This is a pretty good capture of a mid-sized mesocyclone that is sitting on the Montana / Wyoming border along Rt 59 north of Gillette. It’s a growing one that went on to cause some trouble up in Montana. Missed me by 40 miles. That is how far away that is. This gives you a pretty good idea how big that growing storm is. I’d say it’s 20 miles across with a 10 mile wide rain shaft under it. Bear in mind that these storms can grow to 100 miles across and very high heights. Forty thousand feet is not unheard of for a big storm. They do spawn tornados but we only see about 1 a year over a pretty big local area.
The biggest threat from them is hail. Large areas of grassland get flattened by big hail stones. Often the grass’s heads are knocked off leaving stubble. Property damage as I just experienced is significant if one of these goes over your ranch’s homestead. We are looking into replacing every surface of the buildings here on the ranch again. Last done in 2008 when we had some soft ball sized hail but not as much. This year we just had up to 3 inch but mostly golf ball for about 30 minutes with a 30 mph wind from the north. I keep finding all sorts of broken things.
The rare thick foggy morning in the midst of a precipitation drought was welcome in this high country. The dew point had been reached during the darker hours. The net effect was a net moisture gain which is sorely needed. The strength of the gossamer iridescent spider silk amazes me with it’s natural strength. That is a lot of water for it to hold up. I suppose it’s spread out equally throughout the construction.
The sun was heavily veiled by the pawl of fog still lingering after the sunrise. I caught this early enough in the process to get the best of both worlds. Sun shape and definition through the filtering fog but yet enough moderation of the glare to allow me to image this wonder. The spider was no where to be seen as I’m sure the HUGE glass eye I stuck into his domain was sufficiently worthy of note. Thus his quick exit. I’d have loved to have had a dew covered cat faced spider attached to this lolol.
Nature has it’s way of producing miracles that escape our perception due to our hurry up and get there mentality. I have had to teach myself to slow down and actually see/recognize what the generalist in me ignores. Each of us has this ability to focus in on the details around us. Few take the time. To see what others only look at in passing, paying no mind to it, is a core achievement of a good student of photography.
Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸
In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….
It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔
As I point cameras directly into the sun I usually get either Crimson or Burn Umber colors depending on my exposure. I’m not one to argue with my cameras on this point as I can’t look into the scene without blinding myself. I have no choice but to trust the full frame chips that Sony uses in their various Alpha 7 series camera backs used in my work.
Getting up an hour before sunrise in the summer takes some doing to motivate at times. I usually worked the sunset 6 hours before. IT takes a while to wind down after photographing sunset so the night is really short. I usually only need 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night (if I get a short nap mid day). Historically I will work 7 or 8 sunsets or sunrises in a row. In my old age wisdom, I might not work certain types of skies. Clear skies are way common and difficult for me to justify taking the time to work them. Obviously I don’t work heavily overcast sunrises.
My day revolves around photography so if I’m not taking care of ranch business and chores, I’m working images. Either taking photos up on the high ridges or going through the timeline of files picking winners/loosers. Then there is the time to finish. The hard part are these narratives. The photos are easy 😜🤘 In full disclose, I’m also looking for fossils and artifacts as I go……
Full time photography is not for the computer challenged these days. If you don’t work 3 to 4 hours a day in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would be surprised.
I find you are where you are when rainbows pop out of the sky. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun as they are reflective. The light hitting the water droplets in that rain shower reflected back to my camera in a classic ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet) order.
Finding a frame that “fits” the situation is of course always the problem. It’s easy to take a photo of a rainbow. IT’s harder to take a frame around the rainbow when there are two trees within a mile radius… Spring green grass below mixed with the golden stalks remaining from last year. Soon the green will overtake the gold with the grasslands brown season ending. The Cottonwood Trees in this small draw frame “Mitten Butte”. Famous in my world, the Monadnock / erosional remnant is 300 feet higher than the surrounding ground. I’ve been over it and on top of it a few times. The view is good up there but it’s a long stairway to be at just at the right time for chasing light. It’s a long walk down in the dark and then there is the 2 mile two track road to/from it lol.
Mitten butte has been famous in my narratives having been a volcano a time or two, a local Mt. Fuji in geofiction. Backdrops for hundreds of images. Here it’s accumulating Skittles™ in it’s saddle or so it appears… 😜🤔📷
I was following this good looking Pronghorn Doe from below. I had a long lens on it quickly stopping in my tracks. My appearing over an adjacent ridge suddenly caused it to move. Here is the story…
Sudden appearances of scary smelly, noisy vehicles always throw a wrench into a nice day grazing in the backcountry. This is not a traditional multiple exposure. It is a digital recreation of the even placing the animal precisely on the landscape as it was recorded. The digital work alone took hours but I like the result. Thought it was worth your time as well…
SO this is ALL the SAME Pronghorn “documenting” each stop over the same patch of ground. From right to left the Pronghorn moved, stopping as the bird captured in the frame flew very close to it. The spooked doe stopped and watched it. Moved about 10 feet and watched me for a few second. From that quick glance she moved into a nervous shuffle only to stop and pee (more nervous activity). A quick circle and she was back watching me yet again. The thought settled in her mind I was a threat sitting there. Thusly she decided to head more to the left, looked over the ridge, evaluated and changed her mind. Quickly zipping back to the right where she extended and left my area.
I don’t do a lot of these….. Art, did I mention this is ART? It’s built on 9 different photographs… 😜📸 2:1 Diptych Digital Composite
The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.
The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….
She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
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.
This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.
Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.
Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.
Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.
Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these
Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.
Snowy days on the high ridges of the WY/MT border lands are rarer in the spring than mid winter. We do get some interesting snow squalls and falls during the spring. Winter storms in the spring impact right during calving season here in cattle country. This can be less than convenient to the rancher with new born calves falling out into snow covered frozen ground.
Your all mostly aware I have this photobombing windmill that gets into my landscapes now and then. Just ignore him. He’s handy for scale here though I must admit. The snow was obscuring most of the horizon coming down in shafts of different opacities. Overall it was an amazing sky but it was not very long lived with the sun setting within the minute. Without the direct flashlight beam, the sky shows intensity fell drastically over time with the set. It was very dark when I took this shot with just the yellow rays of the sun making it through the atmospheric gauntlet.
As I type this, a spring storm dumped about 5 inches on us last night. We needed the moisture badly as it has been a dry winter and particularly a dry spring. Receiving only 14 inches of water a year in this high almost desert land, we appreciate most precipitation event and await them eagerly. I seldom complain about rain or snow…
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, both sides of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow behind the snag pine tree. That phenomena projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but on the moon.
This just the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around these days in snowy or muddy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE a celestial alignment will occur with what hillside. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having effectively unlimited access to many square miles of backcountry Wyotana is always a good thing with a camera.
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow 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 arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise.
The sky starts to light up quickly, 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 over a month ago in early March. We had light snow then, none now…. Dry year 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, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. 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.
Looking From Under a Snag, I see the world from an entirely different perspective. The Detail exposed as the bark falls away from hundred year old pine trees is remarkable. This “Driftwood” of the Prairie has been treated to very little water in this almost-desert arid environment.
The perspective here was obvious to me which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide. The detail of course is the target of my glass.
Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo but your opinion may differ lol.
Musing on Fallen Logs on the Prairie:
RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.
The little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Any shelter in a storm as they say. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing up in the grasslands. Soon this tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes before it decays to dust as all things do with time… 🤔
Lone against the elements, unaware of the battle ongoing around it by other plants, this Echinacea hybernates with it’s deep tap root. The winter sealing it off from the stimulus to grow.
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. Other say this link is unclear. It is claimed by “test tube studies” to have anti-diabetic properties. Thus lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. A good bet is claims of relieving anxiety are whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀 They are quite a hardy plant living freely out in the backcountry. Widely distributed here in the high country. Ubiquitous anywhere out of the boundaries of our monoculture yards
Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. Known as the “Coneflower”, their purple crown of petals is ubiquitous in the region. You might say: 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.
Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant into Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.
Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks with no dinosaur fossils. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch at one time. All gone now 🤔⚒
During some years past, those alluvial fans have been totally eroded from my place and have left to the Mississippi River Delta. Carried down the drainage one sand grain at a time. Some is still in transport I’m sure. The layovers along a sand grains journey to the sea can be long.
‘ Residual Petrified Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers previously above where I stand that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there on the surface…. isolated. I have never seen it “in situ” in Cretaceous sands so it came from above literally. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls straight down over geologic time as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana
This is a land of many uses with a long history to tell if you can read the book that is open in front of us.
It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations
in the last 500,000 years) the series of advancing glaciers stopped their advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems.
About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (The first 60 degree day this year as I type this narrative).
This a view northeast from one of my favorite overlooks just in Wyoming looking across the border north into Montana. Sunrise is seconds away to the right of frame. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, the snow is melting with a 50 degree day and melt water is running in the fields. The winds are blowing and the cold front is incoming. The next time I go the three miles of drifted two track roads, it will crunch along the way from the ice patches.
This image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. The Montana / Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before. So many things appear around the next bend that are photogenic every time I travel backcountry.
The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. The ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formation and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).
This 220 pound “King” Corso Mastiff is one of 4 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). He was walking away from a a cool bath under that spigot after the last run of the day. (I have that bath on another similar image) The cowgirl gave the short haired dogs a few minutes to dry in the summer air and off to bed. Living with mastiffs has it’s big rewards with just a few detractions.
The Drool Thing:
As a rancher wearing ranch cloths, I don’t mind so much the drool issue.. If you’ve never been around Mastiffs that were bred by the Romans for war (not table manners), you haven’t experienced living with a salivating horse before. Generally they are clean enough for dogs but the strings of drool are impressive. I should have waited until after he drank to show the foot long strings that occur after eating or drinking. I bet there are some patentable characteristics for the sticky, stringy properties of Mastiff Drool.
So I’m sitting in my computer chair working while my wife is feeding the mastiffs. (they eat outside but we hand feed them meat rolls about a pound each. ). She let the dogs right in and the first thing the big one does is come over laying his head on my arm. I almost had to take a shower lololol. The command is now, “Wipey Wipe” after feeding BEFORE the dogs come back in. They don’t like their face wiped but they let us do it lol.
I find interest in simple things, some sage brush a fallen snag across the path I was considering traveling afoot. I consider this natures way of telling me to either detour or stop and observe the scene more closely. Looking into a scene to see that which is fleeting within moments. I often do pause with my photo capture boxes (cameras) trained one the action before me. Winter on the high ridges of the Wyoming / Montana borderlands is a tenuous existence.
Trees are subject to lightning and wind attack. When an old veteran as above falls, it gives me a moment to pause to thusly consider the past. Geologists as myself tend to see under the ground with sort of a mental x-ray vision. It’s called 3 Dimensional Spatial Visualization. (good google phrase for you). This ground has more going on than just on the surface.
Random Geologic Musings:
Below this Sage Scene exists Dinosaur fossil rich bedrock. All underlaying this vegetative cover. This image was taken at a good fossil microsite where there are literally fossil dinosaur teeth discoverable if you look hard (very hard). I have a theory that many Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Cretaceous sands) fossil sites have a tendency to have a locally scarce tree growing very close to the site more often than not. I find either a Snag or a living tree at them 80 percent of the time. In a grassland country that is sparse of trees on many hill slopes, it has become a repeated observation by this scientist. It be a good thesis for some researcher.
I believe the soil type that has developed from the particular river deposits that contain dinosaur bones in this country has something to do with this. I’m thinking permeability and moisture content of the soil derived from the bedrock due to the sedimentologic origin. Fossil sites tend to be a mix of sediments in a sand gravel mix. This is different than the pure sands surrounding them with no fossils.
I have also noticed with certainty (franks law), that if there is a tree, it will not provide you any shade if you are working on a hot day on that fossil microsite. Think hot beach sand…. 😜⚒⚒
As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this twilight, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window to the twilight. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.
Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.
I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).
Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.
Sunset through a Veiled sky just after the horizons shadow passed over me. The hills behind me are still in daylight. The contrasts are difficult for a camera system to capture. To have detail instead of shadow in this kind of shot speaks to the gear.
It is now mid winter up here on the ridges of Northeastern Wyoming and SouthWestern Montana. In this view west both states are in the distance. That mountain range is 40 miles distant from my camera. From the middle of the corral system next to our homestead looking west. I can’t tell you how many cattle have been through these corrals over the last 100 years. I suspect it is in the 30,000 range or there about.
Our ranch is a small “hobby” ranch versus the big ranches in the 20 Thousand Acres (or more) spread that surround me. Our place is only 3500 acres or 5.5 square miles. It’s enough to keep me busy that’s for sure. Never underestimate the power of a piece of ground to be a black hole for your time and money lol. Even worse, there are dinosaurs in this ground lolol. They take some of my effort from time to time up here too. There are 30 miles of fencing on or around my ground. I’ve spent my share of time building and fixing fences over the years. I have some fence work to do in these corrals at the moment. I had some bulls go through an outer fence behind the gate. Dang!
The Deeply Veiled mid-winter moment presented above was captured walking along high ridges in the backcountry. The Montana/Wyoming borderlands is a target rich environment. Nobody but myself, some wildlife and some cattle pass this way. A rare mounted cowboy or a chaser on an ATV may pass a stones throw away. But to notice the symmetry that nature presents to us is my greatest challenge in my work.
We all walk past little areas in our world that present us all the beauty that we need. It’s easy to see this when you walk upon it. The trick is to determine where to walk ahead of time of course. Seeing this stuff from across the ridge is “anticipating the frame” which I believe is an acquired skill. I hope I get better at it lol. Walking with a gear load post holing snow on even surfaces has benefits. I stay in shape, I get to see magical and miraculous things daily, and I get to explore a world in the borderlands that even after 20 years of educated observations, continues to amaze me.
This is a land of many uses. We ranch, raise fossils, run a national level tactical Rifle Championship, and do some photography from these high ridges now and then. Our Ranch was even highlighted in a nationally 4 Wheel Drive video (2008 Petersons 4 Wheel and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure”) . The photography aspect is certainly pervasive.
So Who out there has seen me on America’s Funniest Home Videos where I won second place with a funny 4 Wheel Drive Video Driven by another local wheeler. ? Flew us out to Hollywood they did, won 2500 bucks… 🙂
The Wyotana area is indeed a nice place to spend a late afternoon with a good camera.
Commonly known as a “Mock Sun” or “Sun Dog, this is a Parhelian or “Mock Sun” It occurs at 22 degrees angle from the sun. There are many manifestations of this. I’ve only seen one better Parhelian off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area. At the Village in Jackson Hole mid winter back in the 90’s. This capture was a few miles back in the backcountry while I was driving parallel ridges for that mornings sunrise. This images sits on the border between Montana and Wyoming with both states ground and sky in the image. I never know what I’m going to run into when I go out.
Caused by Reflection and Diffraction is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object. In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles – most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark, or colored bands. Here Hexagonal plates of ice are falling actively from the sky. You can actually see some of them like white dots on the image. Ice Hexagonal plates Frozen in Space and Time as they fell (literally and figuratively).
It was a cold subzero morning for this sky show. This ice was hazing up the whole sky but I actually drove into this from an area with no falling ice. POP and there was an entire Parhelion right in front of my camera. Slide to a stop, enjoy the view while the camera comes out of sleep, compose, set the final settings, focus and click. The image is about 60 degrees wide overall. Love the Lone tree sun filter.
Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.
Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms
This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.
The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)
Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.
Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔
Back to my normal programming:
Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….
This U.S. General Land Office Survey Benchmark says 250 dollars for removal. Placed here in the 1914 survey, this marks a 4 section corner very close to the 45th parallel. . These surveyor guys putting these brass markers using mules to haul their bulky plane table and alidade across the 45th parallel. Plus they were carrying a bunch of these heavy markers plus tenting/shelter for this country.. Tough slog to say the least. The 45 degrees north latitude coincidentally is also the Montana/Wyoming border. It’s also 1/2 way precisely between the North Pole and the Equator.
They are kind of a dangerous thing to suddenly find with your ATV or other vehicle if you by chance happen to be chasing a cow through deep grass. This is a big place and these things are about a foot to 18 inches high off the ground. When I find them, they get flagged. . I haven’t taken out a suspension yet with one but I suspect if I do backcountry enough I eventually will. 3500 miles on an ATV in that backcountry in 2018 is a lot of exposure. I found a few of these by seeing them. I do have a “general” idea of when I’m close to one. They really are a potential hazard to an ATV or truck. Remember this is private ranch land. We can/do by necessity chase cattle almost anywhere.
Location: almost literally up on the Border, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)
A hundred year old settled area (only), Rockypoint Wyoming has a rich history of community surviving in the northeastern corner of Wyoming.
This spot is a good 12 mile drive over good gravel roads from my residence. That takes me about 18 minutes from my driveway if I drive below the speed limit. I have found that I’m a rediculously careful driver. The police driving course I took and subsequent on the street work, watching speeders and turn signal stops all day,. I was also an EMT for 17 years. Saw a lot of the result of bad driving. Sometime Days at a time in a small town in Ohio lol. I digress…
So every time I drive to this intersection, I see an image, and locked up the “antilock” brakes. With less than ideal traction, there was a spasmodic response of deceleration. The truck slowed jerking to a stop. I backed up, rolled the window down to verify what I was seeing. It was pretty cold at the time and setting up a tripod is of course the game.
THe Misty Mountains 40 miles out are the Three Missouri Buttes (center) with the Devil’s Tower to the far left horizon. Mostly hidden in the mists, it rises 1200 feet about the nearby Belle Fourche River (the lowest place in Wyoming where it crosses the border).
Location: Rockpoint Wyoming. Crook County about 7 miles south of the Montana border. (still Wyotana).
There is more science going on here than you might suspect. First of all it’s about 8 minutes after sunset here. I can tell from the blue area under the pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow. The moon sits in the blue. That color is the SHADOW of the horizon. The long traveled red/pink light above the moon is the reflected light from the sun that made it back to my photon capture boxes (camera). The horizons shadow on the atmospheric Ice floating acts like a projection screen for the only color to make it that far. Ligh raveled hundreds of miles through air/dust/moisture/inversion layers bending and filtering out shorter wavelengths by those obstructions.
Long telephoto captures CRUSH perspective. Low light after sunset starting civil twilight is one of my favorite times to practice my long range skills. This was done with a fixed 400mm lens which in an ideal world, should be a standard lens in your “kit”. Most use a 100-400 zoom. Most of those are not particularly fast lenses but they work just fine under all but these conditions lol. Bigger diameter lenses gather more light than smaller diameter lenses.
Normally I would blur the windmill as 99 percent of the time it is moving. Not that it’s windy up here or anything….. IT was indeed dead calm at this moment. Problem though, even if it was moving, a blurred windmill takes a long exposure, the bright full moon takes a shorter exposure. Your only choice is to expose the highlights properly. You can’t cheat on this on in the camera though I could have done it in the digital darkroom (photoshop) easily.
The Big Horn Mountains 60 miles to the west supplied the sediment of this exposed section of Tullock Formation (Fm). Tullock Fm. consists of alluvial fan and swamp deposits all the way back to the mountains. Sediments washing off the newly risen peaks were filling up the coterminously formed sedimentary basin (Powder River Basin). The huge coal mines we have here are mining the coal formed in those swamps at the base of the Proto-BigHorn Mountains. Those mountains were much higher when they were young plus the basin was deeper.
Huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted and correspondingly downwarped during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.
Understanding the geology here takes many books to read, its a long list and growing 🤔😀📷
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, WYoming/Montana borderlands
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )
I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.
So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?
I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.
Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands