Winter is bleak and the snow is deep in the hollows. The restless wind of the borderlands, the sun, the grass fires have all contributed to what lives on this landscape of Tertiary river sediments. All this ground is composed of debris carried by rivers about 130 miles across the Powder River basin ALL the way to the Big Horn Mountains. That is a big apron of sediment 130 miles out. My ranch is about 8 miles over that hill from this location.
There was a snowstorm coming in and I drove JUST ahead of the storms shadow for about 10 miles. I of course was snapping the wonderful lighting all along the way. I have this antique grass rake from this side and looking through it at the sun. All taken from the road via telephoto. I will never leave the right of way taking photos if it’s private land unless I have permission ahead of time.
A seat is missing from the top of the center support for it. This was certainly horse drawn at one time or another in it’s history. A pair of horses with harness ruled early farm life in this country. As technology advanced but even more importantly, because servicible here. A host of various machinery was used to pull farm implements. Some had actual tractors other bought army surplus crate Jeeps freshly returned from storage depot. All produced during World War II. Many a Willis pulled a hay rake during the late 40’s and early 50’s.
Location: About 8 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This gravel road is headed up into the clouds. Some of this is the perspective CRUSH by the telephoto lens of course. IT really is a steep section of road. It was snowing just up over the lip of the hill. The ridges around here are a whole different environment than the surrounding lower country. We live up in the higher ground where it almost always snows a little more.
We call our place “Little Siberia”. 1: the label was handed down by the previous residents. 2: it always has snow here when the valley has just rain.
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
I often find Deer beds under trees suring snow storm. If the snow is falling straight down, the trees act as a pretty good umbrella to keep the white stuff off. It’s common sense (which deer have a lot of). Any shelter in a storm is better than no shelter.
Lone trees on a ridge are romantic figures up here. Battling the worst that the environment has to offer. 80 mph winds, -30 degrees for weeks (historically since I’ve been here) and terrible dry spells. These lone sentinels are king of all they survey. They don’t grow very fast. This tree is at least 100 years old. I suspect the big ones are several hundred years old. This fellow happens to be sitting on a fossil microsite. Just on the other side of the ridge, bare Hell Creek/lance Sandstone outcrops with large chunky dinosaur bone fragments weathering out. I even found a pretty nice toe bone from a hadrosaur there. I left it under a rock I found it next to so it’s out of the weather. can show it to a few random folks that happen to make it up here for the discussion.
The ridge in the foreground is several hundred yards out in this long distance telephoto shot. The ridge behind the foreground tree is 40 miles distant from the camera. Telephoto’s crush perspective something fierce. It’s hard to believe you can see individual trees at 40 miles out but there they are. 📷
These frosted Pines stand along against the elements high on a remote ridge. They have long survived backcountry wildfires. . The lack of branches down low help keep them safer from grass fires. . Their isolated island also helps prevent fires from taking them. These survived a major fire in the late 1930’s that burned all summer in this area. Only the winter snows extinguished that long burning fire. There are still many snags around from that fire. A lot of seasoned firewood has come from those snags. Some still stand as a stark reminder of natures wrath. Partially burned and totally now “wildlife” trees.
I don’t take a lot of Black and White images. However, this scene seems made for the genre . Frosted Needles and boughs are the rule in this shot. Each with 1/4 inch of ice everywhere on any exposed surface. There has been a lot of slowly freezing storms come through this fall. All starting out with rain or freezing drizzle. Then they turn to snow so an ice coating under a foot of snow makes for interesting backcountry driving.
I can not travel easily now in the backcountry. Over a foot of snow from the last storm put a hitch in my giddy-up. I try to be safe and not stick myself back country. It’s a long walk back. Having said that, I do carry several radios including a ham radio to which I have a repeater on my communications tower. I’m pretty much in communication if needed. Cell Phones usually aren’t much good up here.
The joy of this time of year is the variety in the seasons. I would miss seasons if I were to move to a more tropical climate. Snow is both a curse and a blessing in several ways each.
