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Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise
Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

When I drive out into the backcountry up to the high ridgelines, I never know what I’m going to find. The Rime snow coated all the grasses and fences that morning. I really didn’t notice it until the sun came up enough to highlight all the ice. The roughly 1/8th inch coating made for a late winter sunrise scene worthy of my time getting up the ridge lol.

The sun wasn’t very warming that morning. There was a good breeze from the left that cut through my cold weather armor. Wyotana here with both states in the image. I’m standing in Wyoming looking to the north east with the sun rising on the spring equinox (straight east). Here in Early April, we still have a month of winter weather possible. Last year was cold till the end of May. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July for you gardeners to compare with your seasons.

I miss chasing bees with cameras and finding Preying Mantis sitting for me swaying back and forth like a breeze. It has been a LONG winter. The seasons will change but the seclusion in this remote part of the earth is comforting in these troubled times. I hope this finds you all safe and secure in your homes. We have a 1 person per square mile population density in this country. Ranches are 5 to 10 miles away from most places but it’s still 70 miles from the nearest stop light here.

Be safe all.

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

Title: Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

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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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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

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

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

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

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning
Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning

A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.

Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes along the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀.

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

Title: Great Blue Heron Sunning

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Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow
Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

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Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea
Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea

This 2-1/2 inch wing span butterfly heard that all the store shelves lacked cold remedies/immunity builders. They were all bought out. So he went right to the source here with this Echinacea. 😜👀🤔

Callippe fritillary butterfly doing butterfly things. All upon an Echinacea augustiflolia (cone flower) is a common event up here. There are millions of both during the correct time of year about this ground. While the adults get around, The caterpillars eat pretty much eat violet leaves. There are a lot of wild violets around. Endangered are a rare subspecies of this butterfly. I don’t know if this one is in that column. We have a few of these I see around. Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. They are native/common/widespread “in these parts”.

This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant. Studies have attached the use of echinacea to a reduction in inflammation, lower and an improved systemic immunity overall. Be careful what you take Echinacea with as is good advice for all medicinal plants. DO your research.

All available Over The Counter of course. A good source of “Anti-oxidants”. There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds. Noted are claims of effects on other VIRUSES. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. (Colds are Corona Viruses just saying) Other researchers say this link is unclear. “Test tube studies” indicate it has properties lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. Whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide are claims of reducing anxiety.. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀

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

Title: Butterfly Taking Echinacea

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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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Preying Mantis Hatchling

Preying Mantis Hatchling
Preying Mantis Hatchling

Preying Mantis Hatchling

Strawberry flower just lost it’s petals (fertilized), Mantis Egg Sac lower right and a precocious hatchling first to appear…. I’m thinking he is just under a quarter inch long.

There should be a few more of these Praying Mantis Eggs about. IF I see any more hatchlings I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 1 inch away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 This was taken down in my aquaponic Greenhouse where it never gets below 65 degrees all winter. Taken about a week before this posts.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. I believe this is the 6th generation of hatches I’ve had down in that artificial environment here mid winter. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol.

Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 They are constantly moving back and forth to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds. I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but as here in a Green House , this is their 6th generation now of Mantis babies under that roof. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot tall under grade “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using no soil, just water (except for some orchids where I have some Hydroton™ nuggets involved.)

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Preying Mantis Hatchling

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Purple Mountains Majesty

Purple Mountains Majesty
Purple Mountains Majesty

Purple Mountains Majesty

Boy this is a classic Pastel Western Mountain Scene. The Big Horn Mountain Chain rises from the between basins on either side of the huge tectonic uplift. A 130 mile long landscape with the first ridge past the trees being 40 miles away from the camera. Take in mid-twilight about 15 minutes after sunset. It was quite dark considering how well this came out.

Photographic Musings:

Perspective’s with a little foreground bokeh (google this) is unavoidable working low light twilight conditions. This pastel scene was difficult to get as I didn’t have a tripod with me at that time. I was just resting them camera on a vehicle body.

The only ways to gain light in your camera working in low light is, to either 1: turn down your f-stop numbers (open the aperture up which as a side effect, reduces your depth of field), 2: longer exposure (I was rested only, no tripod so 1/10th of a second is about as long as you can do rested. That is holding the back of the camera while resting the lens on something. OR 3: Turn up camera sensitivity which will give you lower quality grainy images to gain light by a Higher ISO number. Lower ISO’s will give you a fine grained image but it takes more ambient light than this to use.

