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Red Hills Twilight Landscape

Red Hills Twilight Landscape
Red Hills Twilight Landscape

Red Hills Twilight Landscape

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

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

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

Title: Red Hills Twilight Landscape

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40 mile Pronghorn Perspective

40 mile Pronghorn Perspective
40 mile Pronghorn Perspective

40 mile Pronghorn Perspective

Talk about a long landscape.. This is a VERY long shot… The Pronghorn here (all Males) are traveling but were nice enough to frame themselves at this remote ranch gate. The first ridge out in the “Prairie Dog Hills” is 10 miles distant from my camera. The “Red Hills” off in the distance are 40 miles away from the lens.

It’s obvious that Spring has Sprung. The grass is turning green. It is rocket fuel for the animals that have been eating brown grass all winter. Green season is one of birth and new growth up in a harsh country of long winters and frozen climate. These males survived the long winter this year.

Photographic Musings:

Under this lighting condition, I was lucky to get as much detail as I did. The effect of extreme distance is with a REALLY long telephoto, is that even objects a mile away are in a different focal plain that the distant mountains. I had to resort to a low F-stop number to open up the aperture in the lens to let way more light in. The dark conditions just before the sunrise were such that deep focus was not an option while still capturing moving animals with no blur. I had to cave into the light and use the evil low f-stop number for a long shot. I really don’t like to do that. Rule #2 of Photography is to : “Get the Photo”.

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

Title: 40 mile Pronghorn Perspective

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Forest Framed Full Moon

Forest Framed Full Moon
Forest Framed Full Moon

Forest Framed Full Moon

The joy of my work is that I get to see scenes like this. There of course is some discipline involved being up on those high ridges I frequent chasing light. Mostly it involves just kicking my legs over the side of the bed and getting up. I rise up pretty early in the summer with very short nights coming my way. Working the light often involves short nights. I might go third shift this summer and stay up from sundown to sun up, sleep during the day. It’s possible this is a better schedule for me as I’ve done it the old way for years lol.

Photographic Musings:

The Close / Far Perspective in Low light is a function of how low the light is (chuckle). On the one or two mornings a month when the sun is rising coterminously with the moon setting, I hope to get a window to the moon. When I saw this cloud band cut across the Lunar Disk I figured that was the end of the show. Fortunately that was an incorrect conclusion.

I photographed this moon until it sank into the notch on the ranch on the right. Having prepositioned myself to position it setting in that notch. I find I am easier to move that either the ridge or the moon so you have to be accomodating to the Physics of the moment… 😜. This was a 250mm lens. I can bring to bear 1200 mm on that horizon for an up close and personal look. Posted in another place of course. Knowing where the moon is going to set is a simple matter of exploring a search of “Moon Compass” in Google. At least one of those sites will tell you where and when it will set. Then all you have to do is decide where to be when it sets. Being able to set and read a sighting compass to correct for Magnetic Declination changes will help in this endeavor. I use my personal 40 year old Brunton™ Geologists compass for such things. 🤔👀📷

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

Title: Forest Framed Full Moon

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Thats Not A Moon

Thats Not A Moon
Thats Not A Moon

Thats Not A Moon

Actually this is indeed a 98.5 Percent Full April “Pink” Moon but the images title is a classic reference to a Movie Line. If you know from where, you could be my friend lol.

This is a very long 1200 mm telephoto shot with the sun being mostly up behind me with a brief over lap. Having the two celestial bodies at the horizon with daylight and a full moon is a one or two times a month opportunity IF the weather cooperates. Of course I have the moon lowering in the sky from about an hour before this. This particular one the last shot of the timeline consisting of several hundred images.

I am standing on my ground which is the same elevation as the saddle between the two far peak. That range of mountains is called the “Red Hills” and is 40 (forty) miles distant from my camera. The Intervening Little Powder River Valley 500 feet lower than the far ridge removed all that ground between here and there. A sand grain at a time the 20 foot wide “Little Powder” River carried all that sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico, through several tributaries. Some of it is still in the river banks along the way. All things eventually work to the sea.

This, looking westward barely diagonally across the Wyoming to Montana border. The moon setting at 279 degrees. I prepositioned myself just so it would set between the peaks. Fore knowledge of how things work makes your photo session “predictable”. It helps you choose to use the map in your head. Google: ‘Moon Compass’, and work the choices.

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

Title: Thats Not A Moon

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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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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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Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus
Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus

This is a deep photo lol. The Depth of Field (DOF) is very thick. Getting all this in focus is a technical thing that can be done in Manual mode as long as your camera is capable of the dynamic range required to get all this detail. These Sony Alpha 7R series have silly good ability in low light as you might have noticed following my work.

I always rant and rave against deeply blue snow which is (in my opinion) a very very very rare natural color only in EARLY civil Twilight.. Pink however does reflect off ice like a movie projector screen even after sunrise.. Pink is common relatively IF you have a set of mountains named (for real) the “Red Hills”. I wonder why they are called the “Red Hills”. 🤔

I see pink Belt of Venus” (BOV) Alpenglow light hitting the ground “Fairly” regularly in the winter. Normally at sunrise you just see the BOV as a pink band in the western sky just before sunrise. The shadow of the earth’s horizon being a shrinking with the rising sun, blue wedge under the pink band. With the sun arisen behind the camera above the horizon, that red light surviving traveling hundreds of miles through low angle atmosphere. It is the camera that is in shadow of the horizon. That shadow was moving at close to 1000 miles per hour toward me. (25,000 miles around the earth, 24 hours in a rotation = 1000 mph. Chasing the sunrise is a fools game unless your in a supersonic jet.

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

Title: Moon Set Belt of Venus

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Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts
Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands
Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands (America’s Serengeti)

This is a must to take full screen. The Pronghorn’s are well camo’d in this image with huge alluvial fan deposits in the distance. Those sediments eventually turning into those rocks were transported from the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles back over my shoulder.. OF course I’m standing where there used to be rocks like that but erosion has removed them. Those layers were at one time continuous all the way back. Now rivers have cut big valleys in the apron of the mountains. Geologists regard things in a strange way 😜👀

So for this shot I was traveling from my ranch to Gillette Wyoming. , I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is a long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

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Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds
Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

I occasionally go on long morning drives after a fresh snow to see what I can see. I will drive a big loop maybe 30-40 miles working what ever I come across that interests me. Mostly untapped by photographers the back roads of Wyoming are. . There are a few of us up here but not many doing this full time.

So I had drive a big round trip circuit and was just about back. Now this is a “major” local artery. It’s a Gravel Road but it’s usually a fairly busy road. Here it is on a Sunday morning at 9AM with no tracks but my own. I was surprised by it. The road I live on is often untracked most weekends unless I drive over it. You don’t want to break down out here. No cell phone service and no body coming by since the night before say 18 hours at least. There are some very remote parts of Wyotana I cruise about where I would expect that but not so much here.

Snow Diamonds (Diamond Dust)

All Blue Sky morning it was Diamond Dusting. Can it really snow on a cloudless, sunny day? It can if it’s diamond dust. It was pretty light so ore like Mother Nature’s tinsel than snow, this weather bonus is caused by millions of tiny ice crystals that form near the ground. As they float slowly in the air (much like household dust) they reflect the sunlight, which makes them sparkle like diamonds! A very similar phenomena is responsible for sun pillars both below and above the sun. Here those ice crystal plates fell all the way to the ground.

You see them on the road as bright sparkles.

Location :Trail Creek Road , 9 miles east from Rt’s 59, . Northeastern Wyoming, Campbell Country looking west up into Montana.

Title: Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

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Belt of Venus Red Hills

Belt of Venus Red Hills
Belt of Venus Red Hills

Belt of Venus Red Hills

Looking west During Sunrise instead of at the “main show”. I look over my left shoulder, the “Pink Belt of Venu”s variety of Alpenglow DOMINATES the back show.

