge. The higher ridge between me and the moon gives me a 500 yard distant foreground with the moon somewhat further behind that. I will drive along these ridges looking for places where the moon thinks he’s not being seen. Unsuspecting…. So I catch him carefully resting on the local vegetation as here. He’s just lifting off as he saw me. He certainly doesn’t need some high plains paparazzi posting his photo in the “Post” sitting down on the job. I me he has a strict schedule to keep and many things rely on the Moon’s time keeper.

From a strictly technical viewpoint, I get to do this kind of daylight illuminated foreground and the moon behind only once a month on average.. Some months the window is closed entirely by weather. Clouds do a good job obscuring what I know is going on behind them. Fortunately this was a very clear evening of July 3rd. The moon appeared full for two sunsets (3rd and 4th) plus a sunrise between. It was definitely a weekend to photograph the moon if you have the gear and the inclination. The air has been clear lately to boot making the “Seeing” on the moon’s surface good enough maybe to get out my big lenses from storage. Humm… 🤔

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

Title: Moon Tree Surfing

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Rain Drop Perspective on Black

Rain Drop Perspective on Black
Rain Drop Perspective on Black

Rain Drop Perspective on Black

This seems such a simple photograph at the inception but there are so many things to write about.

Science: Surface Tension on a freshly waxed surface with pure Wyotana rain water (rare these days). The water droplets without the tendency for hydrogen bonds and dipolar interactions would be all connected in a thin sheet. Instead they take random dome shapes due to the nature of the atomic alignments of water molecules. It’s all about physics and chemistry at the basic level.

Photography: Boy is this a classic example of “Depth of field” of focus. Note the droplets in the middle of the photo are in perfect focus. The droplets in the foreground along with the ones in the background, are OUT of focus. This of course adds to the sense of perspective of Close to Far. A photographer can control how deep/thick that “zone” is by going to the dreaded manual mode. F-stop mostly controls the depth of focus which varies highly within different lenses. Using any telephoto for macros like this gives you this blurry effect at this range (about 3 inches from the center). The focus zone is maybe 3 inches thick in this particular macro.

Art: I don’t do a lot of photography for ARTS sake but I consider this as artsy as I’m going to get this week. I saw the texture and was instantly enthused. The perspective ability of this Sony/Zeiss 90mm macro lens blows me away routinely lolol. I would strongly recommend the platform (Sony Alpha).

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

Title: Rain Drop Perspective on Black

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Star Bursts and Wheel Spokes

Star Bursts and Wheel Spokes
Star Bursts and Wheel Spokes

Star Bursts and Wheel Spokes

Good Monday Morning to you all from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I awoke today to pea soup thick fog blanketing the area which of course was dewey spider web hunting time. Did that a while this AM. I’ll take moisture any way I can get it. We might be getting some rain over the next few days if we are lucky (this was written June 29th). This week we are actively working on our fire truck so my posts this week are between tasks.

To this image. I am always trying to have a couple of “hero’s” in an image. A sunset by itself is beautiful in it’s simplicity. A starburst in it’s own radial existence is the wheel (hero 1). Then there is the lens pinhole artifactual starburst (hero 2). In my experience, the most complex sunsets are more eye appealing generally speaking. In and by themselves.. Add some depth though…. I see many opportunities in any one scene. Certainly this Antique Deering Seeder long ago abandoned became a favorite foreground object of mine to work with these big Wyotana sunsets. It has had a view to die for decades on this remote ridge. I love Close/Far perspectives and setting them up👀 📷

Photographic Musings:

This might be straight forward with an infinite focus cell phone. Hard for me to say as I don’t use them as cameras much Not so easy with a manual mode DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. The camera made the star around the sun. The High F-stop setting (as high as the camera would go) led to that. It’s an artifact produced by the optics and a regular “star” of my close far perspectives. Remember that F-stop is a double edged sword. You turn it up, you get really a thick layer of focal sharpness from close to far. Plus a sun star…But you loose a LOT of light turning UP the F-stop. You have to compensate for that with the other two settings (shutter speed and ISO/camera sensitivity). Focusing this close is knowing where to set your camera.