I had to give in somewhere, f-stop it was. Turn it down to f11 on this 400 mm telephoto lens capture.

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

Title: Purple Mountains Majesty

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Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss
Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss (This is an ART/PHOTO Hybrid)

Do you see things in Clouds? 👀📸 What do you imagine here?

Now that I mentioned this is art, I would point out that only 1/4 of it actually is art, the rest of it is a 100 percent real image. All work and no play make photorealistic Frank a Dull Boy. I like to follow up on the potential for this kind of work on a particular image if I get the time/chance. I usually have to make the time in the middle of an otherwise photorealism filled day. In the world of the digital darkroom, I get to play a bit. This is a slightly modified Wyotana borderland sunset from last week. One week is my turn around time now from taking an image to possibly posting it.

To create this, I took the original image which just didn’t have the left side eye. The nose is a real lens flare which I carefully lined up in the camera to the 12 o’clock position. The flare was in the original capture. So I mirrored the right eye and the clouds onto his left cheep from the original side. Then up high I mirrored the outline of the head right to left. So the left eye/cheek, part of the clouds up high. Nothing else was messed with other than color a bit. But this is art and all rules go out the window. As I was taking this, the possibilities were obvious to me in the composition stage of this capture. Long before the click.

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

Title: Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Title:Protective of the Sun

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Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Dragon Art by Frank Bliss
Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Did I mention this is art?

In this kind of work, I will take a photo I deem appropriate and digitally mirror it inside of the digital darkroom. This wonderful spotlit sunset was a real image but I instantly saw the possibilities. My web gallery contains the original image. There is a phenomena that occurs with human eyes seeing bilateral symmetry. We seemingly recognize the resultant shapes as anthropomorphic forms, mystical creatures and even familiar faces. This tendency in the human mind to make order out of random shapes, we are teaching to computers for facial recognition.

Along the center of the image is what I call the “Totem Pole”. I see at least a dozen different faces, shapes, noses, eyes, teeth, flames. A host of magical mythical creatures contained within await your study. All of these emerge one at a time as you study the shape. Relax your stare and let your imagination rip with this creation. The main one I see is a dark dragon face with fangs and flames. It’s probably just me lolol.

I did take some liberty with the hue/saturation control with this images. These shapes were natural and are un-edited in their entirety. I love finding these images. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy and this is one of my Creative outlets. My main focus in photography (pun intended) is to catch landscapes and creatures as photorealistically as I can. These ART/Photo hybrids are a release lol.

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

Title: Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

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Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights
Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights

I’m not sure what it is about this capture. It is a low light image. It just stood out to me for some reason. I finished it bringing all the detail out of that cows hide that I could without introducing artifacts to the mix. I always expose highlights properly in the camera. Then I have to deal with the darks/shadow detail in the digital darkroom. This capture destined to become a silhouette image I thought. The detail that was hidden in the shadows yielded to my gentle coaxing. I think I really like the highlights on the cow itself. Certainly I like the whole mix lolol.

The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Longhorn Highlights

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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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Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground
Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground

From the top of the pass one can see 45 miles to the higher peaks of the Red Hills. The far ridges high points are right at the same elevations around 4100 – 4200 feet as where I stand. The intervening Little Powder River Drainage starting near Gillette Wyoming runs north into the big drainage in Montana. The water droplets here flow first into Trail Creek then immediately off into the “Little Powder River. This flows into the Powder River then the Yellowstone River, then the Missouri all the way to the Mississippi. All the sand grains that used to be between where I stand and those far peaks have been removed by the above described river system. It took a few days.

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

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

Title: Belt of Venus Touches Ground

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Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

Backcountry Windy Day Windmill
Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

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

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

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

Title: Backcountry Windy Day Windmill

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Spotlight Through the Storm

Spotlight Through the Storm
Spotlight Through the Storm

Spotlight Through the Storm (2:1 Diptych) Full screen is a must here.

Someone looking over the land. This is the “Eye of the Sky” If I have ever seen it. I am certainly going to mirror this image as artwork soon. . It’s almost a perfect face now just with the right eyelid closed.

Musings about World Events:

We find ourselves in turbulent times of strife, loony political debates, pandemics, and the economic misery sure to follow. I try to observe such from as far away as I can in my daily work on the remote prairie.. The uncertainly of the change in lifestyle we are about to undergo is staggering in and of itself. It is likely that our reaction to such dangers is worse than the dangers themselves. A paraphrase of “the only thing to fear, is fear itself”.

I suspect that the general order of things will change abruptly this spring as a result of the country mobilizing to reduce the threat from this newest latest danger to our way of life. Getting prepped this ripple in society is a good idea. It “might” be about to get real. Worse prolonged.

I look at scenes like this above with the awe it deserves from my insignificant viewpoint on the planet. As a nation, we are watched over much as here from above. In the scheme of things, this societal stress is but a bump in the history of the world. I see a future historians looking back at this time as one of two narratives, two worlds and one supply chain.

Hopefully our little world is sheltered somehow by our remote location. There is certainly “some” societal stress to come. It is my hope to avoid most of the mess but it is my prayers to all in the major cities for the coming year. It’s going to get interesting. Let me know if it get’s sporty out there.

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

Title: Spotlight Through the Storm

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Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing
Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking ahead 3 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am and how fast this is happening. . The limitations of the technology 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 sort of rare these days mid winter We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-November kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backlit Bumble Bee Buzzing

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Curve at the Border

Curve at the Border
Curve at the Border

Curve at the Border (remember early summer a few short months away).

A fairly well maintained county gravel road winds it’s way through my ranch. No pretense of trying to straighten this out using engineering principles back in the day. I’m pretty sure this trail was an animal trail when settlers first came here. This image was taken directly over/at the Montana/Wyoming border just before the local “pass” or high point of this particular stretch of 10 miles of gravel. That is over my shoulder.

It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color stop light from this spot and several miles from the nearest county road. I was going for the artsy side of this winding road. The Pronghorn were barely looking up several hundred yards away grazing on one of our freshly sprouting hayfields. Green Grass is Rocket Fuel to them and every other animal grazing.

This spot is literally 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole at precisely 45 degrees north latitude (the Montana/Wyoming border too).🤔 We are also about 120 miles from the geographic center of the North American continent. You couldn’t get much further from an Ocean than this spot….literally lol. No local “Red Lobster” . It’s a good thing I have all this Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation Dinosaur Bearing Sandstones all over the place covering the ranch to keep me feeling like I’m at the beach..digging a hole in 100 degree sand when I look for fossils in the summer sun… 🤣.

We pay taxes in both states. My son went to HS in Montana, our main residence is Wyoming technically by 1/2 mile. We actually have about 1/2 the ranch’s land in either state.

Title: Curve at the Border

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BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape
BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

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

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 lighting for this was subdued to say the least.

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. The yellow is Alpenglow. 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. The width of those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here. You are quite zoomed in here. 👀📷

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

Title: BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

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Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning
Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning

I bit out of season… I need summer, right at sunset….

Chasing lIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before. They are also VERY loud I point out lolol.

I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the scene perfectly in my mind just as if I actually took the photo. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.

I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting in the vehicles passenger window on window clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt flash. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.

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

Double the Trouble Lightning

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Down Yonder by the Fence

Down Yonder by the Fence
Down Yonder by the Fence

Down Yonder by the Fence

The morning was sub-zero. That which was exposed to the wind, had been covered by Hoar Frost. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is as deep as the backcountry is big . Just a few plowed paths provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet above sea level in elevation. Valley fog pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still very spotty. I had to find a “Slit” through the trees to catch this. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

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

Title: Down Yonder by the Fence

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Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Pronking Pronghorn Levitating
Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

Catching a Pronghorn during Levitation is a demonstration of Stotting or Pronking. Relatively stiff legged they more or less pogo stick across the ground. Apparently it’s an energy efficient way of moving but not their fastest method lol.

