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Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud
Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.

I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.

I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Sinuous Shelf Cloud

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Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond
Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.

So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).

I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.

These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.

About this photo:

The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ephemeral Reflections Backcountry Pond

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Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus
Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.

Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…

Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.

This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Under the Mesocyclone Mammatus

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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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Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit
Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

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

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

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

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

Title: Mammatus Cloud Under Lit

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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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Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset
Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

Wonderful Golden Hour Sunset that night….

The science of this pond.

A lowly pond deep in the backcountry flats below the ridge my ranch is situated on. About 300 feet lower than my homestead where the Artesian Waters from rocks 250 feet underground. This water works it’s way to the surface via cracks…faults… My homestead gets water from the same formational source. But it only rises from it’s source 500 feet deep in my wells to 250 feet up the pipe. Down low topographically though, there are quite a few ponds up on this particular area as the Fox Hill Formation below is a wonderful Aquifer under pressure from up dip of the formation. Geographically, this unit stretches from Alberta to northern Colorado with analogues/ similar depositional environments further south. The western interior sea during the latest Dinosaur Era (Cretaceous) provided the barrier islands/beach for this grey sandstone with shale interbeds to accumulate.

Fox Hill Formation is a MAJOR source of ground water around big cities. BUT the water from the Fox Hill is typically diluted. IT takes purer water as it is very high in total dissolved solids (TDS). Drinking high TDS water is a good way to get kidney stones. We use reverse osmosis filters for all our drinking water. The animals drinking this are on their own and generally do OK. I did have a wonderful 7 year old quarter horse die of a kidney stone. The complications probably from drinking this water. Most animals do fine.

As the Fox Hill unit is dipping about 50 feet per mile toward the west (towards setting sun). This means that to the east it is higher giving a “hydrologic head” . The miles to the east the formation is physically a lot higher. So if you have a water bearing sandstone higher than you. Plus a crack between it and the surface, you get “spring fed ponds”. Artesian simply means that water is flowing from underground. The water flows upward to the surface because the water bearing sand is WAY above this location miles to the east. Just because water is “Artesian”, doesn’t mean it’s safe or much good to drink. It just means it’s flowing on the surface…

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

Title: Wetland Backcountry Golden Sunset

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Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus Reflections of the Storm
Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

Mammatus clouds tend to indicate that there’s a thunderstorm about. Certainly linked with heavy precipitation some where, mammatus are very impressive at times… Particularly when back lit by the sunset (slit) over my shoulder. That precipitation doesn’t always make it down to the surface before evaporating or sublimating. (Virga). Other times it dumps several inches…

The difficulty of getting enough warm air aloft means that a thunderstorm has to be rather strong before it can form huge mammatus. Often read as a harbinger of strong oncoming storms. I find they are usually a sign of one that has just passed. Aviators taught cumulonimbus cloud avoidance live longer. Particularly with Mammatus about. Notoriously, associated with severe weather, mammatus certainly mark turbulance.

While they look impressive, they have very little impact on life at the surface in my travels. . Mammatus are merely the messengers of their bigger, tougher clouds about the area. Having one pass over RIGHT as the sun passed under the cloud deck to the west

As mammatus clouds don’t usually do damage tohumans directly. They can occur around a very hazardous environment however. Scientists really don’t know much about them. While they’re not that uncommon, it’s difficult to get scientific data back about exactly what’s going on under the thunderstorm’s anvil. They certainly reflect a density change between the air below and the cloud itself. Puffy surfaces like that would indicate micro circular flow environment of trought troughs. It’s a 3D thing going on up there. Very complex as I visualize what is ongoing under there.

Meanwhile, their striking appearance and relative rarity make them good targets for conspiracy theorists. Some believe that they’re the result of weather modification programs. As most conspiracy theories, they don’t hold much water…. or maybe there is some “water” up there lolol I consider this one of the best capture of the species of cloud that I have done to date. Next summer is a whole new set of sky shows.

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

Title: Mammatus Reflections of the Storm

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Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar
Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well but not usually in a lake. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere of course . A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling like parachutes hexagonal plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about twice the angle of your normal vision.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required for this to occur. The crystals, flat 6 sided plates all. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that a pillar 5-10 degrees pillar is not unusual. This is silly tall. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

I arrived at this remote location about 5 minutes too late to get the sun on the lake. Mapped in my head now… 👀📸.

