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Mooning for You

Mooning for You
Mooning for You

Mooning for You

Mooning for You

I find the Moon to be quite a character of note here in the highlands. Seems I’m always finding him sitting down on the job. OK, give it a short break before the climb. I’m sure he belongs to some union giving him 5 minutes ever 30 minutes for a rest. He obviously is not a rancher.

Heck, It’s a LOT of work to climb up with all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit. Think of the huge mass that has to be “lifted” over our heads. Yet Again, I caught it sitting down on the job, playing “king of the hill”. This is not the first time I have images of this kind of on the job sitting around. Who am I to question how the moon does his job.

I bet there is quite a view up there. This being a telephoto image of a hill top 400 feet higher than my location on and adjacent ridge. This can be mountain goat country. If there were only mountain goats that lived here. Instead I have celestial objects summiting hillocks holding prime overlook territory.

Wyotana is indeed a magical place. There are many ways to look at any scene, each angle has it’s own story.

Factoid. To determine if it is a rising or a setting moon. :

If the three small craters at 2 oclock are pointing up, it’s a rising moon. If those lined up three craters point to 3 o’clock, then the moon image is a setting moon.

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

Title: Mooning for You

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W Butte Alpenglow and Crimson

W Butte Alpenglow and Crimson
W Butte Alpenglow and Crimson

W Butte Alpenglow and Crimson

That HUGE butte in silhouette(called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border 35 miles distant. I’m standing in Wyoming. You can actually see the communications towers that are up there. An 18 inch wide tower at 35 miles is what is called “resolution”. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Really high end camera backs give you very high megapixel count plus high dynamic range. The higher the megapixel count, the bigger you can print the image.

I seldom see naturally totally oversaturated clouds without me setting my camera incorrectly but the sky really was this color. I mention that because it’s looks very harlequin and un natural/odd to me. This is indeed what was down range of my lens that morning. I work very hard to get scenes to be a reproduction of what I experienced live real time. Looking back and forth between my video screen and the actual scene on almost every landscape/sunrise image is a good habit.

My process is to expose ONLY the highlights properly so as not to loose detail in them. I can worry about shadow detail in the digital darkroom. Interestingly, there was no detail in those crimsons back/bottom clouds to begin with. Nature doing the oversaturation is not that common in my experience. These cameras can usually look right through it to the detail hidden in the saturated area. IT wasn’t there to see from where I was…

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

Title: W Butte Alpenglow and Crimson

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Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters
Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.

I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.

Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.

If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Smokey Sunrise Tree Filters

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Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama
Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

This is landscape close/far perspective version of a similar image I have in portrait image aspect. It was taken at a different place in the timeline. These skies morph by the minute. I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow.

Created is a classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun was over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This was the longest day of the year.

It was a beautiful morning. Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of.

I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.

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

Title: Summer Solstice Sunrise Drama

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Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

Summer Solstice Sunrise Show
Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow. A classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun is over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This will be the longest day of the year. It was a beautiful morning.

Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of. I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.

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

Title: Summer Solstice Sunrise Show

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Meadowlark on Ranch Gate Silhouette

Meadowlark on Ranch Gate Silhouette
Meadowlark on Ranch Gate Silhouette

Meadowlark on Ranch Gate Silhouette

A neighbors ranch gate to their main entry nicely ornate with a plasma cut piece of soft steel. Rusted to a nice tan patina during the day. The gateway having stood for around 20 years to my recollection. Ranches take great pride in their entrances.

The Meadowlark on this 2:1 image aspect capture was VERY cooperative. I kept thinking he would fly away as I did adjust my position a few times. Movement after you stop is not well tolerated by Meadowlarks. They take flight (usually) as you try to adjust your position for a proper composition. This time it was not so flighty. I figure it was watching the sunset with the rest of us. I’m thinking he was unaware of the stampede occurring right under his nose.

This image meant as a diptych work of course. The timing for sunset at this particular point in space and time was a matter of just being there with a camera capable of working in this high light environment. It’s hard to understand but this light envelope was a bright sun behind a thick cloud veil. All taking place at sunset. It was an amazing occurrence to have a meadowlark sit for me to light up a composition like this lol. I’m sure it’s something “Sneaky Pete” arranges but I may never know….😜🤘

Location: Entrance to the ranch “next door” of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Meadowlark on Ranch Gate Silhouette

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Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex
Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Or so the Satirical Headline Reads…

If I go out for sunset to work the light with a box-o-cameras, I’m pretty much serious about the process. I maintain a high operational tempo all day but go into overdrive with cameras chasing fleeting light.