Pronghorns are the fastest land animal in North America and pretty much hit 50 everyday around here at one time or the other lol. This apparently is an efficient way of covering ground quickly as they are moving when they do this. Maybe 30 ish…. This is harder to capture than you might think….. This is not really an everyday thing for them. Hard to capture as only once in a while do I see this. You have to be there to start with and then they have to do the behavior you want lolol. Technical camera settings are straightforward but opportunity wins every time. 📸

This of course is a summer photo as the lack of mid-winter snow AND the total absence of the Pronghorns this time of year. There are no Pronghorns on ranch that I am aware of that are overwintering here. We do keep water open but it looks like all of them have migrated south about 30 miles to the Thunderbasin National GrassLands. They gather there by the thousands for running water and lots of grass. I’ve seen individual herds of 250-300 before and they were just a random herd. I know there are bigger groups down there.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronking Pronghorn Levitating

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Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset
Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

That Ridge is indeed 40 miles distant from my camera. Those fully grown 50 foot tall pine trees . They exist on that high ridge called the “Red Hills” that the sun is “setting” behind. The “Red Hills are the highest point between my ranch and the Big Horn Mountains.

Don’t forget now… This is not a sunset but a ridge rise .. Actually the ridge is rising in front of the suns face. We are the ones that are moving not the sun in this relative geometry any how. 🤔 You know, the earth is spinning like a top….

The swirl of clouds and mists were heavily blocking the sun until it broke through at the last second saving it’s best for the last light of the day. Once your on stage, you want it again. The sun must like it because it seems to keep coming back over and over for more …. 👀 I’ve been up on that ridge a time or two and it’s about 500 feet over the surrounding ground to the west and has BIG views of the BigHorn Mountains just over its shoulder. Big Views!

Pointing Really long telephotos at really bright sunsets is an exercise in very high f-stop in the 70 (ish) range depending on your rig. You want a pin hole aperture as a wide open lens would cook your camera’s sensor chip. Shutting the camera down to light has the benefit of silhouetting everything but the bright stuff (highlights). By the time you see a yellow sun versus a white sun in my images, I’ve turned the shutter speed fast enough to only let that light register with the sensor.

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

Title : Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

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Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Twilight Fully Involved Windmill
Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

Windmill Junkies Unite: Windmill Weekend🤘

The higher you go in the sky, the longer the light had to travel to get there. Therefore, the atmosphere itself is the filter here for me. I couldn’t boost the saturation if I wanted to in this image. The yellow light down low is mostly due to Atmospheric Ice and the “Alpenglow effect it generates. So the Big Projector Screen In the Sky as certainly fully involved on this night.

The Peaks of the Big Horn Mountains off over to the right of “Sneaky Pete” the Photobombing Windmil are 130 miles distant. Rising 13000 feet above sea level. The Big Horns have two peaks over 13K ft and are certainly two of the highest peaks in Wyoming. Here as viewed from the Montana/Wyoming border lands nearish to Biddle Montana. Just ignore Sneaky, he’s just in it for the publicity. He’s notorious for working his way into my landscapes. His older brother is the same way (Re Pete the windmill) but lives a couple of miles into the backcountry. It’s too muddy at the moment to pursue his cooperation under skies like this. I would damage too much turf to get there.

As I type this (one week before it posts), we have a winter storm incoming. We need a series of 4 inch snows over a month to catch up on the snow debt I perceive ongoing up here in the borderlands.

Title: Twilight Fully Involved Windmill

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Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon
Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

My view from “Ridge 1” looking at the sun rise on “Ridge 4” which is about 10 miles distant. Working on Parallel Ridges gives you landscape ladders automatically.

The world we are living on is spinning like a top in space. Rotating around the earth the moon is albeit relatively slowly to our eyes. The appearance of the moon “rising” is an illusion. The Horizon is actually falling away fast enough that it makes a difference on long range rifle shots.

If you shoot a hypothetical “average” bullet at a 1000 yard target straight to the east, you better aim low…. say about 6 inches . If you aim to the west, you should aim high since the target is rising under your bullet. . You see to the east the target is dropping. Thus I’m saying that the horizon travels about 6 inches during the time a bullet travels 1000 yards. (over 1/2 mile). 6 inches is arbitrary as your bullet will act differently than my hypothetical one.

So the next mind game is to shoot straight north or south. You have to shoot neutrally, neither high nor low. Really long range rifle shooters use this in their calculations. Nothing like having your target rise or fall depending on the direction and distance the bullet travels over time. I’ve been involved in professional shooting for decades, trust me on this. You have to compensate at distances much over about 700 yards a little bit more each yard the bullet has to fly further. Most sportsman don’t shoot that far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands
Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands
Iridescent Clouds Over We

Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

This capture was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. Our eyes have MUCH more dynamic range than the best cameras. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.