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

Title: Reflections Sun Pillar

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Windmill in a Good Light

Windmill in a Good Light
Windmill in a Good Light

Windmill in a Good Light

Alpenglow behind the circa 1920’s Aermotor water engine. The reflected highlights on that vane sure got my attention. I’m always looking for pattern and highlight popping in my cameras viewfinder. This was remarkable to see live. It’s really hard to explain how deeply these quality cameras draw you into the image as it’s being composed.

This wind generator served this portion of the ranch for generations until I ran a water pipeline over a mile to the tanks around this mill. This old soldier worked right up until the time we turned it off in 2006. To get it running, I’d have to pull the pipe and replace the leathers on the actual pump part down well. Climb the tower to lubricate everything, and replace the down the tower wooden pump rod. About 5 or 6 hours work with the right tools. A good truck winch, a pully at the top of the tower and a couple of pipe wrenches will do it.

Sunset from the point of view of a 100 year old windmill. (Re Pete). This old fellow is on our ranch about 3 miles into the backcountry via two track roads. I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol).

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill in a Good Light

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Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

Bridge Over Mirrored Waters
Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

I went to Gillette two weeks ago (now as this posts) to deliver ammunition to a local gun store. (as I build such under Federal License) Heading back from ONLY the gun store and a fast food joint….. Any how I had a stash of McDonalds Double Cheese burgers (perfect for freezer implantation for later) in the back seat under a coat. (Somethings you don’t want to go through a global pandemic without ). All warm and snug there there were .

.So I had the bright Idea of taking a backroad loop I had never been on before on the way home. It’s was a 50+ mile addition to my 70 mile trip home (burgers were fine). They were still pretty warm as the down coat was effective as an insulator. That and the back seat heat vent driving with the windows open lolol. I digress….

So I’m driving along in undiscovered country with ranch names I’ve heard of but never seen before. Most roads in this country parallel drainage. Certainly crossing small creeks presented engineers with various problems. I was going 45 (which is the gravel road speed limit). Driving past the small groups of Pronghorn and mule deer . I didn’t see any White Tail or Elk on this drive. Moving along to actually cover a lot of ground. Saw this…I tried to lock up all 4 wheels but the antilock breaks got in the way again. I’m a purist and really enjoy simple cars with real feedback but that’s another narrative…..

Anyway, this scene stood out like a diamond in a very late brown season rough. The old roadway paralleled the existing road for hundreds of feed only to cross at this point. SOMEONE was the last personal to drive a vehicle over that thing. A student of water flow and drainage, I imagine , how many spring floods or flash floods from a summer thunderstorm this old infrastructure project has stood up to. Still here!

Routing: Random… Basically, drive 30 miles north of Gillette. Turn right at Weston… drive 30 miles out of my way, turn left 30 miles, turn left 30 miles…. (Basically my itinerary for this trip) lolol.

Location: Heald Road, Campbell County Wyoming. 30 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Bridge Over Mirrored Waters

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Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon
Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon

A magical “Belt of Venus” evening up in the eastern Sky. . The sunset was 10 minutes past behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the far horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the western/opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens.

This ground is relatively easy to get to in the summer and fall as it’s on a local county road lol. This was taken spring 2019 as the snow pack started to melt into ponds as which provided the mirror for this capture. .

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the technical basics a few times. I would entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others. Just a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Title: Melt Water Evening Moon

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Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Ripples Caught in Space and Time
Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Ripples Caught in Space and Time

Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.

So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).

I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.

These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.

About this photo:

The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ripples Caught in Space and Time

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Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset
Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.

The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Reflections at Sunset

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Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show
Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on my driveway probably 15 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were windy that night, this would have been a reflective mess. I know the bottom here 😜.

This low area is part of the drainage inside my compound however . I’ve seen 4 inches of water flowing through this spot before during the spring melt. It is the secondary water course through my property. When the primary water channel is full of ice, this part of my driveway is a run off channel. Plan B as it were. lolol. My buildings foundations are a foot above this. I did the surveying for many of the structures here. I taught surveying to collect seniors in the Horse Creek Area east of Dubois.

