Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.
I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘
Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️
Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.
Almost all of northern Crook Co. is shown in the photograph. It is a VERY wide panorama done with high end cameras. A lot of time carefully stitching 3 images, left, center, right into place. Carefully match the images contrasts / colorations as there is always differences even with adjacent photographs. All done in the digital darkroom not the camera. I’m not sure but my Sony Alphas MIGHT be able to do a hand held panorama like a cell phone. I never use that automatic crap, it uses too much battery power lolol.
This is a “TripTych”. That is a good google word for you if you’ve never heard it before…. The left panel frames the horizon…the Bear Lodge Mountains are the last ridge at about 70 miles distant from my camera. Beyond them is South Dakota. Closer in the center panel of the “Triptych” is the first National Monument (Devil’s Tower). The tower is about 35 miles from my camera in this capture early after sunrise that snowy morning. The right “Tryptych” panel contains the three volcanic cousins of the Devil’s Tower. Those called the “Missouri Buttes”. They were all part of the same volcanic system closely related in time and space. The Devil’s Tower had a better advertising agency than the Missouri Buttes. AKA known as the “Three Sisters”, the wagon pioneers knew them as a way point on the 19th century GPS they used.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.
All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.
Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜
Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.
An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)
A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.
Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….
That’s a LOT of BlackBirds (maybe cowbirds) in one photo. The flock surrounds the camera. This is a well placed game trail camera capture that is located at a water tank. I occasionally get migrating flocks pass through the cameras field of view. This was in mid-April when we still had some snow on the ground. I often place cameras around natural game attractants and in funnels.
As I type this it’s getting time to work sunset. I’m considering a bit early to pick up a couple of chips and service some game trail cameras. I will often leave cameras for months at a time between visits to their location. They keep a good eye on things for me when I can’t be there. It’s truly amazing when they catch and what they catch. Most of them use 2 different cameras. On for Infra-red night images and one for day images.
Each image from this particular camera tends to be a little grainy. Other cameras have other issues with the quality of the .jpg image. But they all share the silly candid nature of the wild creatures that wander by my photon traps. I’m currently running a line of 29 game trail cameras. Many of them are due to check this time of year with all the early spring migration and animal movement. I’m opening certain gates to create wildlife funnels of easy access/egress. There are usually cameras planted in those areas.
Standing strong against the elements here on the Mt / Wy border the Tulips expect there to be hard times. They store reserves in their bulbs and are tolerant of the stress to a “degree” or so lol. It will be close to the last day of frost here in zone 3A on May 15th a few days after this posts. We have planted vegetable starts a month ago in the ranches underground Walipini Greenhouse. I have hundreds of starts to plant. But they are NOT outside just yet. I have preying mantis eggs in the refrigerator to keep them from hatching just yet. In about a month I’ll buy about 20K lady bugs for the developing gardens….
The weather this spring has been variously warm and dry. There is not enough water so far based on my observations for the last 2 decades. I’d even take a few inches of snow at the moment though leaves on the trees and bushes are seriously starting to bust out of their buds. Hopefully, this trend will change at least back to the normal of 14 inches of rain a year or more.
Our latest gardening project has been 10 new 8’x4′ raised bed gardens and a roof rain water collection system with a 1000 gallon water tower. I’ll have images of this as it is finished about a week from when this posts. Unlike some places, there is not regulation of water collected on the roof in Wyoming or Montana. I’m still scratching my bald head over that reasoning. Now you know why I’m mostly bald with all the things I’ve seen in my travels…. 🤔👀
Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.
Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.
But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.
Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.
(Frank Bliss 2019).
Snowy landscapes with patchy cloudy sky…MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle deep focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have the foreground out of focus.
So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a lot of light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.
This is an antique Plow. Abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. A horse team pulled plow, never saw more than a few horsepower. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. Used turning over centuries old sod. All to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .
Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020.
I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera). Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop.
