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Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss
Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

ART…. THIS IS ART. Well unless you take just the right or the left side by itself. Then it is just photography. Each is one photo next to itself flipped horizonally. The Magic is different people imagine different things with such a presentation. Your tendency to see anthropomorphic shapes in random data we are teaching to computers doing facial recognition. This is of course is a brilliantly bright setting sun breaking through a crack in the clouds over a ridge 40 miles out.

Some sunsets are limited to a very little spot of the sky. To look deeply into them when no human eye could is a spiff of using good equipment. It requires one to pretty much turn off your camera to light

This is an image I didn’t know what to do with thus the obvious choice…. The clouds were absolutely ROILING like a boiling pot live real time. I don’t do video. I’m not a videographer so I need to explain what I was seeing in this viewfinder.

When I look at a scene it can instantly transformed into a vision in my mind. In this case I saw a mask I was looking to. Some childhood memory of a Halloween costume no doubt. The best images bring back memories long forgotten. I find.

Mirroring scenes is a mental exercise I do pretty much with every sunset somewhere in any extended session. It’s just a check box for me to fill if I have the time. I always look for natural body parts in clouds so a set of eyes are welcome to the parts collection. 😜😜📷

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

Title: Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

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Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past

Winter sets in deep during mid-February. The cycle of the year repeats over the century this ground has been settled/worked.. This tractor first chugged along in 1939. The first year of the International M tractor. I need to change the tires on it but it runs if I add gas and give it a jump. It has a crank on the front but I’m not as strong as I used to be. (or foolish). I’ve driven this around pulling this and that on the ranch over the time I’ve had it. Lost a tire a year ago and have to just cough up the cash lol. A big ranch operation takes time and money spent fixing things. 😜

The long late day winter sun throws deep shadow casts on the ice crystal projector screen the surface provides. The contrasts present were blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not look directly at the sun with them. Mirrorless cameras have significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this.

Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Shadows of the Past

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Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post
Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post

About 6 months off season, the forest fires to the far west. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky crimson on this tiny portion of the sky placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp. When taking such images, movement of your head fractions of an inch makes a REALLY big difference. The lens is an 18 inch 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔

Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun made it to me though. The pall of smoke trapped all the shorter wavelengths of light from getting to me. I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backcountry Lamp Post

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From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came
From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came

Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…

Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.

I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.

If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.

Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.

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

Title: From Whence I Came

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Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset
Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset

Close / Far perspectives lend themselves to clear skies. The details up close are of course my subject with the sunset only being an extra “hero” of the image. The totality of these landscapes in this country is staggering in their vastness and variety. Every hill crest has an entirely new world just over the top. All the hill sides are different in the angle and orientation of the vegetation living or laying. I keep a map in my head of the snags (fallen trees) that sparsely litter the hills. Treed pastures are prime hunting grounds for me photographically. The joy of being a landscape artists is I don’t have to pay models or deal with crying moving toddlers. No diaper changes mid shoot up here.

The “Golden Hour” (said with reverence) is that time of the day and hour after sunrise or and hour before sunset. The distance through the atmosphere that the light travels get greater the higher the horizon rises. Of course the sun doesn’t set, the horizon actually rises to cover the sun. Remember that things are as they are, not as you have been told or casually think about them.

I always try to keep narratives in the perspective that I’m trying to capture. Understanding how things work is key to working those things with cameras or any other way for that fact.. Knowledge is power and gives you the ability to anticipate outcomes of what ever process your involved with. Having done this a few times, makes the next one usually turns out a little better using the knowledge you have acquired in the past. Paying dues of course is the key to acquiring that knowledge.

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

Title: Golden Triangle Sunset

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Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill
Sun Trapped by Windmill

Sun Trapped by Windmill (Headline of the news story).

A tad bit of Satire if you don’t mind …. (It’s an old narrative if your new to my world 🙂 )

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite: 😜🤘

Crushing Perspective with Telephoto lenses is a very good pastime. I find that certain objects lend themselves to Close/Far work which of course is quite challenging to line up just so…… “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill here lends himself more than not to photography. He sites pretty well, much better than most kids anyway. The durn sun is always moving. It worked it’s way from the “trap” by slipping out the back door…….😜

Sneaky has his job on the ranch pumping air into a barnyard pond to keep it freezing in the winter and destratified plus the O2 thing. He is an aquarium pump lolol. Just a really small duck pond. He’s close enough to my house to be the first thing I run by on my way out to backcountry photo locations I visit.