Years ago I used to think this color in clouds was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.

This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range as our eyes do. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting.

The wetlands here are holding this ice in reserve. As it warms in the spring, the water trapped with in will start working it’s way down the Mississippi River. The catfish and what ever else that is living under the foot thick ice here waits for the melt. Everything is on hold till green season.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

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Spotlighting Rainbows

Spotlighting Rainbows
Spotlighting Rainbows

Spotlighting Rainbows I

When rain storms move over my homestead, I tend to get out in a vehicle and gain elevation to the ridges That is, assuming it’s not too muddy as I’ hesitate to scuff up my trails. In the warmer months when rain is possible, I’ll jump in my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV to run up the hill just looking for rainbows. I find that the ATV’s have a much lower impact on the native soils than do the pickups but the ATV’s beat me up much worse.

I put 3500 miles on that UTV in one year. doing back country photography. That is equivalent to one and a half times across the country. It definitely beat me up lol. . All of that milage on an ATV was mostly travel within a 20 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch with 99 percent of that NOT being on county roads. Almost all Two Track. . My old Jeep and now my new Ford F150 Raptor are higher P.S.I on the turf.

SO distinct windows of light are shafting down from the mostly veiled / occluded sun off off frame top left. The rays are lighting up some atmospheric moisture between here and the darker background as well. Of course there has to be cooperation from mother nature here. Shafts of light across a flat lit sky is not terribly common but to have all the rainbow angles line up with those shafts….. IT’s an interesting confluence of events for such a scene. I’ve never seen anything similar to this even spending some time looking at sky.as I do. This all taking place over “W” Butte 30 miles distant from my camera up in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Spotlighting Rainbows

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks
Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

It’s about 20 minutes of traveling 2 track trails to get to this location I call sunrise ridge, I set up there high above the valley just over that lip waiting for that mornings stage show. This opening act was pretty much put on for my benefit alone. Mother nature takes care of me if I tread lightly but often I have discovered. There is something about paying dues, going out to chase the light regularly will pay off sooner or later. This winter I’ve been working on a lot of my older photographs. I haven’t gone out for “common” skies of late. Worse, the mid-late January Thaw we just went through has softened the back country soil considerably. The top 4 inches of topsoil are pure soup with some grass roots mixed in at the moment lol . Right now I leave deep foot prints just walking in the backcountry.

We actually need a freeze and a series of five or six 4 inch snows over a month to entice me to go out at the moment. I’m working Wyotana roads when ever I get away from the ranch of course. This winter will be one of getting the rest of my portfolio finished and on the web. I’m mixing and matching new and previous images all winter so bear with me.

Note/Announcement:

I might have to reduce the total number of images I produce a day from 6 to 5 shortly. I’ll loose the last post of the day at 9PM and move the 6pm to 7 pm. Producing 6 finished print a day is a serious amount of work. I’ve done that every day since Sept 21. I don’t have enough time to get everything else done 😔

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

Title: Sunrise Silhouette Trees and Rocks

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B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite
B1B Fly Over Composite

B1B Fly Over Composite

So I’m driving up a steep hill to the east in my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV . That hill obscured my view of the horizon so I didn’t see this coming. I did have a box -o-cameras next to me that I had set up for the conditions. I usually keep one on fast shutter/ lower fstop and at infinite focus. The camera was idling but not full on as they power down after about a minute. They keep their settings and take between 1 and 2 seconds to become useful upon tapping the shutter button (wake up camera).

So this 200,000 pound strategic bomber crests the hill RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME bigger than life, I was driving… I saw it, reached over instinctively and grabbed a 24-135 lens on a sony alpha 7RII out of the box. I manually clicked as it wasn’t set to machine gun. Didn’t have any time. I just pointed and clicked, never looked through the lens or at the alignment. Pure muscle memory I’m thinking. No active thought involved. Luckily I managed to get these 7 captures of a 450 knot aircraft that I had no warning of it’s approach until it was on me. UTV’s are loud moving across the prairie but this guy 1000 feet over head was eye opening. Something about roughly 1000 horsepower that is recognizable at a distance but my passenger and I had no warning . The swept wing jet was moving right along as he peeled right and disappeared into the cloud deck.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: B1B Fly Over Composite