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Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset
Blue Reflections at Sunset

Blue Reflections at Sunset

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Reflections at Sunset

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Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond
Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond

The ephemeral wetlands of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, entertain many reflections every day but you have to be there at the right time to capture those photons that are worth catching…. The winds were somewhere else as the water here was mirrored as smooth as it gets. Dead calm air is quite unusual up in this high ridge line country. The ice floating on the surface of this rapidly depleting due to the warmth… Melt water pond will be here but a few more weeks. This water level is quickly dropping soaking into the Hell Creek Formation sands underlaying this spot.. There is NO snow left to melt up the hill from it. Nothing to feed it further so I’m expecting it to disappear shortly.

This nearly full March Worm Moon that evening a few weeks ago was a beautiful sight rising just a few minutes before sunset. I worked it with 4 cameras/lenses over about 30 minutes. I have a few photos to finish from the “sitting” lol. The “Golden Hour” lighting tinting everything an orange hue that is classic for the timing of the sunset ongoing over my left shoulder. The sky show there is a subject for another post another day. Seeing the full moon while the sun is still up only occurs for a few days a month, perhaps 4 chances during the month.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (pretty much directly ON the Montana/Wyoming border, the 45 parallel, precisely 1/2 way between the north pole and the equator. Exactly🤔

TItle: Reflections Moon Icy Pond

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Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour
Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

I can count the number of Blue Sky Background images I produce a month on both hands. I have been finishing 150 -180 images a month for the last 7 months. I’ve got 1300 pages finished on my future book (s) project. My tendency is to have a definite preference away from the longer colors of the spectrum. Robin’s Egg Skies are ubiquitous up here at certain times of the year. This visual tunnel with the anastomosing feminine form of the snag caught my attention driving along that late evening. The shadows were very long in the late golden hour low angle light. The Fallen snag in the foreground frames the bottom, the surrounding pine boughs frame the sides.

Telescopic perspectives are always worthy of the attempt. This is a 600 mm 28 inch long lens with me standing down this hill hundreds of yards. These long shots are deceptive in how they treat relative distances. That plus the lighting on this scene drew me to stop my rig and set up to take this cornucopia of textures and contrasts.

Taken late fall 2019, it’s just making it’s way into my workflow. I have the job security of 3800 portfolio images left to finalize lolol. Finishing more than 5 a day is hard work. These days are warming so that might have to go to 4 a day over the summer. I get distracted by fossils and ranch chores during the warmer days. I’ve finished 1300 since Sept 21, 2019. It’s be easy if I also weren’t finishing new material as I take it lololol. 😜📸

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

Title: Snaggy Backshow Golden Hour

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Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky
Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.

The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise.

Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight. In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. .

Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

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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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Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers
Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark and Two Grasshoppers

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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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Trees Growing Out of Boulders

Trees Growing Out of Boulders
Trees Growing Out of Boulders

Trees Growing Out of Boulders

Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below.

This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. Differential erosion leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen.

Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀. I digress,

Enjoying a veiled sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report or an occasional zinnnng…. . Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Growing Out of Boulders

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Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line
Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

T-posts generally set right posts a “ROD” apart make a barbed wire fence to “spec”. A Rod consists of 16.5 feet from end to end. The right at 50 feet of fence line here is in a perspective that makes it look a LOT shorter. That is literally 50 feet of fence 👀👀📸

As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence line, it lineup. I noticed the Meadowlark was still there. I had stopped to take him, reached down to grab the 3 foot lens used here. . Clicking away Icaught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was.

Meadowlarks are very active this early in the red light. The sun had been up for about 5 minutes while I was moving between locations. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into the blue sky over my shoulder. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a well side illuminated fortunately. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. They are the state bird for several states in this region.

This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title : Perspective Meadowlark Fence Line

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Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired
Perspective Bracing and Wired

Perspective Bracing and Wired

During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.

Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.

We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.

Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Perspective Bracing and Wired

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Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective
Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

This is indeed what a flat tire looked like 100 years ago. This old solder is tied along a fenceline high in the backcountry I suspect it’s 1930 vintage or before. The cattle every year rub on this wheel. Over the years this old wagon has had thousands of cattle rub and scratch on it. Wood rots very slowly here with 50 to 100 year old items like this still just looking like barn wood. Steel however will last a very long time.

I’m not sure what happened in the history of this device but I suspect the wagon it was supporting was overloaded and a rock appeared to start the dimple in the wheel. Once started the collapse cascaded and stopped the wagon in it’s tracks. This particular wheel was about 5 miles away from the nearest general store of the era so this might have not been a terrible thing. I suspect the 5 mile walk must have occurred in nice weather without wind, rain or snow to hinder the now on foot traveler to get help. There was no AAA tire service to come fix the rig either. No cell Phone, no landline phone, no radio. Word of mouth carried by hoof was the high technology of the day in this remote backcountry.

The red light from the JUST rising sun over my right shoulder is bouncing back off the projector screen the hoar frost on the trees provides. This is a common color I see when the “Belt of Venus” pink light comes down on the high ridge tops.

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

Title: .Crumpled Steel Wheel Perspective

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Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere
Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

I have enjoyed having this optic glass sphere for the last couple of years. Generally I don’t carry it with me. Occasionally I will give in and throw the thing in my camera box.

Sitting on top of a hard steel Oil Well Drill Bit. The close/far perspective is a tough one for depth of field. Even at maximum / highest f-stop for the lens, the close part of this focus was too close to ALSO focus the background. I think a cell phone would have done this better but what’s the challenge in that lol. Really close / far shots are difficult to get both objects in the Depth of Focus field. At least with most lenses I’ve ever used. I’m sure there is one out there that will focus at 8 inches all the way to infinity. I Certainly haven’t found it yet lolol.

Now that drill bit…. Oil, discovered in the 1960’s, provided a lot of cash flow to the ranch.. . A lot of drilling ensued with a few of the wells producing a significant income to the rancher/owner at the time. As all good things come to an end, the oil companies removed about 1/2 of the oil. The rest remains in situ. That percentage is about all the technology of the time could remove. There will be some point in the future where that oil will get recoverable and drilling will start again. More efficient processes now to squeeze the remaining oil to the well head.

50 years after drilling. There are very few indicators that 3 oil production platforms were up and running for almost a decade. There are vague topographic changes in the landscape where a dozer cleared off the pads used for the drilling. Some small containment berms near each pad. But collected carefully and put in a pile in out ranches bone yard. At least a 1/2 a dozen of these big heavy drill bits lay. I’d say they weigh 100 pounds each or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Drill Bit Crystal Sphere

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BigHorn Mountain Ladder Landscape

BigHorn Mountain Landscape Ladder
BigHorn Mountain Landscape Ladder

BigHorn Mountain Ladder 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 a few minutes before sunset. Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.

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. Orange as this is a mixture of the two effects.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here from my eyes unaided perspective.

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

Title: BigHorn Mountain Ladder Landscape

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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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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

The stripe of orange Alpenglow 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 cloud deck This image was taken ON 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 is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. 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 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited 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. 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: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Phlox Flower Filter

Phlox Flower Filter
Phlox Flower Filter

Phlox Flower Filter

Flowery Friday LIttle Pixie Antennas….caught them feeding I did lol……

I always use natural objects to filter out the excessive light from the sun into my camera. This particular plant sat for me so I managed to get under it and line it up. It’s getting harder and harder to get that low anymore lol. I find the only way to capture this actually in focus is to look through the eyepiece to fine tune as this close a subject (about a foot) is tricky.

Boy do butterflies like this flower around mid-summer. These plants topped by large clusters of flowers spot through out our gardens.. As a genus, they have a vibrant range of colors. I’ve seen red, lavender, white, pink purple and I hear about orange phlox. Trivia word of the day: Phlox means Flame in Greek.

All but a few of the 65 species of Phlox are native to North America. It’s presence in our gardens here in Wyoming is suspect.Human intervention may have been involved. We didn’t plant Phlox in the gardens at our homestead. I suppose a seed from a bird dropped from it’s transport. Something about 100 years of gardening around this old homestead comes to mind as the cause though lol. .

