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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

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Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon
Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

As I watch the sun descend across the sky moving to the right and downward as it travels. The light is so bright as to prevent the technology I am using from picking up any details in the landscape that I can recover. Too much dynamic range in this stage show. The scene was so bright, no human eye could bear it for more than a quick glance. The necessity to set the camera to expose the highlights properly can and does preclude catching any shadow details.

I was after the blue in the sky above the glare though. The Blazing orange alpenglow from the surface haze is only light that traveled long distances through the atmosphere. Only reds and yellows make it. But way up high in the sky, there is still blue light. That blue is unfettered by the atmosphere that high up. Because of the angle of the sun, that part of the sky is still in full colored daylight. That versus the red/yellow light that is being caught by my traps.

To have the sun drop into a perfect little valley for it to rest the night was also a consideration. To be in just the right place when this happens is a matter of planning and preparation. Knowing where cool terrain features are is just a matter of being there and learning/working your area. I have a whole list of things I CAN do any particular day. It depends entirely on the light plus where it’s coming from. 📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

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Maiden Mother and Crone

Maiden Mother and Crone
Maiden Mother and Crone

Maiden Mother and Crone

A little moon Magic from exactly the Montana/Wyoming border. OK, that is 45 degrees north Latitude. Exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. It’s exactly 2700 nautical miles to either from here. One of the prime meridians. Might be some symbolism here. ☯

All taken in the month of December 2019 for the Full Cold Moon surrounded by waxing and waning crescents. The full moon on December 12, 2019 is known as Cold Moon, Open Moon or Big Winter Moon.

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

Title: Maiden Mother and Crone

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Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands
Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

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

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

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

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

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Yucca Morning Sky Show

Yucca Morning Sky Show
Yucca Morning Sky Show

Yucca Morning Sky Show

I’m all about highlights. These dark brown/red seeded plants past the yucca were a projection screen for the sunlight just creeping over the hill top. Working backcountry ridge tops for perspective gives you interesting diversions from the normal. I put myself into the mind of a mouse and use the light from their hiding places in my photon capture boxes (cameras). I usually leave a few foreground objects out of focus to get the feeling of closeness. (It was)..

Using a Yucca sun filter, a Spike blocking the sphere of the sun proper from our view. This is yet another in a long line of “Close / Far” perspectives I have finished in the last couple of years.

Buying lenses Musings:

Close far perspectives require interestingly, a close focus capability along with higher fstop capability if possible. Most folks when buying lenses look at the focal length as everyone wants a long lens. God knows bigger is better right? 🤔😜. You actually CAN do this from a 400mm telephoto if you set it up right. The closest my 100-400mm Sony/zeiss telephoto will focus is 15 feet. So much for things in the way lolol. The 10mm Voightlander lens on a Sony Alpha 7R2 back I used here will focus down to 10 inches and do so under high fstop for a very deep focal field indeed.📷📷📸

The particular lenses I use isn’t important and isn’t my point. When your buying a low fstop lens is nice but I like lenses with HIGH fstop potential for close/far since higher fstops give you a thicker field of focus. Close to infinity is the game here. Evaluate perspective lense about how close they can focus. “Macro” lenses focus very close. But they MIGHT not focus close AND far at the same time. High stops with close focus is a very good thing in a lens used for this kind of image. Hope this helps if your buying gear.

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

Title: Yucca Morning Sky Show

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Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January
Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January (Moon followers Unite)

Different phases and faces of that celestial neighbor constantly present themselves to me during the day and twilight but I find myself not going out much in the winter after dark. I let my mastiffs do my wandering around the homestead at night.

When I do get out I after nautical twilight at night or before Civil Twilight in the morning. Usually I am completely focused on twilight. Some rare astronomic events have me peaking outside at cloud cover in the middle of the night. I really don’t sleep much but I do photography all day which makes my circuit breaker to pop sometime during the evening lol. I’m either on camera or on computer finishing these days. I get my chores done on ranch too. Take care of a greenhouse and a flock of 80 birds, 6 cats and my personal Mastiffs. I’ve been feeding haybales to our corraled/captured herd of Corriente for a few weeks. 34 longhorn cattle go through a 1200 pound bail of hay in 2 days.

I digress…. The “Waning” part of Waning Moon gets smaller each night until the “New Moon” where the moon is entirely in shadow. I do have some captures of just that 2 illuminated percent crescent. This moon will evolve over the next few nights into that sliver. This is a 4 picture composite of the face of the moon in real color through a 3200mm refractor optic. Handheld actually on the roof of a vehicle rested.

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

Title: Waning Crescent Moon January

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Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge
Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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 with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky
Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

This Crown Sky during mid-civil twilight (about 15 minutes after the sun went down that night) is a pretty rare sky event. I’ve only been able to photograph a half dozen crown skies this good in 30 years. This is the second from mid -twilight with the sun well below the horizon by a few sun diameters by the time this was taken.

It was dark. I didn’t enhance the colors, this is a time exposure of about 3 seconds which tends to enrich colors a bit. I adjusted them to where I remembered them. This is a night sky after all… I will work a “promising” sunset from early Golden Hour to late Civil Twilight. Longer if the sky show lasts longer. Reverse that for morning / sunrise. Sometimes I work from my yard, other times I’m way out in the backcountry. Hard to know what the skies are going to do.

Science Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments not you. . Try manual mode sometimes…… You do the work…. Only three main things to learn….. Just saying. (ISO, F-STOP and Shutter Speed)

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

Title: Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

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Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal
Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal

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 top 1/3rd of a D moon (first 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 Up Close and Personal

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Full Moon Belt of Venus

Full Moon Belt of Venus
Full Moon Belt of Venus

Full Moon Belt of Venus

A magical “Belt of Venus” morning up on the Montana/Wyoming border waaaaaay out in the backcountry. The sunrise is still 10 minutes away behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens. This high rolling backcountry is very remote and relatively easy to get to in the summer. It is NOT so easy to get to this time of year. This was taken late fall 2019 before the snow pack started to form this high up.

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Full Moon Belt of Venus

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BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait
BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

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 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.

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

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

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

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Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising
Full Moon Rising

Full 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: Full Moon Rising

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Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

Windmill's Green Spring Morning
Windmill's Green Spring Morning

Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

I needed to finish this image as I sort of need the dose of green. Image 5 of 6 for Windmill Wednesday. All Windmills All day 🙂

Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘

The red gravel country road winds around our homestead. It USED to run right through our current compound but the country decided to run the road around the house thus all the curves up here. (Thank GOD) I’ve seen days without tracks in the snow on our road. Most winters, we get stranded by the drifts up here. Only oil trucks and a few local ranchers travel this road surrounded entirely by our ranch for 3 miles across 2 states.

With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground.

I consider winters here easy. I spent a decade in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course.

I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

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Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky
Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Of course I immediately saw the triangle in this veiled sky taken on solstice eve. Such forms in the sky are fleeting. I levitate toward and will image natural geometry in the world as I see it. The lens turns towards the light. The veiled sky imparted an orange color cast to the alpenglow that was rife at this moment in space and time.

I managed to get up on the local roof of the world. It’s a little slippy on the slopes. I actually own a new vehicle (F-150 Raptor) with studded snow tires . I’m thinking it’s an ideal expedition/backcountry vehicle. I got up on this hill with a 4000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’ll see if the heavier Raptor will make the pilgrimage to this high point.

Slightly right center on the horizon you can see the Big Horn Mountains at 130 miles. Snow covers the ground. We definitely had a white Christmas up here in Wyotana. Actively snowing during Christmas day. This is a 50mm capture which is equivalent to the way your eyes see the world.

No telephoto effects here. When you see me post images of the Big Horns Taken from here, consider the actual size of those 13,000 foot high range. Holding your thumb out at arms length would cover the range as you see it from this viewpoint. This is reality to our eyes but telescopic lenses literally crush perspective making the very far larger but things that are closer much larger proportionally. 🤔👀

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

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

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Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens
Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens If you had a “Crappy Old Year, this image is important. It’s going to get better after 😉

I’ve raised many parrots (I owned a pet shop in the 80’s). Working very closely with dozens of big birds before. I’ve been pooped on by the best. Big Birds Shoulder birds can really mess up a shirt … This meadowlark is not much different than those big birds but for it’s size. With this I’ve pretty much have all different obvious Meadowlark activities. Eating, sleeping, pooping and singing lolol. Most birds will do this move if they must right before they fly…

I’ve learned that all birds lift their tail and squat just a bit right before…. Note: If you have a parrot or other arm tamed bird on your arm, if the tail lifts, push it down with the other hand. They don’t/can’t “go” with the tail down. . So my timing only looks lucky. While this might be a bad example lol … anticipating a shot can save a lot of machine gunning with the camera. Storing photos is expensive if you do say 50 thousand 100 meg images some months.

Computer Tech Musings: So how do I keep track of and store that many 100 plus meg files? (How does a serious photographer deal with safe backups).

Finished photos are one thing (not as many of them). There are only a few thousand of those at 220 meg each lolol.. It’s The raw files streaming out of the 7 or 8 cameras I routinely use are huge files. There are also many. I like to keep the timeline so I have all the raw files for the last several years on demand. Older than a few years I have to connect external drives to the system.

I currently manage 50 TB of storage devices. Most storage drives I keep off line. All turned off to prevent any intrusion or loss. . I keep a monthly backup off site in a pile of 8 (currently) 4 TB SSD hard drives I keep adding finished work to. As they fill up, I add a new one to the pile and always have a pristine backup of the raw files and the they are kept in a fire safe.

Every image I finish is saved in three separate external hard drives as a last step. I’ve maintained professional graphic stations for 30 years. I’ve still got most of my graphics files available to me. Even those created decades ago available to me fairly quickly. Most of my old images, belonged to clients back in the day. Lots of them around. Can’t use them. But I’ve got a few of my own to work with

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

Title: Oh Crap a Camera Lens

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Moon Over Windmill Perspective

Moon Over Windmill Perspective
Moon Over Windmill Perspective

Moon Over Windmill Perspective

MOONDAY Monday, moon photos, all day, number 6 of 6 at 9PM.

I hope you enjoyed my moon Monday collection of Full Moon images. I’ve never done a thematic day before. If you like Moon Monday let me know and I’ll do it again in the future sometime.

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

Photographic Musings:

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

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Title: Moon Over Windmill Perspective

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Like Phoenix to the Sun

Like Phoenix to the Sun
Like Phoenix to the Sun

Like Phoenix to the Sun

Setting: The ancient world:

A famous myth like the Phoenix, a magnificent creature of paradise, a land beyond the sun. . Fatigued from building it’s nest before the sun rise, you notice it’s obvious tiredness. The sun god began to carry the sun up from the horizon to it’s zenith, the Phoenix bends it’s neck back like a crane. It begins to sing a haunting cry that stops the sun in it’s tracks. So beautiful was the song, the sun god stopped to listen to his notes. Upon his resuming his journey, a spark falls from the sky igniting a fire that consumes the nest and the bird. But please avoid worry, it rose again from the ashes reborn young and renewed. 😜

Those crazy ancient greeks thought the Phoenix lived across the straights in Arabia. Living next to a well (paradise in Arabia apparently ), it bathed there every morning. (bird tea I’m thinking). That song stopped Apollo and his chariot in the sky (with the sun), the rest is history 🤔

We’ve seen destructions, creation, life, death along with learning that life in Paradise isn’t all it was meant to be lolol. The Phoenix lived a thousand years each rebirth cycle. Never destined to stay destroyed but to be reborn again. A lesson of time works into the story as well. There are several versions of the story, one where the bird self-immolates lol.

This is from a good Game Trail Camera sitting mostly on the ground. Catching a flock of what I think are cowbirds coming in to a water hole to drink. The only control you have over a Game Trail Camera is where you place it. Love the lens flares …..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland.

Title: Like Phoenix to the Sun

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Blue Heron Stall Speed

Blue Heron Stall Speed
Blue Heron Stall Speed

Blue Heron Stall Speed

Early in the Spring of 2019, the Cotton Wood Trees were not even leafing. The trees flowers were out. The thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree are about to get tested. This bird is a 5 pound 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Heron. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing.

You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right sometimes dramatically. 10 feet below this frame is this birds mate and nest with several eggs. This bird had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, he had to land on a moving target. He nailed the landing as he was essentially levitating no moving and just dropping inches a second. These guys are AMAZING masters of the sky.

I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building your nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together. I’ve seen them land and take off in all situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down like a single feather.

Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Blue Heron Stall Speed

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Meadowlark’s Morning Song

Meadowlark's Morning Song
Meadowlark's Morning Song

Meadowlark’s Morning Song

As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass covered by the white blanket. We just had a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton truck with a horse trailer attached get stuck in the snow.

This seems to be a popular post with all the decorations sitting on the top. When every you have many acres of birds with one tall post, it is going to be used as a perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.

These guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out feeders as my cats would make short work of that plus I feed birds generally out in our barnyard when I feed my chickens. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock and about 1/2 a gallon to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that trough. I can’t blame them.

The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring posted here a day after the solstice.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark’s Morning Song

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Sunset over the Boulders

Sunset over the Boulders
Sunset over the Boulders

Sunset over the 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. This 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. Achidemia 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 sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. 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: Sunset over the Boulders