Reflections from calm water are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.

This location is directly on my gravel driveway. Sometimes I don’t have to go far to chase the light. . As this posts the sun is setting further to the north or straight west each night after the March 19 Equinox at 9:50 PM MST. It set at 270 degrees that day. The sun is setting/rising north of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.

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

Title: Reflections Driveway Twilight Show

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Reflections Melt Water Moon

Reflections Melt Water Moon
Reflections Melt Water Moon

Reflections Melt Water Moon

It was a little windy for a reflective shot perhaps but this gibbous moon setting into a early morning setting moon backshow caught my attention. It made it through the “To Finish” Sieve I mentally put my images through.

I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled up to the rippled mirror surface of this lake in my truck. The wind driven ripples were moving smoothly across the glass surface. The scene was subdued and very blue. Blue images are not my most common production but I liked this one. I’ve been accused of being Blue Blind before lolol.

Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. IT’s also essentially directly on the Montana/Wyoming border lol. PLUS it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific and desirable of a reflecting surface. . This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Moon

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Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water
Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water

On a glass Melt Water Pond, high on a ridge that straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, this water from a nearby grassy field. Formerly snow earlier that morning, this melt accumulated very quickly. Nearly 60 degree days lately. Over several hundred acres covered by a foot of snow will fill a good sized pond lol.

So the wind was becalmed and the correspondingly glassy surface of the melt water provided an amazing mirror. It would have faithfully reflected what was beyond for the cameras. So I decided to drive my new truck into the pond and mess up the surface. (I know the bottom). One shot is all you get at this…

Driving through water:

I’ve never had a wheel slip in mud with this truck. As all 35 inch tires are in various 4×4 driving modes. Ford F-150 Raptors are complex and amazing to this old school 4×4 driver . If there is a cooler factory Baja capable truck made anywhere, I’d love to drive it. It’s perfect for what I require to get me into places where most vehicles won’t AND keep me fairly comfortable. My old Jeep Grand Cherokee would get me anywhere. It would just throw you around inside lol.

I like the view this ground has of the horizon. It has a very thin lake shore making it’s horizon band across the image. I’m very aware this is a “Halfie” which is like photographers rule #237. Never have your horizon across the Center. At least it’s level and I never worried much about rules. It’s best not to know about them sometimes as you can’t break them if you don’t know about them…. Right? 😜👀

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

Title: Reflections Over Melt Water

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Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples
Reflections Melt Water Ripples

Reflections Melt Water Ripples

I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled into the glass surface of this lake in my truck. the ripples were just moving smoothly across the glass surface. The sun was setting in classic “Golden Hour” colors when the unfettered light reaches my camera. The already bright scene amplified by the extra light from the reflection. If your chasing light this bright, you better shut your camera down to light… (High Fstop, fast speed and Low ISO). Don’t point a DSLR camera at this scene, only a mirrorless camera. That is if you’d like to keep your vision… Don’t blind yourself.

Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. Plus it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific. This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Ripples

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Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting
Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

I have very carefully keyed/ID’d this bird out with Audubon’s guide. It is a straight necked (characteristic of the species) Whistling Swan. They are seldom seen mid-continent away from the great lakes. They breed in the Arctic then winter all along the east coast, but not in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. I have never ever seen a swan in the deep backcountry. A random encounter of a rare species in these “here parts”. I could have said to it, “You ain’t from around here are ya?”.

This was last summer early to mid warm season. It was a wet summer too so the lakes were full. . I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sneak up on a wild swan on a small lake but trust me on this. It’s not easy even with a long lens. This was a long lens by the way coming in at 2400mm. This guy had something white on his beak. This is not your basic tame swan on a city lake lol.

Now I also have this guy on game trail camera captures over the next few weeks. He/She was probably nesting in some of the remote lakes up here in the borderlands. Most of this country doesn’t get much human activity. Human activity would certainly spook this wild bird. They tend to scoot off if your spotted. Getting this surprised me. I guess a little stealth paid off here. If it was nesting as I suggest, it was a few thousand miles south of it’s ancestral breeding grounds. It is a rare sighting according to the books..

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

Title: Whistling Swan Rare Sighting

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Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water
Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Veiled Sun begun, the waters of life in it’s various forms all in this capture. Vapor, Liquid and Solid all co-exist under the moderating winter up here on the high ridges. Phase change occurring live real time in this “Action” photo lolol.

Currently we are loosing snow pack and the ponds are filling. Not all melts as much snow directly sublimates (google this) in this dry climate. Melting of course accounts for much snow pack depletion in the spring.

Here it undergoes a temporary pause on a long trek to the sea. Melt water ponded up in our front yard along it’s normal course through our homestead’s compound. The snow pack preventing normal contours from flowing water to the water ways on the ranch. Remaining still is about a foot of snow covering the ground. This after a long period of 50 degree days in Late February / Early March 2020. We are low on snow this year locally. I’d like to see a few more feet till early May but at 4 inches at a time from 30 degree windless storms. I’m sure I’ll get that wish…. 😜😜👀

Living up on a high ridge mean we often have snow when at lower elevations there is no coverage currently. Drop 500 feet off our plateau to the adjacent lower drainage is instructive to the paucity of accumulated frozen precipitation this year. This situation is what I call mud / ice season, sort of a sub category of white season. Green Season is 2 months away yet. Last freeze is mid-may. The mud effectively keeps me out of the backcountry 😔📷

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

Title: Homestead Reflections Melt Water

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Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green
Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Boy I miss summer. I will say that there were some mosquitos out at this shooting. Some crimson to purple to blue gradients pop up each year but not many. I got a good one here though. The alpenglow ice that gives you summer crimson blends in like an acrylic paint into blue higher in the sky forging purple out of the mix. It’s a natural rare gradient that I see a few times a year. Real purple is much rarer in the world than you would think looking at forums. Beware of the electric blue images you see but this is a real color mix showing purple.

The grass was high, the hay bales in the distance attest to an expenditure of diesel fuel to gather each 1 ton bale. The big tree just across the inlet has a landing below it that I have several game trail cameras. They have taken hundreds of creatures from coyotes to Herons walking right in front of that wonderful cotton wood. This lake is literally miles from the nearest gravel county maintained road. I can’t tell you how many little places of zen like this exist in and around my ranch. I’m pretty sure infinity comes to mind for the time I have to spend here in my short human existence. Cowboys 100 years ago built the dam across this spring. It watered generations of cattle walking the Miles City Montana to Newcastle Wyoming Trail on the way to Texas.

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

Title: Wetland Sunset Summer Green

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Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss
Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

ART… 2’x3′ aspect. (Illusion)

Satire: (mixed with truth and a little magic).

I went into the 800 year old Gothic Cathedral (Like at King’s Crossing). we have up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch to contemplate the sunset. Or is that watching the sunset to contemplate a cathedral,,,. I am easily confused 😙. I have an imagination that starts to work with certain images that lends themselves toward this genre. When I go into the world of no holds barred photo manipulation, I certainly didn’t follow my self-imposed photorealism rules on this one for sure lolol. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy….🤓

My goal in this art work was to give a sense of standing on the cold marble floor of a darkened massive stone structure of a Gothic Cathedral. . You can hear the echo of your steps on the highly polished surface. The climax of the day is fast approaching outside the sanctuary/ rectory with the scattered light through the window leaving the shadows of the show outside to pass through the stained glass portal in the distance. Movement of the shadows / light show inside the quietude of the building was obvious to the casual observer.

Image Source:

The original image I used for this was a reflection off a lake. Cottonwood trees filter the light. I turned the image on it’s side, mirrored it, then adjusted it according to my goal of light through a cathedral window. There are many overtones of subject matter in this work. I took some time with this one. Result, A 3D perspective out of a 2D flat image.