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

Title: Star Bursts and Wheel Spokes

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Moon Stuck in a Rut

Moon Stuck in a Rut
Moon Stuck in a Rut

Moon Stuck in a Rut

If I’m in the right place at the right time, I often catch the moon pausing on it’s journey to it’s zenith. I’ve even seen it casually reclining on various soft surfaces but not this time. Here’s I caught it stuck in a rocky rut on the way to work. Sometimes it takes a while for someone to come along and give you a push in this country. I’ve seen stretches of “main” road go a day with no traffic before up here. Worse this is in the deep backcountry. Fortunately… Yet again I happened to come along at the perfect time and free the moon up. Saving tidal tables world wide from being off kilter. You can’t delay clock work schedules. All it took was a nudge, a word of encouragement then onward climbing it went. 😜

Photographic Musings:

It was getting fairly dark at this click during the timeline I was working to get this. If I have a clear rising or setting moon, I will try to involve a close / far perspective. Usually this is initiated by a trip out to some backcountry parallel Ridges where I can have multiple horizons just by moving my positions. Distance is always your friend for this kind of work. You want a big length focal length lens. 400mm or greater comes to mind. Also it is good to be at least 300 – 400 yards out (depending on what lens) away from the fore ground object(s). If the moon rises, I walk down the hill I’m on and get another chance at it. If it’s setting, I just climb up a few steps and keep on shooting. Tripods don’t work well for this but a monopod has some applications here.

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

Title: Moon Stuck in a Rut

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Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice
Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

I sense the turning of the wheel again. Living here for 2 decades now, makes me ponder those that came before me. Loving the land as I do all.

There are so many ranch stories from any one particular spot that will never be told or known by the public or for that fact history. Some epic, standard stuff sure and most were. But stories of sweat, toil and hard work by generations of cowboys and cowgirls in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

I look around at all the fence posts set deep in the ground on my ranch, I just shake my head in astonishment at the work. If anyone hasn’t hand dug a post hole, raise your hand, you know who you are. This is true cowboy country. There is a huge cattle culture in this place complete with the uniforms for such.

The both counties my ranch spans have WAY more cattle than people living in an area the size of a small state. Ranches can get large up here, not as big as some of the historic ones though. There are still a few 100000 acre outfits (outfits as they call ranches locally 🙂

This IH/Deering Seed Drill was certainly used in the 1920’s and 30’s maybe into the 40’s. There are several old homesteads from the 20’s (ish) within 3 miles of my place that I know about. Somewhere back then, the owner parked this complex machine meant to drop seeds with some precision into a prepared field. It was the last work it did…

Planting Hybrid Grass seed was it’s primary job. I’m not sure what pulled it, maybe both horses early on and then the rancher got a tractor or a WWII surplus Jeep and pulled it with that. Many surplus Jeeps worked fields here in the west during the 40’s and 50’s. So many stories not told…. I even find fragments of historic leather harness “tack” for horse teams here along with the iron skeletons of old 2 seat carriages and abandoned buck wagons here on ranch. (The black-smithed iron is fantastic.)

There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over that century, many residents threw broken items “over the bank” and out of mind. So the steep/deep gullies near old collapsed sod houses are prime hunting ground for iron antiques, glass bottles etc left over from previous lives. There are even a handful of car/truck skeletons from the 1920’s around and even some in the backcountry. I have a “Small” eclectic collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty all.. 📸

Round and round the Wheel It Comes…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise at the Summer Solstice

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Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge
Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Or is that Chaise Lounge? 😝

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.

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

Title: Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

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Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset
Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

From the viewpoint of the mouse enjoying the late golden hour sunset. The end of the day upon the resident of the grasslands. Looking up to see if a hawk or owl is going to end it’s life. I hope they are oblivious to their own short mortality… None the less, taking the time to enjoy the color pallet unfolding before it’s eyes. The same effect is not lost on this photographer.

Working JUST below the shadow line of the setting sun, the blinding disk is obscured by the vegetation / hillside allows for the camera to see both the highlights and the dark detail. Ultimately my goal is high dynamic range of color with shadow detail. The highlights from the shafts of light filtered through the trees were my canvas here.

