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Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords
Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

These 3 younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. Taking turns with male aggression. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner taking all in the long run.

These Bucks actually get along pretty well in the “Boys Club” they hang in most of the year. But this is as close to a full blown organized training session I’ve seen this year. Getting ready for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, annual Pronghorn all male review for a party of just the Does. Hot and heavy in the fall, it’s a yearly thing up here… So turns the wheel of life. 🤘📸

So on an overcast tuesday HIGH up on a backcountry Ridge was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut. It can really be violent when big Pronghorn Bucks cross swords. It’s all fun and game until someone puts out an eye!.

. Probably 4 year olds. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred. All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment.

They all migrated over a month ago from about 30 miles south from the Thunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds with thousands in the larger Grassland area where they overwinter. I once had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here for the last 2 years. . He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as a pronghorn can be tolerant. Grunt was a nice buck too. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

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Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar
Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar

This is an 90 degree tall image. Almost straight up is top frame. HUGE tall pillar and pretty durn good dynamic range in this capture. To look into the furnace but still be able to make out the landscape ladder is extensive DR. Most cameras would show that as a black silhouette. Try it :).

Sun pillars are shafts of reflected light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is due to a 12mm lens wide lens.This is not quite 2 times again the subtended angle/width of view afforded by your normal vision at around 55mm would.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice positioned at a high angle are required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way/orientation due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read sunpillars 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Really Large Sun Pillar

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Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer
Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Boy talk about attitude…..👅 . I actually don’t see this too much. Blue Tongue to the wind is something that might happen every few minutes. They don’t lick a lot I’m thinking….

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

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

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

Title: Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

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Many Layers of Twilight

Many Layers of Twilight
Many Layers of Twilight

Many Layers of Twilight

Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.

This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.

Photographic Musings:

This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Many Layers of Twilight

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Last Gasp of the Winter

Last Gasp of the Winter
Last Gasp of the Winter

Last Gasp of the Winter

This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.

The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.

Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.

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

Title: Last Gasp of the Winter

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Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off
Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 100 yards maybe. It took a while to close the distance between us as I spied it. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to my prey if I stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals I encounter. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there I find. I take photos at each stop. Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium. Caught him taking off.

I’m not a hawk expert but I believe this to be a Ferruginous Hawk. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those underwings are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title : Ferruginous Hawk Taking Off

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Windmill Capturing the Sun

Windmill Capturing the Sun
Windmill Capturing the Sun

Windmill Capturing the Sun . (Satire)

Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill ( a long running narrative if your new to my world), has actually caged the sun itself. Once the sun found itself captured, it soon had enough, proceeded to sneak out the back and down behind the horizon. You could plainly see “Sneaky’s” confusion as the sun disappeared in the gathering dark. I’m sure he tries this every night but usually no one else is around to see it. Definition of insanity is to expect a different outcome the third time. I’ve wondered about his state of mind before 😜👀

Being a highly coordinated fellow to survive in the high wind environment “Sneaky” was “raised” in. Some “lubrication” may be involved. That being said, he is notorious for photobombing my landscapes, ‘lubricated’ or not…. Appearing in a highly disproportionate number of captures in my portfolio.

It’s not his fault, having an obsession with publicity is a disorder of course. A long time ago we had an agreement that he do his job and I’ll do mine. “Sneaky” apparently thought his job was to photobomb my job which is to take Landscape photos. So I end up taking his photo often as he desires. I think he works out some deals with the Pronghorns and the Deer to pose for me sometimes so I tolerate this regular transgression. Good thing I have a fence around my homestead or ol’ “Sneaky” would be down in my yard too…..

Windmill Weekend: Windmill Junkies Unite … 🤘📷

Back to my regularly scheduled programming…..😜

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

Title: Windmill Capturing the Sun

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Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner
Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

The sun JUST set over my shoulder. The shadow of the ridge blocking the light has moved just off his face as I pulled up. Pink Alpenglow in the eastern sky behind him. Crips air moves down the runnels of the drainage off the ridge crest. You can feel the change in temperature as the warm sun disappeared behind me to the west.

Obviously this was a lucky capture/encounter . Driving deep backcountry and being a photographer is an always an interesting driving issue. Be safe at all times is my rule. You get complacent with the low traffic up here.

Having said that: It is possible at any time that I just might pull over, stop quickly or otherwise change speed. Photographers tend to be a little un-predictable on roads lolol.