Location: In my Graphics Workstation at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

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Both Sides of the Sunset

Both Sides of the Sunset
Both Sides of the Sunset

Both Sides of the Sunset

A mere 6 months ago, middle of a warm summers evening, a sky show broke out…. THe evening was fairly calm with a light breeze. The air contained some grass pollen, some cottonwood pollen so my nose was a little stuffy. You could feel the relative humidity climbing as the air cooled down. Traveling up and down topography, you could feed obvious temperature changes as you moved from falling and rising air.

Every Once in a while, I like to do one of these vehicle mirrored images showing both sides of the sunset (in this case). It’s a commonality that all of us share. Most of us anyway have occupied the driver seat of a vehicle or two.

The Corriente’ Long Horns were out in the middle of a big grassy I sold this vehicle December 31,2019 . I loved my 15 year companion a 2005 Jeep Gran Cherokee. It worked very well for photography of the backcountry. It would pretty much go anywhere my ATV would which is saying something. The king is “dead” long live the king.

The 2020 Ford Raptor I am breaking in as a photographic platform is performing stellar in helping me find light. (so far) Already it has gone on paths I wouldn’t have taken the jeep on in mid-winter. It is stable, allows some movement inside of long lenses. It has WAY bigger mirrors plus they move out of the way with a button’s push. I will see what I get when the light is worth trapping. So far it gets me there…

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

Title : Both Sides of the Sunset

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Twilight Over Roping Barn

Twilight Over Roping Barn
Twilight Over Roping Barn

Twilight Over Roping Barn

What beautiful Alpenglow that evening…!

Life on this ranch starting 1906-1960’s was hard. Somewhere in the Late 50’s and through the early 60’s several oil wells were sunk into a good oil reservoir. The family that was the recipient of that revenue decided to build what was then the largest building in Campbell County in 1964. A project of clearing ground for this pad started. Included was a corral system adjacent to the barm. The Pad ended up level. Literally notched into a big hill . The rocks and sediment bulldozed from the hill as a road cut on a highway. This “dirt” distributed around was old river sands so the drainage is pretty good now… This eliminated the original/natural contours and flattening out the “pad”. I understand that work alone cost 50,000 dollars to move all that dirt. That without the cost of this huge building.

A bit of Infrastructure already in the ground became deeper due to that dirt… This has been a little problematic… Now there are a few pipes that were 6 feet down that are now 15 feet down. All that ranch infrastructure works of course. We did experience a deep pipeline burst leaking water . Fixing that was a day long chore. That hole was pretty big. I’ve had to fix that pipe twice (so far in 20 years lolol).

The oil eventually went away by the mid-70’s and the oil well’s mothballed. Back to normal ranch revenue but they did effectively have a foot ball field under roof. Those hardy folks were cowboys from the start. Born and bred in the Wyotana borderlands. I’m not sure how many 1963 Corvettes that building would have purchased but I’m betting 30. At any rate having a barn with that much area under roof is a good thing. We pull vehicles in there when storms approach and have even had a tailgate picnic after calf brand cut short by a thunderstorm. There have been many calf roping events for the locals in there I’m thinking through the 80’s anyway. Probably around 100 of them would be my guess. Ropers are serious folks as it’s a life skill up here.

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

Title: Twilight Over Roping Barn

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Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond
Reflection over Farm Pond

Reflection over Farm Pond (Magic on the border)

The Belt of Venus variety of Alpenglow enhancing a rising full moon with it’s man (in the) looking back. This was just after the sun set over my right shoulder. It was an orange sky the other direction. Long wavelength red light makes it through the atmosphere to light up on the projector screen that this summer ice filled sky provided. Summer Belt of Venus is way more uncommon than in the winter.

Rising moons will alway have that face upright looking at you. The setting moon that face is on it’s right side. The moon appears to twist as it rotates but that’s an illusion. It’s actually you that twist as the earth rotates and look at the two different horizons for moon set and rise. It sort of depends on how far north or south of the ecliptic (good google word) the moon is.

Getting the Reflections of a Full Moon in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana is a matter of finding a lake lol. We are mostly a dry land ranch. A few small ponds near our well driven hydrants are sparse on the ranch. This one is no exception being hydrant driven. A ranch pumps a lot of water. Fortunately a wet year to kept this lake full all year. This was mid summer with heavy due on the grass and twilight skies miles into the backcountry. It was a wonderful drive to go there that morning.

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

Title: Reflection over Farm Pond

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Reflections over Farm Pond

Reflections over Farm Pond
Reflections over Farm Pond

Reflections over Farm Pond

6 months ago, In a backcountry far far away… (scrolling text talking about Jedi)

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This little mirrored pond is 3 miles of bumpy two track paths from the closest county road. The county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away.

I find that you “are where you are” when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then.

This lake I have seen run dry before but not this year. We were way above average moisture accumulation. It remains full through totally iced over at the moment lol. (January) . Living in the backcountry tends to boil down life to the essentials. I find that photography, simple is usually better. Wood, Water, Grass and Sun combine for this composition.

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

Title: Reflections over Farm Pond

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Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink
Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

Sunsets up here are an unfettered bright environment photographically. Using a lake as a reflective media just about doubles the light intensity. So walking down range of such things is a rough road to a good image. TOO much light…..

Photographic Musings: 3 things to adjust in Manual Mode (because your cell phone isn’t going to take this shot) Easy as 1,2,3….📸😀

Turn that top big dial with the M on top of your camera. Turn it to M. (Manual Mode)

1: F-Stop: For this bright environment, you really have to turn UP the F-stop to about as high as it will go for your particular lens. This gives you a very deep field of focus where the grass up front is sharp as well as the cattle and sky. High fstop also cuts out light. (High F-stop = Little pin Hole as an aperture. . Low F-stop = Big aperture (pupil) in the lens.

2: Shutter Speed: You also have to turn up your shutter speed to a very fast shutter which cuts off some of that light. Say 1/2000th….. (variable), A faster shutter will let in less light. A longer/slower shutter lets in proportionally more light. 1/100th of a second lets in twice as much light as 1/200th. A little speed change can make a big difference. Your using shutter speed to adjust exposure usually last but here I’d use ISO as the last variable and keep it a fast shutter.

3: Camera Sensitivity (ISO). A low ISO number is used for Bright daytime. So ISO 100 or lower if your camera will go there is usable. Really low ISO introduce noise into the image though just as High ISO. Native best choice for daytime is ISO 100. ISO 800 for dark rooms. ISO 3000 or higher depending on your camera will introduce grain and noise.

Your priorities are deep focus, and proper exposure. Set your first priority first which is F-stop for the focus and cutting light. Just two left.

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

Title: Reflections Sunset Longhorn Drink

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Eyes in the Night

Eyes in the Night
Eyes in the Night

Eyes in the Night

Nothing brings shivers to the bone like walking out alone at night, having a pair of eyes peering in to return your gaze. You are in the woods, remote, on foot, a long way to home.. maybe lost. Your phones light barely is lighting the path for you to follow on this cloudy starless night. But you see this.

A shot of adrenaline hits your system, you know you have to remain calm. The temptation to “flight or fight” becomes a reality. Consider your in mountain lion country, near the only source of water around. You start to realize your folly of not getting back in time. You start quickening your pace….

Ever been there?? 🤔👀

The veil of civilization around major population centers gives one a false sense of security as well. You never know WHAT your going to run into here.

Rabies is a very real thing up in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana were we live. There are Wolves, Bears, and Lions and a mad Bull will ruin your day. Buck Deer during Rut can be dangerous to get in front of. I’ve been charged by a deer in rut. Suffice to say we both walked away unscathed but not by much lolol. There are badgers that will kick your a** for being in the wrong place at the wrong time too I had an acquaintance who got cornered in a car port by a pissed off badger. I respect the heck out of him killing it with a piece of 1 inch PVC pipe he had lying on the work bench.

I’ve lived 20 years in the remote backcountry of Wyoming/Montana. I’m a pretty tough guy but each and every time I see this scene in real life, I get a kick just for a second. 😜

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

Title: Eyes in the Night

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Reflections: Sunset over Wetlands

Reflections: Sunset over Wetlands
Reflections: Sunset over Wetlands

Reflections: Sunset over Wetlands

I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then.

Geologic Musings:

This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface. Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book.

The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Creatceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly unfossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀

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

Title: Reflections: Sunset over Wetlands