I wonder why they call those mountains the “Red Hills” ? 🤔🤔 Humm…

The Science of this.

The Light Version:

The Pink Alpenglow known as “The Belt of Venus” is literally the back screen of live real IMAX theatre screen I live surround by. Only the longer more penetrative red/pink rays of light make it through all the atmosphere to the relatively light grey / opaque atmospheric ice present. Here the BOV is working it’s way down’ on the Red Hills. The ice refracts and reflects even more red back to my fancy photon capture boxes. The red rocks on the hills are also adding to the effect of just the debris apron up of the Mountain. It is exposed to the sun over the shadow of the horizon behind me as the red light moves down the peaks. Technically the sun has risen for some places and not for others. I am standing in deep shadow as is the 40 mile wide valley in front of me.

Geology:

Between me and that ridge is the Little Powder River Valley with the Montana/Wyoming border somewhere in there. That little 6 foot wide river removed all the sediment between where I stand and those mountains all by itself. No kidding. I wonder how long that took a spring flood and yearly freeze thaw cycles to break up the bedrock so the river can haul sand/silt/clay most of the time? Geologic time is a difficult concept to grasp.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Both Wyoming and Montana are in this image. Looking West.

Belt of Venus Red Hills

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Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight

Snowy "Red Hills" Twilight
Snowy "Red Hills" Twilight

Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight (dark environment low light image. )

I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.

Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.

The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).

Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana”. 3×2 aspect to 3 feet.

Title: Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight

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Landscape View to Red Hills

Landscape View to Red Hills
Landscape View to Red Hills

Landscape View to Red Hills

Let me start of by saying I LOVE trees growing out of rocks/boulders. This area on our ranch has a few trees demonstrating this phenomena. Where they grow the roots break up the much larger rocks under them into smaller rocks. I’m slowly starting to make a map of these in my head to refer to when the lighting is right. Heavily veiled skies as above are really good for doing perspectives and frames with foreground objects as this. Trees have their own attractions of course being the natural frames that they create are often better than the sunset/rise behind them lolol.

This is a view of the “Red Hills” (Their real Name). 40 miles distant on the horizon looking almost straight west.. Being a very wide angle lens capture, those hills on the horizon appear smaller here than they would look live. Your eye is naturally equivalent to a 55 mm lens. This image is at least 90 degrees wide at 24mm .

The scene in the sky was actually quite bright which made it hard for even the best camera technology to get the detail in the shadows. I run into technological brick walls all the time working outside or on the edge of the envelope of the light I see up here. Mostly my solution for it is to expose the highlights correctly and worry about the shadows in the digital dark room.

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

Title: Landscape View to Red Hills

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LongHorn Moon Mountain Perspective

LongHorn Moon Mountain Perspective
LongHorn Moon Mountain Perspective

MOON MONDAY “LongHorn Moon Mountain Perspective”

I’ve officially declared this last Monday of 2019 Moon Monday. As such I will post 6 of my favorite moon images elsewhere on facebook. Over the day. This morning at 6 AM was the first. This is the 9AM entry.

The Pink “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow consists of ice illuminated by red light. That light made it through hundreds of miles of similarly ice filled atmosphere. Only the red light makes it through. Here the timing is such that the red is also gracing the “Red Hills” (their real name). Make’s one wonder how those hills got their name.😜Most folks out east would call them Mountains. We live basically at the same elevation (4000 ft) as the sun line on those hills. There is a 40 mile wide river valley draining into Montana between us. Those hills are a far bit down yonder….

The full moon that morning was too late setting that day for me to nab it’s photons while in the Belt of Venus. 😔

I would say right out of the gate that making cow pies in a scene an integral part of an amazing image I trapped out in our west corrals is a skill lol. 📷 This environment is RIGHT at sunrise ongoing over my shoulder. The cattle are standing in shadow where the tips of the “Red Hill” are getting illuminated. Our place is in morning shade for about 20 minutes after sunrise. There is a big ridge to our east (Ridge 1) that I work photographically for it’s 180 miles skies east-west.

These are Corriente’ Longhorns. The lineage was first imported into the Americas in 1493. They are tough guys and olympic quality athletes all. They take very little care but go where they want to. Fences are just inconvenient to them if they really want to go through. They use those horns. Smaller Corriente’s boss much larger cattle around easily and routinely.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: LongHorn Moon Mountain Perspective

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Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge
Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Winter leaves a few nice scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have so many choices where to point my cameras. There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow. I am always trying to adhere to those rules. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and vertically. The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. The Visual tunnel to the mountains 40 miles distant is just above center. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”. So I clicked lol.

Those are the “Red Hills” off in the distance. We actually have more snowthan in this image as I type this. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface. Coating everything.

This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is very close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.

2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

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Back Country Umbrella

Back Country Umbrella
Back Country Umbrella

Back Country Umbrella

I often find Deer beds under trees suring snow storm. If the snow is falling straight down, the trees act as a pretty good umbrella to keep the white stuff off. It’s common sense (which deer have a lot of). Any shelter in a storm is better than no shelter.

Lone trees on a ridge are romantic figures up here. Battling the worst that the environment has to offer. 80 mph winds, -30 degrees for weeks (historically since I’ve been here) and terrible dry spells. These lone sentinels are king of all they survey. They don’t grow very fast. This tree is at least 100 years old. I suspect the big ones are several hundred years old. This fellow happens to be sitting on a fossil microsite. Just on the other side of the ridge, bare Hell Creek/lance Sandstone outcrops with large chunky dinosaur bone fragments weathering out. I even found a pretty nice toe bone from a hadrosaur there. I left it under a rock I found it next to so it’s out of the weather. can show it to a few random folks that happen to make it up here for the discussion.

The ridge in the foreground is several hundred yards out in this long distance telephoto shot. The ridge behind the foreground tree is 40 miles distant from the camera. Telephoto’s crush perspective something fierce. It’s hard to believe you can see individual trees at 40 miles out but there they are. 📷

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

Title: Back Country Umbrella

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BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder
BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. Th grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.

Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well south of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next spring again. The sun will continue to set a little more south each day until December 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.

I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder

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Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge
Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

The Crimson Twilight show this sunset was spectacular. A full sized screen is a nice thing to bring this too. The Section of the BigHorn Mountain from this location is 140 miles distant and is near Buffalo Wyoming. I’m standing across the border in Montana. It was pretty muddy up on the pass road to Alzeda Montana from Ranch Creek. I wouldn’t suggest that route to anyone at the moment. Once it freezes it’s going to be deeply rutted certainly. That is always a tough road to choose or not. 

But…. I got this shot anyway. It took me a 1/2 hour to wash off my Jeep. The mud was 4 inches deep many times…. I had to take a front wheel off to get the rock that was stuck between a brake rotor and a brake shield from…..well mud and rocks lolol. I was noisily scraping around for a few days hoping it would just fall out but nooooooo. Not a chance that would happen. I can’t see this portion of the Big Horns from anywhere on my ranch. This pass is higher but 10 miles further back from the peaks. 

This particular sky was a magnificent during the after sunset show. The large eye shaped cloud would be a good image to mirror. It would look like a masked bandit. I’m always looking for images to mirror as they can make very good Halloween Images if done properly. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Crimson BigHorn Mountain Ridge

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BigHorn Longhorns

BigHorn Longhorns
BigHorn Longhorns

BigHorn Longhorns is a capture from earlier this summer. The peach colored alpenglow and purple mountain hues really accent the rich green of the pasture. This was a very good year for grass. It was hugging the hill here. It was as high as the cattle down in the fertile washes.

Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. The purples hues also come due to ice. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I find peach colored alpenglow is not that common. I very carefully exposed that sky to match what I saw. Bear in mind that the cattle are 300-400 yards out. The first blue ridge is 40 miles out. The Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant from my lens. I had to find just the right spot in the 3D topography out here to line this up.

Both those were Bulls (at that time lololol). Now they are steers……… Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early summer day.

This is a very long 800mm lens. With an 800 from here, I can just fit the main peaks of the BigHorns in the frame from this distance. You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight. Tripods help a LOT.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorn Longhorns

BigHorn Longhorns is a capture from earlier this summer. The peach colored alpenglow and purple mountain hues really accent the rich green of the pasture. This was a very good year for grass. It was hugging the hill here. It was as high as the cattle down in the fertile washes.

A result of atmospheric ice suspended in the atmosphere, Alpenglow colors the scene. The purples hues come with help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I find peach is not that common. I very carefully exposed that sky to match what I saw. Bear in mind that the cattle are 300-400 yards out. The first blue ridge is 40 miles out. The Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant from my lens. I had to find just the right spot in the 3D topography out here to line this up.

Both those were Bulls (at that time lololol). Now they are steers……… Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early summer day. Tired of the cold I already am.

Our Corriente’ herd has intermingled with the angus this winter. They will mooch when they can . Bossy to a cow, they know how to use their horns. IF they want through a fence, they pretty much walk through it. Fortunately, the old cows in the herd pretty much keep everyone close by. THey mingle with the angus but they know they are “better” in their mind. 😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorn Longhorns

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Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands
Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands (The only shaft of light I saw ALL hat Day. )

I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming. Driving toward my ranch, I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. This road skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states.

There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. Right side of the fence is reserve, left side is private ground. There might be a few water and oil wells out there but they actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

I get the best Hoar Frost images from those geothermal ponds in the deep winter. It is a good 1/2 gravel road drive to the closest of those ponds though so I’ll only work them photographically a few times a year. If it’s -10 or lower, I’m heading that way for sunrises. Mostly those ponds are on the north side of this grassland complex. Gotta love vandalism of shooting signs. Shooting signs which cost hundreds to make, is senseless and a waste of good ammo. It’s also vandalism. 😞

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Thunder Basin National Grasslands

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Bolt Striking the Red Hills

Bolt Striking the Red Hills
Bolt Striking the Red Hills

Bolt Striking the Red Hills is a MASSIVE strike. That ridge is 40 miles distant from my Telephoto lens which was trained where the last bolt struck. Quite often bolts will strike very close to the previous ones. I look for patterns and focus on that area.

I do use lightning triggers on my cameras. These are boxes that automatically sense lightning by the pattern of flashes they generate. They Trigger my Sony’s in mere microseconds. I endorse no particular brand as the several I’ve tried all have their issues but “generally” work. None are “cheap” but then again, look what you get for your efforts. I might only get 1 in 20 bolts I try to get manually without time exposures. These are 1/4 second exposures at other settings that bring in the landscape.

In pitch dark, you just set the camera on a tripod, remotely trigger it or timer the shutter at about 25 seconds at let the lightning display. This technique is the best way to get multiple bolts. This capture however was a single discharge with multiple plasma channels reaching down. This is the kind of bolt that will start fires. Forested ground is particularly easy to burn. That ridge often has a fire call during dry electrical storms that pass through now and then.

We have a local rancher that helps as a Range Officer at our Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship in 2018 that had to leave the event. All because of a lightning strike near his ranch up in those very hills. The response of several departments along with hundreds of men saved his homestead. Unfortunately some of his ranch burned.. The grass will grow back greener the next year, I’ve seen it.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bolt Striking the Red Hills

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Sunburst Over The BigHorns

Sunburst Over The BigHorns
Sunburst Over The BigHorns

Sunburst Over The BigHorns is the solar equivalent of a nuclear burst over the 13,000 foot high mountain chain at sunset. A clear sky sun.. this was bright! The ice in the air was magnifying the sun like a projector screen.

Imagine this as a nuclear burst melting snow to vapor. This would be the scene just before you went blind ….. I think the trees on the first ridge would be smoking. You know…. Like the second Terminator Movie with Sarah Connors on the Chain Link Fence at a playground as the nuke goes off…. (Classical Reference to a SciFi Movie). I digress lolol.

This is a TOUGH light environment and on the edge of the envelope for any camera system. Looking into the sun with any gear is risky if your not using a mirrorless system and looking at the brightness ONLY on video. No direct light paths to your eyes allowed with this level of brightness. No DSLR’s. I look through a video eyepiece to set up my camera for captures like this. The term STUPID bright comes to mind lol.

There are two ridges visible in this image. The first lowest dark and treed ridge is 40 miles out from the camera and is called the “Red Hills”. They are right at the same elevation I live at. A long 130 miles to the high peaks from my lens.

The sun looks so big because the ice in the air projecting plus the distant mountains are really very small on the horizon while the sun is the same size. Further back, the mountains shrink but the sun looks bigger due to perspective. Telephoto lenses CRUSH perspective looking at an area of the sky the size of your thumb at arms length. Then they fill the image frame with it in high detail. Optical Zoom is FAR superior to digital zoom. FAR!

2×3 feet

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunburst Over The BigHorns

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Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

This is a pull back as your eyes would see this scene at around what a 50mm lens sees of a Big Sunset Over the BigHorns Mountains. If you were on my ranch watching from 130 miles distant.

I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing. I’m standing a few hundred yards north of the Montana/Wyoming border to take this so it’s across the state line.

This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.

Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys).

The mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Sunset Over the BigHorns

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Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge
Perpective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Some winters I work pretty hard to get up into the high backcountry in winter. I’ve never gotten stuck though there have been a “few” moments when I thought I might. Not to worry though as I carry a radio. I also keep properly dressed for conditions, This isn’t my first rodeo up on those ridges enjoying all kinds of weather.

I’ve been up there when I was navigating by instinct before. It can be totally pitch black. You actually can’t see yard lights up here as literally no structures are out there. If you get lost, find fenceline and follow. Having a compass can save your life. I don’t trust GPS at all.

The view is in Wyoming looking north west across the border ant the last ridge called the “Red Hills” which is 40 miles out. Between here and there is the entire width of the Little Powder River Basin with the Prairie Dog Hills before the flats in the foreground (my place. ).

This image was taken with me standing in Wyoming but looking Northwest to the Mountains in the distance. I’m literally living in the borderlands.

You might not that there are no man made structures visible anywhere. Within the frame is roughly 300 square miles swept over of snowy landscape. You have to love winter up on the ridges. I actually plow a two track ranch road so as to get up this high. Before you think I’m a nut, (I am), I do carry a couple of good radios/shovels and supplier. I am always able to contact with others while I “run up the hill”.

Nobody likes up this high as there is literally no shelter up here. I do know of an old 1920’s collapsed sod roof house with a model A carcass nearby up here. This is a north west slope which means the wind funnels up that valley right about to this point. Not a good place for a house. Too much wind to live on the ridges and worse here in this funnel. It’s also further to water up here. Tough place to Pioneer in. Those early settlers were tough stuff.

Location; “Ridge One”, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

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Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon

Red Barn, Hills, Road and Moon
Red Barn, Hills, Road and Moon

The Red colorcast here (pink really) pushing through hundreds of miles of atmosphere gave a “Belt of Venus” accent to the already Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon.

The Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out. With the moon being a bit further away at 239,000 miles as a result it’s slightly squashed by the atmospheric lens effects. This is about 4 miles from my ranch.

I imagine a red truck parked in the red barn. Soon driving on the red gravel road to the “Red Hills” (their name). All the time with the red moon to lead you. This was taken from said red country road. That is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here.

The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. Anything under 2 hours is considered pretty close by up here. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association and is managed under that operation. The old buildings here were built out of locally obtained. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand.

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

Title: Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon

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“That’s No Moon”

"That's No Moon" Star Wars Refrence
"That's No Moon"

“That’s No Moon” is a classical quote an early Star Wars Movie. If you know the reference, you could be my friend 😜 Every special operator ever minted knows it lolol. You know who you are.

The far Ridge is the northern Big Horn Mountain Range at 130 miles out , it cuts the moon off a bit above the green treed ridge. That ridge is the Red Hills at 40 miles from my camera. The foreground landscape is about 8 miles out from my camera.

This is moon set not rise so technically the quote above wouldn’t apply lol. There is only a few opportunities a month for images as this. Mostly you just can’t see the moon through all the hazy atmosphere at the horizon.

I’m actually looking across the Montana/Wyoming border to get this angle. I was indeed lining up that foreground mountain hump with the hump of the moon. I actually think about abstract stuff like that but it does get over demanding this bad case of OCD I have. lololol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “That’s No Moon”

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Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the BigHorns
Winds Over the BigHorns

Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:

I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.

That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.

Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.

Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.

This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.

This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch Wyoming/Montana

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Overlook to the Red Hills

Overlook to the Red Hills
Overlook to the Red Hills

I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture up on an Overlook to the Red Hills. As you can see by the grass, its quite windy at this moment. I’m in the shadow of a big cloud looking over the Little Powder River Valley to the Red Hills from thisoverlook. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. Antique Deering Seeder with a View

This 1930’s Deering (IH) Seed Driss has been up here a while. It has view that reach 180 miles horizon to horizon easily. This old antique planted much of the grass species in many of our hay fields generations ago. Progeny of those 1920’s seeds still populate the local grasslands today. It’s in pretty rough shape with animals rubbing against it every year, weather, freezing/thawing being the worst on the wood. This will be here another couple of hundred years as the steel frame is quite intact.

I can’t imagine the sunsets and views this old soldier of the ridge top has seen. It’s seen weather fronts, meteor showers, comets, sunset/rises, twilights, storms, lightning and god knows what else . It’s been watching roughly since Herbert Hoover was president after all. That’s a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery

We just got this snow storm and it’s been on the ground for a week now. Snow is starting to accumulate in the backcountry. The low areas are drifting in and are a nice trap for intrepid photographers driving about in 6 inches of snow blowing about. I am waiting for a new truck to change out my too bumpy Jeep Grand Cherokee but for now, the Jeep will have to do. No production schedule on the 2020 truck I’m ordering.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next

Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next
Halloween is About Over: Christmas is Next

Here we are with Halloween night about over…The witches are heading home…….Christmas is next.

Is that a christmas tree??? Maybe an angel?? Actually that’s lens flare which is an artifact phenomena inside the lens from really bright light bouncing about.
Another artist has convinced me that they are being used in movies now as “cool” work and there are even filters to add them to your images.

This is a natural lens flare (as it were) that I could work at positioning on the screen overlaying the background of the “Red Hills” in the distance (40 miles).

I’m trying to work these things lolo. I’m not sure what the big thing is but hey, here is a big one. Like it???😲
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil

Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil
Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil

The view from my Driveway of the Big Horn Mountains behind the Veil of a big cloud bank in the Powder River Basin. That ridge is about 40 miles out from my position and the peaks of the 13,000 feet high Big Horns are 130 miles out from my viewpoint.
This is actually a side show to the sunset on going off the right side of this frame.

We are as high elevation wise as the first black ridge (the Red Hills) and generally have the same weather as the high grounds around us. The lower areas down in the valley often has rain where we get snow. We call this place.. “Little Siberia” and that designation has been handed down to us from the previous owners of this ranch decades ago lol. The name still applies. But we have the views😄

As I type this, we are 4 degrees (oct 29th) at 5:14AM. … It’s October NOT November yet. Winter is coming (for a classic reference).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.