We get more of our yearly precipitation (water equivalent) in the form of snow. This year might be an exception as we have a very wet summer. This winter is starting early and wet so far. We got a foot of snow on December 1. Winter Started October 1 this year with a good 4-5 inch first snow.
Back in 1999, I moved topographically down to my ranch at 4000 feet from Jackson Hole up at 6200 feet. In Jackson Hole, your distance from the Teton Range dictated how many feet flat you would have in your backyard in mid-January. We averaged 6 feet flat in our back yard there. I had an ATV with a snow blower on the front for the asphalt drive I had then. In Jackson, when it snowed I cleaned our drive way before I went to work at 7AM. That ATV was agile and fun with the snow blower taken off for summer. I had a smaller yard there.
20 years later:
I have about 2 miles of various trails I clear until I can’t anymore mid winter. My driveway is about 1/4 mile and we have a gravel surface big enough to turn semi-trucks around on. I clean it with a Case Skid Steer™. (“Bobcat” so to speak). It has a heater, chains on solid filled wheels, it’s hard to stop. a 5 foot packed drift will stop it but it won’t bury it. It could back out I’m pretty sure. We get some pretty good drifts up on the lee side of ridges and often clumps of Yucca will trap LARGE snow drifts.
I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standingup in Montana looking over the border down into Wyoming as the sun rises to the south east. The trees in the distance are in Wyoming. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana.
So perspectives and cold weather go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the close details with mostly veiled sunsets behing. All caused by the icy atmosphere in the winter. between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that gold light at this point. Earlier a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight.
I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷
The very small piece of one Bliss Ranch Rock Garden shown here, thins found by a life long hunter of “treasures”. . Things collected off the ranch for my yard living on the Montana/Wyoming border. Two decades I’ve been riding around on this ranch very systematically searching the land for Dinosaur Fossils. I am an opportunist that will pick up about anything not a piece of wood and I have a few of those lolol. I generally built pretty big rock gardens full of ranch finds as needed. Lots of outdoor dinosaur fossils about even. Petrified wood, minerals from Wyoming are all around the place.
Found deep in the backcountry this hammer was.. It appears blacksmith made from a piece of good rock pick steel. This was very well mated to a standard piece of galvanized pipe. Probably 1950’s or so. . Cattle skulls are ubiquitous in deep ranch country as we live in. As we discover them, deer skulls/antlers are located then put in a rock garden.
. It’s a common western ranch tradition to collect deer bone or skulls.
I tend to get thematic with rock gardens. Some of them are quite big, full of river cobbles imported by semi truck from the Big Horn Mountains. A quarry near Buffalo Wyoming is the source of the cobbles in the garden. I’ve found quite a bit of Epidote in this. A beautiful green semi-precious minteral. Wonderful for making cabochons from. I love finding nice material by the semi load. I collect petrified wood in Gillette in various parking lots all the time. City Cobble Collecting is ALMOST as good as the treasures found on this ranch lol.
Wooden Windmill Orange Hour was a natural very colorcast morning with the orange light permeating and reflecting off the snow and ice.
I traveled 30 miles to get to this windmill before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this scene from start to near finish as this was. I left a few minutes after this shot.
Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in Crook County off Jenkins Road. I wouldn’t suggest traveling Jenkins road if there is any drifting doing on since the county may not plow it for a few weeks. This is a big backcountry up here and no one lives on this particular stretch of road. Very little commerce but ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming.
There was a slight sunpillar/shaft of light coming down from the sun. More of a spot light really but there was a LOT of ice in the air that morning. It had snowed the whole drive there and I was leaving the first tracks on the road both ways. I often go on road trips for hours up on Wyoming/Montana backroads and not see another vehicle. Breaking down is not an option up here without LOTS of survival supplies this time of year. Blankets, sleeping bags, food and basics are all on board. I do have a very good radio that communicates via repeater from 30 miles away if necessary. Not to worry.
Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough is a capture initiated by the -2 degree morning, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST coming over the ridge but about 15 minutes after sunrise.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 20 miles out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunrise is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles. Here I saw this long pine bough covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. You’ve GOT to turn your camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment.
Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset is a capture miles into the wilderness of the Wyoming/Montana border lands. I am always looking for frames and compositions, play of light and shadows.
The pine trees were coated with a thin layer of ice on the windward side and ALL the grass was coated. I found a spot where the light was funneling in through that break in the trees. The Sky was incredible but alas this kind of show is fleeting. I only have a few minutes before it darkens up and everything goes to bed for the night.
Many deer bed down on this ridge and I’m always walking upon their “melted” spots in the snow along the rim of the hill. They usually are bedded on the down wind side of the hill. I’m thinking I need a game trail camera or two down in those bedding spots. Sunsets like this don’t happen every day, some are boring, some are clear sky but now and again, I get lucky. The skyshow turns on and I get a few minutes to work intensively. Lots of operational tempo ongoing during that final 15 minutes of the horizon rising to the sun to cover it.
The show is not over usually with the sunset. But it is hard to predict what will happen to any particular sky. I try my best, I’ve come home before with a WONDERFUL twilight show that suddenly developed while I was coming off the ridge lolol.
Satire: This young punk pine tree was sure that getting his needles “noodled” would upset his adult mentors. The 1/8th inch of ice sure gave him a frosty “do”. I suspect he was about ready to go hang out down in the gully where he could watch things move down drainage at a geologic pace. It’s not a very exciting place to grow up out in the backcountry.😉
Back to my normal programming…
SO it was -2, I was walking a high ridge, the pines were all ‘noodled’ on the north side of the tree. . The sun has been up for maybe 20 minutes so thusly is just cresting the ridge. The crisp air is moving and seeping into my gloves/mittens which are almost always my limiting factor. I’ve worked up here with -30 wind-chills many times. I’ve had various cameras (mostly old used Canon 5D’s) freeze up at those temps. . Rapid temperature changes aren’t good for anything but you don’t want to keep your cameras cold either.
“Winter is Coming” (If you don’t know the classic reference by now, you need to read a few books lolol). I actually enjoyed the audiotapes of “game of thrones” tremendously while building things in my shops.
In reality it’s been here since Oct 1 and the day before was fall. (fall was on a tuesday this year). Oct 1 is when winter started up here which continue till April anyway. Winter does bring certain photographic opportunities however and I enjoy the crisp cold. It’s easy down here at 4000 feet after living at 6200 feet in Jackson Hole for a decade. Warm here but MUCH windier here in the borderlands.
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry can be a very contrasty thing after a storm. This vista surprised me coming up over the ridge behind the camera. I instantly stopped of course and started composing the final frame. What dramatic contrast…. I honestly don’t see this very much this pronounced. That was a very interesting (if not cold at -2F) morning up on that ridge. It always is after a storm and the cold. That is BIG country back there.
I call this phenomena spotlighting for obvious reasons. There is about 4-6 inches of standing snow up on the ridges and I’m still driving about in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a new vehicle incoming if Ford will put it in production lololol. (We have a vin now 🙂 ) Winter is coming though and I’m going to have to get plowing some snow to get up in this country. This particular spot is about a mile up a long hill to get to. Roughtly the same distance to the far ridge in the shadows with trees on it. The far right side of that ridge (ridge 4) is a full 2 tiles out. Distances are deceiving out here. The closest ranch house in that direction is about 10 miles of hills and gullies that have to be driven around. That would mean about 20 miles of driving lololol.
All of this ground in this image is underlain by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Dinosaur Fossil Bearing Sandstone. This is prime country to find dinosaurs. I found a partial Triceratops just left of the frame around the corner or a hill so I have some basis for saying this lol.
Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise is a perspective at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.
For some reason, I’m drawn to perspectives under icy sunrises. Focus close requirement(1) plus a sun show far (2)is my goal. Putting them in the same focal field is top on my list for planning this capture.
These two “priorities” fortunately compliment each other while in your Manual Mode camera settings. High light gives you the ability to set your widest lens to it’s highest fstop setting f-22 (ish). This cuts back light considerably which you need . It also lets you focus on things 10 inches in front of this particular wide lens AND have the background in focus. I always pay attention when I’m buying lenses to look for ones with the shortest distance to focus close. (macro) but if you want to do this, you need a wide angle say 12-24mm lens with a close focus.
Shutter speed 1/100 – 1/400 depending on your light conditions and ISO (camera sensitivity) is low like ISO 100 or ISO 200. This was a very bright light environment in the distance but just. The sun was just clearing the ridge.
The right gloves for cold work. There are many brands but I use:
The joy of -2 degrees is that the gear doesn’t like it, but my fingers take the brunt of the cold abuse. They don’t operate the equipment as well either if chiled.. I wear glove/mittens by “Red Head” that have the ability to open up your fingers. Fine detailed adjustments on a camera take more tactile feedback than through a glove sometimes. Finding your location on your camera body is the biggest problem. I find it is always better to have warm fingers and have quicker control of the camera bodies settings oddly enough lol. “Red Head Mittens” have been used by this photographer down to a -20 windchill with good results. I was tougher then though……
Perspective: Snag to Sunrise is a view right as the sun was coming up over the hill. The grass was just starting to highlight, the air was very crisp at -2 degrees. I tend to work wide lenses in really cold weather. They do better with a shivering photographer I think. Long lenses don’t like the shake lolol.
It had snowed about 4 inches but the 1/8th inch of ice that covered everything was problematic walking around the uneven slopes. The footing was treacherous as seeing sticks under the snow was not a sure thing. THe reason they call fallen logs snag, is that they snag you walking near them lolol.
Perspectives that go from closest focus (12 inches with this lens) to infinity are a challenge to compose. Having the snag as a leading line is an easy choice but the ice covered snag was sure novel to me. I worked this hillside through this entire sunrise…. until I got a tad chilled and then headed back to the Jeep. A few dozen good captures came from that morning. Winter has sure come early this year.
I can still get up on the ridges though and today (a week ago as this posts) is 50 degrees and muddy. We get a bit of a warm snap before it get’s serious lolol. I figure by late November this year we’re going to have a foot flat +and it won’t melt till late February. Winter is long here in the borderlands on the high ridges.
Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is only a few inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.
These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. These birds are found only on the North American continent. . Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).
Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.
The They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.
Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..
This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫
So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.
I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.
I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸
Looking From Under a Snag, I see the world from an entirely different perspective. There is a feeling somehow of security even though there is a ton of wood over your head being held up by rotten broken branches. What could go wrong there?😜
This is a very busy photo with all sorts of of things going on. Enjoy the looking. I ought to put a “where’s waldo” in some of these images lolol.
It was cold near zero when this was taken a week ago as this posts. “Winter is Coming” and in reality has come here to the borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunset here was a clear sky orange/yellow alpenglow show which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide.
Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol.
RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.
Here the trees were all frosted with 1/8th of an inch of ice, 4 inches of snow sticking to everything. The air is full of ice turning the sunset orange and yellow. This little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter for many a small animal as it’s roots make quite a cover. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing on these wind blown slopes. Soon this fairly recent tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes. Thusly then to graduate to full fledged “wildlife tree”.
This Sunset and the Steel Wheel capture during a short skiff of winter weather in mid October is a reminder of our past AND our future. 🤔
This old plow displays the past very sell. . First Settled in 1906, this ranch was The Garst Families challenge. They lived year round in tents for 3 years…. It took that long to build a house in 1906. We tore that building down in 2012. Of course incorporating various beams from the old house into the design of the Log lodge that replaced it. I suspect this plow has been here since the beginning. It has seen it all pass by it’s final resting spot. 😍
I find hunting perspective with up close focus foreground and the background to be challenging to set up . Up close and Far images are Wide angle plus close focal distances with a deep focus field is a lens well worth looking for. Keep one in your lens/tool bag and you’ll be taking images like this in no time.
I find the hardest part of this is to remember the horizon. The skyline SHOULD always be level. My tendency is to line up on what’s up front. It’s not until the I see the screen on the comoputer do I discover the horizon is tilted lol. This usually ends up with you having to crop the image. Good quality consumer level cameras have perhaps a 24 meg image. Those can be blown up to perhaps 20 inches for a 2×3 aspect. Not enough pixels still have enough resolution to see detail in a print blow up.. You don’t need to be cropping away image if you set your composition up originally in the camera. Make a note of where the horizon is before you click please and save the crop. Pixels are a terrible thing to waste 😜
For me to get to this location, I have to leave about an hour before sunrise “Windmill Shack Orange Alpenglow”. It is well down into Crook Country Wyoming about 40 miles towards Devil’s Tower. If that hill weren’t in the way, you could see the big thing.
Normally I would just drive up there. This isn’t my ground and I’m not big on trespassing on others ground. This shot was from the country road It is now filed in my “Wyoming/Montana backroads folder. All of the backcountry roads up here are gravel with an occasional Concrete/asphalt highway cutting across no mans land. It’s about 40 miles in any direction from this spot to a Wyoming State paved road. It’s all county road department maintained here.
There are some rough areas of course to get here. But if it’s frozen, the mud is no longer a problem but for deeper than your tires ruts lolol. Driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee where taller pickups leave tire grooves is always exciting. I’m still waiting for my now officially issued VIN number model year 2020 Ford F150 to be built. It should change the height at which I take images sometimes lol.
I get lost in reconstructing past lives and events, the comings and goings of old homesteads. This wasn’t much more than a cowboy bunk house with a wood stove for the “hands”. You had water with the windmill and I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture.
This is very big country open back country with many square miles of grass attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. This water pump is still standing though. It looks to be in working conditions.
Some winters I work pretty hard to get up into the high backcountry in winter. I’ve never gotten stuck though there have been a “few” moments when I thought I might. Not to worry though as I carry a radio. I also keep properly dressed for conditions, This isn’t my first rodeo up on those ridges enjoying all kinds of weather.
I’ve been up there when I was navigating by instinct before. It can be totally pitch black. You actually can’t see yard lights up here as literally no structures are out there. If you get lost, find fenceline and follow. Having a compass can save your life. I don’t trust GPS at all.
The view is in Wyoming looking north west across the border ant the last ridge called the “Red Hills” which is 40 miles out. Between here and there is the entire width of the Little Powder River Basin with the Prairie Dog Hills before the flats in the foreground (my place. ).
This image was taken with me standing in Wyoming but looking Northwest to the Mountains in the distance. I’m literally living in the borderlands.
You might not that there are no man made structures visible anywhere. Within the frame is roughly 300 square miles swept over of snowy landscape. You have to love winter up on the ridges. I actually plow a two track ranch road so as to get up this high. Before you think I’m a nut, (I am), I do carry a couple of good radios/shovels and supplier. I am always able to contact with others while I “run up the hill”.
Nobody likes up this high as there is literally no shelter up here. I do know of an old 1920’s collapsed sod roof house with a model A carcass nearby up here. This is a north west slope which means the wind funnels up that valley right about to this point. Not a good place for a house. Too much wind to live on the ridges and worse here in this funnel. It’s also further to water up here. Tough place to Pioneer in. Those early settlers were tough stuff.
Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.
From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.
I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.
All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).
Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced is the real deal lol.
That is a fence brace, it frames, rustically here, 4 exhumed volcanic necks from the of Northeastern corner of Wyoming. The three on the right are of course the Missouri Buttes and the one furthest left is a little known place called Devil’s Tower National Monument. These 4 piles of hard rock that resisted erosion that removed all . This view is covering about 35 miles of landscape from this ridge.
This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big. These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them and supporting hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River and the Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.
From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.
We have quite a bit of snow at the moment….for early November. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom and interesting son (fawn) . The very distinctive young one has both a split left (his) ear and UNIBROW lolol. That with the little black chin goatee beard has totally ID’d him as “Mr. Uniibrow” to me.
I’ll watch ‘Mr Unibrow” over the years as he grows up. He’s a member of a group that stay close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a star in years to come. He’s about 7 months old now. He’s distinctive enough I’ll have images of him from now through 4 years anyway assuming he survives.
There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.
This is a 1200mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol.
Looking through a Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal in this “Centrum” (vertebra without it’s external processes)
I saw this centrum sitting about in my outdoor rock pile lightly frosted and saw the possibilities lol. The top view is something that not many have seen. The hole is big enough to get your thumb in.
This vertebra was from the lower back area of a Hadrosaur (duckbill) dinosaur. It was found sitting on the surface in the grass at one of my sites. Sometimes all I have to do is walk around and pick stuff up lol. The neural canal was the first information super-highway. Long before fiber optics lolol.
Cretaceous Dinosaurs here in “Cretaceous Country.” Jurassic Park is way older. The End of the Cretaceous was the end of the rule of the dinosaurs over the earth. Those rocks are exposed here on ranch… The Hell Creek/Lance formations here are upper most Cretaceous sands deposited by huge sweeping rivers choked with sand. Bones were like wood then (and as big as branches mostly). Lots of small fossils too are present. Fossils of anything else that was in and around the water are discoverable along with the dinosaur stuff.
Everybody came down to drink sooner or later and was predated. The bones eventually got into the water and covered by fine grained sands and muds pretty quickly. The rivers were dumping sands by the boatload so the soon to be fossil got covered deeply quickly.
The missing processes are a result of being transported by the rivers. Any particular bone might have been buried, then re-excavated by the rivers moving back and forth meandering across the lands. We were just slightly north of the equator at the time. The continent was rotated about 90 degrees from how it is now.
Rule 1 of geology: Processes we observe today, were the same as in the past and will be in the future. Seems logical but some argue with this for what ever reason. I’m good with that.
This was taken on the morning of 11/06 (Wednesday) Exactly at sunrise. I don’t fully understand hoe this sun formed but I’ll give you my theory.. “Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline” This was a new one to me.
FIrst of all the sky was lit up pretty well through about 15 minutes of late civil twilight. So I’m watching the clock having picked my spot based on compass direction and brightness. I would point out this is EXACTLY what I was seeing through the eyepiece. At the right place at the right time this blob rose that I could have easily looked at with my naked eye. This is not a particulary bright scene which is why there is so much definition in trees.
No glare at sunrise with a “sun” must be rare. I have this on two cameras at different magnifications and framing. I have only finished this one as of yet. This was a dark scene with little light for right at sunrise. Just color and not brightness if that makes sense.
The Distorted Sun is of course sending light through hundreds of miles of atmosphere, storms, clouds etc. We actually only see a line of sight sun when it’s up somewhere ABOVE the horizon, any sun touching the horizon is actually below the line of sight. The atmospheric lens bends the suns image around thee horizon to your eye well below the line of sight.
This sun is distorted the absolute heck out of it by that “air lens”. I have not in thousands of observed/photographed sunrises/sunsets seen anything like this before. This is by far a very odd blob for a sunrise. The “sun” disappeared into the cloud banks and more or less shut down this show. I had maybe 20 seconds to get two cameras involved.
I’ve seen very formal distortions in the suns image. Stretched with a vertical elongation or sawtoothed edges I’ve seen. MIrage of the suns edge from bending around the earths surface real time I’ve watched. But I’ve never seen a blob with such color and shape? Never in my career. 😲 (Shaking head).
Filed under weird things I see working “Wyotana Skies”.
This 22 Degree Halo Perspective is a really gold colored on in my experience.
I’ve seen them white before like the clouds on the right but the mid-golden hour lighting seemed amazing to me. Click The halo is actually a transmissive rainbow of sorts. Most rainbows are reflective with the sun behind you and the. This 22 degree Halo is between the sun and you.
Sun Halo’s are not uncommon but you have to look at the sun to seen them which can be a bright thing,. Usually you have to squint eyes then block the sun with your hand to resolve them against the glare. The discussion on what a sun halo is caused by would be about 300 words so I’ll leave that for another day…..
The ranch gate here I framed quite formally with a very wide (120 degree) 10mm lens. It’s a precise frame to the Landscape/ 2×3 aspect of this capture. Done in the camera not really in the crop as this is a full sized 2×3 feet image at high resolution.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual)
Your lenses will differ but this lens focuses as close as one foot . 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). Google f-stop and learn what it means (if your trying to learn how to use your camera. (I buy some lenses based on how close they focus at a minimum. There are ways to shorten focus distances but there are problems with that too lol.
This Capture of Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is very high resolution composite:
It is composited from three high resolution 1200 mm telephoto images combined back into one image in the digital darkroom. Left image + center image+ right image = this photo… This is not taking a cell phone and swinging a phone lol… I’m considering this one of the best daytime shots I have of Devils Tower from the Pass at Rocky Point and that’s saying something 📸 This is a distance of 35 miles. The sun was setting golden hour, the air was full of ice but hadn’t gone pink just yet. Maybe 1/2 hour to sundown.
This image was taken from the snow line on the pass I was on but you can see the valleys were not covered at this capture about 10 days ago as it publishes. The snow we got last night and today took care of the snow cover in the valley. We’ve had a very early winter up here so far. The long term forecast looks to be cold and snowy. We always need the moisture but it’s a trudge sometimes to deal with all the snowfall each year.
In all fairness to the rough weather we have here in the NE part of the state. Hat’s off to the folks in Jackson Hole and the high country along the western part of the state. It’s relatively mild living here compared to the decade I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming. We used to get 6 feet flat in the back yard every year. Closer to the range folks would get 10. Cleaning snow off roofs is an industry there :).
We just enjoy MUCH more wind than Jackson Hole does. I’m not sure anyone living there appreciates the difference but I may be wrong. Migration of Wyoming folks are moving outwards not toward that area. 🙁
Pearls, Diamonds, Sapphires of several colors, opals.
Or Frozen Water?
Of course I’m a poor photographer not able to afford the former and have to work the later. I think this happened by a partially melted the refrozen flake.
Photographers notes. There are any number of macro lenses out there but the lighting is the game. I’m using a handheld LED flashlight to get so much light onto the flake against a relatively dark background. So far this year, perfectly formed snowflakes have been rare. Pellets and very fine snow powder have been my choices but for a few. I have some time remaining in Winter up here in the borderlands so it’s a matter of time. Winter is coming.
A Wind and Solar Set is a pair of usable energy alternative where nothing else is available.
I’m using “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill to pump air to de-stratify a small pond (it helps keep it open some too for barnyard ducks).
The ranch has 24 big solar panels generating electricity which mostly does water pumping in remote sites. The are most cost effective where they are no where close to electric lines. I think we have 3 wind generators set up and working small things like battery charging. As such I’m probably one of the greenest guys you know. We still pump lots of water.
The coal generated electricity pumps water to water the livestock. It’s about 30 gallons of water a day per cow in the summer. A herd of 200 cattle ( small herd) will drink 6000 gallons of water a day on a hot one….. Solar does one of our pastures completely. It was expensive to put in.
Windmills earned their keep historically with a plethora of brands dotting the landscape. There were a lot of these in this country which got electricity very late in the mid-50’s. Telephone in the 60’s. SO many of those windmills were the primary source of water for the ranch. Some places had springs up here on the “high ground” but not too many.
Most of the easy water was down in the river valleys. We are a ‘dryland’ ranch with a couple of spring fed lakes but no running water all year. We do have streams and washes that get exciting during heavy rains. Flash floods happen all the time down in the gully system around here. There is water storage on the surface here but Windmills definitely made a difference in the ability to settle the west. This Wyoming/Montana borderlands country was settled late in the early 1900’s by small ranchers.
Anybody see a face to the right of the Windmill Sail? I didn’t do it. Natural faces in clouds…