So I just spent a few hours out in the backcountry trying to work this sunset. I finally give up on the light and head back to the ranch. A few miles of two tracks later I get to our driveway. A few hundred feet of gravel to home to a reclining chair. But no, I saw this apparition backed by Alpenglow occurring before my eyes. Thusly the involvement of a photon trap in the capture. Picking the right gear for the situation is of course the “game here. The cowboys had T-rex’s tail totally held back by a lariat firmly set into the saddle (just off frame right), that line was sure holding back the T-rex’s charge. The helpless bird was clueless it was about to get eaten of course. The second ropin’ hand on the left was going for a leg to stretch him out.

I didn’t stick around long enough to see the hog tie but I’m pretty sure those horses know what they are doing. The cowboys around these parts are versatile. Here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, there have been dinosaur encounters of many kinds.😜 Here, the chapped ones saved the day yet again. 🤘

These are silhouettes from the Ranches Main Gate Entry. I did the art years ago and had a plasma table cut the design out. The bird was serendipity as of course is most opportunistic photography 📸 .

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

TItle: Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

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Meadowlark Singing Sunset Lullaby

Meadowlark Singing Sunset Lullaby
Meadowlark Singing Sunset Lullaby

Meadowlark Singing Sunset Lullaby

Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸

In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….

It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔

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

Title: Meadowlark Singing Sunset Lullaby

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Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals
Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :

So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….

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

Title: Graphic Sunrise Smoke Signals

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Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset
Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

Twilight is a time to look around. There is no better spot for this Breeding / Nesting Upland Sandpiper to watch the sunset. Hanging out on a fence brace with a view was a good choice I’m thinking. Topography was such I couldn’t get the larger twilight show behind the grass. I still liked the composition. I’m going to have to get a taller truck though lol.. Time for that 2 inch lift kit perhaps.

I liked the symmetry of the brace with the asymmetry of the angles by the wire versus clouds all interacting. The Peachy Creme Soda color is one of my favorite hues for an Alpenglow pallet choice by mother nature. I never know what she is going to pick but I do know that Alpenglow is one of my favorite sky phenomena. (Google it if you know know what it is).

This was taken in early July with the sky color attributed to ice reflecting the predominate color surviving the sunlights trip through the low atmosphere. Such low angle light is always tweeked by the shorter wavelengths being absorbed during the journey. No or few blues/ greens and indigos make it reflected back to my lens.

Photographic Musing:

Close far perspectives are a challenge in low light. If your trying to do images like this, you need high F-stop setting. That will close off light which makes the other two settings important. Long exposures are your friend. High ISO will get you the photo but it will be grainy. . Manual mode is all about balance.

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

Title: Upland Sandpiper Surveying Sunset

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Crimson Silhouette Pine Ridge

Crimson Silhouette Pine Ridge
Crimson Silhouette Pine Ridge

Crimson Silhouette Pine Ridge

Twilight captures in June tend to be a very early morning rise for me. I’m thinking the night is just right at 8 hours long between sunrise and sunset these days. That makes for relatively short nights by the time I maintain my cameras for the next morning. Get up, get the dogs on patrol and something in my gut for breakfast. Then grab cam and go.

I often travel miles over two track backcountry roads to get to various locations I like to work terminator crossings. Some highpoint/ridgelines I frequent more than others but it depends on the time of year. That time of year of course controls which direction the sun is rising and setting. The sun is very far north at the moment and 2 days from the Summer Solstice as this posts (about a week after it was written on June 10th).