I saw this guy sitting on the pine top and managed to stop several hundred feet away with my Raptor turned about 70 degrees to the road about 1/2 in the ditch… Perfect to rest a long lens out the window. I do keep track of what is around me pretty well and any traffic within a mile lolol. . I was out for over an hour that AM driving backroads and never saw another vehicle. This is typical not unusual. I’ve been out hours covering many miles before and not seen another rig pass or be passed. Only ranchers and oil trucks up here (to pick up oil from the fields). Sunset and sunrise hours are pretty low traffic. Most nights I never see another vehicle.

Please correct me if this isn’t a Ferruginous. I don’t pretend to know my hawks but I’m familiar with raptor anatomy quite well. My collecting Raptorian Dinosaur material out of the Cretaceous sands that cover my ranch is a good school.. There are even some fossil bird teeth in the ranch collections from the Cretaceous. Teeth of his old great great great great great … grand-daddies lolol. Fossil names/ID’s I’ve down but not so much the extant raptors. I even drive a Ford Raptor…… (top hat Riff thump thump) I actually didn’t have much time for this capture as I was heading out… Once I got this I was outta there. 😉

To have these random encounter guys stick around long enough to get your camera into play is a gift. I’m tickled to have had this raptor sit for my lens, I drove off with it still sitting there lolol. Knowing when to leave is a big part of working fleeting light. It was pretty over the ridge…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Soft Recliner

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Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait
Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

This gal was in perfect morning light with a very wet nose. She was sniffing the air and had a gleam in her eye. Odd horns on this girl. Sort of scraggly lol. Got her with her tongue out on the other cheek ….. You can see the landscape in the reflection from her eye.

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

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

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

Title: Pronghorn Doe Side Portrait

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Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase
Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜

I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 30 feet maybe. It took a while and I’m really surprised it didn’t fly away. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to the animal to stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals in. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there. I take photos at each stop. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 22 feet deep and the background is totally bokeh’d out . Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium lol.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those orange nares are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.

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

Title: Ferruginous Hawk Light Phase

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Antique Plow with a View

Antique Plow with a View
Antique Plow with a View

Antique Plow with a View

With the weather getting a little milder here late-winter, Crunching out through crusted snow becomes slippery at time. . Crusted snow is a hard surface on top of softer snow underneath. Occasionally ICE under it. I typically fall through somewherelol. This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana Abandoned many decades ago, this plow wheel (with the rest of the plow off right frame) was a very high technology gadget when it was forged. State of the art. They have changed a bit since with hydraulics and size, but the basic tool remains for the same task. Somethings are hard to improve on. A fine 1911 Pistol comes to mind instantly…. maybe it’s just me…

Photographic Musings:

Disclaimer:

The contrasts present were staggering, the light blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting golden light into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not and should not peer directly at the sun with sunglasses or non-mirrorless cameras.

New Mirrorless removable lens cameras have a significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. None pass directly to your eyes. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. I’m watching on TV effectively… Click… You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this. Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR camera as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series mirrorless cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

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

Title: Antique Plow with a View

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Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset
Tres Hombres Sunset

Tres Hombres Sunset

Married since they were seeds from the same pine cone (likely). These three have survived a hundred years of exposure to Wyotana weather and sun.

Musings: I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol.

Working in and among the trees lining remote ridge is the way to set up compositions like I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. There is SO much going on in any edge of a forest with a view of the horizon. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” of small creature, a mouse, a cat but what to level?….

The far horizon which indeed is fully involved with a setting sun. Perhaps the three’s travels through the endless sun rise and set cycles moving as in HG Well’s many movies of the “Time Machine”. What a life they have see but if they could tell the stories. I actually like the really wide angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon not level with the image’s floor.

Technically:

Getting detail out of the shadows in the foreground while looking at really bright backgrounds is a major goal of mine. Got this one 👀📸

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

Title: Tres Hombres Sunset

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Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox
Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox (Today is the Equinox or old Pagan “Ostara” in the Wheel of the Year)

I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.

Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.

On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.