The Summer Alpenglow is the result of Moisture in the air frozen at altitude into ice. Those ice plates reflect and refract the available colors remaining after the light has traveled a high angle path through the atmosphere. Helping along with dust… block the shorter wavelengths of light. Absorbed are most of the blues and greens from the pallet of available colors. Purple is a mix of red and blue. Getting the camera just below the shadow line is important. Without the direct suns glare, you have the opportunity to get some of that shadow color even with a bright sky with filtered light.

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

Title: Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge
Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

One of my favorite antiques on the ranch is this 1920’s-1930’s Deering Seeder sitting on the toe of a high ridge. The Cretaceous Sandstones capping/covering this isolated plateau of Sage and Spanish Dagger are these hard layers and lenses of hardened sand. This hard sand/rock was cemented harder than the sandstone taken away by erosion around it. Harder due to differences in the “Diagenetic” processes that turned loose plastic sand to rock. Notice I didn’t say magic processes. Good google word for today… It’s the reason the ridge is there… Hard rock protects the softer sandstone below…

The hard cap rock this scene is built over was laid down by just one act of a 3 million year long stage show. At the End of the Reign of the Dinosaurs on the coastal slope (piedmont really) toward the Cretaceous Era “Inland Sea” Sea sediments are 900 feet down here. Above them, the Beach Sand above that marine sediment. That is named Fox Hill Formation. From the old beach is where we get our water. Above that (below me) is another 700 feet of River Sand (Hell Creek/Lance Formations) that many ancient rivers carried lazily here.

I say many because these watersheds with rivers miles wide.. (think anastomosing braided channels of dendritic sand choked channels on a massive scale. Similar to the amazon water shed. This was the last stage for the dinosaurs to live out their last moments. The coast was extant from Canada to northern New Mexico. All along the coast of that land a mere 66 million years before present.

There were untold millions of high water/flood events in the history of this land. Mountains long gone to our west fed vast quantities of sand worn from them by wind water and ice. Our Ranch lies on 14 mile wide strip of Hell Creek/Lance formation exposed on the surface. This exposed due to streams and rivers moving thousands of feet of sediment that used to be above us away. Cutting into these old beds at a slight angle. Youngest rocks west with Older to the east.

Then somebody came along and “dumped this 100 (ish) year old farm implement here giving me a subject in this remote environment. What are the chances lolol.

In my world, the past is the key to the present and the future. Integral within our processes of the present exists hand me down learning from the past. Geological process occur without our being aware of them or not. My point is understanding the past helps predict the future as well as interpreting the present.

Oh, My LED lightbar on “Clever Girl” added some flavor to this freshly rained upon dynamic sunset through a storm in the deep backcountry.

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

Title: Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

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Perspective Wagon Box Side

Perspective Wagon Box Side
Perspective Wagon Box Side

Perspective Wagon Box Side

Textures are revealed within the grain of the 80+ year old weathered wood. The Old Buck wagon is holding a place of honor (in his mind) a mile out from our homestead in our “boneyard”. It shares residence there with a host of other ranch utilitarian items deemed too important a resource to bury. The custom of the early days of pioneering in this country was typically to toss broken / un-fixable things into a nearby gully and call it good. Cracked cast iron with a mix of glass bottles in the mix. Some of the latter I do find intact from a known 1930’s homestead long since gone.

I’ve found abandoned two track roads leading to collapsed dug out houses in this country. Many have come before us in this high harsh ridge line environment. Life is easier down in the river valleys. Land was relatively free far from the electric grid and telephone in this remote high ground in the backcountry of Wyotana. Wagons as this were a critical technology that provided a lifeline to civilization. Providing ultimately all the products broken and discarded into the aforementioned nearby gully.

These wheels turned until they didn’t. Existing parked here a decade of decades. Now cattle rub against it, eventually breaking each and every piece of this historic relic. Living on a ranch in a semi-arid “steppe” environment preserves wood. Living with cattle on the ranch, destroys wood. The steel fittings last on. Wood to dust, steel to rust is the way of things.

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

Title:Perspective Wagon Box Side