I get to have the sun rise and set over landscape features this time of year that I only see align for about 2 weeks. Similar short lived opportunities occur around the winter solstice as the sun rise and sets are furthest to the south. This celestial dance happens year after year. I just adjust my planning for where the “next photoshoot” is going to be based on the calendar. I run into most of the wildlife I photograph either on the way to work a sunset or after a sunrise on the way home. I’ve given up photographing wildlife in too dark an environment. Fully a waste of electrons as wildlife moves too much for low light work. The ones I do capture are rare. The wheel continues to turn if you watch.. 👀🤘

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Silhouette Pine Ridge

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Veiled Crimson Windmill Sky

Veiled Crimson Windmill Sky
Veiled Crimson Windmill Sky

Veiled Crimson Windmill Sky

There was a lot of complexity to this evenings sky up here in Wyotana. The wind was indeed blowing hard and spinning ol’ “Sneaky Pete” a good bit. I have no idea how many times those bearings have rotated but it’s millions…. many I suspect. As I type this we had a 43 mph gust and the storms that moved through last week gave us an 84 mph gust on my weather station. I now have my weather reporting station back on line. Do a search for DW1087 for my weather station live here on ranch.

Photographic Musings:

From a technical standpoint, doing this in camera with no Neutral Density filter in front of your lens is rare. The conditions must be JUST right. Anytime I point a camera into the bright sun, I’m mostly turning off the all the light valves. This gives me either crimson or burnt umber colorations. Who am I to argue with the camera. No human eye could stare at this live and work later.

Problem/obfuscating factor:

I wanted to blur the windmill sail. A fast shutter speed will freeze it in it’s track and reduce light (less light is good here into the camera). It’s all about balancing these three things. But to blur such a thing, means 1/15th of a second which is VERY LONG in bright light. OVERPOWERING BRIGHT = hard to do right. Balance……3 things…..Shutter and:

Camera Sensitivity to ISO 100. Faster shutter speeds reduce the light coming in too. (you need to)

Leaving F-stop (aperture/iris size) to consider. I want a close far focus with this telephoto so I’m using F-36 (a high setting for a 400 mm lens). Higher the F-stop, = less light BUT deeper focal field. That means the depth of focus will have both the windmill and the distant sky/horizon in focus). Sort of a requirement but not a problem here. I only use 1 of maybe 10 of these I take….. Hard to do.

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

Title: Veiled Crimson Windmill Sky

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Spring Twilight Color Gradients

Spring Twilight Color Gradients
Spring Twilight Color Gradients

Spring Twilight Color Gradients

The stripe of orange/yellow colored ice under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the underside of a cloud deck This image was taken near the border line of Montana / Wyoming. The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is 10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics 90 degrees apart on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. There are several related discussions but that is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀

I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2020. With the drying out of my trails, I have much better access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. Those spots however are not very easy to get to 1/2 hour before the sun rises lolol. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.

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

Title: Spring Twilight Color Gradients

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High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire
High Country Sky on Fire

High Country Sky on Fire

Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. Those tree branches are very close for a telephoto perspective. I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy feathery cloud color gradient already on a remote high ridge.

Getting around in the backcountry during early twilight: Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation here. Everything else locally is lower. Having said that, we are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). I have to leave considerably before sunrise to get up to an eagles view location as this.. I extend my horizon to 50 miles to the east if I climb the right peaks. This ridge named by me as “Sunrise Ridge” but usually because I’m taking pictures of the sunrise OVER this ridge. Not FROM this ridge as this captured moment in space time presents. IT’s a way’s out from my homestead driving 2 track roads in the dark. I have excellent lights on my F-150 Raptor though.

The Dark Orange Alpenglow is caused by ice that like a gel filter on a theatrical stage, colors all behind it. This is the cause of the color reflected of those feathery wisps of a cloud deck. Photography from the remainder of this timeline was equally as good. Eventually, most twilights gradually taper to a blue morning as the suns light was higher and less filtered by the atmosphere. Blue light invades, shadows ignite with detail and dynamic range. This was early in twilight, about 20 minutes before sunrise that May morning.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: High Country Sky on Fire

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Spring Snow on the BigHorns

Spring Snow on the BigHorns
Spring Snow on the BigHorns

Spring Snow on the BigHorns

It’s green spring grass contrasted with Snow on the 130 mile distant peaks. This image is taken from my driveway here on the MT/WY border. Clearly “Nipple” butte stands 10 miles distant. The treed ridge is 40 miles out with the trees at the top of that ridge being the same elevation I stand/live. The 13000 foot high peaks of the Bighorn Mountain Chain reach far above that but well over the curvature of the horizon at it’s base. . Even further out than the range the bank of clouds stands perhaps 200 miles out from my camera.

Anything over 100 miles is a long photograph. Particularly through the low earth’s atmosphere. It take extraordinarily clear air to get detailed images of the Bighorn Mountains from this distance. To get images of the clouds well past it… That is a silly far shot. Now I take images of astronomical objects millions of miles away but only through 300 miles of atmosphere. MOST of that atmosphere is in the bottom 10 miles of the blanket. About equivalent to where Nipple Butte is….

TO find the distance to your “horizon, take the height of above the surface of your view point divide that by 0.5736 , then take the square root of that number and you have the distance to the horizon from your viewpoint. If your 6 feet tall the horizon is about 3 miles away. Works very well on flat ground… up here where there might be a few ridges around, it depends on topography too lolol.

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

Title: Spring Snow on the BigHorns

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Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette
Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette

All you Windmill junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal … I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Re Pete” the windmill surveys his domain with an unusual mostly blue twilight morning sky. Being a control freak, “Re Pete” here is intent to keep things around him in line. Little does he know that the crafty old sun will just sneak up over the hill and spoil his mood. This image is just a snip of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers Windmills for you their loyal followers. (You know who you are😜 )

I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol). Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of the still standing windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost around a 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘

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

Title: Blue Windmill Silhouette

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Turtle Butte Borderlands

Turtle Butte Borderlands
Turtle Butte Borderlands

Turtle Butte Borderlands

Twilight Over the Borderlandsis a capture standing on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill. EXACTLY 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator.

Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.

There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover “better” ground that way. Everyone walks the trail… I seldom do.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Borderlands

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Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light
Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light

This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that morning was climbing up the back of the peaks. Those clouds well past the 130 mile distant 13,000 feet high PreCambrian Cored, uplifted Mountain Range. Parts of Montana and Wyoming in this photo.

It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this photon trap. The sun was JUST rising over my shoulder. I was standing in the long shadow of the ridge I live on.

Getting to see weather move over those high ridges is a rare treat from this far away. These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide “Orogeny”. (Google Word of the day) Cloud peak is 13,175 feet. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east toward my camera. This deep basin is called the Powder River Basin.

The Powder River basin is a major source of clean burning coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns.

Those long fans of sand/gravel/silt and clay, dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. The first two sets of ridges are all Tullock, as are the hills behind them out to the Mountain range. They are all made of sediment that traveled from the Big Horns when they were MUCH taller.

Major Mountain Chain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from continental wide compressional forces. Huge were those forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks weathering to sand and clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed all the way… well just about to my front door.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Morning BigHorn Light

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One Mornings Twilight Dance

One Mornings Twilight Dance
One Mornings Twilight Dance

One Mornings Twilight Dance

Captures like this really wide angle twilight melodrama are always a welcome eye opener . Treated to this wonderful show I was. As it turns out it was just a promise of things to come. In my travels, I’ve experienced occasional morning light worthy of capturing in my photon traps last several hours as did this show. Well into the “Golden Hour” this play continued. Unfortunately there is no universal/international rating system of the various iterations I experience of twilight beauty. I might have to come up with one some day.

Taken a full 15 minutes before the horizon dropped away. Thus exposing our star in it’s full brilliance. The attenuation of it’s glare not as intense filtering through the veil of clouds on the horizon. The withering gauntlet experienced by the light on it’s path to the cloud deck above kept the shorter bluer wavelengths back. Only the strongest waves survive natures filters. True of light as it is ourselves. Nature filters out those things that can’t, won’t or are ignorant of adaptation to the conditions that prevail up on them.

The promise of a fully involved twilight sky is of a better day to come. Though sailors are to take warning so goes the wisdom of the ages. It’s a good thing living about as far away from the ocean as we do as such rules do not apply here. (We live 80 miles from the geographic center of North America). This was a wonderful day with more images from this timeline to come.

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

Title: One Mornings Twilight Dance

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Crack of Dawn Trees

Crack of Dawn Trees
Crack of Dawn Trees

Crack of Dawn Trees

As I point cameras directly into the sun I usually get either Crimson or Burn Umber colors depending on my exposure. I’m not one to argue with my cameras on this point as I can’t look into the scene without blinding myself. I have no choice but to trust the full frame chips that Sony uses in their various Alpha 7 series camera backs used in my work.

Getting up an hour before sunrise in the summer takes some doing to motivate at times. I usually worked the sunset 6 hours before. IT takes a while to wind down after photographing sunset so the night is really short. I usually only need 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night (if I get a short nap mid day). Historically I will work 7 or 8 sunsets or sunrises in a row. In my old age wisdom, I might not work certain types of skies. Clear skies are way common and difficult for me to justify taking the time to work them. Obviously I don’t work heavily overcast sunrises.

My day revolves around photography so if I’m not taking care of ranch business and chores, I’m working images. Either taking photos up on the high ridges or going through the timeline of files picking winners/loosers. Then there is the time to finish. The hard part are these narratives. The photos are easy 😜🤘 In full disclose, I’m also looking for fossils and artifacts as I go……

Full time photography is not for the computer challenged these days. If you don’t work 3 to 4 hours a day in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would be surprised.

Title: Crack of Dawn Trees

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Bighorns 130 Mile Landscape

Bighorns 130 Mile Landscape
Bighorns 130 Mile Landscape

Bighorns 130 Mile Landscape

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

The subtle hues of this image of theBigHorn Mountains are amazing colors to cover a landscape with. It was really that color, you could feel the humidity in the air. Wet sage too.

I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains. Closed to the sun that window was that night. It hid far to the right off frame. The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in the mist. All that air between my lens and the peaks are full of moisture and dust. This at the end of that nights sky show performance. Result: a subtle low light scene with an orange gel in front over the now moist spring landscape. Alpenglow in the spring.

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

The first dark ridge is 10 miles distant. The next darker ridge in the middle is 40 miles out. Taken with a 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that size. Big lenses take place a very small part of the scene in front of you covering the cameras chip image area.

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

Title: Bighorns 130 Mile Landscape

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Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge
Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

One of my favorite antiques on the ranch is this 1920’s-1930’s Deering Seeder sitting on the toe of a high ridge. The Cretaceous Sandstones capping/covering this isolated plateau of Sage and Spanish Dagger are these hard layers and lenses of hardened sand. This hard sand/rock was cemented harder than the sandstone taken away by erosion around it. Harder due to differences in the “Diagenetic” processes that turned loose plastic sand to rock. Notice I didn’t say magic processes. Good google word for today… It’s the reason the ridge is there… Hard rock protects the softer sandstone below…

The hard cap rock this scene is built over was laid down by just one act of a 3 million year long stage show. At the End of the Reign of the Dinosaurs on the coastal slope (piedmont really) toward the Cretaceous Era “Inland Sea” Sea sediments are 900 feet down here. Above them, the Beach Sand above that marine sediment. That is named Fox Hill Formation. From the old beach is where we get our water. Above that (below me) is another 700 feet of River Sand (Hell Creek/Lance Formations) that many ancient rivers carried lazily here.

I say many because these watersheds with rivers miles wide.. (think anastomosing braided channels of dendritic sand choked channels on a massive scale. Similar to the amazon water shed. This was the last stage for the dinosaurs to live out their last moments. The coast was extant from Canada to northern New Mexico. All along the coast of that land a mere 66 million years before present.

There were untold millions of high water/flood events in the history of this land. Mountains long gone to our west fed vast quantities of sand worn from them by wind water and ice. Our Ranch lies on 14 mile wide strip of Hell Creek/Lance formation exposed on the surface. This exposed due to streams and rivers moving thousands of feet of sediment that used to be above us away. Cutting into these old beds at a slight angle. Youngest rocks west with Older to the east.

Then somebody came along and “dumped this 100 (ish) year old farm implement here giving me a subject in this remote environment. What are the chances lolol.

In my world, the past is the key to the present and the future. Integral within our processes of the present exists hand me down learning from the past. Geological process occur without our being aware of them or not. My point is understanding the past helps predict the future as well as interpreting the present.

Oh, My LED lightbar on “Clever Girl” added some flavor to this freshly rained upon dynamic sunset through a storm in the deep backcountry.

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

Title: Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

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Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise
Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

It’s called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle (not this angle) looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle shell fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not as much as on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the very remote borderlands I find a variety of interestings things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Numberous native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.

There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Backcountry Sunrise

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Dandi Sunset Silhouette

Dandi Sunset Silhouette
Dandi Sunset Silhouette

Dandi Sunset Silhouette

A Dandilion Sun filter. I use “Cellulose” filters where ever possible to moderate the glare from that ball of fire up there. Sometimes what ever is handy… in this case :). I find you are where you are with only the gear you are carrying at the time. Noted is a spring bloom of the invasive plant in the backcountry. I find isolated patches here and there anyway. Fortunately, just about every part of the plant is edible and another food source.

Photographic Musings:

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Veiled Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. I only had a 400mm lens for a “macro”. Closest focus for this lens is about 4 feet away. I’ve certainly taken this shot before and will again. It’s a right of passage for the “Close / Far” perspective students to get this one. 

Figuring it out is not rocket science but you do need to be in manual mode. I’ve heard from some that manual mode is scary and difficult. Wouldn’t know as I’ve never operated any of my current crop of cameras on any other mode. I don’t have a clue how to work them on automatic….

I would way prefer a 90mm (ish) macro lens though. The long macros work well for close ups of dragonflies on the wing … Most telephotos will take macroshots, the question is how far away do you need to be…. 😜📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dandi Sunset Silhouette

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Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light
Sun Slit Islands of Light

Sun Slit Islands of Light

A little Science this PM..

This silhouette “halfie” (almost) caught my attention for the extreme stepped gradient around the sun. I call these bow waves and don’t see them live real time very often. They are in reality natural diffraction artifacts from the thin slit in the clouds that the sun light is passing through. Ripples…. When light (or electromagnetic waves) passes through a thin slit shaped window, lightwaves ripple like water. The Physics of this moment should not be discounted. The slit was very thin, precisely what one needs for this natures “experiment”. The mind of the guy that figured this stuff out (Huygen) was right up there with the best. “Huygen diffraction” would be a good google search for you for continuing education on this. Constructive/Distructive interference of waves is the discussion which is lengthly. I’d never get it past my grammer checker (Nazi SS training in that program trying to explain all that) lololol.

So the bow wave here is literally Ripples around the Island of Light that the Sun’s Disk represents in this metaphor. Capturing ripples of light that are natural is hard and fairly rare. Note: I could do this in the digital darkroom very easily but this one is the real thing. Not a digital color shadow radius artifact. The whole discussion lies about the cloud “slit” which is the initiator of the diffraction process that provides this variable gradient around the sun. If you have a gradient like this with a complete sun, it’s the result of an artifact within the digital dark room treatment the artist (at that point) is using on his previously raw photo. (unedited photo=raw photo out of the camera). This capture is entirely unedited or I would have had landscape detail down in that black negative space.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sun Slit Islands of Light

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Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline
Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is no snow or mud on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrived this morning, it was still Nautical Twilight with maybe 30 minutes to go till sunrise. The sky starts to light up quickly from here on. , the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife.

There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken in early May. Dry year so far but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops. Looking up this hill for proper perspective, no lower yellow band yet. The yellow hasn’t made it this far yet.. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting. It’s below the camera’s threshold of Dynamic Range. My eye’s could see landscape here. Not the camera though… 👀👀📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches
Two Bucks Through Branches

Two Bucks Through Branches

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Two Bucks Through Branches

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Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun
Two Trees Trapping the Sun

Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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

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

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

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

Title: Two Trees Trapping the Sun

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Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt
Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸

SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.

Photographic Musings:

Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…

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

Title: Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

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Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette
Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

(May 2020, third/last supermoon of the year) I was fortunate to have worked them all. This month I only had one opportunity to work it against the landscape. I have 4 quality images from this month’s full moon which is about par for the course. Without a doubt this image is the best one I have obtained from this combination.

This one is somewhat similar to others I’ve taken and I’ve shot this tree many times as it’s only a mile from my driveway. However the burgundy (muted pink light) alpenglow, details in the dark and the dynamic range of this one makes my heart pitty pat… 📸📸

I’ve taken a few photos of this tree in front of various astronomic occurrences. It is indeed a lone tree on that position about 1000 yards away from where I took this image.

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon. This makes using Tripods very difficult as you have a moving target. Maybe a monopod. This however was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree.

Practicing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other tripping over sage. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.Bear with me as capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a serious challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this. This composition is a tough one to capture in this low light/long focal field combination. 📸

2×3 aspect to 3 feet. Rested 1200 mm lens on “Clever Girl’s” drivers window.

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

Title: Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

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