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
A wooden Tower Windmill WAAAAAY out in the middle of Nowhere in the Backcountry. It’s about 20 miles from my homestead to work this one. Gravel Roads lead close to this but I have to leave the highway to get this close. It’s a LONG walk with camera gear…
WOW, I see a lot of lit up twilight skies in my work (that is what I do lol) . This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. This lighter/softer twilight not as intense as some but soothing none the less. Everyone needs some purple in their lives at least once a week. I actually don’t see real purple very much, the gradient between the red and the blue made it. Mixing colors on the sky’s pallet.
My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. The skies gradient from yellow to red to purple in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns do not look quite that large as they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.. (Wyotana)
A little out of season but it helps me to keep the spring in perspective. This last winter was 6 months long. It started Oct 1, 2019 and is just ending here in early May. Green Grass is upon us.
Taken 2019, this image has been sitting around in a “To Do” folder for about 6 months. I’ve got older images than that to finish. Job security on those days when you don’t quite have enough newly taken images that are worthy of your or my time. There have been a lot of ‘clear sky’ days of late which I tend not to work very much. This particular day was an exception however.
The Grass was totally coated with Rime snow and frosted beyond my normal experience. The Buck was in rut thusly pursuing the doe scenting the air actively at the time. Generally the temperature was up among all the bucks hormones flowing freely in the air.
The fairy tail landscape was so bright that even the sparkles in the foreground appear muted by comparison. The “reflectivity” of the landscape was about as high as I’ve ever seen it that morning. The effect is not as obvious here in this capture but to call this a sunglasses moment would be appropriate. I was trying to capture the sparkles in the foreground and had to keep the exposure dark (ish) to show them off. They were phenomenal to me at the time.
Spring leaves a few nice winter “like” scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have many choices where to point my cameras.
There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow in composing images.. I am always trying to adhere to those rules except when I don’t 👅. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and pretty well vertically.
The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. There are two Visual tunnels in this capture. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”.
We actually have no snow cover as I type this. Late April 50 degree temps took care of that. This early April Storm was a Busy one and this is the morning after the storm at first sun cracking through the cloud deck. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface.
This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is pretty close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.
I’m standing 2 miles away from the tallest point on my ranch called “Old Dobie”. I have NO idea of why it is called “Old Dobie”. Perhaps one of my readers will know and inform me. It was called that when I moved here, so the name remains. It peaks a good 300 feet above where my feet stand. There are fairly impressive views of the 180 miles across horizon to horizon sky we enjoy there. My house is over the ridge to the right about a mile and a half. I am standing in Montana looking across the border into Wyoming.
The top of that hill has a communications tower on top. There is a good microwave connection to high bandwidth internet. Our tower provides local ranches and even a local school with broadband internet. I used to be in the internet business but I’m only hosting the company that does up there. I built that tower in 2008 and it has performed flawlessly since. It’s 60 feet tall on a 300 foot high hill over the average surrounding ground and 500 feet higher than the lowest ground around. We also have a 2 meter ham radio repeater up there at 147.270 mHz, 123 PL with a pos offset. 147.870. It can communicate with pretty much anywhere in North East Wyoming working through the North East Wyoming Amateur Radio Associations network in this region.
See the medium sized Mare (Mare Crisium) at 12 oclock. The one near the edge. . That smaller crater will always point to 12 during a rising moon. It points to 3 oclock on a setting moon image. The little light from the twilight behind me was enough just to barely see the slope of that ridge. That ridge was around 10 miles from my camera/1200mm lens.
It’s not the moon that is turning in space to rotate that crater…. Actually you are the one that is spinning/rotating here on earth. IT’s all about your perspective. Question to think about…if your standing on Mare Crisium, does the earth ever set?🤔👀👅
A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔 Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though.
Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon. Now you know as much as I do about the Pink Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week or two after they are taken so this posts the 29, taken the evening of the 8th. It’s as fast as I can get to “recent” images finished and get the posted these longer /warmer days. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently).
Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)
There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.
