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Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets
Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.

Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.

Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

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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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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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Great Pumpkin Rising

Great Pumpkin Rising
Halloween Eyes from a Setting Sun

These Evil Halloween Eyes from a rising sun I took a week ago as this posts. I’m always on the lookout for the Great Pumpkin Rising.🎃 I caught him here just sticking his nose over the hill top. Particularly at this time of year when all the supernatural creatures are out and about roaming the backcountry just waiting for an unsuspecting photographer to wander by… As if all the photobombing windmills were not enough for me to deal with……😜

The Sun was down below the horizon, this is a night sky, the spot lights from the sun’s down angle illuminating and lighting up the atmospheric ice suspended in the air…. It gave me this effect and several others interesting images as the clouds changed over the timeline. This is a ridge 40 miles out so a pretty small part of the sky which was pretty dark. These sky shows each have their own personality, sometimes several bi-polar sunset/sunrises hit me in a row lol. . I try and like to think I can read a sky like the actor Bill Paxton’s character in the movie “Twister” except I try to predict good or bad sunrise/sunset ahead of time to figure out what to do instead of where to chase the tornado as in that B movie lolol. More likely one of my many Delusions… yup 😄

Share freely with the season. It’s a natural photo not a digital concoction I swear. This stuff really happens… I just set my gear and click …..📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Layers of Landscape and the “Red Hills” 40 miles Distant

Layers of Landscape and the "Red Hills" 40 miles Distant
Layers of Landscape and the "Red Hills" 40 miles Distant

40 Miles distant from the Camera’s lens, I’m at the same elevation at that snowy far ridge “Red Hills” in this Layers of Landscape image. Big views from up here 👁
Spotlightling was rife that sunset (about a week ago). Your looking across the Montana/Wyoming border as I’m standing in Montana. It’s snowy where I am too. We got 4 inches of heavy wet snow but the ground in the valley’s got rain. Rinse and repeat all winter lolol. I have never seen it this green up here in OCTOBER up here in the 20 years I’ve lived here!!!!!!!


Geologic Note: The big Valley is the Little Powder River Drainage. It’s about 6 feet wide at the moment. It removed all that sediment between here and there though…. 🤔
From where I stand, the originally flat layers of sediments are Diving underground 50 feet every mile generally in that direction more underground. They dive into the LARGE Powder River Basin at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles distant. The Basin is literally a downwarping of the earths crust forming a wave where the wave crest was eroded away to form the Big Horn Mountains, which wore away and filled up the wave trough (the bathtub next to the mountains where all the coal swamps formed) So the Dinosaur bone bearing Sand Beds that blanket my ranch disappear about two miles west of my house diving underground and younger rocks are on the surface. The BigHorns happened After the Dinosaurs 😎

The “Red Hills” are called such because they have a LOT of usually/mostly Red “Clinker” rocks which are coal fired “underclay” that turned to a natural ceramic by the underground fires. It is literally a coarse uneven ceramic in hardness and “Clinks” when it drops. Native Americans made a LOT of tools from it. Lewis and Clark thought it was of volcanic origin. Large outcrops of it exist all over the area and it’s mined as gravel for roads after crushing. Lots of rattle snakes live in “Clinker” dens. The Clinker shrinks as part of the process leaving voids which are homes for many creatures on the surface but often make for local perched water tables that occasionally are big enough for light local use.


Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Great Pumpkin in the Sky #2

Great Pumpkin in the Sky #2
Great Pumpkin in the Sky #2

This really is the Great Pumpkin in the Sky as it is totally unmolested in the digital darkroom as to the face and color. (It is natural and really happened like this) IT was very bright of course which is when everything else is silhouette.

This is called spotlighting and somewhere there was sunlight illuminating the landscape like a beam from above. Everywhere else was getting dark fast from the overcast and setting sun.

This is a telephoto shot so your actually looking at a ridge about a mile away and the sun is a bit bigger that the face… The bottom of the sun is in fact the bottom outline of the “mouth” at the top at the tree top where it sat down for a micro-second resting after it’s climb to it’s zenith. It’s been all down hill for about 6 hours but think of all that effort ! Must be tired 🤣

Happy Halloween and share freely if you wish.

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

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Autumn Landscape in the Borderlands of Wyoming:Montana

Autumn Landscape in the Borderlands of Wyoming:Montana
Autumn Landscape in the Borderlands of Wyoming:Montana

An Autumn Landscape in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana.

I’m standing on a hill top in Montana about 4 miles north of the Ranch on the right side of the image. I’m shooting south into Wyoming across some of our place 40 miles out to the cloud decked “Red Hills”.

This is without a doubt, the greenest I’ve ever seen this landscape and I’ve been watching it cycle between white green and brown season for 20 years.

I’ve yet to really see brown season and I NEVER even had to fill up my fire truck this year :). Snow tomomorrow…. A big storm is moving through and through thursday we’re getting dumpted on. I still have a few chores to winterize totally but I’ll get another chance. Pretty much done with the important stuff…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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An Inverted Crown Sky with a Monster Face

An Inverted Crown Sky with a Monster Face
An inverted This inverted Crown Sky (crepuscular rays) pointing downward and outward.  The perspective of a shot like this is hard to understand unless you know that this is also a VERY wise shot over 120 degrees across.   If you like my work, you might want to follow my personal page or visit my gallery page at your leisure.   Sky with a Monster Face

This inverted Crown Sky is one of the more rare skies I occasionally get the privilege of photographicing.

All The Crepuscular rays are diverging away from the position in the sky the sun is in. The Monster face was obvious and natural. I did nothing to the form of this image.

I’m typing this on Wednesday night. It will post on most social media and several FB forums automatically on Friday morning :).

This inverted Crown Sky (crepuscular rays) pointing downward and outward. The perspective of a shot like this is hard to understand unless you know that this is also a VERY wide shot over 120 degrees across.

If you like my work, you might want to follow my personal page or visit my gallery page at your leisure. From about the middle of last week, everything I post here is for sale on that gallery page www.blissphotographics.com

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.