So Sneaky is a notorious photobomber of some ill repute. He is always popping into my landscapes as I obviously have no control over his actions. Only Timber slows him down as he gets tangled… He only lets me live here as he’ll be here long after I’m gone. Sneaky is quite a character, I’ve seen him hang around those innocent Mule Deer and Pronghorn. He lives of course near a running water hydrant so the local wildlife is usually negotiating deals between the various characters that live around here through him. His deal is all about publicity.📸📸

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

Title: Sun Trapped by Windmill

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Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise
Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Alpenglow such as this occurs when there is a LOT of ice in the atmosphere mostly during winter. . I’ve also seen smoke do this kind of scene in the summer. Here on the high ridges of the borderlands, I get to look at parallel ridge tops like this 40 miles away to the east.

After passing through a gauntlet of filters in the atmosphere, crimson/orange/yellow are the survivor hues. Absorbed/blocked/refracted away are the shorter wavelengths of color. Can’t trap them in my photon capture boxes (cameras) if they don’t make it to me. Passing that gauntlet to blues/greens and indigos consists not only of hundreds of miles of low angle atmosphere plus all the dust and the dirt suspended within.

The sun isn’t actually occupying the line of site where it appears to be here. Because of atmospheric “lensing”, the sun is actually still completely below your eye to the horizons line of sight. It just looks like it’s up. This accounts for several minutes of differences from rise/set charts versus the observed sunrise with the day always being longer due to lensing. The atmosphere literally bends it’s light around the curvature of the earth thus the “lens” part of atmospheric lens. This courtesy of inversions and thermal-clines. The path this light took was at least 300 miles of low angle air. The higher I go topographically, the longer the light I gets path. The redder the alpenglow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

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Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset
Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

That Ridge is indeed 40 miles distant from my camera. Those fully grown 50 foot tall pine trees . They exist on that high ridge called the “Red Hills” that the sun is “setting” behind. The “Red Hills are the highest point between my ranch and the Big Horn Mountains.

Don’t forget now… This is not a sunset but a ridge rise .. Actually the ridge is rising in front of the suns face. We are the ones that are moving not the sun in this relative geometry any how. 🤔 You know, the earth is spinning like a top….

The swirl of clouds and mists were heavily blocking the sun until it broke through at the last second saving it’s best for the last light of the day. Once your on stage, you want it again. The sun must like it because it seems to keep coming back over and over for more …. 👀 I’ve been up on that ridge a time or two and it’s about 500 feet over the surrounding ground to the west and has BIG views of the BigHorn Mountains just over its shoulder. Big Views!

Pointing Really long telephotos at really bright sunsets is an exercise in very high f-stop in the 70 (ish) range depending on your rig. You want a pin hole aperture as a wide open lens would cook your camera’s sensor chip. Shutting the camera down to light has the benefit of silhouetting everything but the bright stuff (highlights). By the time you see a yellow sun versus a white sun in my images, I’ve turned the shutter speed fast enough to only let that light register with the sensor.

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

Title : Forty Mile Ridge Sunset

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Pine Branch Veiled Sun

Pine Branch Veiled Sun
Pine Branch Veiled Sun

Pine Branch Veiled Sun

A wonderful veiled sun rising with the branches of a ridge lined pine providing the close part of the Close / Far perspective here.

Photographic Musings:

Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of this ridge but a bit back. (hundred yards). Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 20 miles out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the horizon drops away from the suns face. A sunrise is a busy period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to be and WHEN to move to the next shot.

Shadow line:

I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles. Byworking that shadow line I am able to do shots like this with a long telephoto. Click and move as I get a photo. Keeping busy to use the little timeline I had left in this capture.

The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera. You’ve GOT to turn your camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. With a telephoto like this I’ll be running f-64. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens, or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment.

Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Pine Branch Veiled Sun

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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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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Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade
Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Lone Tree Lamp Shade

Up here in the backcountry I use what ever is handy to reduce the glare from that big Light Bulb in the sky.

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings:

The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.

There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass in front of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….

Disclaimer:

Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.

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

Title: Lone Tree Lamp Shade

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Icy Blue Windmill Morning

Icy Blue Windmill Morning
Icy Blue Windmill Morning

Icy Blue Windmill Morning

The trip to get this (and other) images from this time line was memorable to me. I left the house around 6am well over an hour before sunrise. It had snowed 6 inches flat with zero wind. Yes I said, zero wind. It was a Sunday morning so traffic was non-existent on the backcountry road dozens of miles from the nearest highway. Every path was trackless until I drove that way. The back of the Jeep covered by 1/2 inch of hard snow crust from the drive in the powder. The tail lights visible as neon through the white translucent shroud. Everything was bathed in an icy blue/cyan cast over the snow. A pastel pink soaked the sky.

From my perspective I was alone without another living human for miles in all direction. The sky opened up for me at sunrise.

Worried I was the cloud cover would not relent it’s hold on the light passing through. Clouds ultimately are gate keepers of my work either allowing me to chase light or keeping me cloistered behind my computer lol. Fortunately, snow depth wasn’t a problem as it was flat. Sub-zero snow is very dry and powdery. It was like driving through flour. Mid-winter snow storms can be cold lolol.

Old Wooden Tower AERMotor Windmill heads were an expensive investment to the rancher back in the 30’s. A wooden tower was the cheap way to go. Wood does decay over 50 – 100 years out here. Lack of much rain is the reason. We are considered semi arid here, almost desert. There are NOT many left standing.

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

Icy Blue Windmill Morning

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Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge
Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge (Cellulose Filter/Tree and all that)

As I’m walking along a parallel ridge waiting for little areas of zen to pop up, I sometimes am satiated. A vision is not an actual manifestation but something that occurs in the mind. An apparition is a physical manifestation of the spiritual object. I’m not sure that the difference is important in the scheme of things eh?

This scene would have given Moses second thought and pause. No human eye could have peered into this lone pine tree filtered glare. You would be blinded very quickly if you tried so don’t.

Lone Tree:

Only a few of it’s pine cones have yielded children. Little pines have started up along this ridge to start the forest back again in 100 years. Most of this country is open due to a big forest fire back in the 1930’s that burned till the snows came. There are treasures here.

Geology Under the tree.

I’ve left this spot untouched paleontologically intentionally. There are copious chunky dinosaurian fossil remains in the rocks in and around this particular tree. It’s on my ground so I own them. The fossils I’m seeing don’t demand my attention as I have a more more efficient/better bone bed to work elsewhere. That tree shelters this bone site.

This site has donated a croc tooth along with some Triceratops teeth off the surface. Teeth and large chunky bone are way different sized/density. Fossil precursors are sorted by cross sectional density. Rivers sort debris like gold pans based on current velocity. I know for a fact there is a tail vertebra about the size of your palm under a rock up there. In my world, I’m not excited by it. As they ran across them. I believe fossil sites had Native American Visitors not and then. Finding huge bird like bones on the surface would have messed with them.

I left it there as a matter of respect for the site. There are many of that particular vertebra in the ranch collection. It’s not scientifically valuable and I can show it the rare visitor that makes it up there as an untouched site letting them find it on their own as a matter of their education. There have been a few. This is near one of our rifle courses so there is relatively easy access to the site. Maybe a dozen folks have been there besides me.

The rocks there are of course Hell Creek/Lance formation. A 700 foot thickness of terrestrial river sands/gravels/siltstones/mudstones etc. All riverine based fossils, fish, turtles, crocs, amphibians, freshwater stingrays, dinosaurs, mammals, snakes, avian dinosaurs, This region has some of the best uppermost Cretaceous rocks exposed in the world. Our ranch has rock containing dinosaurian remains from the end of the dinosaurs reign. Then a meteor came crashing into Yucatan Mexico and changed everything.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands.

Title: Burning Bush Ridge

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Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background
Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background

I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.

The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)

The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.

Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.

Lone Tree Golden Background

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Forest Hugging the Sun

Forest Hugging the Sun
Forest Hugging the Sun

Forest Hugging the Sun (Cellulose Filter)

Satire: Did I mention this is Satire but just to begin…. My father told me many times that “things are as they are, not as they seem, or you are told.”

Sunspots:

You know we have a young sun. Young men often have trouble with their complexion. I heard the sun has some spots on it’s face. So, how do you expect the sun to get the spots off it’s face. Here Sol is going through the local “tree wash” before it rises up. Best be clean and shiny…. Best way it has found to get the spots off it’s face here during the solar minimum. I see the sun do this almost every morning. It takes a lot of work to keep your face under control as a youngster. . But there is a time and place for every photo and this moment in space and time is forever frozen. Caught him washing his spots I did ! 😜😜🤔📸📸

Back to my normal programming:

If you didn’t know, we are currently at the low period of the sunspot cycle. Every 9 to 14 years with a mean of 11 years, the sun goes from High to Low numbers of sunspots and back again. We’ve been watching this cycle repeat 25 times since it was first recorded in the early 1700’s. Men watching the sun with pinhole cameras could see them back in the day lol.

As I type this, there were 2 little sunspots just appearing on the suns disk. The first in months. Low sunspot numbers in the past has been affiliated with long periods of cold (Maunder Minimum is a phrase you should google). Suffice to say the sun behaves cyclically. It might not be good to get cold as famine is associated with cold times. As a GeoBiologist (literally) some of the most biologically active times on earth historically have been warm ones. Turning up and down the furnace as well as distance from that furnace is a BIG driver of the various climates earth has (Earth does not have a climate BTW. It has ALL climates on it)

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Forest Hugging the Sun

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Grass Curtain to the Light

Grass Curtain to the Light
Grass Curtain to the Light

Grass Curtain to the Light

Out here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me. Close / Far perspective…

To use a stand of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Testures and lines abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Grass Curtain to the Light

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge
Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off
Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off

In reality, these two bucks grew up together. I’ve been watching them a brothers from two different parents of a herd I’ve followed for years. Thick as thieves they are. Always hanging out together. I’ve seen them sparring many times but never with murderous intent that I’ve seen in males that didn’t grow up as best friends.

Regarding the image. For this to occur, I had to figure out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

Disclaimer:

To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Best Buddies Facing Off

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Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky
Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

This Crown Sky during mid-civil twilight (about 15 minutes after the sun went down that night) is a pretty rare sky event. I’ve only been able to photograph a half dozen crown skies this good in 30 years. This is the second from mid -twilight with the sun well below the horizon by a few sun diameters by the time this was taken.

It was dark. I didn’t enhance the colors, this is a time exposure of about 3 seconds which tends to enrich colors a bit. I adjusted them to where I remembered them. This is a night sky after all… I will work a “promising” sunset from early Golden Hour to late Civil Twilight. Longer if the sky show lasts longer. Reverse that for morning / sunrise. Sometimes I work from my yard, other times I’m way out in the backcountry. Hard to know what the skies are going to do.

Science Musings:

The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments not you. . Try manual mode sometimes…… You do the work…. Only three main things to learn….. Just saying. (ISO, F-STOP and Shutter Speed)

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

Title: Windmill Photobombing Crepuscular Sky

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Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs
Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs

I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol

The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.

I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.

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

Title: Drifts Through the Discs

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AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet
AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.

Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.

This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

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Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising
Red Hills Ridge Rising

Red Hills Ridge Rising

Musings: How I worked this Scene

This is tough capture that your not going to get on your cell phone lol. Let me set the stage for this stage play beyond most of your picture taking experiences.

To have this melodrama unfold in your mind, please understand that that silhouetted ridge is 40 miles from my camera. The sun a bit further. With the prodigious size of the optics, a significant wind cross section can be a factor moving your camera about. Not so much for this bright light capture. Shutter speed will dampen that motion. You need to use a fast shutter 1/2000th sec or higher so as not to gather too much light. Also LOW ISO numbers (camera sensitivity).

The most important thing is setting your camera to a HIGH a f-stop number as you lens will go. If you don’t, this WILL cook your camera’s sensor if your not working through a pin hole sized aperture. Talk about a bright scene….. The human eye has no right to be looking into such a harsh environment. (Disclaimer below)

Working from a high ridge helps get above the hazier air (at times) closer to the ground out of the picture. It improves the angle. Position is everything. Now I’d love to have a cell tower or a building for scale. Alas, there are not many up in this country with no cell service lol. Those are full sized trees and they are really REALLY far away👀 3200mm lens involved in this. Tripod for sure lol.

I remind you that it’s not the sun that is setting/falling here. We live on a spinning ball with the horizon actually doing the rising thusly slowly covering the face of the sun. The “Sun Slit” under the thick cloud deck above was just a sliver. Only allowing this fleeting scene to penetrate the space between the cloud with the opaque earth.

Disclaimer: Do not point your camera at the sun without knowing that DSLR’s have a direct light path that can and will blind you if you watch the sun through it. I use mirrorless full frame technology and watch scenes on video. No direct light path AND

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Hills Ridge Rising

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Beer Bottle Sun Filter

Beer Bottle Sun Filter
Beer Bottle Sun Filter

Beer Bottle Sun Filter

So I’m driving around the backcountry . This old piece of Drill Stem Pipe was 10 foot high off the ground with this wonderful sun filter on top. No way a person that wasn’t standing on a horse to get this up there. It’d take a heck of a toss to place that bottle up there so high. At least a 3 pointer I’m pretty sure if so thrown.

I’m always looking for sun filters of any kind but glass in front of my lens. This of course is a notable exception. Usually I shun “Screw on” UV filters, Neutral Density filters and glass in general as they leave ghost images of the sun when pointing into the sun. This amber glass was the perfect solution to how to take the sun without blinding yourself or the camera.

Can anyone ID the Bottle as to what brand of beer? I don’t drink it so I’m clueless.

Photographic Musings:

This was done with a canon M50 consumer level camera. Maybe 600 bucks on Amazon, get a used one. It’s a small sensor Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera that held up to me pointing them into the sun just fine. I can testify it can do this kind of work lolol. If you want a good mirrorless camera to start with fairly cheaply, I suggest that model. I’m not saying you couldn’t destroy the camera looking into the sun with a telephoto with no filter, you could.

Disclaimer, this kind of photography CAN damage your cameras and your eyes so use only mirrorless cameras rated for this work. Never work sun under f22 or even higher if your lens can stop down more.

Square to 18 inches

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

Beer Bottle Sun Filter

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Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Sunshine over Their Shoulder
Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Sunshine over Their Shoulder

Two young Mule Deer Does look off to the right. Deer are always aware of their surroundings but they were more interested in something other than little me. I was in my Jeep at the time. I have a new vehicle now that I traded off my Jeep/backcountry transportation for 15 years. It will be interesting to see if I can approach deer and have them accept me plus the new all black truck as “just another grazing animal.”

Photographic Musings:

I don’t like to use glass filters to reduce the sun’s brightness. I would way prefer deer sun filters to reduce the glare and block some of the light coming int the camera. lol.

In reality, a glass filter usually give’s me difficult to deal with “Ghosts” of off center images. An extra artifact on the image that I don’t way like a lens flare. So this isn’t using a neutral density filter, it’s done with Manual Mode camera settings. This was take a week ago and is one of a LONG timeline I spent with several animals including this buck and a fawn. When the planets line up, they really line up and it was all business lol. I was working 3 cameras about as fast as I could spin dials get the shot, change up, rinse and repeat. I was moving back as the sun was going down to keep the angle with the ridge as well as moving as the deer grazed or moved.

Long lenses, HIGHest F-stop, lowest ISO, and fast shutter speed but don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera. You will blind yourself. I use a mirrorless camera variety that I am looking at video of the scene. Also your camera might literally have a spot burned into the digital chip that sees the scene inside your camera. Don’t blind yourself. . So know what you are doing before you try pointing telephotos into the sun please.🤔📷

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

Title: Sunshine over Their Shoulder

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Sunny Sunny Sunset

Sunny Sunny Sunset
Sunny Sunny Sunset

Sunny Sunny Sunset

I do a bit of close up photography of the sun and the moon. This is the sun on a smokey summer night as the horizon rose to meet it. Usually one would have to either totally shut down the camera to light or use a glass neutral density filter on front of the camera to photograph this. With enough forest fire derived smoke in the atmosphere, the picture becomes easier.

This sun as are most of the sun images I’ve taken at the solar minimum show no sun spots. We are literally at a sunspot low since 1913. Low sunspot numbers lead to a cooler climate on a general level due to a large number of reasons. We are in solar cycle 24 (since 1755 when they were first noticed and subsequently recorded. These cycles from low to high sunspot numbers with an average 11 years. This is a very interesting time to be an informed geologist watching the climate “debate”. I’ve been following this since 1976.

The Maunder Minimum was an extended period from 1645 to 1715 where it got cold as the sun (the furnace) turned down the heat. Known as “the Litle Ice Age, the growing season in Europe shortened by a full month. Crop losses caused mass famines . The population of Iceland decreased by about half. . Exceptionally severe winters were the rule in North America. China had to change the crops it had grown for centuries to adapt .

If the furnace turns itself down, famine with hard times follow. Warm times geologically have been periods of high biological activities. We better hope it doesn’t get colder….. During Maudner: (Solar radiance was down about .24% lower than current levels so it doesn’t take much)

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunny Sunny Sunset

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Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset
Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset Over the Grass Sea:

Here Lies within the ends of the great grass sea,

There seems no end to it’s lore and legend,

Forever an observer of history,

It witnessed things that will happen no more.

The snow covering the grass will disguise

those leaving tracks from the past

but is unable to eulogize when asked.

You leave and become part of days bygone

but the conclusion is foregone,

that your passing through these pillars

ending up as all of our past

Back but buried under the grass. (Frank Bliss 2019)

This is the time of year I get romantic with the past and all those that have come before us. This is the end of a decade yet again. This last decade saw numerous wondrous family and friends pass into that great grass sea. Each and every one of us has an unbroken connection to the very beginning of time on this planet.

However you construe the beginning, we all have that common connection. All of our ancestors threads connect to a common rope of a few individuals. Since that humble beginning, every one of our parents survived to reproduce successfully, culminating with us. Those “hardy” folks survived wars, famine, disease/ drought and they didn’t even have a 7/11 to pick up coffee at. They never had to look for their keys or cellphone….

I see clearly previous lives in the old homestead sites spread all around us. Vague names, a little speck of memory from an elderly one but the rest is lost to all but the grass sea. All of us end up spread upon or buried under the ground which gave us life to begin with. It’s the circle of life and it’s a real thing. It’s the end of the journey that only that ground has a memory in conclusion.

Our immortality is only guaranteed by what we do for others, not by who we actually are. This is a season of giving. Please do for others so as to live on past the time we have been given in this miraculous place.

Happy New Years Evening, God Bless from all of us at:

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (My last post of this decade )

Title: Pillars of the Sunset

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RockyPoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store
Rockypoint General Store

Rockypoint General Store

Clarence Reece built a two story building in 1907. This became the General Store for the area (Rockypoint Wyoming which is in the North Eastern Corner of Wyoming). Just north west of Devils Tower which you can see from here about 35 miles away. Run by various local characters over the years, the store changed hands a dozen times. It closed finally in the Mid- 1950’s.

These timbers, cut 112 years ago, are the last remains of a building that served a whole community. These merchants who weekly at least, dealt with terrible dirt roads bought a lot of freight through these doors over time. Imagine if you will the old time gasoline pump with the glass top. An ranch kid attendant with a rag in his pocket took care of the windows and checked the oil.

I can’t imagine all the horse team trips to Gillette to hit the railroad in the early 1900’s. Gillette would be a two day trip via buck freight wagon I’m pretty sure from Rockypoint Wyoming. Camping on the trail, no weather forecasts or radio. These folks 100 years ago were tough hombres.

The community dance hall / community center became ground zero of local / national political discussions of course lol. Dances too but the roads could keep the band away. I’m sure they did best they could.

I own the back 1/2 of the Rockypoint 1940’s dance hall. It is a good structure that I resurfaced when I moved here in 2000 and it remains as a shop building.

Location/ Title : Rocky point Wyoming

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Anybody notice the Photobomber in this image? You have to look past the obvious to see the little spoiler lolol. Interestingly enough I didn’t see it until I got the image up on the big screen to finish the image. So I suggest zooming in on this capture lolol. 👀📸

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish.

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