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Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun
Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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

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

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

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

Title: Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley
Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.

Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.

Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these

Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.

Title: Sunrise Over Foggy Valley

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Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight
Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge Under Twilight

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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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130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns
130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns

Imagine what a pioneer traveling to those peaks with an ox cart thought when he saw this vista. 🤔👀

Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.

I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains. Closed to the sun that window was that night. It hid far to the right off frame. The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange colorcas. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.

Only lasting a few minutes. The sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this month of the ranch which will slowly work their way into my work flow here.

The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: 130 Miles to the BigHorns

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Channeling Japan in Wyoming

Channeling Japan in Wyoming
Channeling Japan in Wyoming

Channeling Japan in Wyoming

Lone Trees and Large Suns are in an of themselves, each worth of pursuing with a long lens. (1200mm). 300 yards out,. With the dramatic veiled sun and clouds in front, I was able to pull a Japanese scene out of this light.

This Isolated Lone Tree actually has a fossil site at it’s base that I’ve not collected much. I just walk around the surface there and I have not dug. I even left a caudal (tail) vertebra under a boulder there so there is always a fossil to find there. If you were astute looking around you might see large chunky bone fragments coming out of the sandstone in a small outcrop under the ledge to the right of the tree. I keep this place native for the rare person(s) I would take to this place. One of my 4 rifle courses for the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship surrounds this hill top.

I have a theory that is certainly just anecdotal. I believe that the soil types derived from the underlying sediment from fossil sites is easier for this species of pine tree to grow in than surrounding soils. MANY of the small fossil sites in this Cretaceous Sandstone Country have either a big majestic Snag laying around or a tree growing just above the fossil site. It is a “working” theory in the jargon of science in that I’m always trying to observe subtle nuances

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

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyoming

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Windmill Cutting Cheese

Windmill Cutting Cheese
Windmill Cutting Cheese

Windmill Cutting Cheese

It’s a Moon Monday ! as this posts.

Narrowly avoiding disaster, I talked the Windmill from cutting into that cheese… Save the moon yet again. GOOD thing I’m standing up wind..👀

“Sneaky Pete”the Windmill here provides a perspective regardless of his intent to photo-bomb this moon capture. I have no control over his actions. He just likes the attention. He and his bigger older brother “Re Pete” live and work here on ranch. They seem to work their way into my landscapes way higher than the statistical average compared to other ranch creatures. 😜😜😀 Windmill Weekday Windmill Junkies Unite : 🤘

Photographic Musings:

Manual Mode Phobia: (You know who you are) ….📸

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 basics a few times and will 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 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)

Windmill Cutting Cheese

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Clouds over BigHorn Mountains

Clouds over BigHorn Mountains
Clouds over BigHorn Mountains

Clouds over BigHorn Mountains

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight. The sunset is far right off frame looking from the Montana/Wyoming border to the southwest toward the range.

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight. When the alpenglow colorcasts the snow on the Mountains, I get interested 👀📸.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. Orange here is a mixture. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. 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. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

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

Title: Clouds over BigHorn Mountains

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Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

Moon Backcountry Post Sitting
Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid before lifting off the backcountry folding chair it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean it only moved after I pointed a camera at it… This color is it’s “Blush” of “being caught” sitting down on the job I suspect. I’ve seen a red flush before too. Easily flustered I think… 😜📸

I catch our old orbiting neighbor resting on unusual things all the time walking parallel Ridges along the shadow line. Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for.

The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 50 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography of course. You can’t walk where there isn’t ground I have found. 😔🤘

Halo’s around the moon are tough to capture. Try it…. I’ve been known to climb on my vehicles roof to get just a little more height. It would be nice to have a folding ladder from time to time too angles being what angles are. . 😜

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

TItle: Moon Backcountry Post Sitting

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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 Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks
Two Illuminated Bucks

Two Illuminated Bucks

These guys were busy grazing on the grass of this ridge when out of the blue, this big ball of fire came down between them. Separated by an apparently dangerous fireball, the rear buck realizes the problem. I’m sure he’s working out the solution to his separation anxiety. Deer take time to process unique situations so I caught him here deep in thought. 😜📷

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here. I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work.

In reality this kind of image is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event. I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows/mud of late. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Illuminated Bucks

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Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset
Buck and the Sunset

Buck and the Sunset

To capture this image, I luckily figured out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

I usually get a few attempts at ridge lining a deer or a group of deer right at sunset. The problem is always how to keep up with the moving sun. The topography controls the success or failure of such adventures.

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

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

Title: Buck and the Sunset

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Lone Tree Full Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon
Lone Tree Full Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon

When I get a Full moon setting close to the horizon and JUST enough light, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon).

The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The moon is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings: There were heavily banded clouds with the moon mostly filtered out behind the veil through the twilight.. In an out of view over it’s last hour in the sky this morning which I observed. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges.

