IT was extraordinarily still. 20 minutes after sunrise. A perfect mirror in the stock pond. Cattle herds have been watering here for over 100 years for a timeline. Yet longer ago, the Sands of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations providing the water that fills the small glass smooth earthen berm’d tank. This water body looks much larger than it appears here. The perspective of the very wide lens messing with us. More of a puddle than a pond. None the less, a provider of a perfect double image for me to capture during this rare (long term) smoke pall moderated sunrise. This is probably the only good effect from too hot a burning forests x 100 … massively cool photographic environments….
Even though the sun appears higher in the sky, it is quite dark under the thick plume from western fires. The forest releasing all sorts of combustion gasses and soot. This isn’t as bad as all the man made structures burning. All those plastic fumes are mixed in with the forest by products as well. This is an unparalleled event as I see and understand the enormity of these combined fires. The hugely damaging “Bobcat fire” alone plus 27 other blazes in California alone are adding to the flavor (literally you can taste this stuff) of the air.
I’ve seen a lot of smoke before from fires but I haven’t smelled the fires as much as this year. Nor have any previous year I’ve experienced in my 30 years living in Wyoming been this thick with mixed haze. As a geologist I will tell you that this isn’t 1 / 100,000 of how an exploding Yellowstone would effect the sky.. That would be pitch black raining ash. That was climate change if you don’t think it has changed before lolol.
The wind was very low but the 30 second time lapse here showed clearly any water movement with the slight blur. It was pitch black with the only light being the Comet Neowise and the star field to the north. I couldn’t have set up my tripod close to this pond if I wanted to. It’s hard to find standing water high enough these days to do this. I had to travel to make this happen. I worked this comet for 3 hours this night traveling backcountry under “fairly” low light conditions lolol.
You can clearly see the ion trail tail pointing directly away from the sun . THe chunky particle trial is leaning off to the right on the outside of the race track orbit it’s on. It will be back in about 7000 years so you better enjoy it now lol. By the time this posts it will no longer be naked eye. Binocs will work though.
Coincidentally I lined up the light pollution from the town of Broadus Montana 45 miles distant on the horizon. This kind of photography is WAY outside my normal operational envelope. It is REALLY dark out here. I essentially can not see ANYTHING in the camera eyepiece when I do this. Mirrorless cameras do this a little sloppily yet and I’m tempted to use an old DSLR for kicks to compare. Time exposures are tough on so many levels.
Taken about 12 days ago from this post, narrative written 8 days ago.. Such is my work flow these days. Present future and past reflections a this remote wetlands echo back to us in time and space. A Cottonwood Tree covered dam built many decades ago. A spring fed pond is home to many a gorgeous vista. It will have many more. Each sunset/sunrise is a new pallet of color for me to explore.
I have so many choices of where to pursue the limited time I have to chase the light. Because the wind was dead calm at the homestead. The flags were slag. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the investment of time and gas. .
“Backcountry” …. I’ve defined the term before and for all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This little “Heaven on Earth” is 2 miles of bumpy two track dirt/grass road from the nearest county road. That county road is crushed red scoria (“Clinker”) gravel. Generally local gravel travel over well maintained roads is a dusty pleasure. I point out that these roads are fodder for “Clever Girl”. She eats them up. 🤔👀
So… upon gaining the county gravel, it is 14 miles of curvey / hilly 1.5 lane road to the closest asphalt paved two lane highway. . It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. 2 people per square mile density in this area while there are several hundred cows in the same area. Cattle Country with Dinosaur Bones. …. There certainly are more remote areas of North America but not a lot of difference from those to the lifestyle of living in the “backcountry”.
This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the image as do most of my photos.
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…
A magical “Belt of Venus” evening up in the eastern Sky. . The sunset was 10 minutes past behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the far horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the western/opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens.
This ground is relatively easy to get to in the summer and fall as it’s on a local county road lol. This was taken spring 2019 as the snow pack started to melt into ponds as which provided the mirror for this capture. .
Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.
I’ve gone through the technical basics a few times. I would entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.
You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others. Just a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.
Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.
The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜
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” 😀
Sunsets up here are an unfettered bright environment photographically. Using a lake as a reflective media just about doubles the light intensity. So walking down range of such things is a rough road to a good image. TOO much light…..
Photographic Musings: 3 things to adjust in Manual Mode (because your cell phone isn’t going to take this shot) Easy as 1,2,3….📸😀
Turn that top big dial with the M on top of your camera. Turn it to M. (Manual Mode)
1: F-Stop: For this bright environment, you really have to turn UP the F-stop to about as high as it will go for your particular lens. This gives you a very deep field of focus where the grass up front is sharp as well as the cattle and sky. High fstop also cuts out light. (High F-stop = Little pin Hole as an aperture. . Low F-stop = Big aperture (pupil) in the lens.
2: Shutter Speed: You also have to turn up your shutter speed to a very fast shutter which cuts off some of that light. Say 1/2000th….. (variable), A faster shutter will let in less light. A longer/slower shutter lets in proportionally more light. 1/100th of a second lets in twice as much light as 1/200th. A little speed change can make a big difference. Your using shutter speed to adjust exposure usually last but here I’d use ISO as the last variable and keep it a fast shutter.
3: Camera Sensitivity (ISO). A low ISO number is used for Bright daytime. So ISO 100 or lower if your camera will go there is usable. Really low ISO introduce noise into the image though just as High ISO. Native best choice for daytime is ISO 100. ISO 800 for dark rooms. ISO 3000 or higher depending on your camera will introduce grain and noise.
Your priorities are deep focus, and proper exposure. Set your first priority first which is F-stop for the focus and cutting light. Just two left.
This location is about a mile below a good sized oil field pumping 140 degree water out, treating it, holding it in ponds until it eventually freezes. With it having been below zero several times already, having an open body of water in the backcountry is an oasis. Particularly this time of year. (Imaged last week) A lot of wild birds stop by and over night here. Liquid water is always interesting to animals of all kinds in deep northern Wyoming / southern Montana winters. Numerous Geothermal ponds exist from deep oil wells in the areas surrounding my ranch but none directly on my place unfortunately.
I love geothermal pond areas for photographic trips in sub-zero weather as the steam generates huge hoar frost needles on virtually everything. The mists in the mornings can be amazing to watch the sunrise through. This is the kind of things I see driving backroads in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.
As I noticed this, it stopped me from 45 mph and I backed up a ways to set up for it. The speed limit up here is 45 on the county back roads. It only took a few seconds to get back to the proper position for this frame. . I rarely pass another vehicle when I drive around the backcountry. Maybe one car every three or four days of work. Mostly that would be a local rancher either going to town or tending cattle.
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.
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 Creatceous. 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 unfossiliferous 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” 😀
Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).
Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.
Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.
Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.
Sunset with Aroma Added (Hybrid photo/art perspective)
I have always said, “If you can make a pile of SH** look good with a camera, you could be a photographer”. It’s all about the light/composition not about the subject. (I have posted this before and it’s now up to my “current standards” lololol).
In full disclosure, I added the old bearded mans face in mask profile using Highlights on the right edge of the “pile”. Sort of digital sculpting without any of the biohazard issues 😜 Channeling Bev Doolittle a bit perhaps (no insult intended to her)…… Other than that little area, everything else is un-affected by my machinations/mutation of an otherwise plain edge.
Anyhow, back to the composition. This Perspective is a close/far focus pretty much at water level of a small wetland area. The cattle of course tend to flavor the water. Drinking out of a natural body of water…..not so much of a good idea. Just my 2 cents. For that fact, most lakes…… never mind.
This sort of “encounter” is a common occurrence here in Cattle Country. Many a boot has met a hose as a result of this meeting. I consider this hazardous duty for my camera as the focus distance here is about a foot. Anywhere close to water is scary to me even though I have never dropped a camera from my hands ever. My luck, I’d drop it in the pile and bounce it into the water lol.
Sunset Across the Border starts in Wyoming where I stand. The Prairie Dog Hills on the Horizon in the Montana side of this sky show.
The Horizon Rising to cover the suns face occurs with finality in the backcountry. This spot is several miles out into the grasslands. When the sun goes down, it gets very dark very quickly. Particularly so on moonless or cloudy nights. Dark as Pitch. In fact as Dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA’s website that discusses such things.
Twilight landscapes are one of my favorite things to pursue. Landscape details out of the dark are worth learning how to extract from your data file on an image. The information is usually in there but just hidden in the black in your cameras raw file. I pay very close attention to the highlights exposing them correctly to the actual scene then retrieve the details in the dark later.
I always travel with a tritium illuminated compass. There is a very real phenomena called “Death by GPS”. I only use them for land owner Identification. I would never travel back here with one. There was a semi-truck driver that had to walk out of the backcountry up here because he followed his GPS. He high centered his truck trying to turn around. 95 degree day, he had a bad time but managed to find a ranch with a hose and got cooled down after a 6 mile walk with very little water. Compasses used properly don’t usually lie.
Coyote On Thin Ice is a Gamer Trail Camera photo. I see a trap set by the Road Runner obviously. Soon he’s going to finally do ol “Wiley Coyote” in. It seems that he was led out on to thin (very) thin ice by the much lighter bird. Of course we do have road runners up here ….. (a local elementary school sports program are the “Roadrunners”. I understand his s pair of ACME Ice Rescue Picks never arrived. Apparently, “Sneaky Pete the Windmill” didn’t take delivery when UPS came that day being out trying to photobomb me. It’s not going to end well for the coyote I bet 😜
This image is of course showing the cafeteria line for a coyote. It’s obviously much easier to walk the ice than the shore of the lake. Tall vegetation and brush cover the shore. I do however have reservations on the brilliance of walking out there. If it was thicker than 1/2 an inch I’d be surprised. It’s amazing to me he wasn’t crashing through the ice.
