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Show Me the Ranch Gate

Show Me the Ranch Gate
Show Me the Ranch Gate

Show Me the Ranch Gate

Sunset through a Veiled sky just after the horizons shadow passed over me. The hills behind me are still in daylight. The contrasts are difficult for a camera system to capture. To have detail instead of shadow in this kind of shot speaks to the gear.

It is now mid winter up here on the ridges of Northeastern Wyoming and SouthWestern Montana. In this view west both states are in the distance. That mountain range is 40 miles distant from my camera. From the middle of the corral system next to our homestead looking west. I can’t tell you how many cattle have been through these corrals over the last 100 years. I suspect it is in the 30,000 range or there about.

Our ranch is a small “hobby” ranch versus the big ranches in the 20 Thousand Acres (or more) spread that surround me. Our place is only 3500 acres or 5.5 square miles. It’s enough to keep me busy that’s for sure. Never underestimate the power of a piece of ground to be a black hole for your time and money lol. Even worse, there are dinosaurs in this ground lolol. They take some of my effort from time to time up here too. There are 30 miles of fencing on or around my ground. I’ve spent my share of time building and fixing fences over the years. I have some fence work to do in these corrals at the moment. I had some bulls go through an outer fence behind the gate. Dang!

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

Title: Show Me the Ranch Gate

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Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych
Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych (2- 20″x20″ images)

That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.

That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.

Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.

Title: Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

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Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing
Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing

Only the Yucca and the Highest grass is standing above the snow back in this backcountry cul-de-sac of a valley. I was driving the ridges adjacent to this lower area. I’m able to drive mostly two tracks at the time I type this. It has been drifting a bit in the backcountry lately. Makes it hard on me. Tricky…

I have seen this group around in several familiar locations to them and myself. . These 3.5/4.5 year olds all have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. They have slowly started to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my new vehicle now. How I approach them is the same. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m a grazing animal. Stopping, moving a little and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before.

I wasn’t destined to integrate with the herd here, the terrain was against me getting to them in the first place. Problematic is the travel noise my rig was making. Too much noise busting over/through snow crust. Crunchy noises are not the best way to make deer comfortable I have determined. Make no mistake these are wild deer. These guys were moving slowly across the landscape trailing to bedding in this late day light. They each to an animal have seen me drive around here in my new rig quite a few times now. Hard to get this close in the snow however.

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

Title: Buck Boys Club Trailing

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Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge
Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge (Rare Halfie

The “thin layer” of Yellow Alpenglow colors the floating ice above the rising horizon covering the sun. This sets the stage across the middle of this “halfie”. I maybe take 10 ‘halfies” where the horizon is 1/2 way up the frame a YEAR. This capture won over my better instincts as it has such a big perspective. Leading lines are incoming in all directions. I think all the good things compositionally in this image over come the general rule against “halfies”.

“There seems to be no doubt that the vast quality of mutton can be grown here, pound for pound, as cheap as beef; and, if so, then sheep-raising must be profitable if cattle-raising is.”

Silas Reed, surveyor general of the Wyoming Territory, from his report for 1871.

It took a while for the notion of raising sheep to catch on out on the frontier. Eastern states and Ohio raised most of America’s sheep early on in the migration west. . Small numbers of sheep arrived in Wyoming as early as 1847 according to Levi Edgar Young’s The Founding of Utah, a Mormon pioneer company that left Omaha in July 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 19 included 358 sheep.

Back to the present. The stone Sheepherders Cairn just to the right of the sun has stood perhaps for 100 years acting as a marker or boundary point . Sometimes they were a place for a supply drop for the backcountry solitary herder hanging out with the sheep. The herder protected the sheep of course from coyotes/lions/other predators. They usually lived out of a covered wagon for months at a time literally alone with their flock.

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

Title: Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge

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Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains
Road to the Misty Mountains

Road to the Misty Mountains

The Journey we are on is varied in the paths we take. Many roads traveled and many not. Some choices were made to get where we are. Many were correct in the decision. Others might have been best remembered as a detour along the way.

As travelers, often we must choose between two bad choices others times the choice seems clear. I’m my journey, I have seen the best laid plans fail, and the least anticipated outcomes prevail against all logic. I’ve learned not to swim upstream. I try to float with the current that tows us all along with it’s inexorable pull.

Time and space occupy my thoughts some of the time. Oh not outer space but inner space. For I feel our understanding of what is “without” will be found from “within”. Much of what I observe externally conforms to my beliefs on how the mechanics of the universe I learned from my teachers. Their thoughts gathered from their professors and handed down thusly. The understanding of generations of observers of the natural world painstakingly and sometimes erroneously recited. There is a loss of information in the game of telephone.

The one truism I have learned during my many steps. Things are the way they are, not the way you are told or what you think. I always re-evaluate and modify my path to conform to the values that I have accepted over those miles. Just like taking a path down an untraveled snowy two track off into the distance. One must choose ones’ path carefully.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming

Title: Road to the Misty Mountains

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Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands
Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands
Iridescent Clouds Over We

Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

This capture was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. Our eyes have MUCH more dynamic range than the best cameras. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.

Years ago I used to think this color in clouds was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.

This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range as our eyes do. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting.

The wetlands here are holding this ice in reserve. As it warms in the spring, the water trapped with in will start working it’s way down the Mississippi River. The catfish and what ever else that is living under the foot thick ice here waits for the melt. Everything is on hold till green season.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Iridescent Clouds Over Wetlands

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Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise
Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise


Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

Textures in Twilight and sidelight. Using the headlights / LED lightbar of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV from the side on the fence. The textures and shadow details would have remained muted without the extra light. A nice coating of first hoar frost then everything got coated in snow from a blow. Click!

This posted in late-January, we have had a marked lack of snow since about early November. Right now it’s ice season. I was in Gillette last night walking across a parking lot and I’d say it was actually an ice rink. Everything was wet during the day and within minutes of sunset, it turned to ice. I don’t get into town very much thankfully. We actually don’t have that problem living with gravel. The closest asphalt is 15 miles from this location. 

This location is about 2 miles from the nearest gravel road. Only two track trails covered in bumpy ice are access routes to the backcountry. There is usually no easy way up on the ridges this time of year typically. Right now if it’s not muddy, I can zip right up to the high country. Usually I’m plowing paths just to get on top. If I don’t mind the bumps, I’m good to go 🙂 If this mid-winter drought keeps up, we will be short going into the year as we get MOST of our moisture from the winter snows. Those snows are what fills up the lakes and ponds on the ranch. 

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

Title: Frosty Fence Brace Sunrise

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Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid
Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid

Satire: (Did I mention this is Satire?)

I see lots of things on the “way up the hill” to photograph sunsets. Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill photobombed my divergent shadow landscape yet again! (exasperated look on my face). He hangs out (mostly) about 1/4 mile up that hill I often travel to. I’m not sure how he manages to get into my landscapes but he seems to. I have no control over his actions…. 👀

Stories about “Sneaky Pete’s” accomplishments have spread far and wide. He has his legend and then there is actually living in the neighborhood with the guy. What happened here is he got a BIG idea about a Wind/Solar Hybrid invention and I think he was trying to communicate the specifics to me. I’m not good at translating him being much better with deer translations of stories than “windmillian”. Tough to communicate with him, he speaks faster or slower depending on the wind speed and that throws off my cadence…. 🤔😜😜📷 I have so much to learn…. I speak geology not Windmill…..

He is such an attention hound. In fairness though he is known as a skillful negotiator with the deer. He’s helped me before with various “deals” with the various herds to get them to sit for me I’m sure of it.😀

Windmill Weekend, Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘😜

Back to my normal programming ….

So I was actually surprised by this capture. I technically was working those aforementioned divergent shadows with a high f-stop on a wide angle lens. The high contrast environment lends itself for a good perspective image. “Sneaky Pete” provides scale for the foreground which was my interest. Winter in Wyotana..

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

Title: Windmill and Solar Hybrid

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Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds
Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

I occasionally go on long morning drives after a fresh snow to see what I can see. I will drive a big loop maybe 30-40 miles working what ever I come across that interests me. Mostly untapped by photographers the back roads of Wyoming are. . There are a few of us up here but not many doing this full time.

So I had drive a big round trip circuit and was just about back. Now this is a “major” local artery. It’s a Gravel Road but it’s usually a fairly busy road. Here it is on a Sunday morning at 9AM with no tracks but my own. I was surprised by it. The road I live on is often untracked most weekends unless I drive over it. You don’t want to break down out here. No cell phone service and no body coming by since the night before say 18 hours at least. There are some very remote parts of Wyotana I cruise about where I would expect that but not so much here.

Snow Diamonds (Diamond Dust)

All Blue Sky morning it was Diamond Dusting. Can it really snow on a cloudless, sunny day? It can if it’s diamond dust. It was pretty light so ore like Mother Nature’s tinsel than snow, this weather bonus is caused by millions of tiny ice crystals that form near the ground. As they float slowly in the air (much like household dust) they reflect the sunlight, which makes them sparkle like diamonds! A very similar phenomena is responsible for sun pillars both below and above the sun. Here those ice crystal plates fell all the way to the ground.

You see them on the road as bright sparkles.

Location :Trail Creek Road , 9 miles east from Rt’s 59, . Northeastern Wyoming, Campbell Country looking west up into Montana.

Title: Untracked Mid-Morning Snow Diamonds

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Perspective Warm Deer Bed

Perspective Warm Deer Bed
Perspective Warm Deer Bed

Perspective Warm Deer Bed

A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a deer bedded on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, the deer would be safe from any snow that would be falling short of blowing snow. . The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Other Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing/finding them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

We call these high ridges that I work photographically, “Little Siberia” which is appropriate as we usually have snow when others around us living lower don’t. We get some good winds up this high. I’ve had a recorded 78mph gust here back in 2012 I think. We get 60mph winds several times a summer. It’s natures way of tree trimming in the backcountry. Now it’s just plain cold lolol.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective Warm Deer Bed

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Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

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 icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. 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 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

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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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Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset
Perspective #8: Antique Deering Seeder's Early Winter Chill

Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

As the snow moved into the region this fall, here in October, there was still green grass around. Not so much now in early January. Brown and White season is upon us. It’s a mix at the moment. Most of the foot of snow we accumulated turning to ice over a couple of warm days a few weeks back. January can be quite cold up here in the Wyoming/Montana hinterlands.

This old antique is immune to the cold, unaware of the beauty around it. There is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon sky it enjoys. I’m sure glad it is sitting on a ridge top with a view.

This is a slightly uphill aspect this late in the year with the sun so far to the south. If I stood up, I could see the horizon but not from ground level. The sun here was diving into a cloud bank that ultimately would cut my photo session shorter than I would have liked. Mid-Winter, this location can be unreachable by Jeep. We will see how the new truck does busting drifts. 35 inch studded snow tires and a lot of ground clearance is a good thing for this environment I have discovered.

The high ridges I work in this country are a constant source of amusement for me. I never know exactly who or what I’m going to run into. I have random encounters with a host of wildings virtually every trip. Then there are the staples like this old seeder hanging out

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

Title: Perspective Snowy Seeder Sunset

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Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree
Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree (with all due respect to Mario Lanza I changed the title to my image to Oh instead of O….)

Even the Wildlings way out in the backcountry have decorated trees to enjoy this Christmas day. A trillion of these moments in space and time happen all the time. It is a matter of realizing the possibilities and having the technology (in your hand) to capture the image.

Each and every one of these trees was casting a hugely contrasting shadow. I just had to pick the place where I could see the whole shadow. Again topography controls / limits my photography. That gravity thing is also a problem.

This well blown snow accumulates around the Yucca Plants. While where I’m standing is only about 6 inches, there are places in the hollows where it’s knee deep. Getting here was half the fun of this photograph 📸🎄 I’m locked out of most of the backcountry now. I have to plow a road if I want to get up on the big ridge. A couple of miles of plowing but I like to wait for a big storm to come through and blow around. Let it drift abit before I take the time and diesel fuel to clear a path.

Hope Christmas morning was blessed with family and gift giving to all of you. It’s right around noon as this posts and it’s gonna be time for a nap sometime soon lol.

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

Title: Oh Christmas Tree

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MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect
MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.

High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. THe ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formatoin and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

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Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight
Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight is a 3 second time exposure under very dark Nautical Twilight skies.

Nothing but Moonlight is illuminating this 40 mile deep landscape. The “Red Hills” are the distant ridge across the wide “Little Powder” River valley. I am located 600 feet above the valley floor on the Pass road (Trail Creek) to Rockypoint Wyoming. Looking toward the west/northwest the moon is about as far north as it travels in it’s movement around the planet.

There is no way to properly expose the moon AND gather the very faint light reflected back at my lens. So it might as well be as bright as the sun up in the corner. This is definitely hard to color correct. There were a lot of subtle hues and tones that weren’t natural because of the time exposure. The cloud highlights are indeed excessive as the time exposure allowed it to over saturate. Without digitally replacing that whole area of the image, I decided to leave it as it is.

Photorealism goes out the window a time exposure. They seem to always excessively expose something it seems lolol. Still the technology is very limited in it’s ability to see as well as the human eye which could resolve this. Reading under this light MIGHT be possible under moonlight . No camera on earth could bring this out with the moon’s face properly exposed. To do otherwise would be to have a composite image and not a genuine unaltered photo in this light.

Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road, Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. That’s Montana off in the distance. I am standing about 4 miles from the Montana border and those mountains ARE in Montana. (Wyotana)

Title: Landscape Under Moonlight

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Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…

There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.

The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.

I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

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Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry

Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry

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Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse
Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

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.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse.

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From Under the Snag

From Under the Snag
From Under the Snag

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”.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: From Under the Snag

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Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

Frosty ComTower Guy Wires
Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

WIth these Frosty ComTower Guy Wires being covered by 1/8th inch of ice, they had a sag in them but not too muchmuch. I have seen them much more heavily loaded. This tower has been on this ridgetop for over a decade now. There was a LOT of thought that went into this connections.

Engineering is not my forte but I’ve had to dabble at times. I’m a ham Radio Operator plus our business band so we need a com tower lol. This is 1 of the three cable connection points that holds up the 60 foot tall structure on a tall ridge. It sees other towers in the area which enable us and others to get broadband up here. Our internet is pretty fast at times. (at times being the key phrase lol) .

There is an 8 foot long dead man 4inch diameter pipe. Thus is attached well the Rod that comes out of the ground attaching to the turnbuckles. The cables are all triple clamped of course. Look carefully at the rod as it comes out of the ground. There are spikes welded to it.

Those Points at the base dissipate static. This takes some potential away from the tower itself. Everything is thermite welded copper connections, lightning there instead of the taller tower that has smooth edges. Sharp point metal attract lightning. These are the points of ionization /static build up dicharge. They are a good start to a plasma ionized air channel to a lightning bolt. There is a ring and a “star” of recycled copper water pipe buried several feet deep as a ground plain and a grounding network.

This system has been in a lightning rich area high on an exposed ridge with a 60 foot tower of steel pointing straight up to the sky. For over a decade, I’ve never lost any Equipment to lightning up there so far. The building there is a faraday cage literally. Lightning has stayed out of there to date.

Contrast is king in this photo I’m thinking. 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

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Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Wyoming Roaming Road Block
Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Here the local Wyoming Roaming Road Block was down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. These are Pronghorn Bucks still with antlers (not for long) and does mixed. They are on the move migrating down to that remote grassland to winter over the rough Wyoming Winter.

As this was taken, I was on the road to Gillette from my ranch for a ‘day trip”. It’s about 25 gravel road miles to this spot. Then another 12 miles of gravel before I run into concrete in the form of St. Rt. 59 (Wyoming) .

The Thundbasin National Grasslands are huge chunks (several spread around a few states) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with very few inholdings by private land holders. These ‘reserves” are hundreds of square miles of just an occasional power line and stock well or solar well. Of course there is the obligatory oil well facility but these guys don’t care about buildings. Usually geothermally warm water is the only running water and there is a few of those sources around here. They are oasis’s in the winter for wildlife living near them.

I’ve seen many very large herds of Pronghorn roaming just off one of the few maintained roads out there. Vehicle traffic is prohibited within the national grasslands. The only way to get miles back and up high is to horseback or walk in. I gave up horses a decade ago and walking more than a few miles backcountry with 20 pounds or so of gear gets pretty old pretty fast in the winter I have found. Reminds me of deer hunting when I was way younger. I’ll stick to the roads down in this country lol.

Location:25 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Thunder Basin National Grasslands, Campbell County Wyoming.

Title: Wyoming Roaming Road Block

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Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge
Perpective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

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.

Location; “Ridge One”, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Backcountry Snowy Ridge

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Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced
Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

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 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

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Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon

Red Barn, Hills, Road and Moon
Red Barn, Hills, Road and Moon

The Red colorcast here (pink really) pushing through hundreds of miles of atmosphere gave a “Belt of Venus” accent to the already Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon.

The Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out. With the moon being a bit further away at 239,000 miles as a result it’s slightly squashed by the atmospheric lens effects. This is about 4 miles from my ranch.

I imagine a red truck parked in the red barn. Soon driving on the red gravel road to the “Red Hills” (their name). All the time with the red moon to lead you. This was taken from said red country road. That is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here.

The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. Anything under 2 hours is considered pretty close by up here. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association and is managed under that operation. The old buildings here were built out of locally obtained. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand.

Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Barn: Hills: Road and Moon

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Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck

Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck
Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck

Snow Dumping on a Pronghorn Buck (or “Winter is coming” )

Winter has been here for a months already and we’re seeing snow on the ground full time now for a week anyway. This Pronghorn Buck is crossing in front of a Game trail Camera while Snow is just Dumping on him lol. Based on the timeline of images, he was following a doe through the gate walking right along the trail. I set my camera up to be focused right on the trail. This particular camera is in a very good spot ! 📸

Pronghorn Migration South

The Pronghorn are migrating now and I’m seeing groups I have never seen on ranch. Moving through here toward the south from up in Montana. They are following ancient migration routes that the cowboys used to move cattle in the late 1800’s from Miles City Montana down to Newcastle Wyoming. The local version of the “Texas Trail” runs right through the western side of our ranch. Fences are little obstacle to these animals which play the “limbo game” effortlessly. They usually do go under but I do have a few photos of Pronghorn going over fences.

I figure most of those animals that lived on ranch all summer are mostly 10 -20 miles south. They are working their way to the ThunderBasin National Grasslands where they have moving water (not frozen) and good feed. There are only a few roads through a pretty big piece of remote real estate between the Powder River Basin and the Wyoming Black Hills. Many Hundreds of square miles for herds to congregate in. Many ranchers maintain water stock tanks during the winter. This helps more on the margins but water is a rare thing up here when it’s been 30 below for a week.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Snow Dumping on Pronghorn Buck (or “Winter is coming” )

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Overlook to the Red Hills

Overlook to the Red Hills
Overlook to the Red Hills

I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture up on an Overlook to the Red Hills. As you can see by the grass, its quite windy at this moment. I’m in the shadow of a big cloud looking over the Little Powder River Valley to the Red Hills from thisoverlook. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. Antique Deering Seeder with a View

This 1930’s Deering (IH) Seed Driss has been up here a while. It has view that reach 180 miles horizon to horizon easily. This old antique planted much of the grass species in many of our hay fields generations ago. Progeny of those 1920’s seeds still populate the local grasslands today. It’s in pretty rough shape with animals rubbing against it every year, weather, freezing/thawing being the worst on the wood. This will be here another couple of hundred years as the steel frame is quite intact.

I can’t imagine the sunsets and views this old soldier of the ridge top has seen. It’s seen weather fronts, meteor showers, comets, sunset/rises, twilights, storms, lightning and god knows what else . It’s been watching roughly since Herbert Hoover was president after all. That’s a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery

We just got this snow storm and it’s been on the ground for a week now. Snow is starting to accumulate in the backcountry. The low areas are drifting in and are a nice trap for intrepid photographers driving about in 6 inches of snow blowing about. I am waiting for a new truck to change out my too bumpy Jeep Grand Cherokee but for now, the Jeep will have to do. No production schedule on the 2020 truck I’m ordering.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Driving into the Western Sunset

Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana
Driving into the Sunset: Backroads of Wyotana

When your on the local “main road and yourDriving into the Western Sunset on the Backroads of Wyomint and Montana was taken on the Equinox when the sun set straight to the west at 270 degrees corrected for magnetic declination. This section of road is by coincidence also straight east and west. The horizon is 50 miles out and the sun is a minute from being covered by the rising horizon. (You know the sun is not setting but the horizon is rising about 4 inches the time it takes a rifle bullet to travel 1000 yards….. It only take around 3 minutes for the sun to be covered by the horizon once it touches the sun. This varies with the season because the tilt of the earth’s polar axis with the solar ecliptic

It’s starting to get icy more often. As I type this we’re in the middle of a snowy period. Winter is coming (contemporary reference)


Location, close to the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Driving into the Western Sunset

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Pronghorn Buck Enjoying a Dusting of Snow

Pronghorn Buck Enjoying a Dusting of Snow
Pronghorn Buck Enjoying a Dusting of Snow

The NICE pronghorn Buck was wet, frosted and generally enjoying this early Dusting of Snow. This game trail camera capture from a very well placed location. I got about 300 quite good images of antelope and deer from this camera last month. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them all but I’ve got them lol.

The problem with game trail camera captures is they all have major problems I have to fix in the digital darkroom. They are so candid that I am happy to put the work into the image. But they are still a pain to deal with.

2×3 aspect (landscape).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as Hell)

Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as Hell)
Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as Hell)

This was a Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as hell) that day last winter.

I’m reposting some of the image I really like to get them current and uploaded. I love this as a pure landscape. This is the top of “Ranch Creek” The road is the Pass road to Belle Creek and Alzeda Montana should I choose to drive that way :). I own the rocky hill in the foreground as one of the furthest north into Montana piece of my ranch. Beyond are other ranches.
Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.