A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.
Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.
They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes along the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀.
Community Backcountry Meeting . (a very green Spring day 2019)
I came upon an obviously clandestine meeting in the backcountry. I saw them all simultaneously stop their discussion and look up at me. They were busy all before I showed up past some invisible line in the sand. Once I crossed that, the chatting stopped and all looked at me. I probably tripped some remote sensor. I understand that these guys are all about information sharing. Momma Pronghorn and her yearling were catching up on all the news from “up north” The Geese may have been raised around here or just in transit. They didn’t mention the specifics of their travel to me. I’m sure they got back to the gossip right after my passing. 😜
The Canada Geese get around thousands of miles while the Pronghorn Migrate 30 miles south to winter. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands are their winter range. Come Spring they head out in all directions. I suspect they head back to where they were born but I may be wrong. The Geese sure return to their birth place after migration. It’s all about networking I suspect…..
On a Personal Note:…..
I personally think they were talking about how empty the roads/airways were with all the humans bugging in. 👀
We hope you are all isolating yourselves for at least a full two weeks. Let’s slow the peak case load and spread that peak over a longer period. The trenches of this are at the hospitals. It’s up to us to keep healthy long enough so the case load doesn’t totally collapse the system. If the rest of the country is going through the motions of trying to save ourselves and the medical systems from total collapse, we’re going to have to go along. Please young people, isolate yourself, use bandwidth and play video games. Keep social isolation rules. Keep this stuff from spreading.
There are several families living in our compound here at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. We all keep separate from each other for probably the next month and two weeks MORE IF anyone has to go to town. I’m going to miss fresh milk but powdered will just have to do. We contact UPS or Fed Ex with gloves on. Lysol things we have to look at fast, the rest of the mail can sit for a week or so. Let any bad bugs die in the dry UV rich desert we have here. Too windy to spread it out in the sun…… Wash your hands out there in the world folks.
Ever had to crawl up to get a shot? I’m too old for that stuff anymore lolol. It’s pretty hard to get a big buck laying down on the job of protecting his girls. Stealth is a slow pace but a long lens sure helps a bit unless your carrying it….
Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.
About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far….
This is a 2 feet x 3 feet image at full size. Now I know this is out of season .I’m reposting some images refinished to current specs from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the late winter weather we’ve been having.
It was raining on me at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. 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 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… 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 setting s may vary but now too far out. 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.
I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item. The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story.
This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him. This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.
I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.
This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….
The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..
This capture caught these two young bucks standing on an old country school site. Bucks still with antlers…. (taken in January).
This is section 36 on the map of the local township. Every township has 36 square miles and is mapped by square mile sections. Section 36 is the state owned and controlled School section. Basically the law gives 1/36th of all land to the state automatically. I digress.
The little brown box to the right center of the photo, is the old oil burning stove that used to sit on the Trail Creek/Parks School. Generations of local kids went to school with this view out the back. I’ve heard stories of walking to school from those kids. There are people alive that went to that school. It is physically located about 2 miles south from our homestead as the crow flies. The building that was removed has a few signs it was there.
Other evidence, : the latent archeologist in me…
The aforementioned stove itself is an interesting antique. I’ve worked it with cameras but never liked what I got. I’ll get back to it sometime with the right light… but there are concrete foundations from that old school building, not huge and they looked like they were hand poured. Someone with a small mixer and bags kind of foundations….say 1930’s….. Those concrete chunks were pushed over the lip of and into a nearby gully where they serve as a rock which are currently being slowly naturalized by the environment. Evidence of past lives and events that will mostly be lost to history but they leave clues. It would be interesting to work this site with a metal detector eh? …
Location: just south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸
As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.
Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.
Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.
During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.
Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.
We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.
Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.
The 20th annual all Ungulate Barbershop Quartet Competition takes place mid-summer here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. These backcountry stage shows happen all the time but there is no one there to see it let alone hear it. Such vocal performances rank up there with the best ever heard on the ranch, generations of training of their voice. This of course is an all female chorus. Bass Tenor, Alto and Soprano all competing for your attention.
Pronghorn make a surprising number of sounds that most humans have never heard or recognized. I’ve heard a birdlike noise impossible to describe that I finally realized was coming from Pronghorn. That sound uttered when they are just calmly grazing about. They also vocalize a raspy grunting sound, that I call frog croaking. Only the bucks in small groups make this sounds in my experience.
By my observations, Bucks around Does, don’t seem to grunt in this way (it might be just boy talk out here in the backcountry). There is also the noise generated by snorting air through their nose. This sound resembles a deer snort to me. It’s likely a warning used to try to get another buck to move or to warn other animals in the herd (basically an alarm call). They also make the breathing in and out panting noise during the rut when chasing other bucks around. The intensity of the rut makes for entertaining backcountry viewing here in “America’s Serengeti” .
When I get a Full moon setting close to the horizon and JUST enough light, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon).
The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The moon is a little further behind.
Photographic Musings: There were heavily banded clouds with the moon mostly filtered out behind the veil through the twilight.. In an out of view over it’s last hour in the sky this morning which I observed. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges.
I work the “Shadow” line on the opposite ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A partially veiled moon behind this tree is a common occurrence. This is low low light to catch that tree pre-sunrise in mid-civil twilight.
I have enjoyed having this optic glass sphere for the last couple of years. Generally I don’t carry it with me. Occasionally I will give in and throw the thing in my camera box.
Sitting on top of a hard steel Oil Well Drill Bit. The close/far perspective is a tough one for depth of field. Even at maximum / highest f-stop for the lens, the close part of this focus was too close to ALSO focus the background. I think a cell phone would have done this better but what’s the challenge in that lol. Really close / far shots are difficult to get both objects in the Depth of Focus field. At least with most lenses I’ve ever used. I’m sure there is one out there that will focus at 8 inches all the way to infinity. I Certainly haven’t found it yet lolol.
Now that drill bit…. Oil, discovered in the 1960’s, provided a lot of cash flow to the ranch.. . A lot of drilling ensued with a few of the wells producing a significant income to the rancher/owner at the time. As all good things come to an end, the oil companies removed about 1/2 of the oil. The rest remains in situ. That percentage is about all the technology of the time could remove. There will be some point in the future where that oil will get recoverable and drilling will start again. More efficient processes now to squeeze the remaining oil to the well head.
50 years after drilling. There are very few indicators that 3 oil production platforms were up and running for almost a decade. There are vague topographic changes in the landscape where a dozer cleared off the pads used for the drilling. Some small containment berms near each pad. But collected carefully and put in a pile in out ranches bone yard. At least a 1/2 a dozen of these big heavy drill bits lay. I’d say they weigh 100 pounds each or there about.
It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations
in the last 500,000 years) the series of advancing glaciers stopped their advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.
About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (The first 60 degree day this year as I type this narrative).
Strawberry flower just lost it’s petals (fertilized), Mantis Egg Sac lower right and a precocious hatchling first to appear…. I’m thinking he is just under a quarter inch long.
There should be a few more of these Praying Mantis Eggs about. IF I see any more hatchlings I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 1 inch away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 This was taken down in my aquaponic Greenhouse where it never gets below 65 degrees all winter. Taken about a week before this posts.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. I believe this is the 6th generation of hatches I’ve had down in that artificial environment here mid winter. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol.
Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 They are constantly moving back and forth to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds. I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but as here in a Green House , this is their 6th generation now of Mantis babies under that roof. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot tall under grade “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using no soil, just water (except for some orchids where I have some Hydroton™ nuggets involved.)
Two Track to the Red Hills (Late fall 2019) Rain shafts right sky 📸 The horizons shadow just left lighting up all the landscape behind me. So I turned and CLICK.
Wide landscapes of a sunrise backshow are one of my pursuits as really pretty ones are not that easy to run into randomly. . It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of mostly un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east (to say Illinois) , I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule there not the rare exception. In this country, it’s a post here, a fence there with some trails disturbing the landscape. Closest ranch house (help) to this scene is about 2 miles.
The population density of our 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol. I am standing in Wyoming but the Mountains on the right are in Montana. Thus borderlands lol….
Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Musings on Deep Backcountry Travel
Some times I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up in this high country above the drainage anywhere. Pretty well maintained gravel is our country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there lol. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).
Whimsical: First of all, I’ve never seen a group of boys hanging out on the corner that didn’t bring an “oh oh” to my mind lol. The big guy (second to the right) is actually pretty big as a Mule Deer’s ears are 22 inches roughly across. I’ve certainly seen bigger bucks. Overall a nice Muley Buck I thought.
OH, I forgot, I’m suspecting they were about to drag race here . My presence shut it down as if by a switch. Instead they walked off slowly with casual glances over their shoulder. More or less continuing to move from one of my water tanks to their grazing areas. By the looks of those bellies hanging down, the food supply is doing well. Yup chubby future hubby for some lucky girl is.
The 35 mph speed limit is just suggestion as maximum speed to them I suspect though it’s the law up here on ranch. There is about 3 miles of county road that crosses across our ground. It makes it MUCH easier to get from one end to the other for everybody up here includeing this batch. They had just left the cleared gravel
I watch well known places of wildlife activity such as watering holes we keep open all year just for wild life. (4). Usually one of them will have stock on it but it’s still open for the deer and anybody else around to use. Everybody needs a place to drink. Wildlife tend to be hard pressed in the winter to find open water.
This from early spring 2019. The grass is growing, the hair is shedding off this Young Pronghorn Buck. They shed in clumps giving them a haggard / mange look. He’s perfectly healthy for a young un…But WHAT is going on with his horns… You have to look very carefully lolol. These guys will be appearing here on ranch within weeks of this Mid-March Post.
Pronghorn Spring Migration:
The Pronghorn are migrating shortly but I’m not seeing them up here just yet as we have snow cover high. Moving through here from the south heading through up to Montana. They are following ancient migration routes that the cowboys used to move cattle in the late 1800’s from Miles City Montana down to Newcastle Wyoming. The local version of the “Texas Trail” runs right through the western side of our ranch. Fences are little obstacle to these animals which play the “limbo game” effortlessly. They usually do go under but I do have a few photos of Pronghorn going over fences.
I figure MOST of those animals that lived on ranch all last summer are mostly 10 -20 miles south. They are working their way to the ThunderBasin National Grasslands where they have moving water (not frozen) and good feed for the winter. There are only a few roads through a pretty big piece of remote real estate between the Powder River Basin and the Wyoming Black Hills. Many Hundreds of square miles for herds to congregate in. Many ranchers maintain water stock tanks during the winter. This helps more on the margins but water is a rare thing up here when it’s been 30 below for a week.
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)
With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)
So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸
This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.
I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point last summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.
Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.
There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. This is the second of two finished images from that encounter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.
This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local deer are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol.
This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.
We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.
My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.
Musings on difficult photographic environments:
Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.
I find the moon to be a big show off when ever it can be. Here it is rolling around a hill top like a precocious 10 year old. It’s probably trying to impress the sun which is still up over my shoulder still barely lighting up the scene I often find it resting on the horizon or caught by some rouge “Ent” Tree. Way out in the remote back country many magical and mystical things occur when I pursue light. I’m just the stenographer here with the limitations of the technology I deal with daily.
There are only a few days a month where the relatively full moon is close to the still sunlit horizon. I get perhaps 3 or 4 sunrise/sunsets a month with the moon involved. Some months I don’t get the opportunity due to cloud cover . I’m usually game to be in the backcountry for this kind of activity. As I post this it’s deep mid-winter in the backcountry. We are high up so we get more snow than most. Deep snow sort of slows me down but NOW I have a taller truck with 35 inch studded snow tires to help a bit.
On the moon you can clearly see the smaller top crater at 12 oclock. (It’s actually a small “Mare”). It is always at 12 oclock on a rising moon but at 3 oclock as the moon sets here at 45 degrees north latitude. That little Crater is Mare “Crisium”. (Sea of Crisis from the latin).
Have you noticed the moon’s face appears to rotate clockwise as the night progresses? This is an illusion as you are the one that is rotating, not the moon🤔. Your looking at the moon rising looking east. Then you spin and look at the moon set to the west. In other words your point of view has changed. The amount of change depends on how far north or south of the equator. Illusionary. It’s very complex from here and another whole narrative. 🤔📸 It will make you crazy trying to figure this one out lololol.
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 that Lone 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 brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this 📸
It takes a Manual Mode setting to do this folks. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of F-stop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitivity) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 It takes a lot of focal length in your lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet wide from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Not a crop.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
I bit out of season… I need summer, right at sunset….
Chasing lIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before. They are also VERY loud I point out lolol.
I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the scene perfectly in my mind just as if I actually took the photo. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.
I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting in the vehicles passenger window on window clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt flash. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.
Boy I don’t get a chance to “zoom into” a big fellow such as this very often. This is after rut so this guy survived the hunt this year. I call this a 4×5 but there are two brow tines you can’t see in this profile that you can sure hang a ring on. There are so many ways to “classify” how “good” a buck is based on his antlers. I tend to focus at the condition of the animal and this guy is one nice buck. I’m thinking it weights 275 pounds anyway.
Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears. The hear extremely well with those big ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.
Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.
Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.
Yet another capture from the network of 28 game trail cameras I maintain up here in the borderlands. Captured at the moment of the hawk strike. I’m thinking this was a bit hard on the “other bird”. (unidentified unlucky bird) while it was sitting on the post. Imagine just minding your own business. Suddenly, it was hit from behind/above. This is the definition of a bad day I’m thinking🤔👀📸
I’m not a hawk expert. The distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I’m betting this is a red tail’ed 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.
Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). Catching an image like this with a regular camera is highly unlikely . I have never witnessed a hawk attack on another bird anywhere any time in my travels. I’m out in the backcountry all the time. I suspect my presence or the activity of the vehicle I’m in precludes any raptors taking game around me.
Game Trail Cameras captures are all problematic from a photo finishing aspect. I did my best to “fix” the inadequate technology. When they make a really good quality game trail camera, I’ll buy them. Until then, I’ll have to live with these photon traps as they are. I also have an image of him flying away with this hapless meal.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America. Those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears are obvious. They hear extremely well with those big sound catchers. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what in the sequence of events back in the day, killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.
Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.
Scientific data indicates: a big testosterone surge causes this growth. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.
I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different lens. If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. Taken with a 3200mm telescopic/ astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.
With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.
Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.
Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)
Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.
Mule Deer Buck at Sunset (Odocoileus hemionus if you must know 😜) From Fall of 2019
Most of my deer encounters are random. I am traveling backcountry two track roads and I crest a hill only to see something like this. I’m always on the way to set up a landscape somewhere at sunset So along the way….. . I am after all a landscape photographer who likes to specialize in close/far perspectives from the viewpoint of a mouse. Being an opportunist and stingy with my time, I pursue animal photography as it occurs. This is in contrast to trying to make it happen.
Now I have at times known where herds were and with definitely intent drove carefully/slowly into the center of the herds with my Jeep Grand Cherokee. My trick is it takes a while, I stop and start the rig, move a bit, rinse and repeat. Look like another grazing animal. It might take me 30 minutes to integrate but heck, I’ve got tunes going😀. This guy tolerated the Engine running, stinky / noisy Jeep Grand Cherokee. I suspect my new ride is just as stinky but I believe it is much quieter.
This bad boy posed for my telephoto nicely. He didn’t even ask for wages / compensation. On the other hand he didn’t sign a model release. This was just after hunting season in this area. He survived… He likely was an itinerant buck just passing through it seems as I haven’t seen him again or since. Big bucks travel many miles in their wanderings.
Fall Buck Walking Through. : In winter the Mule Deer bucks will shortly loose their horns. I’d sure like to find this set. The more I go out the more I find. Funny how that works.
I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. This is a 3200mm telescopic shot out of an astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.
They have no aperture adjustment (no f-stop /iris/diaphram as it were). Wide open fast lens, short focal Depth of Field as a result. This is an example of being 300 yards out from this really nice itinerant Mule Deer Buck. He was giving me the evil eye anyway and the group he was with did not know me “vwery well” (Emphasis Slavic / European accent’ on the vwery). Having a stupid long 3 foot lens in your back seat is a problem if your rolling around the backcountry in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Securing it becomes an issue which of course slows bringing it into play. .😜😜📸