Close far perspective:

That nail on the post just made this photo for me lolol. 👀👀 totally am into close detail in the shadows. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. Anyone notice the mustard weed highlighted on the bottom 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title : Perspective March 19th Equinox

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Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill
Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill

From the Summer of 2018 which had a variety of smoke effects that I observed. This Red, White and Blue themed July Sky was appropriate for Wayback Wednesday as well as Windmill Wednesday…. Oh wait:

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite : 🤘🤘🤘😜📷 Don’t let your mother know you look at “stuff” like this 👀👀

I’m trying hard to mix up what I’m posting daily OR going thematic like Moon Monday. As I am finishing my portfolio, working on images, I sometimes do a search of my files for a particular Subject) say “windmill”. I get several 1000 images across my entire computer but on my “to finish” drives, I have narrowed that field a bit. Only several hundred to go there lolol. Of course I have to deal with all the currently taken images daily too lol. I ultimately posses pretty a “set job” security just finishing images I already have taken. Literally there are years of work just finishing images.

Getting a digital camera capture/file ready to print means it has to be “Clean” with no sensor dirt allowed so to speak. Ideally I don’t have any “artifacts or false gradients/colors/hues and or any other thing that detracts from photorealism of the scene. This image is so close to the right colors of Old Glory. . It killed me that the orange wasn’t crimson but hey, I try to leave colors as I saw them. Close enough for “government work lolol.

Taken mid-civil twilight.

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

Title: Twilight Patriotic Windmill

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Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts
Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the mid-winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining at the time about 30 minutes after sunset. It was overcast. Quite dark thus the long time exposure. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm in the “open” is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… No definite formula here…. You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your settings will vary based on lighting.

The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol. Lightning Triggers are not necessary with a time exposure.

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

Title: Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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Seedy Characters All

Seedy Characters All
Seedy Characters All

Seedy Characters All

Deer are all about grass seeds.. So is the antique Deering seeder. 😜

History:

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 is about 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 blacksmithed iron is fantastic.) There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over that century, many things have been put 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” eclectice collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty AND rusty all 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

TItle: Seedy Characters All

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Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season
Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season

I am literally standing on the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first Mountain range north of my ranch. It sits across the 10 mile wide Ranch Creek Drainage. We call this place the “treed” pasture as it’s about 2 square miles of mixed pine trees. There are many parallel ridges/grassy hills with deep gullies between.

A land of many uses:

Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July. We move cattle out of here in early July to facilitate the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship. Courses 3 and 4 use the borderland areas of our ranch. .

This ground has been home to a nationally ranked Team Tactical Rifle Championship for 18 years. Almost 4 miles of groomed rifle courses in 16 shooting stations. Exposing 150 fixed reactive steel Targets out to 1200 yards. This location is the last (or first) station on course 3 lolol. Snipers nest with literally thousands of precision rifle shots at those reactive steel targets down range.

There are a few dozen fossil locations (I’ve found so far) within this “Pasture”. Hell Creek/Lance Formation exist here that contain dinosaurian (and others) fossils. I found my first dinosaur tooth in this pasture 18 years ago. I knew they were here, I just didn’t know where. You do have to look though occasionally I stumble on dinosaur bones laying in the grass. They often look like any other stone in the middle of the prairie. I have found several fossil locations that way. You can’t find them if you can’t see them lolol.

We even have had a nationally released 4×4 video in 2008 filmed here. Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Magazine filmed part of their “Ultimate Adventure” video series here that year. It’s out there if you want to watch several high end jeeps flip over. All trying to climb out of some of the soft sandstone lined gullies here on ranch.

As I say, a land of many uses…

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

Title: Middle of Brown Season

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Perspective Wheeling the Sunset

Perspective Wheeling the Sunset
Perspective Wheeling the Sunset

Perspective Wheeling the Sunset:

History:

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 is about 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 blacksmithed iron is fantastic.) There is about 110 years of European man living on this remote ranch in the borderlands. Over tthe last century, many early settlers 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” eclectice collection of select ranch artifacts carefully spread about in rock gardens around here. Interesting stuff for sure, pretty rusty AND rusty all 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Wheeling the Sunset

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Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit
Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

This image has so much going on. The colors that day were popping with everything being a little wet from a rain an hour before. The flat light making what color is present, pop. Click!

This Buck Mule Deer was hanging out with a couple of gals mid-summer 2019 totally enthused about the Yucca fruit. Here mouth open picking on best way he can. Tongue lolling.

I’m thinking he was unaware he was standing on a weathering boulder of Hell Creek/Lance Formation Sandstone cropping out of the hillside. If I could only train the deer to look for dinosaur fossils. I’d feed them in exchange for information where to look. I mean they always have their eyes on the ground anyway…. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” can arrange a deal ? 😜😜👀📸

The density of Yucca here in the highlands seems to be sufficient to get these guys fat and sassy by the end of the summer. They eat the heck out of the fruit and the flowering parts of the Yucca plant. Yucca is a well defended plant and the primary reason I forbid guests from going into the backcountry without full full leggings on as a Yucca will plumb stick you through jeans let alone shorts lol. It also traps wind blown snow into huge deep drifts around patches of it. If you see a Yucca patch driving in the backcountry, your best served steering around it. The drifts totally supply those desert adapted plants an advantage of water in a semi-arid almost desert we live on. (We get 14 inches of precipitation average per year, a desert has 10 inches or less precipitation a year.

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

Buck Enjoying a Yucca Fruit

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Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post
Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post

Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. At that early time I suspect they didn’t really know about humans. Known to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.

For birds, they are as smart as birds come and I suspect more than one has become a pet. As corvids (the same family as crows), they have runny droppings plus they are big bird. You might say they leave a big footprint… So with that pleasant thought in mind…. They eat about anything from carrion to simple grains, grasshoppers and dung beetles. I’ve photographed these guys on top of deer actively picking ticks off of the deer. The ungulates tolerate them as they get those irritating ticks off of places they can’t reach. I watched and photographed 2 magpies setting up a deer cleaning station one foggy misty morning up in the highlands. Those photos and discussion are elsewhere in my developing manuscript.

Musings on my musings:

If you follow me closely, you may notice I’m writing quite a bit on each narrative consistently over 250 words and more.. With some simple editing out of the redundant from post to post, I’m building a book right here in front of you. Enjoy the process. I’m writing about 1800 words every day average at the moment into these narratives. I now have over 1000 pages with images and associated narratives. . I’m not in a hurry but I am doing 5 images every day with narratives. Coffee table book or 2 some day………

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

Title: Magpie on a Post

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Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull
Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Boy was this young bull a trouble maker. Corriente’s really don’t care too much about fences. He at 1 year of age got a whiff of some angus heifers and managed to spend the night before we got him out of that mess. Waaa Hooo… Barbed wire is no match for these guys motivated. His name is “Salt”. He mother is a short hair version of him colorwise. This is the only long haired Corriente we’ve ever bred.

Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. This young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill of roping from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. It’s easier to get the rope around the horns. But the horns are big enough to have the rope cinch there. Versus angus purebreds, cattle of this breed are ALL athletes. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos/ ranch work. Practical skills used in cattle ranching and the sport of such. Practice makes perfect.

He spent his summer running from horses. Then being roped is usually the end result. . Lopped off were the two items causing his bull issues. So he’s not quite as much of a problem lol. He will be a sporting cow for a year until he get too big or his horns get too long. He’s getting a bit big already.

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

Title: Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Moon Ascending to the Zenith
Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Moon Ascending to the Zenith

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from those tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage about.

Photographic Musings.

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a cooperative moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher as I work this at f64). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 1 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera..

This was handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Moon Ascending to the Zenith

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King Corso Mastiff Drool

King Corso Mastiff Drool
King Corso Mastiff Drool

King Corso Mastiff Drool

This is likely as close as you’ll ever get to my King Corso Mastiff. He is one of three that live here in the ranch’s headquarters fenced in compound. The other two Mastiff’s are the Pressa Canario breed. I hate to tell you how much food 500 pounds of dog collectively can eat in a day. They all get about a pound of meat a day with kibble as a backup. They have wonderful coats and no skin conditions at this point. I’ve had this little guy for 4 years now.

Mastiff’s tend to be family dogs and not real tolerant of others. This 220 pound boy is no exception. He is a WONDERFUL dog to us and few others have been “granted entrance” into his circle. He is very picky as to who he will accept and who he won’t. I would have a heck of a time with him if I didn’t live in this isolated place. He is not tolerant of others he doesn’t know.

Mastiff Drool:

Drooling, slobbering slabber, frothing, driveling, flobidising — salivating by any other name would feel just as sticky. Dogs with huge heads sporting big lips can’t help it; they’re built to drool. Mastiff owners are easy to identify as they usually have a couple of paper towels crumpled in their pocket. Strategically located piles of towels around the house become a necessity. We ONLY feed dogs meat or treats OUTSIDE (everyday by hand). NO people food and no feeding inside. Feeding Mastiffs any kind of people food will make the animals drool when you eat. Another indication of feeding a Mastiff people food are the little dried out strings of drool on the ceiling..😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: King Corso Mastiff Drool

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Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail
Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail (Back to the Summer Farm in the Winter)

I’m easily distracted by a play of colors and shades in monocultural fields surrounded by less disturbed landscapes. The cultivated field in contrast to the sage and grass natural turf. This particular ground has had european man’s stock grazing it for over 120-130 years and probably longer. But before that this was all native prairie. Still some in the background.

Geologic Musings:

This particular alfalfa field is down low in the Little Powder River valley and tends to be flooded every now and then. It’s on a terrace not far from that small meandering river. The river rises (comes down in local vernacular), and the fields flood in the spring. Snow melt and big rains up stream are the biggest causes for floods in this country.

Meanders result from the river moving back and forth across the landscape over geologic time. A meandering river is one that is NOT cutting down into the sediment and the local geology. (River’s Base Level is a good google phrase). It only can expend it’s energy on the sides/banks as it moves across the valley back and forth. It takes a few years to work across a valley lol. There is SOME gradient to this river so the Little Powder seems to be to be slowly down cutting into the valley floor. Don’t expect the Grand Canyon to form in this Climate during our lifetime. One grain of sand bouncing down the bottom down hill at a time wears down mountains over long enough time. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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

Title: Alfalfa Bloom Game Trail

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Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January
Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January

Here I’m using a windmill filter to moderate the bright light coming from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth). I lost about 30 percent of the light which is enough for my camera to pull the tower in the haze out of the dark. It would have been harder to do with the extra light had the windmill not been in the way. Those durn Photobombing Windmills always seem to work into my landscapes but this time, “Sneaky Pete” helped me some. I have no control over his actions…. 😜😜

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. All the while, at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol.

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

Title: Wolf Moon 2020 January

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Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

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Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon
Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon

There is nothing like being a short pony in a deep drift. I’ve done some ‘post holing’ in my travels lol.

It was nice of this Shetland (a local by the road fixture) to pose for me in front of the setting moon one chilly morning. Getting terrestrial objects in the same focus field as the moon is a sub-discipline of mine within the large range of photographic activities I pursue. This was of course very early after sunrise. There was some red colorcast from the atmospheric filter over my shoulder at the time. Red Light is over abundant as the air and suspended ice block out most of the shorter wavelengths.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

Stubborn, Smart, more power to weight than a full sized horse and low to the ground too. It’s hard to argue with the design but the attitude is they aren’t sure they are small. They will train beautifully but like any horse, you have to work like heck with them and train them to accept our strange requests of them.

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

Title: Shetland Pony Full Moon

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Watch That First Step

Watch That First Step
Watch That First Step

Watch That First Step, it’s a Moosey. She was carefully considering her next Mooove.

So just a few Really cold minutes after sunrise this sub-zero icy morning. Bossy looks outside at the long step down. The cattle have obviously access to the first floor in this abandoned ranch homestead. I personally would stay in the house as it cuts any wind making sub zero hoodie weather lol. This borderlands image caught me by surprise.

Bossy thinks that this looks like a good exit but a 1000 pound girl going down over that window jam 3 feet to the ground seems excessive to me. Obviously she is not the first through that window based on the bottom sill board laying to the side. There was a herd of perhaps 100 angus crowing the building for it’s wind break characteristics. The half dozen cows inside the old building certainly had the better idea. I didn’t look to see if there was a basement under the structure. I didn’t approach the house as it was full of cattle and I really didn’t want to panic them to get out of there quickly. A panic is seldome a good thing.

I have seen cattle do many things but this is the first time I’ve seen one examining in some detail a move. She waited at least 2 minutes in this window looking down the whole time. It was pretty snickery at the moment. .

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Watch That First Step

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Pony Up It’s Cold

Pony Up It's Cold
Pony Up It's Cold

Pony Up It’s Cold

This beautiful little Shetland Pony was standing in it’s corral by the backcountry road I was on. Smart ponies I understand. This is not my equine but was a Christmas present I understand at a neighbors place.. An endearing face certainly. Most of us consider any equine less that 14 hands a pony. The tallest allowed for the Shetland breed is 11.5 hands here in America. I’m not an expert on these horses but I do read there are 4 breed types.

These guys were BIG in the coal mining industry in the UK as they were small enough to pull wagons of coal in a small space. They moved into the mines when the use of Women and Children was outlawed. I sincerely believe these horses rarely saw daylight out of the mines. Their power to weight ratio is way higher than a bigger horse.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

This little fellow was far from cold in the -14 degree air he was enjoying. They have a double coat, better than what I was wearing at the time lol.

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

Title: Pony Up It’s Cold