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View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground
View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground

The minute I saw this scene I knew I could capture the moody nature of the stage show unfolding in front of me. I love low light color when it comes out from it’s hiding place. There are so many areas of zen up here to anticipate and pursue. Even in flat light….

The sky leading up to this was mostly overcast. It is a bad bet/ use of time to go out with cameras. Each time I go to take pictures these days, I put myself further behind finishing the rest of my portfolio. If your new to my work, I’m only about 3700 portfolio images yet to finalize to current standards. I’m one page at a time, 4 a day building and posting “Pages” for several eventual books. Each Image I produce/post has at least a 250 word narrative. 1300 + finished pages contained within that web based “book” currently on line . 👀 I try to keep busy. lolol.

It’s easy to work with skies that are textured and complex but flat grey presents a serious challenge. To bring the colors that were vibrant in the flat light into a mechanical/electronic contrivance is a complex task lol. Several computer algorithms process images inside the camera even though I only use manual settings. I haven’t used anything auto on my cameras for years. I really don’t even know how to use those features except in theory. No auto focus, no auto light balance, no enhancements. Conversions of file formats occur automatically with the digital process from camera to computer.

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

Title: View From the High Ground

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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

Reflections Melt Water
Reflections Melt Water

Reflections Melt Water

A little wind that night but it was spotty. The sky show was muted at first.

This capture was well worth of hazardous pay. The particular camera rig I use for this kind of work is about a 5500 dollar outfit. (lens and camera body). When you literally touch the water with the camera, there is this reflexive pucker of certain gastro-intestinal muscles that occurs. I instinctively pull back from such threats to beloved gear. I had Goretex™ lined boots on as I did wade in a bit for this. Never got wet feet though. I’m not sure when putting electronic gear this close to destruction bothers me but it does lolol. 🤔📸

The sky this night actually went full involvement with this sun a little later on in the time line and those images will be posted as I finish them. I actually spent a lot of time with a nearby herd of buck deer all but one sans antlers (a stag) this night.. I left here shortly after this. Worked them for 10 minutes and proceeded back to here for the rest of this show off this reflecting mirror.

Yet another Blue Image from me. I have done 3 in the last week which is virtually unheard of. Not sure if it’s a mood thing or not but it’s definitely happening.

Be safe all and enjoy all the TV time.

Gear (Sony Alpha 7R4, Sony 28-135 G series lens. ).

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water

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Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky
Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

A remote backcountry gravel road leading up to the sky in the distance sets the stage for this Sky show that morning. Actually I had worked this sunrise over that hill with a box o’ cameras for the previous 2 hours. It was an AWESOME twilight leading up to this “don’t forget to look back” shot. I was heading back home when this vista appeared in my mirror. 📷

Late Winter up here in the borderlands of Wyotana harbors a problematic lands use discussion. My access to the backcountry pretty much limited. I only allow myself on county roads for general photography this time of year. I don’t want to RUT up the trails. UGGG to people that do it. The spotty snow is interesting but the fact that it is melting makes MUD. Mud will keep me out of the backcountry. There are areas of very slick when wet Bentonite. Bentonite is known as GUMBO and will stick a loader with tire chains never to be recovered in this country. You don’t want to wander onto ground you don’t know about as you might not drive out. I’ve found areas that I was very lucky to get out before so I avoid it now. IT’s VERY soft at the moment …..😔

The red crushed “clinker” roads we have here are best photographed wet as it darkens/reddens them. They do add some character to the image. The clouds this particular AM were all subject to under lighting while the sun was effectively filtered to my camera by the thick cloud band obscuring those fleeing photons. I’d say I’m a mile from the crest of the hill.

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

Title: Sunrise Road Wyotana Sky

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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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Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn
Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Going up this hill leads to this 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? )

Pretty Frosty in this capture lolol. This is the result of 4 days of freezing fog. Days of below freezing in March 2020. Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of this ridge is a favorite summer lightning observation high point. Of course to photo lightning, you want to be in a metal vehicle high on a ridge right?? 🙃

This is also the “Closest” high point to my driveway. I can see the east y horizon from here. I CAN’T see the east horizon from my house. It’s about a mile from my front door to this spot. The two track to here isn’t easily snowed over by drifts so I use this hill some in the winter to see what’s going on.

Winter has a dramatic effect on where I can and am willing to travel. I haven’t had to walk back yet. The new Ford Raptor is pretty capable but snow is snow. This winter is not over yet. There are a lot of snows between now and when it will get warmer. lolol. We will have our share of 1 foot dumps this winter I’m sure.

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

Title : Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

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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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I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry
I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry

What are the chances of finding a heart in the barbed wire miles from anywhere?

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Catching a virtually veiled twilight took considerations for the conditions. . The horizon dropping, exposing the sun with time. It’s civil Twilight still.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded). Twilight is by far the best time of the day for photography. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings.

I’ve seen few aurora but I’ve seen so many twilight sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green at 557 nanometer wavelength. There is little of that hue in any twilight that I have ever seen😜

Twilight gives me a huge variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol. This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Title: I Love the Backcountry

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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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Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter
Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Pine trees, once they loose their bark to weathering and decay, show their grain. This snag might be 50 years dead stil standing by habit after it stood here for several hundred years living. This hillside that it is on protects it from as much cattle pressure (rubbing/scratching) as it would get on a valley floor. The spiral grain is the tree being twisted by the winds pushing unequally on the sunny side versus the less dense shady side of the tree. The winds will gradually turn the tree into a corkscrew. Inexorable force over a long time is the reason for the spiral growth. I point out that the ground UNDER the tree has worn away on this slope which is testimony to the rate of erosion of Cretaceous age sand off this 45 degree slope. .

Nature does many things we don’t think about unless we look below the trees skin (bark) to it’s structure. I know of quite a few of these trees. Usually they are broken up pretty badly. This one is “well preserved”. I’ve tried this angle a few time. It’s pretty difficult to get the close far perspective to work on this hill slope.. I still needed a sense of the 40 foot long snag. I did have to wait until the sun went behind that little cloud to take the edge off the lighting. This was still pretty early a few minutes after sunrise. Blocked mostly from the sun I usually work with doing perspectives. This cloud comes along and makes it all possible 😜📷

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

Title: Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

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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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Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns
Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” from my position. There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. This the third capture finished from that encounter last spring. They were quite close when I caught these three moving out. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee (At that time). . I had been watching the group on a hill top 300 yards away for a while. They all ran toward me in an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a dozen images from this close encounter.

The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them. When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal would move. Stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. Say 15 minutes.. and it always doesn’t work…

I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults. This group ran by my Jeep within 20 yards. Now could get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns.

If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. One time I was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me. I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their (2 animals) hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

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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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Sunrise over NE Wyoming

Sunrise over NE Wyoming
Sunrise over NE Wyoming

Sunrise over NE Wyoming

The Three Missouri Butte volcanic neck complex to the right horizon, Add the Devil’s Tower and the Bear Lodge Mountains to their left. This early morning shortly after sunrise on the Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming was clear sky. I’m less than 4 miles to Montana over my shoulder.

Alpenglow was lit up by the low angle far traveled light. Those colors surviving surviving the atmospheres gauntlet are yellow and reds. They are the only light to make it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Only then they refract off ice to my camera. Resultant this color scheme. . A yellow sky in the morning is a VERY common thing in the winter. This is a view toward the south west . From a high overlook for sure. Light snow this spring so far as is evident.

This wonderful location which overlooks MOST of northern Crook County in Wyoming with the Bear Lodge Mountains coinciding with the South Dakota border. A REALLY big area covered in this wide image. I must admit that I like panoramic cell phone camera images very much. Handy as heck. However they will not quite be the file size that these Sony Cameras give me up to 60 meg jpg’s. This is close to a 90 degree arc in the corner of the county so this is pretty much about 1/2 of the county under this photo. The Bear Lodge range is around 80 miles distant from this spot. This is still big country out there.

The air was crisp and clean as can be.

Location: Trail Creek Road, The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming.

Title: Sunrise over NE Wyoming

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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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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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Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset
Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Windy Bent Grass Sunset

Walking along the ridges, I experience many different weather scenarios. Liberally exposed to the 14 mph average windspeed up on the hill tops the vegetation that lives there is either very flexible or tough as wood. When the wind speeds approach 40 mph, grass will lean over pretty far. I’m not sure what the exact wind speed was but it was buffeting me fairly hard at this time. Wind in the summer is benign mostly with only dust and pollen being carried along. With a Heavy wind at this temp (about 10F) , you feel EVERY crack in your armor.

In the winter the “feeling” of the wind has a different feet entirely. I spend a great deal of time walking ridges looking for tiny areas worth of your/my attention. Toward my “cold armor” I have chosen particular clothes that protect me from the elements carefully chosen over the years. I have winter layers plum figured out having worked this extremely variable environment for decades. Sure I have snow mobile suits and Carharts. I Way prefer insulated Goretex™ pants over merino wool legs, with 4 layers up top. From Synthetic to wicker to Goretex™. If you get too hot, you just peel a layer. If you get too cold, you freeze your ass off until you get back to shelter lolol. Goretex™ boots and good socks occasionally with gators over my calves depending on the weather. I use Wiggys parkas out on top of my normal gear for sub-zero work down to -20 most winters. Usually Bombers Cap with Coyote fur for really cold weather.

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

Title: Windy Bent Grass Sunset

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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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Backcountry Spring Wildflowers

Backcountry Spring Wildflowers
Backcountry Spring Wildflowers

Backcountry Spring Wildflowers

I’m a terrible botanist from an ID standpoint. I THINK the orange flower is a pea of some kind. The lupine is widespread around the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

This little stand of zen certainly has not been seen by other humans since the bloom is quite remote. There are wild places like this all over this country. It survived unmolested by any but me capturing it’s reflected photons. That is known as fairly non-invasive contact.🤔🌲 I did have to stop on a long existing game trail that I was following then lay down to take the photo. Cattle and wild Ungulates only have seen this until now. I mention in passing that you want to examine the ground before you lay down in this country. Between the Prickly Pear Cactus and the Cattle, a little look before you lay down is smart…

Previous forested, this ground was burned by a fire in the late 1930’s. A summer thunderstorm started it. No body to fight it but the locals protecting buildings with dozer fire breaks. No country fire suppression was in operation at the time. So it proceeded to burn till the first snow. I’m always finding old snags or low stumps in the backcountry. Running over a 90 year old sharp stump driving in the backcountry chasing cattle in an ATV is usually a bad thing. I’ve literally seen a fire hardened stump stuck through a tire before. You don’t carry a spare on an ATV lol. I travel by myself in the backcountry but I do carry two portable radios just in case. I definitely keep my eye on the grass IF I get my rig off trail to chase a cow about.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Spring Wildflowers

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Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss
Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss

ART… 2’x3′ aspect. (Illusion)

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

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

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

Image Source:

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

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

Title: Cathedral Floor by Frank Bliss