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Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline
Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is no snow or mud on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrived this morning, it was still Nautical Twilight with maybe 30 minutes to go till sunrise. The sky starts to light up quickly from here on. , the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife.

There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken in early May. Dry year so far but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops. Looking up this hill for proper perspective, no lower yellow band yet. The yellow hasn’t made it this far yet.. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting. It’s below the camera’s threshold of Dynamic Range. My eye’s could see landscape here. Not the camera though… 👀👀📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Twilight Crimson Skyline

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Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts
Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀

This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.

The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.

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

Title: Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

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Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette
Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

(May 2020, third/last supermoon of the year) I was fortunate to have worked them all. This month I only had one opportunity to work it against the landscape. I have 4 quality images from this month’s full moon which is about par for the course. Without a doubt this image is the best one I have obtained from this combination.

This one is somewhat similar to others I’ve taken and I’ve shot this tree many times as it’s only a mile from my driveway. However the burgundy (muted pink light) alpenglow, details in the dark and the dynamic range of this one makes my heart pitty pat… 📸📸

I’ve taken a few photos of this tree in front of various astronomic occurrences. It is indeed a lone tree on that position about 1000 yards away from where I took this image.

Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon. This makes using Tripods very difficult as you have a moving target. Maybe a monopod. This however was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree.

Practicing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other tripping over sage. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.Bear with me as capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a serious challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this. This composition is a tough one to capture in this low light/long focal field combination. 📸

2×3 aspect to 3 feet. Rested 1200 mm lens on “Clever Girl’s” drivers window.

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Lone Tree Moon Silhouette

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Muted Layers of Sunset

Muted Layers of Sunset
Muted Layers of Sunset

Muted Layers of Sunset

I photographically work hundreds of sunrise and sunset landscapes every year. Having seen most variations of that theme, I’m always looking for rare variations. By definition each sky show is unique with attributes usually pleasing to the eye. This deep complex sky caught my attention out of the pile of “to do” images waiting for attention. This capture I absolutely adore.

It’s REALLY HARD to be an accurate photorealistic artist reproducing images as I recall / experienced the scene. I see SO many tweeked / over colorized images posted on the photography forums. When you see electric blues and pure oversaturated colors, you should just keep scrolling past them in my humble opinion. I very RARELY see deep electric blue skies in the real world for example.

These muted colors with the deep red layers buried far behind the cloud deck covering the “Red Hills (the ridges name). I could have easily intensified those layers in the digital dark room. This would have turned this into a deep crimson and the yellow would be canary detail less yellow with very blue clouds below. That is some artists stock and trade. Take a photo, bring it into photoshop and turn up the “volume” on the color sliders. It’s a cheap and unsophisticated way to get attention.

The camera technology I use is totally inadequate to accomplish what my eye sees. They don’t have the dynamic range human eyes do. To compensate for this, I reproduce these scenes precisely the way that nature presented them to me. I actually can see the scene live real time in my lens as I adjust the dials. Thusly I am able to A/B that scene with what is in the sky at the time. They still take work to fix…..I have been an art director of 9 other graphic artists and print buyer of many many publications. I would NEVER buy for publication or print an impossibly colored nature scene. (Hint to those artists out there that like using color enhancing slider controls). To do it right is MUCH harder and way more professional. The other professionals instantly know cheap tricks…

Would you rather see nature or some digital dark room mutation?

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Muted Layers of Sunset

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Vulture Culture Barnyard Overlook

Vulture Culture Barnyard Overlook
Vulture Culture Barnyard Overlook

Vulture Culture Barnyard Overlook

So my wife Patty was gardening here at the homestead when she heard a ‘Lot of Flapping”…. It was a surprise to see this huge vulture directly overhead. I’m pretty sure this was a rest stop on it’s way. It wasn’t particularly interesting in moving. So Patty walks across the yard, comes inside where I was cleaning up a bit. She mentions to me that a “vultures are circling” and I need to grab a camera….

Never being one to refuse an offer from my wife to get out of a cleaning job. I figured the bird had departed before bringing a camera to into play. As I stepped out the side door, it was certainly checking me out. Now when a Vulture is considering the possibilities….. a bit disconcerting…. The light was terrible being totally overcast. It wasn’t that bright which in and of itself is problematic. Hand held tight telephoto shots prefer good lighting. Leaning against a deck post I rest the camera and spin some dials. I took about 15 images just to eliminate the blurring from my moving the camera. I think I got 2 sharp images out of the batch. Having gotten the capture, I was lucky enough to go back to my cleaning chores lolol.

Turkey Vultures feed exclusively on carrion though I suspect this one was checking out all the nesting ducks about the barnyard stationary in their egg sitting. Having the best sense of smell of any bird, they can detect carrion over a mile away. All have featherless heads to keep the carrion from fouling the feathers.. Adults as here have a bright red head. Juveniles have a head that is blackish in color. These are not to be confused for the smaller black vulture. I’ve observed them riding thermals in large flocks before. That visual spectacle referred to as “kettling.”

Nesting by laying two egg under a rock overhang but on bare rock. Nesting starts in Wyoming as late as the first part of July. Both parents incubate and care for the defenseless young for a period of 9 to 11 weeks. They feed them through regurgitation. Regurgitation is also used by both adults and juveniles as a defense mechanism. This is one of the less pleasant defense strategies in the animal kingdom I’m thinking. No other animal hunts turkey vultures to any degree. I understand they are taken on a very rare occasion by larger raptors such as eagles, and young or eggs may be consumed by predators Feeding on decomposing flesh (and the willingness to use it in defense) apparently has its benefits.

Location: in our backyard… Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Vulture Culture Barnyard Overlook

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Visual Tunnel Forest Frame

Visual Tunnel Forest Frame
Visual Tunnel Forest Frame

Visual Tunnel Forest Frame

I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. Here I actually walked to the ridge top to work this visual tunnel.

There is SO much going on here. Looking through a tunnel but what to what light at the end lol ?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge towards the sun. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too. Gotta love yellow late afternoon Alpenglow…

Musings:

I am fortunate to use technology that lets me evaluate the wonder of such scenes. I see live real time images as this in my view finder. Mirrorless cameras are WONDERFUL that way. You couldn’t even look at your focus with a DSLR camera without risking your eyesight. Bright scenes and DSLR are not usually good friends.. If you don’t know the difference between the two camera types, it’s time to do some homework. Particularly if your considering a purchase. I now consider DLSR cameras as the “Beta Max” of the current production camera world.📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Visual Tunnel Forest Frame

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Wyotana Mule Deer Train

Wyotana Mule Deer Train
Wyotana Mule Deer Train

Wyotana Mule Deer Train

I was following this group for a while. They were not terribly concerned. The herd was moving from grazing pasture to a water tank about a mile distant from where they were feeding. I find they tend not to wander too far from their water. This “gang” is about 1/3rd males, 1/3 pregnant females and 1/3 yearlings. All of the males are just now in velvet with fairly new antler buds coming in. The largest set of antlers in this group is about 4 inches long. Those horns will grow rapidly over the next month or two.

There were a few more stragglers spread out behind the group off frame with 20 total in this group. Only 15 in the frame as my telephoto will only pull back so far. I’m thinking this was 300 yards out as I recall the scene from my position of being left behind by a fenceline I couldn’t cross. The sun had JUST popped over the ridge. The shadows were very long and what stood out more than the deer to me was their shadows. If this were only on snow lolol. (better shadows but I’d sure like the extra water going into a dry year already 😔.)

The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring which is just now happening. Then they break up into smaller groups soon. Finally small groups does with fawns. Boys Clubs of buck only buddies form quickly. Only to regroup again later in the fall again. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Wyotana Mule Deer Train

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Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Spring Rain Showers Wyotana
Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

Complex cloud systems have been moving through the area this late brown season (early spring) capture from late April. The day was exciting with actual lightning (first of the year). I dug around and found the 2 lightning triggers I use and worked this storm. They were last used last August (ish) , one of them was on, still had battery… (stored in the dark). 👀

I “Think” that those are Anti-crepuscular rays cross cutting into rain/sleet/hail shafts falling from this sporty little storm. I find the back side of isolated afternoon storms are WAY more interesting than the front side. I seldom chase storms but I sure as heck did last night follow a rainbow right as dusk. It will take a week for those images to find their way forward into my workflow.. Love the face peering up and right above the main shaft.

So This weather is very summer like so I’m declaring officially that “Spring Came and Went” on a Friday this year. Last year it was on a Tuesday. Brown season ends pretty much now though we are still in danger of frost for another two weeks as this posts. These storms made it quite muddy, the grass will grow but I don’t get into the backcountry when it is muddy as much. This is not necessarily convenient to the working of light that appears randomly and not always when the two tracks roads are passable. I washed about 200 pounds of mud off my Ford Raptor Last night and that was from the main roads…..👅📸

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

Title: Spring Rain Showers Wyotana

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Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar
Reflections Sun Pillar

Reflections Sun Pillar

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well but not usually in a lake. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere of course . A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling like parachutes hexagonal plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about twice the angle of your normal vision.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required for this to occur. The crystals, flat 6 sided plates all. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that a pillar 5-10 degrees pillar is not unusual. This is silly tall. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

I arrived at this remote location about 5 minutes too late to get the sun on the lake. Mapped in my head now… 👀📸.

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

Title: Reflections Sun Pillar

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Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show
Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. This was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold. It was “breezy” this morning few weeks ago (as this posts). At 15 degrees F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50 and CAN be t-shirt weather. A Jackson Hole “Ex” resident, I’ve literally walked around in -20 on a calm day in a t-shirt.. I dress in layers and it’s a “dry cold” lolol.

Photographic Musings:

Working in really cold conditions with cameras:

I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now. I’m getting wussy in my old age 😜

For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.

I even had my Ford Raptor to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.

Working out of a car window in the cold:

You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge Backcountry Show

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“W” Butte Golden Hour

"W" Butte Golden Hour
"W" Butte Golden Hour

“W” Butte Golden Hour

That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️

So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.

Custer certainly saw that Butte on his travels through this high country ridge/stream valley country.. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though…. he was distracted it seems. I’m still trying to figure out where the 7th’s calvary’s pay (in gold) was stashed during that journey. Such speculation can drive people wild. What they ignore in their madness is that the treasure in this country is the land itself. ⚒🤔☯

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

Title: “W” Butte Golden Hour

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Backcountry Look Out Duty

Backcountry Look Out Duty
Backcountry Look Out Duty

Backcountry Look Out Duty

Sometimes I actually have time during an encounter with wildlife to compose the image. The Ying and the Yang of this stood out “Biggly”. This gal was 50 feet above me and about 200 yards out. She was walking slowly unafraid of my presence. Then she paused and surveyed all that lay before her. This high ridge has AMAZING views off to where she is looking. I have to think that she is aware and appreciative of the vista I share with her daily. I believe to the depths of my soul that I have seen deer watch the sunset right along with me. Enjoying the whole show. I’m usually trying to get them between me and the sun lol. Occasionally I’m trying to be between them and the sun. Either way, I’m always maneuvering for the “angle” lolol. 📸

Certainly she is quite aware of her environment. Enhanced smell, excellent hearing with those big mule shaped ears with eagle eyes/excellent night vision. I’ve watched deer carefully as my photographic OCD brings me into close proximity with them regularly. They have “watched” me too lol. There is a certain amount of familiarity the local deer herds have to me and my vehicles. They are still wild have no misconception about that. They just think of me as another creature out here that has never done them any harm. A good photographer will never scare or ‘push’ the animals. You won’t get another chance to take their photo later if you do.

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

Title: Backcountry Look Out Duty

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Wonderful Winter Wetlands

Wonderful Winter Wetlands
Wonderful Winter Wetlands

Wonderful Winter Wetlands

The mist over the water in this remote backcountry wetland was wafting slowly with the below freezing breeze above. This mid-spring Wyotana wetland capture was taken right as the sun cracked over the far ridge to the east shadowing this ground about 15 minutes longer than sunrise. Sunrise time depends on if the horizon is above you topographically or not lolol.

A snowy/frosty/blowy storm came through after a week of thawing weather melted most ice on local ponds. Rime Snow coated most exposed objects but the mist from the water definitely hoar frosted the far trees totally. Wind blowing that mist that refroze on the trees in the distance. I probably should have taken a walk over to those trees with a few good cameras but the aforementioned breeze with below freezing weather dissuaded me. Wind Chill cutting through the cracks in my cold armor is always a consideration in cold weather.

I see much wildlife in and around these lakes but they were no where to be seen this frosty morning. I suspect they were bedded down somewhere close by staying out of the cold breeze. Sheltered (lower) areas like this are an oasis from the blowing and drifting usually. The trees and topography “helping” with the natural wind break. A source of open water in places due to the spring fed nature of the lakes, many local animals winter over here.

Spring in Wyotana is a fleeting season. I think it was on a thursday last year. Winter usually lasts until May 15, then it’s green season. Green season is variable depending on the rains of course but Spring…. it’s usually about a day long. 🤔😜📷

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

Title: Wonderful Winter Wetlands

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Red Fox White Snow

Red Fox White Snow
Red Fox White Snow

Red Fox White Snow

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras. About 8 of them were inaccessible to me from December 2019 until mid-April 2020. In other words I have thousands of images to go through. This is one such image of a thickly Winter Coated Red Fox. Vulpes vulpes is the scientific genus and species to this largest of the true foxes. The species is not unique to Wyotana occurring across the entire Northern Hemisphere. It is not endangered with a stable population. Looks about 30 pounds to me at 18 inches tall. Beautiful Animal that I’ve only seen a few times in the wild. They tend to be elusive and wary of humans.

Foxes are known for their intelligence with a smattering of cunning in their reputation. Loners and solitary hunters all feeing on small game. They are omnivorous however not being above fruit and vegi’s with a side of fish, and an earth worm garnish.

I place Game Trail Cameras in locations where I believe the wildlings wander and congregate. The only control of these cameras I have besides some general settings are where I put them. This particular spot is more or less of a natural wildlife funnel. I’ve seen this foxes prey walk on this same trail too. Raccoons and probably skunks are on the dinner list though the latter is questionable I suppose lolol. Porcupines are a tough sell but I’m sure the mouse population is a target. Pickings are slim in the last half of the winter up here in the high country of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. Competition is fierce and unrelenting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch (Wyotana)

Title: Red Fox White Snow

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View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground
View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground

The minute I saw this scene I knew I could capture the moody nature of the stage show unfolding in front of me. I love low light color when it comes out from it’s hiding place. There are so many areas of zen up here to anticipate and pursue. Even in flat light….

The sky leading up to this was mostly overcast. It is a bad bet/ use of time to go out with cameras. Each time I go to take pictures these days, I put myself further behind finishing the rest of my portfolio. If your new to my work, I’m only about 3700 portfolio images yet to finalize to current standards. I’m one page at a time, 4 a day building and posting “Pages” for several eventual books. Each Image I produce/post has at least a 250 word narrative. 1300 + finished pages contained within that web based “book” currently on line . 👀 I try to keep busy. lolol.

It’s easy to work with skies that are textured and complex but flat grey presents a serious challenge. To bring the colors that were vibrant in the flat light into a mechanical/electronic contrivance is a complex task lol. Several computer algorithms process images inside the camera even though I only use manual settings. I haven’t used anything auto on my cameras for years. I really don’t even know how to use those features except in theory. No auto focus, no auto light balance, no enhancements. Conversions of file formats occur automatically with the digital process from camera to computer.

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

Title: View From the High Ground

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Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise
Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

When I drive out into the backcountry up to the high ridgelines, I never know what I’m going to find. The Rime snow coated all the grasses and fences that morning. I really didn’t notice it until the sun came up enough to highlight all the ice. The roughly 1/8th inch coating made for a late winter sunrise scene worthy of my time getting up the ridge lol.

The sun wasn’t very warming that morning. There was a good breeze from the left that cut through my cold weather armor. Wyotana here with both states in the image. I’m standing in Wyoming looking to the north east with the sun rising on the spring equinox (straight east). Here in Early April, we still have a month of winter weather possible. Last year was cold till the end of May. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July for you gardeners to compare with your seasons.

I miss chasing bees with cameras and finding Preying Mantis sitting for me swaying back and forth like a breeze. It has been a LONG winter. The seasons will change but the seclusion in this remote part of the earth is comforting in these troubled times. I hope this finds you all safe and secure in your homes. We have a 1 person per square mile population density in this country. Ranches are 5 to 10 miles away from most places but it’s still 70 miles from the nearest stop light here.

Be safe all.

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

Title: Frosty Grass Backcountry Sunrise

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Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street
Belt of Venus Street

Belt of Venus Street

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridge tops. The main sunrise show over my right shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this back show is Lavender/Pink/Orange. This back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise. You miss this show if you don’t look behind once in a while … Several image from this particular morning timeline made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to this rare Lavender at times up high. 

The red/pink will often work down on the tree top tips as the surviving red rays project off the ice on them. The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. T

he formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2.5 inches long. 

Location: Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana). 

TItle: Belt of Venus Street

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Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning
Great Blue Heron Sunning

Great Blue Heron Sunning

A Month from now they return… Spring time 2019, the trees were just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I was busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. These are big 5 pound 5 foot tall birds if you’ve never seen them before.

Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot. Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction.

They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes along the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀.

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

Title: Great Blue Heron Sunning

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Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea
Butterfly Taking Echinacea

Butterfly Taking Echinacea

This 2-1/2 inch wing span butterfly heard that all the store shelves lacked cold remedies/immunity builders. They were all bought out. So he went right to the source here with this Echinacea. 😜👀🤔

Callippe fritillary butterfly doing butterfly things. All upon an Echinacea augustiflolia (cone flower) is a common event up here. There are millions of both during the correct time of year about this ground. While the adults get around, The caterpillars eat pretty much eat violet leaves. There are a lot of wild violets around. Endangered are a rare subspecies of this butterfly. I don’t know if this one is in that column. We have a few of these I see around. Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. They are native/common/widespread “in these parts”.

This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant. Studies have attached the use of echinacea to a reduction in inflammation, lower and an improved systemic immunity overall. Be careful what you take Echinacea with as is good advice for all medicinal plants. DO your research.

All available Over The Counter of course. A good source of “Anti-oxidants”. There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds. Noted are claims of effects on other VIRUSES. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. (Colds are Corona Viruses just saying) Other researchers say this link is unclear. “Test tube studies” indicate it has properties lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. Whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide are claims of reducing anxiety.. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀

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

Title: Butterfly Taking Echinacea

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Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter
Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

Pine trees, once they loose their bark to weathering and decay, show their grain. This snag might be 50 years dead stil standing by habit after it stood here for several hundred years living. This hillside that it is on protects it from as much cattle pressure (rubbing/scratching) as it would get on a valley floor. The spiral grain is the tree being twisted by the winds pushing unequally on the sunny side versus the less dense shady side of the tree. The winds will gradually turn the tree into a corkscrew. Inexorable force over a long time is the reason for the spiral growth. I point out that the ground UNDER the tree has worn away on this slope which is testimony to the rate of erosion of Cretaceous age sand off this 45 degree slope. .

Nature does many things we don’t think about unless we look below the trees skin (bark) to it’s structure. I know of quite a few of these trees. Usually they are broken up pretty badly. This one is “well preserved”. I’ve tried this angle a few time. It’s pretty difficult to get the close far perspective to work on this hill slope.. I still needed a sense of the 40 foot long snag. I did have to wait until the sun went behind that little cloud to take the edge off the lighting. This was still pretty early a few minutes after sunrise. Blocked mostly from the sun I usually work with doing perspectives. This cloud comes along and makes it all possible 😜📷

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

Title: Perspective Wildlife Tree Shelter

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Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns
Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” from my position. There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. This the third capture finished from that encounter last spring. They were quite close when I caught these three moving out. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee (At that time). . I had been watching the group on a hill top 300 yards away for a while. They all ran toward me in an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a dozen images from this close encounter.

The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them. When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal would move. Stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. Say 15 minutes.. and it always doesn’t work…

I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults. This group ran by my Jeep within 20 yards. Now could get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns.

If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. One time I was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me. I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their (2 animals) hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Three Running Pronghorn Fawns

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Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss
Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss (This is an ART/PHOTO Hybrid)

Do you see things in Clouds? 👀📸 What do you imagine here?

Now that I mentioned this is art, I would point out that only 1/4 of it actually is art, the rest of it is a 100 percent real image. All work and no play make photorealistic Frank a Dull Boy. I like to follow up on the potential for this kind of work on a particular image if I get the time/chance. I usually have to make the time in the middle of an otherwise photorealism filled day. In the world of the digital darkroom, I get to play a bit. This is a slightly modified Wyotana borderland sunset from last week. One week is my turn around time now from taking an image to possibly posting it.

To create this, I took the original image which just didn’t have the left side eye. The nose is a real lens flare which I carefully lined up in the camera to the 12 o’clock position. The flare was in the original capture. So I mirrored the right eye and the clouds onto his left cheep from the original side. Then up high I mirrored the outline of the head right to left. So the left eye/cheek, part of the clouds up high. Nothing else was messed with other than color a bit. But this is art and all rules go out the window. As I was taking this, the possibilities were obvious to me in the composition stage of this capture. Long before the click.

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

Title: Protective of the Sun by Frank Bliss

Title:Protective of the Sun

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Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Dragon Art by Frank Bliss
Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

Did I mention this is art?

In this kind of work, I will take a photo I deem appropriate and digitally mirror it inside of the digital darkroom. This wonderful spotlit sunset was a real image but I instantly saw the possibilities. My web gallery contains the original image. There is a phenomena that occurs with human eyes seeing bilateral symmetry. We seemingly recognize the resultant shapes as anthropomorphic forms, mystical creatures and even familiar faces. This tendency in the human mind to make order out of random shapes, we are teaching to computers for facial recognition.

Along the center of the image is what I call the “Totem Pole”. I see at least a dozen different faces, shapes, noses, eyes, teeth, flames. A host of magical mythical creatures contained within await your study. All of these emerge one at a time as you study the shape. Relax your stare and let your imagination rip with this creation. The main one I see is a dark dragon face with fangs and flames. It’s probably just me lolol.

I did take some liberty with the hue/saturation control with this images. These shapes were natural and are un-edited in their entirety. I love finding these images. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy and this is one of my Creative outlets. My main focus in photography (pun intended) is to catch landscapes and creatures as photorealistically as I can. These ART/Photo hybrids are a release lol.

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

Title: Dragon Art by Frank Bliss

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Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights
Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights

I’m not sure what it is about this capture. It is a low light image. It just stood out to me for some reason. I finished it bringing all the detail out of that cows hide that I could without introducing artifacts to the mix. I always expose highlights properly in the camera. Then I have to deal with the darks/shadow detail in the digital darkroom. This capture destined to become a silhouette image I thought. The detail that was hidden in the shadows yielded to my gentle coaxing. I think I really like the highlights on the cow itself. Certainly I like the whole mix lolol.

The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Longhorn Highlights

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Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green
Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Boy I miss summer. I will say that there were some mosquitos out at this shooting. Some crimson to purple to blue gradients pop up each year but not many. I got a good one here though. The alpenglow ice that gives you summer crimson blends in like an acrylic paint into blue higher in the sky forging purple out of the mix. It’s a natural rare gradient that I see a few times a year. Real purple is much rarer in the world than you would think looking at forums. Beware of the electric blue images you see but this is a real color mix showing purple.

The grass was high, the hay bales in the distance attest to an expenditure of diesel fuel to gather each 1 ton bale. The big tree just across the inlet has a landing below it that I have several game trail cameras. They have taken hundreds of creatures from coyotes to Herons walking right in front of that wonderful cotton wood. This lake is literally miles from the nearest gravel county maintained road. I can’t tell you how many little places of zen like this exist in and around my ranch. I’m pretty sure infinity comes to mind for the time I have to spend here in my short human existence. Cowboys 100 years ago built the dam across this spring. It watered generations of cattle walking the Miles City Montana to Newcastle Wyoming Trail on the way to Texas.

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

Title: Wetland Sunset Summer Green

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Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground
Belt of Venus Touches Ground

Belt of Venus Touches Ground

From the top of the pass one can see 45 miles to the higher peaks of the Red Hills. The far ridges high points are right at the same elevations around 4100 – 4200 feet as where I stand. The intervening Little Powder River Drainage starting near Gillette Wyoming runs north into the big drainage in Montana. The water droplets here flow first into Trail Creek then immediately off into the “Little Powder River. This flows into the Powder River then the Yellowstone River, then the Missouri all the way to the Mississippi. All the sand grains that used to be between where I stand and those far peaks have been removed by the above described river system. It took a few days.

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

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

Title: Belt of Venus Touches Ground

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Spotlight Through the Storm

Spotlight Through the Storm
Spotlight Through the Storm

Spotlight Through the Storm (2:1 Diptych) Full screen is a must here.

Someone looking over the land. This is the “Eye of the Sky” If I have ever seen it. I am certainly going to mirror this image as artwork soon. . It’s almost a perfect face now just with the right eyelid closed.

Musings about World Events:

We find ourselves in turbulent times of strife, loony political debates, pandemics, and the economic misery sure to follow. I try to observe such from as far away as I can in my daily work on the remote prairie.. The uncertainly of the change in lifestyle we are about to undergo is staggering in and of itself. It is likely that our reaction to such dangers is worse than the dangers themselves. A paraphrase of “the only thing to fear, is fear itself”.

I suspect that the general order of things will change abruptly this spring as a result of the country mobilizing to reduce the threat from this newest latest danger to our way of life. Getting prepped this ripple in society is a good idea. It “might” be about to get real. Worse prolonged.

I look at scenes like this above with the awe it deserves from my insignificant viewpoint on the planet. As a nation, we are watched over much as here from above. In the scheme of things, this societal stress is but a bump in the history of the world. I see a future historians looking back at this time as one of two narratives, two worlds and one supply chain.

Hopefully our little world is sheltered somehow by our remote location. There is certainly “some” societal stress to come. It is my hope to avoid most of the mess but it is my prayers to all in the major cities for the coming year. It’s going to get interesting. Let me know if it get’s sporty out there.

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

Title: Spotlight Through the Storm