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Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion
Turtle Butte Volcano Illusion

Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

Exactly on the Wyoming / Montana border, this Volcano simmers at behest of forces beyond our control. This of course is a satire and illusion of a volcano created naturally by a confluence of events and my position.

I love the long distance perspective of a properly involved deck of clouds colorcast by Alpenglow. These are real colors not unknown in this remote high country. The 180 mile long cloud deck positioned above a clear icy window to the sun. Our “volcano”, called Lookout Butte has a commanding view from the top as it’s name suggests. Being an “Insulberg” (google this), it has few characteristics resembling a Cinder Cone Volcano but for it’s shape. All form and no substance passing for an event of geologic significance in this fleeting moment. The chances of a thick layer of clouds across the sky lining up with the top is not terribly high so I cheat and move. The levers my ability to get just the right angle. The ability to move quickly from place to place is really useful for this kind of opportunistic photography. 👀

I don’t always work sunrise, but when I do, I always like a simulated volcano going off in the photo.😜. Illuminated by a dynamic gradient of long traveled cinema quality light, the actors of the stage show have a huge projection screen to perform under. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second.🕺 This show was the directors cut. 📸

I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Maybe 2 or 3 images from the twilight will be finished. All the images from the timeline that morning but with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share.

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

Title: Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

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Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge
Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

A lone Pronghorn doe grazing, from about 1/4 mile away on a parallel Ridge; I had just a little elevation over the historic sheep herders cairn on the right. This morning was one of long shadows. Only this part of the sky exposed to the sun, was photoworthy. The southern part of the view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on the eastern horizon. Those clouds blocking the sun behind. The mists further obfuscating the clear view that way. I turn my lenses off away from the rising sun to my right. All in order to catch the back show in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape.

This view, looking north into Montana with the foreground in Wyoming. Living on the border high on several ridge, I have extensive views in all directions. This is a dryland ranch meaning no running water year round. I do however have views to dream about (as I do dream in full color) on the right morning. This particular morning at 5:30 AM at sunrise was as good as they come. That is without invoking deities to improve the view.

These heavily dissected Cretaceous and early Tertiary terrestrial sands/muds between me and the farthest ridge have all been removed by little rivers. That whole basin, previously filled up to the brim with sediments in the past. However, one sand grain at a time this land has slowly been moving toward the Gulf of Mexico. These sediments making up the rocks here were on that very trip. But the Cretaceous Rivers carrying them got all choked up and dropped it’s load. Wait 66 million years….Those old sediments hardend, then re-eroded recently. That sand stationary until now when it resumes it’s journey on the the ocean. The ultimate sink. This just a way stop along the journey.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn on Rattle Snake Ridge

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Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Incoming

Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Incoming
Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Incoming

Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Incoming

This shelf cloud from a good sized mesocyclone moving through May 2020. I’m happy to say I only had one small formerly nice calf shed cartwheeled over a fence. As well as two empty standing gasoline tanks/stands blown over from this one. They have been standing for decades. Any hail missed us. I was however, pelted by horizontal rocks and gravel. Carried by the wind gust coming up the hill over the gravel road lower left frame. Looked like a sand storm coming at me.

I’m estimating conservatively it was a 60 mph direct down draft but it was probably 80 mph. My recording wind gauge is currently down waiting for a replacement moment as the winds here wear out the 120 dollar devices every 4 or 5 years. They are actually incoming next week so that will be fixed. I have recorded a 79mph wind on the ranch historically.

I’ve been an observer of weather for some time. The winds usually affiliated with this type of Arcus cloud CAN be pretty severe. I snapped this image along with a few more. Thought the better part of valor was to avoid the worst of it. “Clever Girl” is only 5 months old and has no hail dents yet. I heard golf ball sized hail in this…. didn’t get it. Only .3 inch of rain but we’ll take what we get.

I thought it was pretty nifty this shelf has 3 horizontal rings looping around rotation clearly visible in this capture. The lightning bolt was a rare one in this storm as it really didn’t light up too much. There were some dangerous bolts. When my truck started getting seriously buffeted, I headed for the barn under that big white roof. I left that building’s white roof in the frame for a reason. It is a good scale. That is 1/2 of the roof of a building which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field. I’m almost a mile and 200 feet above that building at the click.

Sporty Storm 📸 3’x2′ Image aspect

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

Title: Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Incoming

Shelf Cloud Incoming

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Sunlit Side Mesocyclone Mammatus

Sunlit Side Mesocyclone Mammatus
Sunlit Side Mesocyclone Mammatus

Sunlit Side Mesocyclone Mammatus

Taken 10 days before it posts mid-may 2020. This is how long it takes me to get a “current” photo in to be published. That is if I bring it to the front of the line. I have to admit I have a bias for big Mammatus. (👀). When I say big you have to realize this storm is about 10 miles long. Admittedly this is a tiny storm for this country that occasionally has 100 mile across mesocyclones develop from these smaller storms. The shelf cloud off to the right was awesome in this storm.

This was one of a series of storms moving south to north along a line that evening. They all were just east of me along Parks/Garst Road up here in Wyotana. The little rainbow as you follow the red gravel road as it curves to the right, was a nice touch from the storm. Lightning? Not so much. The big views we have up on the high ridges gives up 50 to 180 mile long vistas to photograph and observe weather occurring from a distance. I followed this and it’s sister storms moving along the frontal boundary moving through our area. I couldn’t have asked for a better view of this barking dog.

As I type this, the wind blew well over 60 mph last night. Rained sideways for 20 minutes. It said .3 inch but this is suspect lol. I was up photographing the storm come up but got back to shelter before that one came through. I have yet to download the images from that event.

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

Title: Sunlit Side Mesocyclone Mammatus

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Reflections Bee on a Flower

Reflections Bee on a Flower
Reflections Bee on a Flower

Reflections Bee on a Flower

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more bee photos incoming lol. I’ve actually seen a few bees about but it’s 37 degrees as I type this and it snowed today.

Its nice to keep the spring season in perspective. Looking ahead 1 month is healthy if you have the images. The limitations of the technology I use are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically. Bumblers are still sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I was able to photograph bumbler since then. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys as they start appearing again. 🤠

The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on Ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which, by the way actually exist ).

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

Title: Reflections Bee on a Flower

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Red Fox Marking Post

Red Fox Marking Post
Red Fox Marking Post

Red Fox Marking Post

No this is not just outside Sanford and Son’s and no fake heart attacks here (Do you know the classical reference?)

So Game Trail Cameras play an important role in my understanding of game and predator patterns of movement. I have discovered that every canid that goes by this stick either pees on it or chews on it lolol. Apparently it is a community boundary between Coyotes and Red Foxes. I see Coyotes coming in from the east and these guys from the south. There may be some overlap in their territories but I suspect the two different species are NOT the best of friends. Top of that stick is definitely chewed on by many animals.

These Remote auto cameras definitely clue me in to behavior that I would normally have NO chance in capturing. I could sit down in this gully in a regular wildlife blind for days without any activity with a regular camera. Not that I have anything better to do on any particular day lolol. I think I’ll let the auto cameras do the work. These two were definitely on the hunt though. They just had to pay homage to the marks other left behind as a matter of due course I’m thinking.. 👀😜

Night images via Infra-Red flash are all to capture grainier than daylight images. The quality is more like a well printed newspaper than a high quality/resolution capture from a 5 thousand dollar camera rig. They may be grainy but they sure are Candid!. This is an 18 inch by 18 inch aspect final📸📸📸

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

Title: Red Fox Marking Post

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Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight
Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

My job is to be aware of the sunset the a sunrise each day. I check the light all the time deciding whether to take out from my homestead with a ” box o cameras”.

Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. Sometimes I get to watch dramatic plays happening overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images of those images from the twilight will be finished. More images later from after sunrise of this morning with different frames. They were equally as dramatic.

Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. My studied perspective/understanding of this place is totally incapable of comprehensively navigating the complexities of the workings of this, my local “universe”. (for lack of a better word). There is no way to gather the information needed in our own limited memory of our short travels/experiences here on earth. . Ironic, the complexity of our thoughts the local “universe” can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.

All of us has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. We will all end up there with all that came before. Some in our society are multiple generations removed from it. Meat comes from the grocery store for them. Not me. I grew up on a farm on the Prairie. Lived on a remote ranch in Northeastern Wyoming/Southeastern Montana for the last 2 decades.

I’m a geologist after all…. I would like to think my connection to nature here it is deeper than most. There is much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural events of this place in space and time.

A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

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Backlit Red Tail Hawk

Backlit Red Tail Hawk
Backlit Red Tail Hawk

Backlit Red Tail Hawk

The difference in illumination of the front versus the back of this perched Raptor is huge. Bright unfettered “Golden Hour” sun was hitting this guy from behind JUST off frame left. I tried about every manual shutter and f-stop setting possible on the camera to get the shadow detail and not overexpose the rest of the scene. This was the best result of the scatter. I think the photo finished with his chest very pink but I would indicate that that area was in deep shadow and I’m grabbing detail out of that shadow.

Colors brought out of the shadows seldom survive photorealistically under these harsh differences in dynamic range. I couldn’t with any precision see it’s chest in the camera. Regardless, the detail was in the dark and I do take MANY photos dark only exposing the highlight correctly in the camera. .

The digital dark room enables me to bring differential exposure to life. My long time job as a professional ‘photo finisher’ is to do just that. It’s the same thing that Ansel Adams did sort of.. He laboriously, in the chemical darkroom masking off negatives so as to expose different parts to a different light exposure. That act VASTLY expanded the dynamic range of the technology at the time. Essentially I’m doing the same thing in the computer. Different subjects…. Be nice to have Yosemite to yourself….🤔👀 I don’t think, this birds chest was quite that pink. It’s the way it finished and I have no memory of that part of this image to argue with it. …

The sun did highlight the tail feathers nicely thank you. He sat that way for 5 minutes… tail 1/2 fanned. I think the branch kept it from opening all the way. Robin’s Egg blue sky just at the start of golden hour. Stay tuned to my narratives for the story of “Raptor’s versus Herons at this tree line. I watched battles this morning, found a casualty of a Red Tail Hawk under the Great Blue Heron Nest. Witnessed the battle from UNDER trees and barely caught on film (Horribly I suspect) , 3 Herons and 3 red tail hawks doing aerobatics. I expect this mornings timeline to publish next week (my current lag time). This mornings work was wonderful with a HUGE April Setting Supermoon to start my early morning.

Egg Moon images soon.

Till later and Be Safe. Stick with the plan folks. I’ll do the tourism for you 📷🤘

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

Title: Backlit Red Tail Hawk

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Blue Twilight Old Growth

Blue Twilight Old Growth
Blue Twilight Old Growth

Blue Twilight Old Growth

This mood setting Blue image posted only 24 hours after my last blue image……. Starting a trend perhaps…… I was just musing that a moody blue scene was rare in my portfolio. . I’ve even been accused of being blue blind by more than one individual. Having said that, I try really hard to be photorealistic in what I do. I do consider myself a landscape photographer. This doesn’t mean I’m not biased in my pursuit of crimson skies with silhouetted land. I am biased in my choices. . I way disproportionally post fully engaged complex skies. Obviously simple was better here.

This is almost exactly on the Montana / Wyoming border with it pretty much running through that largest tree. That is 45˚ North Latitude as close as the civilian GPS I use, can locate. Well endowed our ranch is geographically. That major meridian runs through us for about 2 miles linear of the Montana/Wyoming border in our ranches boundaries. I have over the decades gotten a pretty good idea where it is at any one time and by landscape features. That invisible line is literally 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole (the Montana/Wyoming border too).🤔 We are also about 120 miles from the geographic center of the North American continent. You couldn’t get much further from an Ocean than this spot….literally lol. No local “Red Lobster”. We have to drive 150 miles to the closest one. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Woming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana

Title: Blue Twilight Old Growth

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Windmill Twilight Back Show

Windmill Twilight Back Show
Windmill Twilight Back Show

Windmill Twilight Back Show

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite, 🤘📸

Always Photobombing, “Sneaky Pete” the windmill graces my landscapes. I have no control over his actions but he seems to get into my landscapes a lot doesn’t he? 😜📷

This from early last spring. Green Grass is about a month away from the highlands at the time this posts. If you currently have growing grass, appreciate it under your feet lolol. By Mid May we are past the point of frost (mostly). I’ve seen snow in every month of the year living in Wyoming for the last 30 years. There is no promise after May 15th it won’t frost again. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July last year. Most of you have lilacs in March and April latest I suspect.

Fully involved back show skies in front (sunset over my left shoulder) where JUST the top of the windmill is lit up, is all about timing. The shadow that is covering me is of the ridge 40 miles to my rear. The sunset was veiled by this deep weather system . Parts of the longest traveled red rays made their way between the lower bluish layer. All the way through to under light the much higher red/orange layer of clouds above. Backshows are well worth taking photos of if you can remember to turn around and look at them. About every 3 or 4 minutes I turn around and glance behind me while watching sunsets.

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

Windmill Twilight Back Show

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Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set
Horizon Rising Moon Set

Horizon Rising Moon Set

From Front to Back:

The first ridge of Rock, theTullock Formation, (Tertiary Alluvial Fans ) deposited 130 miles from the Big Horn Mountain which were the Source of the sediment. High gradient Streams ran off those distant slopes bringing the debris all the way out here. The first ridge is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills that span the Montana / Wyoming border 8 miles to my west. . It’s rough country out there too lol.

The Second Ridge is the spine of the “Red Hills” 40 miles distant. The Little Powder River Squeezes into the valley behind some 400 feet lower than the second ridge top. Sediments derived from the Big Horn Uplift were the source material. There are considerable area of “Clinker” Rock in those hills. Clinker is natures ceramic. Underground coal fires bake the clay surrounding the coal layers into a red Ceramic thus the moniker of “Red Hills”.

Finally, the March morning back show looking at the last sliver of the setting Full April Egg Moon (Passover moon). The moon heavily distorted from the atmospheric lensing that low in the air. The color is a result of only the red wavelengths making to my camera through that air. 1200mm long lens on a big heavy tripod. 2 second Time Exposure.

This moon is is also known by other name variations such as the Paschal Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and the Sprouting Grass Moon. IT will occur Tuesday, April 7th at 8:35PM, Mountain Time. This image is from Last Aprils Paschal Moon. This Moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April. The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek (a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach).

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

TItle: Horizon Rising Moon Set

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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridge tops. The main sunrise show over my right shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this back show is Lavender/Pink/Orange. This back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise. You miss this show if you don’t look behind once in a while … Several image from this particular morning timeline made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to this rare Lavender at times up high. 

The red/pink will often work down on the tree top tips as the surviving red rays project off the ice on them. The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. T

he formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2.5 inches long. 

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds
Pass Up to the Clouds

Pass Up to the Clouds

The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.

Taken early in the morning after sunrise last summer. A very deep focus close/far perspective of a long hill to a pass/crest in the distance. I was watching these wonderful clouds over the “hump” on the drive up. Stopped, set up, CLICK. A complex sky is a treasure but that morning was a treasure chest with all the rare contrasts the whole timeline. .

In the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Travel is much easier on the gravel roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress).

How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

RIght at the moment we are dealing with ice and mud alternately. Spring storms are incoming typically. Most of our precipitation comes in the spring.

2:1 Aspect Diptych 2-20inch square images. Eagle head in the clouds if you look up top right. FIsh in the cloud lower left lolol.

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

Title: Pass Up to the Clouds

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Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow
Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Super Blue Blood Moon taken Feb 1, 2018,. This is was the first of it’s breed seen in the United State since 1866. . The white part is the actual fully illuminated moon. The red, the earths shadow (pre-umbra and umbra) make up the bloody red disk. 3200mm astro glass.

A blue moon of course, happens when there are two full moons in a single month. Technically this Blue Moon is a fudge (again) by NASA since the actual full moon happened in the morning of Feb 1st not on Jan 31st by less than 2 hours in some places. I love it when NASA fudges. 🤔

Blue moons are not quite as rare as the old saying implies. On average they occur once every 2.7 years. The lunar 29.53 lunar month migrates across the 30 or 21 day calendar month. February has never had a blue moon….. There were two blue moons in 2018 due to the discrepancy in timing adding up over the years. There were no full moons at all in February 2018 for instance. There is some calendar magic ongoing as these lunar shows migrate around.

This moon was a super moon being at it’s closest point to the earth in it’s orbit at slightly under a 225 thousand miles. This compared to the average of 238 thousand. What difference could 13000 miles make….14 percent apparent size difference. It’s hard to see with your eyes but I see it comparing things like windmill sails to the lunar disk size from the same spot in the road at the same focal length. I have these fixed objects to compare the moon’s size with lol.

Location: Over Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. It was durn cold for this one lolol.

Title: Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

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Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset
Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

This is actually a morning back show looking at clouds sitting over the Big Horn Mountains 70 miles behind the dark ridge (the Red Hills) which are 40 miles distant. The cloud resembles a mesocyclone incoming and it was a weather system rapidly moving in on us. The moon was soon to dive behind the approaching spring storm. A mix of rain/snow and sleet proceeded to move in shortly afterwards that morning.

The moon here is a Waning Gibbous JUST past the full March Supermoon known as the Worm Moon. March is the month birds start digging worms out of the ground thus the moniker.

The two antelope had just run across the road in front of my truck, the male with them was still on the other side of the road. Separated from their leader, they stopped and waited for him Click . As I moved he broke stance and ran right in front of my truck as a sign of disregard to my presence. I have found that as a matter of principle, if Pronghorn CAN run across your path, they WILL run across your path.

I’ve only hit ONE pronghorn in 20 years of driving these backroads of Wyoming. I would indicate that as a family we have hit 13 deer and 2 antelope in the same time. I have personally hit 4 of those deer. Total Damage in all those collision to my vehicle… A broken license plate bolt and a lot of car washes. I spend a LOT of money on really good vehicle bumpers. Saves my insurance company a bit as I have never had a claim on a vehicle. Does it lower my insurance???? Maybe….

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

Title: Two Pronghorn Western Moonset

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Two Track to the Red Hills

Two Track to the Red Hills
Two Track to the Red Hills

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).

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

Title: Two Track to the Red Hills

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Window to the Moon

Window to the Moon
Window to the Moon

Window to the Moon (Take you back 8 months for this one)

In my side yard is a wonderful old tree that I seldom work with cameras. I had to get enough distance away such that the camera could focus on both the foreground / background. Then I had to find a very rare hole in the canopy to set up the composition. This photography stuff is tough to get all the angles and distances to overcome the limitations of the technology we use.

Close / Far perspectives such as this are indeed a sub-hobby of mine within the larger world of photography I immerse myself in.

Photographic Musings:

You’ll need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera.

A short 1/2 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. You need a Longer exposure… That means more light into the camera to compensate for the high F-stop’s little pin hole aperture. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). Around ISO 500 should get you close with these other settings and a long lens. There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

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

Title: Window to the Moon

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Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

Backcountry Windy Day Windmill
Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

Backcountry Windy Day Windmill (A little summer storm off in the distance, might be some wind )..

Windmill Weekend: Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Kids, don’t let it out that you look at images like this, it might get back to your mom and dad. If your parents find out, your likely to get grounded.

Soooo, that is actually the red gravel backroad curve all landscape photographers love to have in their green spring image. The storm to the south darkening the horizon. Delineated by a spot lit stripe of full sun. Those hills are about 8 miles distant from my camera’s lens. The row of trees is 3 miles out.

Photographic Musings:

Telephotos Crush perspective and bring things otherwise separated objects into the same focus if you use the aperture correctly. This Windmill is about 200 yards out. This is far enough from the camera to be in it’s infinite focus zone as is the sky in the distance. In manual mode you have to use a high f-stop number for this. Close far focus perspectives from me are ALL f22 or higher depending on the lens. Really long telephotos might go f74 which is a pin point hole in the lens to let in light. ). You get some diffraction effects at high fstop if looking at bright point light sources like a starred sun. High F-stop use will also reduce the amount of light into the camera. You have to compensate by using a longer exposure or a higher camera sensitivity, or both.

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

Title: Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

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Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill
Twilight Patriotic Windmill

Twilight Patriotic Windmill

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

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

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

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

Taken mid-civil twilight.

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

Title: Twilight Patriotic Windmill

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.

Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.

This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black
Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black (This is the Moon NOT the sun AND full Screen is a Must).

Moony Alpenglow I’m thinking. This is a 20 second long time widefield exposure with the camera aperture at low f-numbers (wide open). ISO is less than 1000 for this. High ISO is an evil thing in night time exposures.

I don’t do much work late at night as I do photography all day so there has to be a nap time somewhere. On the occasional night when I’m up over a mile away from my door up on Ridge 1 late at night, I usually bring a tracker along. Set up on Polaris. Takes a few minutes usually. Your camera mounts right to the tracker. 300 -400 bucks on amazon.

Rule of 600 in Star Photography:

The rule states that the maximum length of an exposure with stars that doesn’t result in star streaks is achieved by dividing the effective focal length of the lens into the number 600. A 50mm lens on a full sized sensor camera, therefore would allow 600 / 50 = 12 seconds of exposure before streaks are noticeable. That is unless you are using a device that moves the camera the same rate as the stars move. These “trackers” are a fairly inexpensive gadget but you do have to understand how to find Polaris (North star). Then you can take sharp stars over long intervals instead of getting lines from them moving.

Of course 20 seconds with a wide open iris totally overexposes the moon. That was the point. I wanted to see the moony Alpenglow it was projecting even faintly visible to my naked eyes lolol.

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

Title: Moon Rise in Pitch Black

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Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise
Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.

Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.

This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.

This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

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Long Horn Moon

Long Horn Moon
Long Horn Moon

Long Horn Moon

There are only one or two mornings a month that I can get this kind of full moon scene. For the moon to be up full falling into the Belt of Venus (Pinkish Alpenglow). The lightI pick my spots based up on a few basic requirements. In this case I needed several “heros” in the image. Black cows in shadow are going to be silhouettes no matter what the camera. What is a western vista without a couple of longhorn cattle on board? My perception of distance was peeked at this scene. Click. The full moon Setting over the Red Hills 40 miles distant. Hit by the same red light blushing the Belt of Venus above them.

Photographic musings:

I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any closure to them as their temperment is my master in that. I do respect these mostly wild cattle. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon/sky considered an infinite focus in this camera calculus. Getting closer things precisely focused with background is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode…. Distance from the cattle is your friend to keep them in the same focal frame as infinite.

High F-stop number give you deep focal fields . A double edged sword high f-stop. High f-stop also steals light which is in short enough supply in this lighting.. Get too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. All the moon has to do, in close far perspective with almost anything, will be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close far perspectives. Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do.

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

Title: Long Horn Moon

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Backcountry Sledding Hill

Backcountry Sledding Hill
Backcountry Sledding Hill

Backcountry Sledding Hill

Hiding a major inflexion point in earths history…..

Reading earths book: Musings.

When the Bolide (google this) struck the earth at the End of the Cretaceous, it spread a thin layer of Iridium (an element) rich dust all over the globe. This impact occurred down in Yucatan Mexico. The rocks that make up this ridge/pass are from that moment in time. There the “K/T” iridium layer exists somewhere.

Now what does a geologist/photographer do with a hill like this…. The Bolide) Crashed into the earth, killing the dinosaurs, and many other animal groups on the planet. Huge upheavals in food chains ensued. Major extinctions do that of course and here we are. Our ancestors survived the conflagration. I traced the Rock Formation that is dinosaur bearing (Hell Creek/Lance formations) to end on this hill. The type of rock changes and SOMEWHERE in the photo, is that 4 inch thick layer of debris from that major impact. You can only tell exactly where it is from taking detailed samples up the rock section then running them through a mass spectrometer . One just looks for the Iridium spike (Iridium as an element is common in outer space but rare on earth. The impactor vaporized enriching the surface in that rare element.

The number of fossils and the diversity seems to be slowly declining near the top of the section but I don’t have HARD numbers on this. Don’t discount the pizza oven effect from the Bolides ejecta reentering the atmosphere. Massive tsunami’s hit further south. I’m sure this area got cooked. Later a blast wave plough through at the speed of sound. Anything that wasn’t under water, in a burrow or somehow hidden was killed outright on this hemisphere. The climates changed markedly and initiated a failure of major populations of animals to successfully reproduce. Ultimately it’s the inability to reproduce that causes extinction. No matter what the cause.

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

Title: Backcountry Sledding Hill

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Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road
Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Why do the Pronghorns Cross the Road? Well because they are Pronghorn lolol. Wyoming is home to about 1/2 of the worlds Pronghorn. Most of them cross the road in front of you when ever they have to go out of their way to do so. 😜🤔

I thought this vibrant green grass from the month of May. May is officially the end of the average last frost in this area. Well this year we had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July. Every season was a month late. Except the fact that fall was on a tuesday this year. The next day there was 4 inches of snow everywhere and that was October 1st. We really didn’t have an “Indian Summer” this last fall. Now in Mid-Winter I’m enjoying looking at some of the artsy things I did in the spring.

This image was not so much about the Pronghorn but more about the colors/contrast of the red gravel against the grass. Both textures and colors combine for the stage of a classic Wyotana Scene. Drive the backroad gravel on open range sometime. (Get off the highway). You WILL have pronghorn try to beat your car to cross the road in front of you.

Having said that, over two decades living 70 miles from town, we have unfortunately hit/been hit by some wild animals driving our cars. In 20 years, we are 13 deer, 2 Pronghorn, 1 coyote and one cow. Total damage to vehicles, 1 side mirror, one shock steering stabilizer and a broken bolt on a license plate bracket. Good Bumpers 😀

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

Title: Pronghorns Crossing the Road

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Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed
Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridgetops. The main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this backshow is Pink. This pink back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise, you miss this show. Several image from this particular morning made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on.

Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to Lavender at times up high. The Blue Line UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun rises that blue band shrinks eventually disappearing just as the sun rises. The red/pink will often work down on the “Red Hills in the distance enhancing their already red rocks (Clinker) with the extra colorcast.

The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

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

Title: Belt of Venus Framed

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BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill
BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill

Taken off the road on the way to Gillette Wyoming. I’m Traveling the “back way”. All gravel, no AAA, no cell phone service, but the radio works lol. I pass one or two trucks on this road (30 miles long) each time I take it. Unless the weather is screwy or it’s really early, this road I’m on is a relatively busy place.

I stand on ground at the same elevation as the Intervening ridge. . Right at 4000 feet above mean sea level. Now those peaks off in the distance, that’s the BigHorn Mountains. The tall peaks in that little eroded wrinkle in the earth’s crust are just now 13000 feet high. The billions of year old granite core of the continent exposed in the center of the range. All of the sediments that used to be up much higher than the core. All those eroded and filled up the big bathtub between my camera and those peaks. The Powder River Basin between has 6000 plus feet of JUST Tullock formation. The Tullock, an alluvial fan deposit, stretches from the Mtn’s to the camera.

The Coal Swamps that allowed the Powder River Basin (bath tub at the foot of the Big Horn Mtn uplift). Think of it like a sine wave with mountains on the high side of the wave and the Powder River Basin is the trough. The top of the wave erodes and fills up the trough. Those sediments from the peaks flowed toward me and reached the hill I’m standing on. It’s all Tertiary Tullock Formation. All that big bathtub filled up with sediment laid down AFTER the dinosaurs died. It was a low area adjacent to highlands thus the swamps and all the coal the Powder River Basin produces.

Location: 13 miles south of Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: BigHorns from Bowman Hill

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Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn
Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn

I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.

The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂

The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.

This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.

Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Light Crack of Dawn

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot 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 my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. 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 “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis