The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.
I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.
Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.
Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.
This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..
Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.
Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.
This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.
Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.
I pleased this came out of a hand held one shot camera. Taken before the last full moon, soon forest fires west of us will cover our skies with a Pall of smoke. This prevented me from working the full moon a few days. There were smoke issues weeks ago which explains the following.
Through as little smoke as possible by taking this when it was almost straight overhead. My neck doesn’t bend that way very well these days lol. Still imparted is a brownish tint to the image. This by the soot particles floating above. Quite obvious in the eyepiece of my camera. The trick is to get the right exposure to show it. I do this by comparing the image in front of me to the image on the screen. I usually have enough time to consider such time consuming activities with celestial objects. They are not flitting off like backcountry wild critters. Anything over a minute to compose or consider an image is a luxury in this game. This is why I think of myself a landscape photographer. Geologically Slow movements are a good thing to me. The moon is a relative fast mover for me lolol.
Taken with the same lens I use for some of my terrestrial close ups. Lots of animal images through this glass. It’s pretty good equipment for looking across the prairie. Not as good for Astronomic Glass Lenses used in Telescopes. (this is just a regular camera lens). Telescopic glass typically is coated differently. There is no aperture to add diffraction effects to your bright lights. Ever see rays from bright point sources of light like the sun? Those are edge diffraction effects particularly for close/ far perspective with the moon. For you techies out there, astronomic glass usually doesn’t do as well dealing with Chromatic Aberration (Sony G-Series 200-600 with a 2x in the optic path. ). I have MUCH bigger/faster optics that don’t do as well across the board for this kind of capture.
Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.
Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.
It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……
Those with Pareidolia (seeing faces in random scenes / patterns ish), will have a big smile from this one. I saw this cloud band and moved a mile to line this up just with this saddle lol. The outcome was as expected. The big smile above has a guys face on the right side too. It reminds me of the T-shirt “Forrest Gump” gave to the guy while running. He got splattered with Shi* running and wiped off with a t-shirt handing it to the soon to be seller of the “Shi* Happens” emoticon eventually lol. Epic movie…
The weather system that donated this to me was quite a doozy. This was early in that timeline and we were this dark around 6pm. Well before sunset. Having said that it was dark as heck where I was. A big down draft and associated hail shaft was incoming. I was trying to get out of the way. Pausing a few seconds to line this up and take the image, I moved out. “Clever Girl” purrs when the turbo’s kick in. 45 mph speed limit on the backcountry gravel. You definitely take your life in your hands exceeding the speed limit much up here. I’ve seen Deer and Pronghorn appear out of nowhere right in front of your rig. Never had a speeding ticket or a moving violation in my life. But I’ve smacked into few animals against my will.
So the storm chased me for a change and eventually caught me on the edge of the hail shaft. I was definitely dumped on by marble sized hail shortly after this capture. Probably 2 inches of rain resulting in all the drainages to earn their ephemeral ranking.
This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.
I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…
Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.
This is the way my camera recorded this trip up to ridge one this AM. I was interrupted at the first ridge by a herd of Pronghorn feeding there. That took a few minutes but they were patient with me and no matter how strange the lighting, I’ll photograph Pronghorn up close. No indication they were here in this capture. Up the hill I headed.
This was my establishment shot for just starting to take images that morning. I was late getting up the hill this morning so the sun had some time to rise above the ridge top. I have been working both sunrise and sunset photographically for the last week (14 in a row). It’s starting to wear and tear but one has to work when there is light. Well I would indicate that this is a very one subject but very interesting light environment. As long as the smoke pall is over us, I will be working these sunrises and sunsets.
This is what I saw through the camera lens. I can adjust the exposure but this is no “filter” photography as it were. I couldn’t actually look at this so who is to say it’s not what was actually there. The human eye wouldn’t like looking at even that heavily smoke filtered sun for long. It’s not good for you.
I’m looking at the cloud cover this evening on “Weather Wall”™. It shows the smoke pall very well. Might be clearing for this sunset. Planing where to go is a good thing.
So these two were hanging out together. They look gracile and female with nothing hanging down to give way their gender. Commonly sisters or a group can hang together. I’ve seen more fox this year than any other. I attribute “Clever Girl” to my being more stealthy.
There are some 45 sub-species of the “Red Fox”. Sorry I wasn’t closer… This was very tough lighting with all this smoke. They were way out there as well. It was a random encounter of course. I was driving back to a lake on our place as I rounded a hill, these guys first bolted, then because I suddenly stopped with engine going off, they looked back. This is classic animal behavior when you stop to play dead. Moving, you represent an immediate threat. Suddenly I was a parked truck with a big eye sticking out the side. Interesting, not scary 😜
The Red Fox are the largest of the Foxes in North America. They are being domesticated in Russia. Cool! I suspect they would be a wonderful pet as they are smart obviously. Very adaptable to change, they are widely distributed around the world. They were late comers to North America only arriving here after the last Glaciation. There was a rapid change in fauna after that time with the extinction of many megafauna. Any opening in an ecology is quickly filled. Niches don’t stay open long. Some other creature died and these guys moved in. Or some other creature may have died when the Red Fox moved in as an exotic species. Late Pleistocene species interactions are not known THAT well. WE have a lot of presence/absence data but further inference of complex relationship is somewhat more difficult to make.
I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.
The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔
While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Still early before sunrise. The pink clouds in the distance distract from the briefness of the moons remaining time aloft this morning. Going down….. My intent was to photograph this wonderful scene with the moon much lower. I decided to take this image as that misty ground haze would totally obscure the lunar disk before it touches down. (it did). The horizon rising to meet it’s apparent descent. As the earth rotates inexorably in harmony with the cosmic clockwork of the universe.
This old working ranch barn is well maintained and fairly original to it’s early design (in this country). Ranches here were settled around 1900. There were cattle drives though this country earlier than that. This area opened up when various land grant programs from the government. Dozens of families moved up into sod houses in the area. They made the paths, figured out how to get water, did some fencing with posts they cut. This area was opened up by horses pulling wagons for decades. It’s a long way to town from here. (Gillette). Probably a 4 or 5 day round trip for supplies at first. Camping on the trail was the rule of the day.
This structure is on the historic Parks Ranch to which we are a neighbor. The Parks were a class act around 1900 (and later). Taken around 5:30 AM that morning. Getting light but still twilight “Belt of Venus pink back lighting.
Slimy Sunday I guess. We had a pretty good quick rain move over and dump a few 10th’s of an inch. This little 8 inch (or bigger to 14″) Native to Wyotana Tiger Salamander Amphibian decided to come out. Must enjoy the wet while it’s about. It’s unusual to see them in the day as they hunt at night being voracious insect predators.
Known commonly as a “mole” salamander. It has been hiding down a deep crack usually next to foundations of buildings or elsewhere. Where they tend to go deep in the winter, they need some water to keep themselves properly wet. They don’t like their skin to dry out. We have some moving water between two small deck ponds that has been running for 20 years. That is a favorite habitat for them. Most lakes and ponds in the area will have these. Some can live up to 16 years in the wild.
These guys are not fast. A brightly colored creature is telling you something…. This typically means “Warning” do not eat me. It turns out that they secrete toxins all over their sky. (Don’t eat or mouth the skin). Juveniles are way more toxic than adults generally speaking. You DON’T want your dog to eat one or a toddler to mouth one of these. Depending on how much exposure to the Salamander it’s had…. You should even wash your hands after handling any creature. It’s a good idea to double scrub after these guys. The first sign is slobbering but it can lead to death.
They have a wide spread distribution and rank as the largest Salamander in North America. They might be coming out at night right under your nose and you don’t know it.
A few days a month I get a chance to get SOME light from the sun at the same time the full moon is rising. This is a little late in the timeline where there is still enough light to catch the outline of the ridge. The Full Sturgeon Moon slowly emerging from hiding behind this lone tree. IT turns out the moon is shy until it has no choice and has to be exposed. I mean it turns all sorts of shades of pink, orange and red so it MUST be shy. He might have been ducking behind that tree to relieve himself before he starts the night shift. I mean the man in the moon is obviously a gentleman trying to be proper after all.
Getting Details on Close objects and far objects in the same single photo…. A matter of high #f-stop setting which give you deep focus. It also steals light preventing it from getting in the camera. So a long shutter open time is a good thing. Not too long as it will over expose the moon, not too long as this hand held shot would be blurred. I find 1/30th freehand minimum for blur. A monopod will go 1/15th. Tripod you have to keep moving, not handy, a few seconds exposure on a moving moon. That’s not good. Basically, your walking over uneven ground, moving in opposition to the moons movements. It rises, I walk closer to the hill. It goes to the right, I move to the left. Set your ISO to get a visible image on your screen. Rule of photography 127 is “Get the photo” Damn the ISO…
For a Pronghorn Buck to allow himself to get ridge lined is always fun. When I convince one to so cooperate, I prefer there to be a wondrous Cloud Scape to back his twilight silhouette. 😜
This afternoon was one of long shadows. Only part of the sky was exposed to the sun. The Pronghorn and I were in deep shadow of the clouds further obfuscating the remaining light from the set sun. The view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on that horizon. The grounds mists further obfuscating the clear view that way.
No light worthy of your attention that way. I turn my lenses off away from the dark sky. Looking to catch the back show of the clouds in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape. But this young guy got in my way. I did actually get to move a bit but I didn’t have enough topography behind me to get the landscape lower beyond this close ridge. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to gain altitude short of standing on the roof of my truck lol. No far horizon for me this time lolol.
He was good about me moving around as there was a HUGE deep gully between our two positions. I’m thinking he was feeling pretty secure. Intrusions much closer than 200 yards usually get their attention. Even really skittish Pronghorn are good past that typically. It’s hard to sneak up on them running around in the backcountry. I’ve seen their red line humans aren’t to cross even further out.
Taken at 2 AM by one of my game trail cameras. Of course as an Infra-red Flash automatic camera I have no choices here except for 3 levels of flash, 3 levels of sensitivity to make it flash and where to put it. The later being more important. Now the moon was full and illuminating the scene nicely thank you. Touching noses with one of her fawn ID’ing each other in the dark conditions. The other fawn is probably with the other Doe as well.
I place this camera at the gate between this field of grass and the field behind the camera where the water tank is. We keep 4 different water tanks open 364/24/7 for anybody that needs it. It’s funny how they don’t hang around water most of the time . Preferring to eat a mile or so away from where they water most of the time. I suspect that is an adaptation to Pleistocene hunting pressure near water . Back when the Large Cat population of crazy types like Saber Tooth, American Lion etc were about…. These guys are adapted to escape from those cats no longer an issue. Nothing else alive on the plains today but humans in our machinations can keep up with them. They don’t have a lot to worry about these days. As a chunk of the Pleistocene Megafauna slowly disappeared, these ungulates survived the causes of that extinction. What ever they did, it worked and here they are lolol.
Pareidoliacs of the world Unite. I swear on a stack of geology books that I didn’t alter that cloud from how it was that day. The lighting was perfect. There area whole sequence of these photos from two different cameras but I only finished this one. When anthropomorphic faces come out of the natural chaos of things taking notice is prudent. This is indeed a telephoto up close and personal with a floating head (or at least that is what I first and still see in this).
A cloud it may be. If you suffer from Pareidolia as our ancestors did, you have a survival advantage. You see faces quicker out of the edge of the woods, or a human form at distance. In the earlier days of psychiatry, we were considered psychotic with this tendency. I consider it an ability that has been passed on to me through the generations. Apparently it kept my ancestors alive better than those that don’t as easily see faces. (or they just managed to dodge all those mid-evil castle sieges). All of us are a product of those that came before us and these tendencies are handed down genetically from our parents.
So blame your parents if you have this affliction. I must admit as a blond haired boy I would lay on a bank of grass watching the clouds make shapes more than once. Oh wait, I still do it lolol.
In this twilight dusk capture, you can see both the updraft inverted funnel on the right feed warm air into the MASSIVE Mesocylone to my east. It spans the Montana/Wyoming border in this shot straight east. The Cold air coming down over the top left is streaking down to the front of the storm where all the action is. The rain is first as the top of the storm leans forward and the rain falls with the cold downdraft in front. As you go further and further into the storm, the strength of the updraft increases. Cold…. Thusly the hail falling gets bigger and bigger toward the rear of the storm just in front of the updraft region.
I re-emphasize… I’ve never seen such a good example of this before and I do this a bit. Far right frame you can see the inverted vortex of the up draft coiling into the storm. I watched it roil and rotate slowly snaking up into the storm. This sucks warm air up and the streaks are cold air coming back down. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline.
I’ve got a few other captures from this storm still working their way into my work flow. They will appear every few weeks I suspect. I’ve never seen this so well defined. So from the north west side of a growing to mature Mesocyclone, you will have the most interesting photos if the lighting is right. I will ALWAYS work thunderstorms in the evening or morning because of the lighting. We got 1/10th of an inch last night with the lightning storm. Kept everything from burning I think.
I heard lightning at 10PM last night and was going to go up hill until it started raining. Life in the Local Volunteer fire watch… (It’s called survival in these conditions. ).
Game trail cameras always give me problematic images. They are REALLY worth working as I have seen some AMAZING behavior and images from them. Many hundreds of them to date that are EXCELLENT situations. I’m thinking this is 256 shades of grey anyway out of that infrared camera. This capture is amazing to me but it’s probably just me. 👁 👁
This random photo could have had a buck with big antlers in it but I still REALLY like it. There are more shades of grey in this “Black and White” than most I have seen of late. (Millions of shades of grey). IT’s a little grainy and there is a 3 pixel wide white line around all of the silhouetted tree. This is the problematic part of game trail cameras. It would take hours to eliminate all those white lines in that tree. Finishing photos is my passion but I’m a busy guy lol. Catching fun contrasts like this makes all those used up AA batteries to do so worth it.
I’m not sure who said “Grey is the richest color, it makes all the others speak. Grey causes a range of emotions from the underground coal mines under West Virginia to the Stars above all our heads. Current computer displays are 16bits per RGB pix or 65,536 shades of pure grey. Most of the charts available and printed for artists/painters/photofinishes are 256 shades of grey.
A Couple of old soldiers standing on this saddle of this mile distant ridge. The perspective long telephotos give you is crushed between the two ridges here. The far ridge is 8 miles out from my camera. Sort of a “Close/Far” perspective.
These trees are old growth that survived a major fire in the 1930’s that “burned till the snows fell”. There is a mix of grass and forested areas in this region. Our ranch is about 25 percent ‘treed’ pasture. The rest is just grass and sage with a few dinosaur fossils mixed in on the surface. That is prime dinosaur hunting ground amid those small outcrops. I never know what I’m going to find walking areas like this.
Twilight Landscapes are much easier before the sky gets too bright. Photography is a light balancing act. Having your camera try to see into the dark needs a tripod or sandbag to stabilize the camera. Extend your exposure so you can get more light. Take that gained light away by turning up your f-stop to a higher number giving you a longer field of focus in return (Double edge sword) Only of course, if you want to have it all in focus instead of just those trees lolol. To sum that up: giving up light you gain with a longer exposure then taking it away by turning up f-stop to give you deeper focus…. Then you have only ISO (Camera sensitivity to adjust to give you a proper exposure.). You can also adjust for a longer shutter too if your brave.
Widely known as the “Watermellon Beetle” They cause damage. It’s about 1.5 inches long, and take a defensive pose with a hissing sound when picked up. The are a member Family of Beetles called Scarabaeidae or the scarab beetles. This one is named Ringo I think.. I’ve seen some other beetles around here somewhere too….. just saying 😀
THe antennas are the coolest ever. They have a series of overlapping scales called lamellate plates. They are very complex. IT had them folded here. Their long lived life cycle is two years between larval and adult. The larva feed on roots in the top 14 inches of the soil.
So eating on lush succulent sedum I just had to move the pot to the light. He was fine with my invasive macros in his face. Even my very bright led ringed lens that must look like the sun incoming. This is natural sunlight however. It was in and out of the clouds so the timeline was extended. I left him sitting here. They do eat foliage but after the hail, the grasshoppers and now June Beetles in July… I didn’t even have him spend the night in my refrigerator like I normally do big bugs I want to photograph lolol. One sitting, two different macro/camera set ups. Patients exemplified.
If I find many more, I will have to take action though this is the first I’ve seen this year. You have to kill them in the larval stage in the soil. We have Tachnid Flies which parasitize them and keep them in check.
This is the season of the songbird of the Prairie. Western Meadowlarks are a had act to follow if you’ve ever heard their melodic voice. The sage smell, the pollens of uniquely Wyoming/Montana plants along with the various bouquet unique to cattle grazing land.
I’ve noticed in my wanderings around the ranch that the Meadowlarks have been gathering somewhat more lately. I noticed a big group of them scatter in all directions when I crested a hill. Short of ascribing motives more suitable to a Hitchcock classic, I suggest there are simpler reasons. I’m pretty sure they are done with their mating, nesting and general main business done earlier this spring. So now they just put on weight and socialize as it were. Then the big trip south to warmer climates where they spend the winter. They are heavy grasshopper eaters….Wish I had more….. It’s hard to think about the animals already through the first 1/2 of the allotted time this year to put on weight. The green/ warm seasons are short up here.
When I normally travel backcountry I spook a meadowlark from hiding near the trail every 20 seconds or so. They are pretty equally distributed during the first 1/2 of the year. I would say there were 30 birds in 1/2 an acre area that flew on my arrival. I haven’t seen that for a while. The circle keeps on turning.
There are all sorts of characters up here on the ranch. This over looking the the now dented roofs of our home stead in our “Back Yard”, this 20 year old air pumping windmill was vent. This is what happens when you hold it in too long I suppose. One never knows what these guys are up to. I really don’t have any control over their actions thusly am just an observer. Not being sure why he was mad as he was. Sticking around wasn’t the best of ideas. I do my best to keep every body to get along. Hate to get involved sometimes. (It’s a years long narrative if your new to my world lolol).
Back to my “normal” programming. (more normal anyway).
Just to mention to you fellow pareidolia “sufferers” the large frog on the left ready to stick his tongue into the fray. There must have been a large insect off frame right I didn’t notice in time. Getting everything in frame is hard sometimes. 4 of the 5 lenses I use daily are zoomable. Every possibility is covered that way. I like to think I can take a photo of anything that I can see and somethings I cant. I only use one fixed lens and it is the widest single lens I own at 10mm. This was 200 mm at some distance from the foreground. Both types of lenses have their benefits. Generally the fixed lens has more accurate images. You have to back up to fit your subject in the lens though lolol. Not with a zoom…😜
The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.
About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.
The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.
Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…
I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.
Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).
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.
This is the first image from the July 2020 full moon from this timeline. I’m still down loading images from the last 2 photographic trips into the backcountry. In the last 15 hours I’ve taken photos of the moon, rainbows, lightning, and (rainbows with lightning in the photo too). I’ve been very busy.
A significant portion of the twilight this particular morning provided obscured (at best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over sun illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. THe moon disappeared as it touched down into that slight white hazy layer above the ridge. Show to the west over…now back to the east.
What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.
I still have to fly by the seat of my pants when the sun is rising behind me with a beautiful sunrise. Simultaneously this moon is going to disappear in a few minutes. Storms were going through the area. Best possible photographic conditions in my opinion. 😜
Last year was a good environment to set up for multiple births of Pronghorn fawns this spring. Ultimately it may have been a cruel trick as while there is still grass growing, it is very dry. Worse, grasshoppers are thicker than recent memory. Malathion is a well used fumigant but it kills the good bugs too so it is a double edged sword. Some ranchers sprayed by plane over their ground. They have grasshoppers too as far as I can tell. The point is, later in the year, the Pronghorn are going to be competing with the jumpers for food I’m afraid. We are even taking precautions around our greenhouses to properly seal them from the invasion.
Each Pronghorn mother during estrus releases 6 eggs (I have been told). All of which fertilize, the mother sloughs off an appropriate number based on the environmental conditions. Twins and even triplets on the good year like last year. IT was green until august. This year, it’s only early July and it’s brown already. I know of one set of triplets and have seen several twins with various moms. These guys were typical fawns galavanting around like they own the place. Mother was typically ignoring them but keeping her eye on the surrounding threat matrix. Getting terribly close to Pronghorn babies is not going to happen regularly. I only have a few Does that tolerate my trucks presence. Others not so much lolol.
I remember this lovely little fellow crawling about a beautifully lichen covered patch of sandstone to warm up. This was a 90 mm macro lens which at about 3 inches away was placed VERY carefully next to him with me attached to the other side. The term slow motion applied to my technique to get to this little pencil thick 6 inch long fellow in range. Then I had to get him focused. It was very bright giving this a pretty deep focus. The sun was warming the rock / snake early in the morning. Probably I looked like a big creature with one really big eye to this baby snake. I managed to catch a few good images of it.
I understand these guys make a good pet (for a snake). Eagerly taking most small prey, insects, mice, small eggs, anything they can fit in their mouth. Even wild ones handle well in my experience though they put on a good imitation dangerous snake act. They can also defecate on you when scared. They tame down significantly with handling. Generally they are not biters in my experience. Evolution blessed them with some slightly enlarged teeth that can indeed inject a week venom. This perhaps causing itching and irritation at the site. I suppose some could be allergic to it badly. Bitten by one I have not been and I’ve handled many. They get up to 3 feet long. Good Snakes I consider the species.
On a side note, I had an encounter shortly before I typed this with the 4 foot long bull snake that lives under our decks. He looks pretty healthy with lots to choose from around here this spring. No other local creature bothers him even the dogs. The cats are WAY interested but would loose that fight lol. He’s a big boy. Curiously the chickens that live in this yard haven’t killed him as they often do to rattle snakes. This summer I bet even the snakes are eating grasshoppers till they bust. I didn’t have a camera for that big boy as the lighting was non-existent under the start of a storm at the time. 😔 Both Species are wonderful snakes to have around.
The 40 mile landscape across two drainages from this viewpoint this early summer. The Trees are in the Little Powder River Valley. Beyond the far ridge is the Powder River Valley. It’s like Yellowstone over there without the tourists and the exotic wildlife. All of this is grass and cattle county.
All this ground is eroded on top of a network of Tertiary Alluvial Fans. These are large aprons of sediment spreading across the land eastward from the Big Horn Mountain Range. It eroded spreading sediment out many miles in each direction. These sediments actually filing the greater geologic feature, the “Powder River Basin”. It was a sedimentary bathtub/down warp to be filled up before the aluvial fans could spread from the uplift. Those Big Horns were relatively taller in the past with the valley next to them much lower. That by the way is why the coal swamps formed there. They were formed on the low ground next to high mountains.
The sediments exposed in this image are mostly alternating of beds of Sand/Silt and Clay this 120 mile distance to the source. Over time the more recent rivers have cut down across the older beds between here and the distant mountains.
I’m not usually at tree level down in the river valley floor but this was a rare trip to the highway. Those travels cross part of this a little lower is the drainage.
I’m normally 10 miles off the right frame where I live about 400 feet higher in elevation than this “low” country. Across the river valley, the Mountains are in Montana. I am standing in Wyoming by at least a mile looking this direction. Most of my images have both states in them. Sky of one, ground of the other or both lol. I consider 5 miles either side of the border as the mythical land called “Wyotana”. Added together the 10 linear miles over the length of the Montana / Wyoming border would be 3700 square miles or 3 times the size of Rhode Island. I suspect the population of Wyotana is a thousand at the most.
The Black Angus Cattle herd out on “open range” were “Watering up” late in the afternoon. This natural spring fed lake watered several hundred cattle at about 30 gallons or more a day per adult. They usually fill their tank then get up the hill to better grass. All here are cows and calves. I doubt there are any bulls in the mix just yet but it won’t be long before it’s that time again.
This is about as green as it has gotten this year. Part of it is this particular area is drier than others but over all it is indeed going to drought. The water is good sweet water with a tad of the cow next to you flavor I suspect as cattle have a pretty tough stomach. If you drink that water though there might be some intestinal ramifications lol.
I drink NO natural waters without ultra fine filtration. THe cheapest way to filter your water is one of the many “straw filters out there). They are inexpensive protection, just don’t let them freeze after their first use. Honestly I haven’t had to resort to using even a stock tank for the 20 years I lived here. I always bring adequate supply in the form of frozen water bottles in an ice chest. I stuff water bottles in every spare crevice of my ATV and truck. This is dry country, almost a desert at 14 inches of rain a year. Carry enough water for 3 days minimum with you is my advice. Being without water is a bad thing…
This is an unusual capture of this Pronghorn Buck was relaxed so much. He bedded down as I was machine gunning his movements with a very fast camera. Rapid fire pictures are something I do from time to time. Picking and choosing shots is tricky and you do miss things now and then lol. I’d way prefer to “nuke em’ from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”. (Classic Reference”). Rapid fire cameras that can take 50 high resolution photos in just a few seconds are miracles of technology. They do use up some disc space though lol.
Nice Horns ! This Young buck is still growing his horns larger even this late in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. All others don’t lol. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.
While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers are made of bone. Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter.