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Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond
Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Reflections Backcountry Artesian Pond

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Polarized Light Feather Filter

Polarized Light Feather Filter
Polarized Light Feather Filter

Polarized Light Feather Filter

The science of this is a little complex but here it goes. The light source is the late day setting sun but bouncing off my back Ford Raptors hood…you know…glare..😎 That bounce is important though in getting the photo as it effects the light…

The reason you guys buy polarized sun glasses is due to that reflection. When sunlight hits the hood, the light bounces off with a majority of it being horizontally polarized. Mostly all those reflected light waves are in the same plane, not a bunch of randomly oriented waves. The sunglasses you buy are plastic lenses with all vertical lines which only allow in light that is vertically polarized. This blocks all the glare horizontally oriented.

SO that is called “Crossed Polarizers”. A double filter as it were. Take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and cross them at 90 degrees and try to look through them…. They go totally black.

NOW put something between the source of the polarized light (either the hood or the first pair of sunglasses). I used here a delicate transparent feather that will pass light…. It bends/ refracts light a little bit out of that horizontal plane so some of it makes it through the second filter this side of the feather. So you see the colors as a direct result of a single polarizing filter on my lens (hand held and rotated), the camera on a tripod and pre focused. F22, ISO 300 and 1/100th to get your camera close .. It was very bright but the filter cut out 80 percent of the light but you can change that by rotating the back filter…. . 90mm macro.

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

Title: Polarized Light Feather Filter

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Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride
Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride

As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.

Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.

I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.

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

Title: Taking Life In Stride

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Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture
Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)

A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.

Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….

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

Title: Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

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Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit
Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.

This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.

The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.

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

Title: Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

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Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex
Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex

We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.

These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.

“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘

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

Title: Powder River Training Complex

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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through
Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.

They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow at sunset. 📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across.

The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). A slit window color cast the top of the cloud with the bottom in the shadow of another storm. Reddish light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere. Projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. (Orange is a mix of red+yellow) The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white wisps in the blue at the top of the cloud.

This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. As here you just normally can’t see all of it lolol. Red was hidden by the shadows. It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Mesocyclone Monster Moving Through

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Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light
Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light

A little Science this PM..

This silhouette “halfie” (almost) caught my attention for the extreme stepped gradient around the sun. I call these bow waves and don’t see them live real time very often. They are in reality natural diffraction artifacts from the thin slit in the clouds that the sun light is passing through. Ripples…. When light (or electromagnetic waves) passes through a thin slit shaped window, lightwaves ripple like water. The Physics of this moment should not be discounted. The slit was very thin, precisely what one needs for this natures “experiment”. The mind of the guy that figured this stuff out (Huygen) was right up there with the best. “Huygen diffraction” would be a good google search for you for continuing education on this. Constructive/Distructive interference of waves is the discussion which is lengthly. I’d never get it past my grammer checker (Nazi SS training in that program trying to explain all that) lololol.

So the bow wave here is literally Ripples around the Island of Light that the Sun’s Disk represents in this metaphor. Capturing ripples of light that are natural is hard and fairly rare. Note: I could do this in the digital darkroom very easily but this one is the real thing. Not a digital color shadow radius artifact. The whole discussion lies about the cloud “slit” which is the initiator of the diffraction process that provides this variable gradient around the sun. If you have a gradient like this with a complete sun, it’s the result of an artifact within the digital dark room treatment the artist (at that point) is using on his previously raw photo. (unedited photo=raw photo out of the camera). This capture is entirely unedited or I would have had landscape detail down in that black negative space.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Slit Islands of Light

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Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow
Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.

I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.

I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..

This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷

You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.

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

Title: Hail and the Mid-day Rainbow

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French Poodle or Gorilla ?

French Poodle or Gorilla ?
French Poodle or Gorilla ?

French Poodle or Gorilla ?

If you look at the left side of this and let your imagination go… a french poodle begging… On the right side, a Gorilla looking fierce. Or if you want to really let your imagination go. I see 11 other faces in that rising cumulous cloud. (soon to be a thunderstorm as there was a LOT of lift in the air that day. Many of these thermals grew into big storms that hit to our east. .

Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it for facial recognition purposes. Making familiar patterns out of random data is a common “affliction”. It’s not just clouds of course. Hearing hidden messages in music is a similar effect. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic.

Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. I consider them sprits in the sky. This was caught glancing back behind me to the south won a warm evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision working sunsets and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. I suffer horribly from this mental disease seeing faces and animals in almost every scene I look at. Some days it’s worse than others though lolol. 😜👀📸

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

Title: French Poodle or Gorilla ?

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WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame
WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over here but she still have some divots in her coat. A silky light tan to white look is the rule for healthy animals.

I actually don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I’m not that fond of them as they chase the larger Mule Deer Away when they move in. The Mule Deer are MUCH larger and less spooky. IF one has to hunt for any reason, most (certain me) would prefer to take a Mule Deer for the same priced tag…. We don’t have BlackTail Deer up here like you left coast residents.

I seldom can get close to them. I caught this one driving by her in the backcountry. Then she had to cooperate lolol. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well. Having only a few second. Having Cameras generally pre-set up for wildlife photography is a good thing BTW…. . This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder. The shadows were very long and the unfettered sun was quite bright.

This is a long lens telephoto shot of course. I haven’t worked out a deal with them to sit for 55mm portrait lenses to date. I’ve heard that “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is working on that diplomatically…… (years long narrative if your now lost). 😜📷

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

Title: WhiteTail Doe Tree Frame

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Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening
Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

Literally playing “King of the Hill”, this American Eagle had quite a view. This hillock is one of the higher Buttes about (erosional remnant sometimes called “Monadnock” which is a good google word for the morning). Several hundred feet above the surrounding terrain is a good spot to look for game without all that effort of flying etc.. I’m going to have to take a climb up there as this is a hill I haven’t been up yet. It’s a little scramble to climb sandstone buttes and not without some challenge. I might put a game trail camera up there just for kicks… See what flies by…

I saw the “silhouette” of the bird from a LONG way out. Way out in the hilly backcountry, it took me about 10 minutes to get THIS close. All the while this sharp eyed bird was watching me bounce around the backcountry well away from the closest “smooth” two track trail….

The whole game was trying to get into position to take the sun RIGHT behind the bird setting on the peak. The sun was actually above the bird just off frame. IF I could have maneuvered for another few minutes, he would have been in the crosshairs between sun and my lens. No such luck as he flew away seconds after this capture. I’m not sure why he flew but I wasn’t being subtle trying to get into the right position. I always stop in intervals while approaching wildlife. Get the shot, move a little closer, get the next shot, rinse and repeat.

The spring Alpenglow was rife with orange gradients. The suspended ice in the air is responsible for the orange color. If you haven’t experienced a deep orange late evening sky before, you need to spend some time up here in the winter… I was miles out into the backcountry minutes before sunset. It was a long clear sky sunset drive back…….

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

Title: Eagles Perch Alpenglow Evening

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All Work and No Play

All Work and No Play
All Work and No Play

All Work and No Play

Makes Frank a Dull Boy of course. I was cruising the back woods of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and came upon these two titans fighting for dinner. One wanting dinner and the other not wanting to be dinner. Not to be one to intrude on important negotiations, I just too the image.

Since Triceratops is found in the fossil record at over 50 percent of the fossil content and T-rex only at 3 percent, conclusions: There were 15 times the number of Triceratops walking around than there were T-rex. We don’t know for sure if Triceratops herded as a group. A group/row of nose, brow and shield horns were formidable but not a match for the speed and power of the bird like predator.

I say bird like because T-rex was a member of the dinosaurian raptorian group. You may remember Velociraptor from Jurassic Park the movie. T-rex is related to the “Avian Dinosaurs” in many ways. They are often drawn now with feathers in patches by educated paleontologic artists. Bone structure, the way the bones fit together, their respiratory system are all very very very birdlike…

Dinosaurs didn’t die out at the end of the Cretaceous as is widely believed. The avian dinosaur lived on slowly loosing tail and teeth developing into those familiar birds flying about our skies. Occasionally those repressed gene will express itself and say a hen will get teeth. The tail is in the chickens genes too. It’s a matter of proper timing during embryonic development. Any doubt, just watch a Great Blue Heron Hunt….

We actually do have dinosaurs up here but they aren’t moving very fast. The Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formation(s) are dinosaur fossil rich. Not JUST dinosaur here of course. There are fossils of snails, clams, amphibians, fish, crocs, alligators, turtles and even a few small mammals represented in these old terrestrial river sands. Currently the ranch collection holds in excess of 10K fossil specimens.

(Note just so you know, Grass during the dinosaur era was JUST developing in India first during the Cretaceous. It spread around the world but not untill later. They didn’t have bamboo forests)…

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

Title: All Work and No Play

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Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline
Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is no snow or mud on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrived this morning, it was still Nautical Twilight with maybe 30 minutes to go till sunrise. The sky starts to light up quickly from here on. , the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife.

There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken in early May. Dry year so far but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops. Looking up this hill for proper perspective, no lower yellow band yet. The yellow hasn’t made it this far yet.. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting. It’s below the camera’s threshold of Dynamic Range. My eye’s could see landscape here. Not the camera though… 👀👀📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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What Doesn’t Kill You

What Doesn't Kill You
What Doesn't Kill You

What Doesn’t Kill You

It’s an old saying but it might make you stronger sometimes but not this time I’m thinking. Bent trees CANT be as strong lolol. This tree LITERALLY is L shaped. Obviously sometime during it’s early growth something stomped on it. It actually does 2 – 90 degree angles and fits very nicely into my slowly growing collection of natural Letters . It’s a good L, will do for an O in a pinch lolol.

We are starting to get some green grass but nothing long yet except my yard. We are on mowing number 2 for the year and it needs it badly currently. This is pretty far out in the backcountry but I do know where it is and will return under different lighting.

The old masters would often do the same image over and over until they got it where they wanted. It was harder to travel back in the 1700’s and those painters were pretty much stuck where they were. Many would paint a dozen images of the same architectural wonder of the old world. All reflecting different lighting and weather treatments as part of their work. I’m going to go back here for sure.

I’m at a loss for trying to figure out how this happened. The tree is at least 50 years old but it’s hard to know without a ring count I suppose. I’ve never seen this extreme adaptation to injury by a tree before.

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

Title: What Doesn’t Kill You

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Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts
Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀

This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.

The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.

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

Title: Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

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Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids
Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

Orchids are growing like wildfire but I have to manually water them as they like to dry out between waterings. Soggy orchids may or may not like what your doing submerging roots. I will confirm they REALLY like the water quality that I give them from my 2000 gallon aquaponic grow system they sit upon. Manually watered living in Hydroton Pellets that drain inside of leaky cups. Several hundred pounds of fish are constantly fertilizing the water. Bacteria convert the waste ammonia to plant fertilizer. This water is very suitable for plants. The 150 square feet of grow area will support a MONSTER amount of vegetation. I have limits growing down in this underground greenhouse. How much time I spend on it restricts how much / efficiently I use the space.

(I’m sorry we don’t do public tours but I do Face Book posts on my personal page regarding this topic occasionally).

I only have about 20 Orchid plants I’ve propagated over the years. They are an afterthought of raising vegi’s down in the Walipini as such taking up valuable room. But there have to be some diversions in chores…. (This is the only Wyoming Walipini we know about. I’d love to know if anyone else is growing 10 feet below grade using earth for insulation and thermal mass for heat retention. )

I have quite a bit of Vanilla bean growing now. That will accumulate over the next decade and I should have a significant crop of vanilla bean before too long. I haven’t seen them bloom yet, they are all in a growing mode currently. Since they grow up the back wall… It’s a matter of time in this WONDERFUL grow environment. This system has been running for 5.5 years at this time constantly/continually.

A Walipini defined : an earth sheltered cold frame green house. If you haven’t encountered the term before. I don’t use any dirt with plants down there. Just water as my media to grow about anything I can get to sprout in that environment (so far).

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

Title: Aquaponic Walipini Grown Orchids

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Red Hills Twilight Landscape

Red Hills Twilight Landscape
Red Hills Twilight Landscape

Red Hills Twilight Landscape

Brown Season twilight landscapes are always dark, some are more colorful than others. When the veil of clouds is heavy, the shade and hues become muted with the encroaching dusk. Unfettered light causes an entirely different result… here, browns are in full display. I spend a lot of time working twilight skies/landscapes and find them challenging to reproduce accurately. It would be very easy to turn up the sky colors but I’m trying really hard to be a photorealist. This is as close as I can get this to how I experienced the scene. I find that an infinite spectrum of variable twilight exists and are mostly “capturable” with the right gear.