If you remember the verse below verbatim, you and I could be friends 😀
If you’re on the highway and Road Runner goes “Beep beep”, Just step aside or you might end up in a heap. Road Runner, Road Runner runs down the road all day. Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you. Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through. Road Runner, the coyote’s after you. Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
That coyote is really a crazy clown! When will he learn that he never can mow him down? Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone; Just runnin’ down the road’s his idea of having fun.
Credit : Warner Bros I believe through who owns it now is anybodies guess. I tried to find out, google was no help…..
“Off Golden Pond” This is one of the few shots I have published where I left in the lens flare(s). To me they are internal reflections in the camera, are artifacts I usually remove….that are apparently becoming quite the style with lens flares being incorporated into major movies I’ve noticed of late….
I find Lens Flares are difficult to incorporate artistically into an image in my experience. Mostly they are difficult to avoid pointing a camera toward the sun or other really bright lights because they actually can destroy the image covering it with glare. Often they are more difficult to remove in the digital darkroom if you are “cleaning” up your image there Try taking something like a huge light area off an otherwise ultra-smooth color gradient….(laughing maniacially). Have fun with that .
This one has at least 4 flares in a line to 6 o’clock. I’m not sure what the big deal is with them in modern films, but I’ll work the problem on my end when I can lolol.
To me, this image is all about the line of grass framing the bottom of the capture. Portrait aspect. I captured these photons Off this Golden Pond thus the name (sly smile). Reflections……
Just before the Snow moved in, I took this Clear Sky Sunrise from the Borderlands and one of our lakes up there. This spot is about 100 yards from Montana and some of the sky is Wyoming…some Montana since the sun was essentially rising straight east at the time.
This is a good place to be at sunrise. Lots happening out here. Birds all waking up, getting airborn for the day to head south.
“Reflections Grassy Knob Lake” is a study I did of this interesting shape (use of negative space) within the overall environment of rippled/reflected Nautical Twilight Sky off a lake on the Montana/Wyoming borderline. There was enough wind to ripple and the sky was starting to blaze. Click
As I move about in the backcountry here in the borderlans…I often see little areas of Zen like this almost everywhere but the hard part is capturing the scene in my photon capture boxes..🤔
The rarest twilight color… “Cranberry”….Reflections on this backcountry pond of a Yellow to Lavender Alpenglow Gradient over Water. It was windy so no mirror (which I could easily fake) in the lake. I’m a photorealist that will always tell you when I do ART. (usually in the Title lolol). This is genuine color resultant from a Russian volcano spewing gasses all fall. Purple skies have been the rule this fall during twilights. I had MANY good captures from that mornings photo expedition into the remote backcountry of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. (about a week ago now).
This lake is 70 miles from the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light. Maybe 300 yards from the Wyotana border. You can see both states in this image looking almost straight east for sunrise.
We’re going to be getting some more snow this week. Wettest year ever since I’ve been up here and early wet winter looks like. …..
This exceptional Alpenglow/Reflection display in the “Reeds at Dawn” was early morning Oct 4th. It was purple earlier but as the sun got closer to the horizon it lit up more ice with yellow light , that changed to early volcanic gas induced lavender we’ve been experiencing to a yellow to orange gradient late in Civil Twilight. . What a wonderful color gradient morning that was.
Location: Down in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Reflections Off a Backcountry Pond (Daylight Blues) is a rare image from me. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day. But the wind was dead calm and I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road. The county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away.
This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.
Reflection of a Farm Pond at sunrise.. this farm pond is several miles in the deep backcountry. About 3 miles out (long walk lol). Fortunately, I ride out there on two track roads bouncing along lol. Takes about 15 minutes to drive that 3 miles…
A Hollywood sky is one where spotlights (crepuscular rays) are heavily invested in shedding photons for my traps to capture. A reflecting pond was on my list of a place to get to for this capture lol. It was an amazing night. I actually drove my ATV into the pond up to the floor boards for this angle.
I really don’t like working over water with cameras….. Humm…. Hazardous duty pay I’m thinking lolol.
Be safe in all you do out there and have a great day:).
Getting the Reflections of a Full Moon in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana is a matter of finding a lake lol. We are mostly a dry land ranch. We do have a few small ponds near our well driven hydrants and this one is no exception. We also had a very wet year to keep this one full. I’ve seen it totally empty this time of year.
DISCUSSION about the Blissphotographics.com gallery…
This image was taken Saturday Morning finished and put into the Que saturday evening.. (I’m about 4 days ahead setting this up Saturday night in my gallery software to ACTUALLY post on tuesday at 3. Seems silly but I’m posting to over a million people now on dozens of social media sites.
It will take me time to get all my portfolio loaded into the gallery site but it seems to be working up until now. It only took a full month of concerted work by several folks me included. This is the only way to do it. You will find my responses to your comments might be delayed a few days at time. I read everything though. I just have to take physical time and visit each forum I post in lol. I appreciate ALL your feedback and comments.
So if you see something you like from my work, it will certainly find it’s way to my gallery page given some time.