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (ISO and Shutter speed) as secondary considerations.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Phlox Flower Filter

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Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight
Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.

My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.

Musings on difficult photographic environments:

Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark Silhouette Singing in Twilight

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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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Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump
Moon On a Stump

Moon On a Stump

If you are “stumped” as to how I did this, I assure you it was done in the camera lol. No digital or otherwise magic involved. (well there are some orbital mechanics😜🤔)…. This was quite a ways out from my long lens to get that stump into the infinity focal depth along with the moon. Getting the moon to cooperate with the topography was quite a challenge in this hilly country.

Having terrestrial objects in the same focus as the moon or the sun is definitely an acquired skill with a few requirements for it’s practice. I’m still trying to perfect this kind of work in a variety of ways. Getting only a few opportunities a month to work a full moon low in the sky and still have the sun light up the foreground scene. Wait another 28 days and hope it isn’t cloudy during those days. 6 or 7 times a year in other words do I get a “shot” at this. .

You need at least a 400mm telephoto on a high f number for a deep focal field. You still need to stand way back several hundred yards to enable the telephoto to crush the perspective. Your lighting will change your other settings from what I used but a high f-stop is the place to start.

Perspective: Works like this…

As you step back the stump will get noticeably smaller but the moon stays about the same size. So the further you step back the smaller the stump and the relatively bigger the moon looks. Perspective takes hold….

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

TItle: Moon On a Stump

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Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss
Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss (as in “Once in a …..”)

This is ART done from a photograph (I did mention this is ART didn’t I?) Oh the moon was real and the cow was real but she wasn’t exactly pointing her head upward. Simply speaking I drew her head in for the moo pose within the digital darkroom. . I’m sorry, I had to cheat to get this with her “mooing”. Everything was going well except you can never get a cow to look up at the moon when your in the right position for this otherwise silly hard technical image. Getting a long uphill slope to a ridge, a cow and the waxing gibbous moon rising in enough light to get a grassy slope in focus…. lots of things to go right.. .

She was 300 yards uphill easy. 800 mm lens. The moon is out a bit further than her. Of course high f-stop numbers are in play here.

The decidedly blue color cast is my doing of course since this is art. Blue Moo and all that. A little time in the digital darkroom makes almost anything possible. No question I try to be a photorealist at ALMOST all times. I have found that all work and no play makes Frank a dull boy 😜🤘📸

Have a great evening as this posts at 7:30 Wednesday the 19th February. This is a written one week before it posted on social media.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Blue Moo by Frank Bliss

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Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar
Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective is indeed was a really cold morning but it was a pretty sunset. Crawling out into the pines seemed like a good idea at the time🤔 We actually have 2 fresh inches of snow on the ground here today (as I type) and expect some more of it. The scar on the tree is from a lightning bolt exploding the layers of wood with water in them. The heat from the bolt flashes the water to steam and boom. This old soldier survived it’s wounds.

This gloomy day with VERY flat light wasn’t that inviting. Anything exposed to the wind because coated by hoar frost. The temps were around zero with some light wind. T-shirt weather without the wind up here. Add some wind, put on the three layers under the Parka. I get out and walk around up on the forested ridges to see what I can see. I use these locations for many of my images. From the POV of field mice.

Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019 . Winter came early, rinse and repeat to mid-February. Last spring, Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was late starting by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal. All climate is local I point out. . Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. It’s just mid-February too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.

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

Title: Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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

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

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

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising
Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

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Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise
Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.

Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.

This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.

This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

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Snow Melt Flooding

Snow Melt Flooding
Snow Melt Flooding

Snow Melt Flooding

I live up on the high ridges of the Borderlands. About 300 feet lower from my place, this goes one. We’re all in trouble for floods to reach my door. Our homestead sits at 3700 feet. This flooded spot on the Montana border is 3419 feet above mean sea level. The Lowest spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet above mean sea level on the Belle Fourche River. My communication tower is 4013 feet or about 300 feet above my house. . A lot of water runs past this point in the right season.

This from last year showing the result of a quick warm up in March. The snow pack last year was greater at the same time than this year I observe. Drainage funneling down to choke points of course is a recipe for high water. Upstream here covers an area 50 miles long and 40 miles wide in some places. It’s several thousand square miles in the drainage of the “Little Powder River”. That’s a lot of ground with a couple of feet of snow melted down to 6 inches of well packed firn (granular snow) .

The local term is, “the river is coming down”. Now as a geologist, I think of the river coming down as referring to the water level declining. But this colloquial use means the water level is going up. All that water up stream is “Coming down”. I had never heard before I moved up here. Anyone else use this as a term for rising flood waters?

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

Title: Snow Melt Flooding

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Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up
Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This left 1/3rd of a waning Crescent/last quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Quarter Close Up

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Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset
Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset

Simple perspectives are my stock and trade. I have tried to make an art out of using the things that nature provides for me to photograph. There are so many little area of zen popping up everywhere I glance. The problem of course is there are so many and so little time so I just concentrate on the obvious stuff. Trying not to stand on my head or bend in a direction my design specifications don’t conform to. Fortunately this process involves a lot of walking on uneven ground carrying some camera weight up top. It keeps me in shape but more important it keeps me connected to the earth. Walking about is how I hunt dinosaurs in this country. Watching the earth is what I do.

Being very earth centric, I’ve spent my whole life considering geologic processes. Most are unaware of them and “blissfully” so. As a student of paleoenvironmental analysis, I see below this landscape and imagine the world that laid the sediment that eventually became those boulders. Clues in the rocks tell me books of information by their presence/characteristics. Geologists see past the beautiful sunset (enjoy those too). We imagine what processes leading to that rocks formation. I have a 3 D map in my head of the orientation of the rock layers under my feet. A useful thing to keep handy at times ….

It is somewhat complex to figure out what processes worked the sands these rocks are made of. That Hell Creek/Lance formation sand was deposited 66 +million years ago according to MANY scientists…. That’s 48.3 billion sunsets/sunrises. Actually numbers like that easily flow into my understanding of things when I imagine the inside structure of the earth, processes that occur now occurred then as well. You might say the perspective I have goes a bit under the surface of what I “look at”. Time is a 4th dimension to me. I don’t just look for fossils here, I look at the rocks to see if they are likely to have fossil in them first…..

Speaking of time, enjoy the snowy sunset and the Close/ Far Perspective.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Winter Prairie Sunset

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Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon
Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky
Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky (From the inside out)

Hollow standing tree trunks are not terribly common out in the backcountry. I have only found a few. I’d love to have the sun directly over head here. I’ll have to wait for the right day. This is about 7 feet of trunk accessed from a critter hole in the base. I couldn’t quite get in my my arm and camera could. You don’t have to see what your doing to point a camera after a few hundred thousand clicks I’ve found out. Of course that’s not for detailed compositions but I can usually get the focal point somewhere near the center of the frame. You can smell the dried wood and moist ground. The grass I was laying in cushioned a bit but chunks of wood dug into my side lolol.

Photographic musings:

The Perspective here is of course close / far.

Go to Manual Mode on your camera and work thus learning the controls on your camera..You only have three settings you have to adjust to accomplish your goal. Equipment is a wide angle lens whose aperture set through the camera to high f-stop numbers. High f-stop is a very small “iris” in the lens. Pin point pupil so to speak.

The far tree is hard to get into the same focal plane as the close to the camera wood. Complications: To successfully capture detail that close in a dark place is a technical balancing act. SO… Deep Focual Field (the depth of focus) is your primary priority number one. You accomplish that using high f-stop numbers. . Doing so lets your lens focus on both close / far things at the same time.

Complications:

Side effect of doing that is the lenses small iris lets in very little light in an already dark (ish) environment. So you have to compensate by longer/slower shutter speed, turning up Camera sensitivity or BOTH. More on that later. Just remember that f-stop is a double edged sword. Low f-stop number let in a LOT of light but your subjects nose might be in focus, his ears are blurry.

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

Hollow Tree Portal to the Sky