You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…
The highlights around everything is the result of a fine coating of Hoar Frost and Rime Snow. Everything facing or exposed to the wind was covered that morning. Fog covered the valley floor below this high ridge overlook.
It’s always a challenge to capture one of the moments when a tree hangs a lightbulb down from it’s heights to light it’s way in the dark. Humans have flashlights. Trees… well…🤔😜 Those Ent’s are getting high tech….
Perhaps this capture is more symbolic of the tree plugging into our furnace for all things that keep it alive. Energy flows freely in this image. Heat transfer makes everything possible. For without that furnace we would be in a cold place on a frozen rock. All life relies on this warmth. Have hope though… if the sun suddenly disappeared in a senior Sci-Fi moment, there would still be microbes surviving deep in the earth. Warmth from below, geothermal and chemical energy providing the basics for life even then. I’m not so sure sentient life would do very well under that scenario. I might be wrong…
Bright as heck scene. IT’s hard to get much more detail out of the shadows with out technology with a higher dynamic range than I have. Right now I’m working with have the ability to resolve 15 fstops of dynamic Range . Most cameras have 12 f-stops or less. The human eye has 21. D.R. is the ability to see the brightest lights AND the darkest darks at the same time in the camera. It’s easy to adjust most cameras to do either, but not both.
The mist over the water in this remote backcountry wetland was wafting slowly with the below freezing breeze above. This mid-spring Wyotana wetland capture was taken right as the sun cracked over the far ridge to the east shadowing this ground about 15 minutes longer than sunrise. Sunrise time depends on if the horizon is above you topographically or not lolol.
A snowy/frosty/blowy storm came through after a week of thawing weather melted most ice on local ponds. Rime Snow coated most exposed objects but the mist from the water definitely hoar frosted the far trees totally. Wind blowing that mist that refroze on the trees in the distance. I probably should have taken a walk over to those trees with a few good cameras but the aforementioned breeze with below freezing weather dissuaded me. Wind Chill cutting through the cracks in my cold armor is always a consideration in cold weather.
I see much wildlife in and around these lakes but they were no where to be seen this frosty morning. I suspect they were bedded down somewhere close by staying out of the cold breeze. Sheltered (lower) areas like this are an oasis from the blowing and drifting usually. The trees and topography “helping” with the natural wind break. A source of open water in places due to the spring fed nature of the lakes, many local animals winter over here.
Spring in Wyotana is a fleeting season. I think it was on a thursday last year. Winter usually lasts until May 15, then it’s green season. Green season is variable depending on the rains of course but Spring…. it’s usually about a day long. 🤔😜📷
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Catching any wild animal groups bedded on an early winter morning is a worthy attempt. Usually someone stands up and ruins the thought. I moved on after a few clicks and no one bothered to get out of their “warm” spot.
So can you see all 5 deer? I didn’t see them at all and I randomly stopped at a location. Looked down hill and there they were. I wasn’t being particularly stealthy at the time crunching snow with a big Black Ford Raptor. It might have stood out against the snow. Hard to know what these guys were thinking. I could have stayed there for 20 minutes. Well, I was in a warm truck and they were not so I probably could have out waited them lol.
Actually Staying for more than a few shots might have made them get up. It’s not a good policy to push deer out of a comfortable lounge chair. If someone did that to me, I’d be REALLY iffy about letting them get within camera range of me. I’m thinking they felt pretty good about their camo. I do have one good eye at least. They were invisible to me while I was moving. The minute I stopped, they stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice change really… usually I see something and HAVE to stop quickly with things rolling around the vehicle. Here I stopped oblivious to them lolol.
I was on a mission communicated clearly/assigned to me by my dogs. It was of their need for an “urgent trip” to “Go Outside” This little 220 pound Corso Mastiff had the look of a 5 year old on stage that “has to go”. He was sure he was going to “make a mess” and definitely went through the his “get my attention” routine. So while they are genuflecting to my greatness in operating the door, I was trying to get my coat on and gather a camera. The latter activity is a standard procedure along with strapping a good side arm.
So I get outside with the 2 dogs that claimed they “had to go”. Well they sort of said that. At any rate, the Male heads out and spies one of our ranch cats outside. All pretense of “I gotta go dad” when right out of the discussion. The cat was post holing across the yard occassionally shaking a paw with ice where it isn’t supposed to be. Suddenly the sat spies the dog that was already at speed moving in his general direction. The Female could have cared less and actually had “to go” oblivious to the chase just beginning.
Now if you consider this big fellow like a bear, you know to run downhill and turn at the last second. That strategy worked pretty well until it made the decision to climb up the tree to get out of reach. I caught the scene at the final standoff. I think the cat came out of it pretty well considering 😜📸
It seems to me that his is a pretty good actor. Had to go huh???.
The Three Sisters were one of the landmarks well known to those on the pioneer migrations. They could be “seen for a hundred miles” from afar. While navigating the open prairie over two track trails rutted from the wagon in front of you. Out of the morning mist, something you have just read about appears in front of you. Three Sisters were back lit up by alpenglow and the rising sun far off screen left. Also Known as the Missouri Buttes. They were an important landmark to the old wagon trains and settlers out in this country. It took a while to get from Saint Louis to this spot.
This taken a few weeks from now back in 2019 and just finished. Just at sunrise far to my left.
The Curved trail of red crushed “clinker” rock leads to an abandoned homestead in the middle of a BIG grassy area stretching 30 miles to the Sisters. The old homestead at at this location burned down many years ago. Like so many other places it was absorbed into a larger ranch. Our ranch has at least 4 old homesteads within a few miles of us. All abandoned from when this remote country didn’t have electricity or phone. Those conveniences didn’t come in to the many areas around here until the ranchers put up the poles and ran the wires back in the 50’s and 60’s.
You all have a great day and be safe in your abode…
Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road. Campbell County Wyoming.
Now you see why I maintain a network 29 game trail cameras. It’s a lot of work lolol. Well worth it. Every once in a while, I get an up close and personal face that I could never get at distance. Long lenses are one thing, getting close to a wild Coyote in the backcountry is not going to happen very much. I occasionally run upon a Coyote that is curious about my rig with my yellow flashing light running. (2 times).
The captures I get from these automatic cameras never fail to amaze me in their candid nature. Natural faces doing natural behavior. I’m thinking this male heard the 360 degree camera rotate into position to capture him. He turned in curiousity to see what the noise was. Flashing in an image balloon over his head popped up a “breakfast” as a vision…. I’m sure he was disappointed, continuing on with his Coyote business.
The quality of Game Trail Camera captures varies widely. This one is only an 18 inch square aspect. I usually don’t take them larger… Running these game trail cameras all year long, I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is the issue . They keep on recording/clicking though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off repeatedly wearing down the battery. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them. Location:
Living in a remote secluded ranch for 20 years, I’m sort of used to isolation. Many of you are battling this “stuck at home base” period of our lives feeling alone. If you feel you are battling the elements here, you know, swimming upstream, up the creek without a paddle or are just plain isolated, I understand trust me. There are not enough hours in the day as it is up here, just add more on top lolol……
To keep my equilibrium, I try to put my world into perspective daily then isolate each problem I come upon placing it into it’s own little box. Take those boxes off the pile one at a time to deal with it. Funny how some boxes disappear on their own… This lovely flower, at the prime of it’s labors, covered by an overnight chill and snow trying to kill it. Just one little box in it’s life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 👀
The ability to shrug off these burdens that we usually put on our own back is a learned skill. It’s easier to sit back and analyze arm chair quarterback others but we sometimes drift to our own foibles under this assault around us. That is a mistake and causes depression. I find it’s the second guessing that causes the most stress in life. Regret, buyers remorse…etc. So I try like heck not to do it. Worrying about something that has past is a waste of energy. The Flower took the insult shrugging it off knowing that it would be warmer later. The earth relenting to the innate ability of the species to know when to hibernate and when to grow. Like most things that seem terrible as they are happening. The tulip somehow understood the melting snow and the warmth would be coming that morning.☯
“May you live in interesting times. ” variously attributed to: Chinese Curse? Austen Chamberlain? Frederic R. Coudert? Joseph Chamberlain? Diplomatic Staff? Albert Camus? Arthur C. Clarke? Robert F. Kennedy? Hillary Rodham Clinton?
WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.
I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.
The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.
Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.
These guys are ghosts anyway. At 2 PM on a moonless overcast night, this Coyote was prowling around one of the ranches well treed washes. Several miles into the backcountry my Trail Camera String of 29 rigs (as of spring 2020) has a great capture every now and then. This pregnant female is a good indicator that the species will survive way up here on the high ridges of the MT/WY borderlands.
If I am smarter than the Wiley Coyote caught here, I anticipate where they will walk, place my Trail Camera at 18 inches (hopefully above the flat snow level). I find 18 inches is about perfect for most work. Putting these cameras in the perfect place is a matter of looking for and finding signs of animal heavy use. The cattle pressure up here obliterates or obfuscates a lot of subtle animal signs/marks/tracks. I also try to figure out where I’d go if I were a Coyote . I’m not aware of ANY dens ON the ranch. Surrounding ranches I’ve generally been on but haven’t searched as well as I’ve looked about my ground. This is BIG country with lots o’ hidy-holes.
According to the camera, it was 5 degrees F with a new moon when this image was taken. Game Trail Camera Captures using Infrared vision/flash are ALL grainy and lumpy. This is because there is literally no light at this capture. It was likely black as pitch in a box on the top shelf of the basement closet.😜📸
The 200 dollar game trail camera does a lot better in this environment than any several thousand dollar pro camera lolol… Still the relative quality is of a newspapers low resolution dither of dots….. Tough in pitch black lolol.
Random encounters being what they are, worked out pretty well for this meeting in the backcountry. I will drive around two track trails, don’t make a lot of noise unless I’m driving through 4 foot high sage. The Ford Raptor is pretty quiet if you keep your foot out of the turbo’s. So not being a threat in a slow moving black truck, was sufficient to get this wild raptor on a post. Apparently it didn’t feel threatened by another Raptor…. 🤔😜
I don’t get this close too often as I’m thinking 100 yards maybe. It took a while to close the distance between us as I spied it. I drive like I’m a grazing animal. It looks best to my prey if I stop, start, take a minute at a spot, move 20 feet, rinse and repeat is my “process” at approaching most wild animals I encounter. Might take me 10 minutes so if they are sitting around, you’ll eventually get there I find. I take photos at each stop. Obviously after I came as close as he was tolerating, I started machine gunning the 400-1200mm lens. Click click click click ad nausium. Caught him taking off.
I’m not a hawk expert but I believe this to be a Ferruginous Hawk. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different phases are an obfuscation but I think those underwings are pretty diagnostic 😜🤔👀📷.
Snowy days on the high ridges of the WY/MT border lands are rarer in the spring than mid winter. We do get some interesting snow squalls and falls during the spring. Winter storms in the spring impact right during calving season here in cattle country. This can be less than convenient to the rancher with new born calves falling out into snow covered frozen ground.
Your all mostly aware I have this photobombing windmill that gets into my landscapes now and then. Just ignore him. He’s handy for scale here though I must admit. The snow was obscuring most of the horizon coming down in shafts of different opacities. Overall it was an amazing sky but it was not very long lived with the sun setting within the minute. Without the direct flashlight beam, the sky shows intensity fell drastically over time with the set. It was very dark when I took this shot with just the yellow rays of the sun making it through the atmospheric gauntlet.
As I type this, a spring storm dumped about 5 inches on us last night. We needed the moisture badly as it has been a dry winter and particularly a dry spring. Receiving only 14 inches of water a year in this high almost desert land, we appreciate most precipitation event and await them eagerly. I seldom complain about rain or snow…
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, both sides of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I caught this one with a quality game trail camera I just checked the “roll” timeline as the mud season has had some dry periods. Enables me to get into the backcountry that does. Miles from anywhere. This particular camera has been alone in the backcountry since December 2019 almost 5 months ago. Batteries were still 60 percent lolol. From this camera, came dozens WONDERFUL captures of coyote, fox, skunk, porcupine, raccoon, mule deer, whitetail deer and finally pronghorn over it’s tenure in this spot. BEST roll off a Game Trail I’ve ever seen in years of this. Two different cameras were planted in this spot. They actually took good photos mostly. They are 30 meg each raw if you want to know. Higher resolution than most DSLRs in use. (I run a network of 28 game cameras at the moment).
Located at a wildlife funnel. The fences lead all to this gully and then the gully provides a lot of security to these animals here as it’s well forested. There are several “marked” spots that both coyote and fox are chewing on a particular stick there. This was with out a doubt the best game trail camera timeline I’ve ever looked at. .
This guy has pretty wet fur down low. He’s been traveling and putting out some heat out of those legs. Mid winter here is harsh on everyone. Every calorie of energy expended to melt snow, has to be replaced. The Coyote eating more than a stick in the corner sometime during the week. These guys are eating machine no doubt. They don’t bite horribly hard but they bite about 4 times a second based on what I’ve seen from a tame one I met. They make a lot of holes with their chompers. Mostly they eat mice/voles/prairie rats and anything else that they can catch. Unfortunately sometimes that includes young livestock. This gives them a most unwelcome reception at most ranches around these “here” parts up on the border.
Wiley here and a few of his mates make return after return to this spot over the last few months. I nailed the placement of this camera. Of course I will maintain them. Might set up another with movie mode on. The fox captures are amazing too. This camera even caught a 5 image sequence of a doe deer chasing a sharp tailed grouse wanting to stomp it. ….. Stay tuned.
Later in the Golden Hour having worked the scenes leading up to this spot, the sunset over my right shoulder. I position myself at the top of the pass on Trail Creek Road that leads from remote to very remote country. The 35 mile distance to the Devils Tower on a day where only the sheltered hollows have snow remaining. The sublimating snow added moisture haze directly to the atmosphere bypassing the water phase entirely in this dry air.
The clouds to the west Shaded the National Monument (Devil’s Tower) to the far left and the subject of this composition the Missouri Buttes. These Exposed Volcanic Necks are erosional remnants of certainly thousands of feet of “volcanic neck” that have been removed. The Original Material (Volcanic Porphyry) stands tall. The sedimentary aprons surrounding the central mounds are the alluvial fans all merged together over time. The google word is “Fanglomerate”.
IT was the light that attracted me to capture this scene. I see this stuff visually and have to coerce my camera’s to properly configure. It’s a process up stream against the chaos principal certainly. After all I do deal with various rules of the universe in my daily travels. Unfortunately for me I can’t ignore some of them. Others I can’t miss. The play of light in this image led to a nice brown season layered landscape. Taken two weeks ago when as this posts.
When I try to read the early morning as to whether or not to go out to chase the light, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning, nailed it!…. Once I decide to go out 40 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the muddy spring (sometimes more accessible than others). Driving across hills here will get you into some Bentonite and stick you easily miles from anywhere. I stick to the road when it’s wet in the high country.
This Alpenglow show that morning was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many displays this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The rare purple colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”. This is certainly an unusual light environment in cold, clean Wyoming air.
If you haven’t already, look up the term Alpenglow as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some Alpenglow in the show. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.
I travel about 10 miles to get to this high overlook. It is about as High up as I can get without tremendous effort hauling gear up cliffs. I’ll leave that for younger men. I do scrambling over loose rock as well as anyone but Climbing one of those is a tad out of my league.
This sky was Early Civil Twilight about 27 minutes before sunrise. Late spring snow cover. Everything was frosty.
Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…
Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed.
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)