I work the “Shadow” line on the opposite ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A partially veiled moon behind this tree is a common occurrence. This is low low light to catch that tree pre-sunrise in mid-civil twilight.

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

Title: Lone Tree Full Moon

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Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART
Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART

Art then Science:

The chill of the upcoming winter was in the air. I captured an old soldier of a wildlife tree. Heavily used by Wood Peckers and Flickers to hunt in for grubs. It oversees/overllows all on it’s high backcountry ridge redoubt. A safe nest for a dozen creatures. Within is a rest from the relentless high ground wind. A rest here for this Great Horned Owl while the rising moon lights up the scene. While dark to our eyes, the extraordinary night vision of the hunting raptor (and my Sony Alpha 7RIV) pierce the darkness. 😜 📸

Did I mention the above is art. The moon just by itself is a 16 image composite. I own the owl silhouette and the snag/twilight photo. Took me a bit to do this well. 🤔👀 (Landscape up to 3×2 feet)

Now the Science:

The owls perception of the night world and need to detect the smallest movement a trait of the species. This would be a real world nocturnal and uncommon encounter. I’m ignoring the limitations of physics and gear to get an image like this require it’s construction in the digital dark room. This scene has happened millions of times however. They would be REALLY hard to catch in the real world. It’d take a heck of a lens to do this at maybe 500 yards out. Having said that, if this ever unveiled in front me in the real world, I could certainly capture the image. That is, if I were given about 5 minutes to get into position/set up lolol.

While active during the day at times, they habituate the darkness and are totally apex predators in this environment. Just to stress the point, none of this would be happening without the moon. (Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).

The moon is our planets protector. It’s mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)

The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary for stabilizing the Tilt of our planet like a huge slow motion gyroscope. Scientists say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky. Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸

Title: Moon Owl Composite ART

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Full Moon Tree Trap

Full Moon Tree Trap
Full Moon Tree Trap

Full Moon Tree Trap (Precision Framing)

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod. This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.

Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this 📸

It takes a Manual Mode setting to do this folks. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of F-stop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitivity) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 It takes a lot of focal length in your lens to do this.

. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet wide from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Not a crop.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Full Moon Tree Trap

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Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

(Crimson Alpenglow Close far Perspective #2 in this Yucca series)

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads/distracts the viewer. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the too bright scene on your retina. A quick thought of eye damage, you blink. Over a minute later, your vision probably would come back.

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about.

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. Click!

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

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Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge
Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge (Rare Halfie

The “thin layer” of Yellow Alpenglow colors the floating ice above the rising horizon covering the sun. This sets the stage across the middle of this “halfie”. I maybe take 10 ‘halfies” where the horizon is 1/2 way up the frame a YEAR. This capture won over my better instincts as it has such a big perspective. Leading lines are incoming in all directions. I think all the good things compositionally in this image over come the general rule against “halfies”.

“There seems to be no doubt that the vast quality of mutton can be grown here, pound for pound, as cheap as beef; and, if so, then sheep-raising must be profitable if cattle-raising is.”

Silas Reed, surveyor general of the Wyoming Territory, from his report for 1871.

It took a while for the notion of raising sheep to catch on out on the frontier. Eastern states and Ohio raised most of America’s sheep early on in the migration west. . Small numbers of sheep arrived in Wyoming as early as 1847 according to Levi Edgar Young’s The Founding of Utah, a Mormon pioneer company that left Omaha in July 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 19 included 358 sheep.

Back to the present. The stone Sheepherders Cairn just to the right of the sun has stood perhaps for 100 years acting as a marker or boundary point . Sometimes they were a place for a supply drop for the backcountry solitary herder hanging out with the sheep. The herder protected the sheep of course from coyotes/lions/other predators. They usually lived out of a covered wagon for months at a time literally alone with their flock.

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

Title: Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

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Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show
Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show

Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.

I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.

The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.

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

Title: Crimson Morning Sky Show

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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

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

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

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape
Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.

Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms

Photographic Musings.

This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.

The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)

Title: Moon Light Only Landscape

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Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree
Moon Nesting in a Tree

Moon Nesting in a Tree (moon Monday all day)

Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.

Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔

Back to my normal programming:

Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Nesting in a Tree

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Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black
Moon Rise in Pitch Black

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

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

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

Rule of 600 in Star Photography:

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

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

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

Title: Moon Rise in Pitch Black

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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.

From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:

Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.

I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.

I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass
Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

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

Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.

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

Title: Crimson Sunrise Mountain Pass

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From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came
From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came

Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…

Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.

I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.

If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.

Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.

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

Title: From Whence I Came

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Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade
Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Up here in the backcountry I use what ever is handy to reduce the glare from that big Light Bulb in the sky.

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings:

The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.

There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass in front of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….

Disclaimer:

Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.

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

Title: Lone Tree Lamp Shade

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Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge
Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge (Cellulose Filter/Tree and all that)

As I’m walking along a parallel ridge waiting for little areas of zen to pop up, I sometimes am satiated. A vision is not an actual manifestation but something that occurs in the mind. An apparition is a physical manifestation of the spiritual object. I’m not sure that the difference is important in the scheme of things eh?

This scene would have given Moses second thought and pause. No human eye could have peered into this lone pine tree filtered glare. You would be blinded very quickly if you tried so don’t.

Lone Tree:

Only a few of it’s pine cones have yielded children. Little pines have started up along this ridge to start the forest back again in 100 years. Most of this country is open due to a big forest fire back in the 1930’s that burned till the snows came. There are treasures here.

Geology Under the tree.

I’ve left this spot untouched paleontologically intentionally. There are copious chunky dinosaurian fossil remains in the rocks in and around this particular tree. It’s on my ground so I own them. The fossils I’m seeing don’t demand my attention as I have a more more efficient/better bone bed to work elsewhere. That tree shelters this bone site.

This site has donated a croc tooth along with some Triceratops teeth off the surface. Teeth and large chunky bone are way different sized/density. Fossil precursors are sorted by cross sectional density. Rivers sort debris like gold pans based on current velocity. I know for a fact there is a tail vertebra about the size of your palm under a rock up there. In my world, I’m not excited by it. As they ran across them. I believe fossil sites had Native American Visitors not and then. Finding huge bird like bones on the surface would have messed with them.

I left it there as a matter of respect for the site. There are many of that particular vertebra in the ranch collection. It’s not scientifically valuable and I can show it the rare visitor that makes it up there as an untouched site letting them find it on their own as a matter of their education. There have been a few. This is near one of our rifle courses so there is relatively easy access to the site. Maybe a dozen folks have been there besides me.

The rocks there are of course Hell Creek/Lance formation. A 700 foot thickness of terrestrial river sands/gravels/siltstones/mudstones etc. All riverine based fossils, fish, turtles, crocs, amphibians, freshwater stingrays, dinosaurs, mammals, snakes, avian dinosaurs, This region has some of the best uppermost Cretaceous rocks exposed in the world. Our ranch has rock containing dinosaurian remains from the end of the dinosaurs reign. Then a meteor came crashing into Yucatan Mexico and changed everything.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands.

Title: Burning Bush Ridge

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Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background
Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background

I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.

The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)

The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.

Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.

Lone Tree Golden Background

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Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands
Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Driving out to remote backcountry ridges up here in the borderlands is often the best part of the day. I’m taking roads with no other traffic to go to smaller two track trails with less traffic. 😜👀 Then I usually have to climb up on a ridge to get a view of the horizon . I live in a world of parallel ridges. Deep dissected gullies divide the high ground into distinct highways around the area. You generally try to travel the topographic lines around a hill side. Going into the valley and back up isn’t necessarily an option in this steep country. That far ridge sits 200 feet above the bottom of the gully between us. There is an old saying up in this country of: “you can’t get there from here”.

Now “You can’t get here from there” is a ubiquitous saying around Wyoming. Most places settlements / communities have only one way in and at most 2. The roads around here are always iffy. While that ridge is a few miles out, it would take me 30 minutes to get on it because of the above statement.

This morning was a fully involved Civil Twilight Sky. I saw this forming up really early and bolted for the backcountry. Took me about 20 minutes to get to this point. I worked the whole morning as it was a magnificent sunrise. I don’t see many this involved.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

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Sunset Through Natures Blind

Sunset Through Natures Blinds
Sunset Through Natures Blinds

Sunset Through Natures Blind (The Furnace)

At 40 miles distant from my camera, the full sized 50 foot Pine Trees seem like brush on the far ridge. The Top of the “Red Hill’s clear across the Little Powder RIver Valley. You MIGHT be able to see a human waving at you standing on that ridge. So at 40 miles, it’s 211,000 feet to the mountains. Amazingly we can see a 50 foot high tree. CRUSHING perspective here.

The atmospheric Window was wide open between here and that ridge but on the other side of that window was a slatted shade to the sun. The Shade I speak of made here of course of cloud bands.. This instantly reminded me of a window blind. Must be an “Anderson” sunset.

There apparently are 2 small sunspots on this sun which were the first after the bottom of the current solar minimum (good google phrases there). There is too much cloud cover to resolve those in this environment. I do have the technology to get good sun/solar face sunspot images. I haven’t seen any for a while lol.

The 20 inch long , 8 pound lens/camera back rig i used for this is somewhat clumsy and slow to bring into play. But to get the sun proportionally this big compared to the ridge at that distance, you have to have a long focal length. Here is a case of bigger IS better 😜🤘📸

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

Title: Sunset Through Natures Blind