A majority of photographers wouldn’t finish this image I’m thinking. Having said that, I’m all about subtle tones and hues that escape view by most. The cool air of the twilight, the movement of game in the distance, the quickening of the light fleeing the scene is always breathtaking to me. Huge long landscapes (40 miles) make for an appropriate venue for this end of a day capture.. All creatures great and small getting ready for the night are all in their own world. Anticipating the washing away of the brown by spring rains to expose the green that is forthcoming. Seasons change, days come and go, but the animals seen to survive the hardships with an ever optimistic outlook toward the next day and the next meal.

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

Title: Red Hills Twilight Landscape

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Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches
Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Two Bucks Through Branches

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Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun
Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun

When ever I point a really long lens directly into the sun, I’m going to get either Burnt Umber or Crimson colors. The latter was gifted to me here. You have to realize that no one knows what this would look like because you would be blinded to stare into such a scene. Using a 28 inch long lens to crush the perspective of about a mile distance from the tree pair. Shutting the camera down to light leads to all sorts of interesting effects. (mostly diffractions).

Obviously those two trees (Ents) were up to no good. Catching the sun like that trying to keep it all to themselves. Fortunately the sun had the state of mind to sneak out the back and disappear behind the ridge. The two didn’t have a clue how it got away but no matter how many times they try this, it never seems to slow down the sun very much. IT still rises more or less on time every day. Imagine if a whole forest did this at one time… think it might slow it down?

I work in a wondrous world of parallel ridges that when very mobile, allows me to find events like this to point my camera toward. By being able to move up and down topography quickly extends my ability to find such scenes. It is a truism that topography is my master. 10 feet lower, and the sun would be below the horizon, 20 feet higher and it wouldn’t be in the trees but above. Location, Location, Location…

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

Title: Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing
Heron High Jinx Landing

Heron High Jinx Landing

The Cotton Wood Trees are freshly leafing. Still some cold days to come and the Cottonwoods flowers were out a week ago. About to test the thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds are roughly 5 pound, 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Herons. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right. Sometimes dramatically from the wind that afternoon.

This female had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, she had to land on a moving target. She nailed the landing as she was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. These Avian Dinosaurian descendants are AMAZING masters of the sky. This a shift change with a neighbor watching..

I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building a nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. Identification is usually because the male carries sticks to the nest and I’ve never seen a female do so. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.

I’ve seen them land and take off in all wind situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down as delicately as spider silk in the breeze. It’s amazing to watch a fine motor skill control stall speed in the single mph digits.

Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Heron High Jinx Landing

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Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree
Three Angus and a Tree

Three Angus and a Tree

The lighting was so unusual I pulled up and pursued it as hard as I could. The heavily veiled sun was peaking through up the hill. But not where I was standing hundreds of yards away. The angles were unusual. I was sun shaded but bright spotlights shone through the veil. This high lighting the hillside. This sunrise was a nice variation of the many themes I have experienced. Lots of contrasts and highlights are a good thing lol.

There is a fossil site below that tree… I haven’t really dug much there, just scratching the surface. I know there is a caudal vertebra from some dinosaur sitting up there under the edge of a boulder about a foot from where I initially found it. It’s only a few inches across. There are also a few bone cross sections (outcrop with bones sticking out) under the cap rock. I don’t believe it is worth my time to dig there as it’s likely just a few random individual bones. They are likely NOT bones from the same individual. Bones soon to become fossils were washed into that spot by the Cretaceous Age rivers. (End of the Dinosaur Era). 53 percent of the fossil record is composed of pieces and parts of Triceratops… They were the cows of the day..

Everybody on two legs (theropods like T-rex) at them. The more things change, the more they remain the same. 2 legged creatures of today eat those modern day cows too.

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

Title: Three Angus and a Tree

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Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts
Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

The Rain Shafts over the Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . Weather over the far ridge. The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out.

This is about 4 miles from our ranch. That direction is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles from my homestead.. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here. The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Historic Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association. It is managed under the Trail Creek Grazing Association. Old original buildings out here. In this remote backcountry were certainly built out of locally milled wood. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand. The 1950’s marked the last updates to the main house. Still utilized for hunters with year round caretakers living on site. That barn is classic.

Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

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Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt
Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸

SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.

Photographic Musings:

Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…

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

Title: Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

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Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter
Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

This is the second finished capture of 3 from this sunrise stage show. The play started at 5:15 AM when I had a 5:36 appt at sunrise. There was very little indication at my homestead that this would be such a show. Taking in the information from a remote ridge lined camera I have looking east, I jumped into “Clever Girl” my Ford F-150 Raptor and started gaining altitude. A sunslit window to the light was showing…might have amounted to nothing…. I never know for sure if I’m wasting my time before I commit to an hour at least watching sky plays…

Our ranch is on a high ridge but I have to climb higher ridges to actually see sunrise. There is a 400 foot high series of parallel ridges to my east which effectively hides my east view. I see 130 miles to the west and 50 miles both north and south from my homestead. I see about 1000 yards east without climbing to the top of Ridge 1 to the east. The actual time AT my homestead I see the sun is about 1/2 hour later than what ever time the sun actually rises.

The Snow squall that was ongoing at the time (taken the first week of May). We are used to a late frost with the “last” frost being May 15th…This posting on May 20th, 2020… A very wet cold weather descended on us after this sunrise. Certainly the completely overcast (thickly so) cloud deck was quickly obscuring the solar disk at this capture. There was less than a minute of light left before the day turned to a gloomy lack of interesting light morning. Wet and rainy for a week thank god as we need the moisture.

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

Title: Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

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Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun
Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.

The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….

She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use Sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Deer Mother Daughter and Sun

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Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight
Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

Lenticular Clouds are actually not that common from my particular location. I don’t see them too often but here is a lenticular cloud “UFO” that is obviously re-entering the atmosphere. These saucer shaped clouds typically form where clam moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this occurs, a series of large-scale standing waves can form above the mountain’s downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to or below the dew point, moisture in the air will condense to form clouds. Standing waves are lenticular shaped. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into invisible vapor.

UFO talk of late… I feel neglected by ET. No body cares about the 45th parallel when they have the 37th to pay in. (That is a little factoid to follow up on if you don’t know about UFO’s and the 37th parallel…

As a trained observer of nature and science of at least 50 years of my adult life. I’ve never seen any scene in the sky that I could not explain to a reasonable satisfaction. Having extensively photographed sky scenes for many years. Even with quality equipment way back to 1986 and working Halley’s comet. I’ve NEVER seen a UFO. I feel terribly left out. 😔😔😜📸

Getting someone with a science background AND an extensive photographic history with gear in hand to experience a close encounter would be fun. I volunteer but I don’t do well with motion so supply dramamine for warp speed please.

Rest assured that if a UFO that I can’t account for or explain it’s movements, I will have a photo of it that isn’t blurry lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lenticular UFO Orange Twilight

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Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead
Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

First note the jet contrail against the left side of this frame. It clearly curves around the HUGE Mesocyclone to the right of frame that was terrorizing Sundance and Newcastle Wyoming at the time. I was driving to Gillette through the Thunderbasin National Grasslands driving around it too . Smart Pilot there lolol. The road I’m on is about a 20 mile gravel trip to get to the 2 lane concrete highway traveling that direction. I usually run into something very Wyoming down there and this is no exception.

To see a storm that large mid day is not good news for those east of there under it’s influence. They have a presence you have to be near to understand but lets just say they intrude on your personal space from a long way’s away. There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.

These monsters are the source of most of the “bad weather” we experience in Wyotana during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. They take their own time over where ever they travel.

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

Title: Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

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Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour
Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

The mountain range on the left Horizon is the 90 mile distant Bear Lodge Mountains laying on the border of South Dakota and Wyoming. The 4 peaks on the right are the three Missouri Buttes with squarish Devil’s Tower between the Bear Lodge and the Buttes. Essentially your looking at the northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming in this image as I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming by about 1 mile.

This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow. Well you know those distant hills as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains.

The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there.

Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns.

Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol. The Bear Lodge Mountains are known as the Wyoming Black Hills and are indeed related to the geologic dome that is the Black Hill Geomorphic Expression in SD and WY. My ranch is on the farthest west edge of that uplift.

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

Title: Volcanic Neck Golden Hour