A harsh desert/arid world orbiting twin suns in the Galaxy’s Outer Rim, “Tatooine” is a lawless place ruled by “Hutt” gang lords. Many settlers scratch out a living on moisture harvesting farms. Mean while spaceport cities such as Mos Espa and Mos Eisley became as bases for smugglers, criminals, and other rogues from the surrounding galaxy. Law is what the “Hutts” say it is. This is the polar region of “Tatooine” where there are rare trees.
Back to my normal programming…
It was cold, near zero when this was taken mid-winter 2020.. This posts in late winter. The Environment in the borderlands can be harsh and beautiful simultaneously. Fall was on a Tuesday last year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunrise here was a clear sky with white/blue ice show 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 over 90 degrees so. . 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 myself but your opinion may differ lol. RegardingFallen logs:
Each has it’s own character and personality. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. I know it when I see it though
Orientations to the sunset/ sunrise 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 air is full of ice, turning the sunset low sky yellow. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing. Particularly on these wind blown slopes. Soon this fairly recent tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes. Thusly then to graduate to full fledged “wildlife tree”.
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.
I know the grassy bottom of this small melt water pond and it stays very firm even driving across it when it is full. The pond is ephemeral which means it dries up seasonally and has a good firm soil profile developed. I had JUST pulled into the glass surface of this lake in my truck. the ripples were just moving smoothly across the glass surface. The sun was setting in classic “Golden Hour” colors when the unfettered light reaches my camera. The already bright scene amplified by the extra light from the reflection. If your chasing light this bright, you better shut your camera down to light… (High Fstop, fast speed and Low ISO). Don’t point a DSLR camera at this scene, only a mirrorless camera. That is if you’d like to keep your vision… Don’t blind yourself.
Finding a pond high enough on a ridge that you can see the horizon around here is the tough part. For all intents and purposes this pond is about as high up as they get around here. Plus it has a thin bank to the horizon which is even more specific. This place has a lot of topography so the particular combination of requirements is pretty rare up here. Even better, it’s only about 500 feet off the local county road which is rare for a photographic “attraction” up here. I normally have to drive miles of two track trails to get to an interesting subject lolol. No complaints on my end.
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.
I have very carefully keyed/ID’d this bird out with Audubon’s guide. It is a straight necked (characteristic of the species) Whistling Swan. They are seldom seen mid-continent away from the great lakes. They breed in the Arctic then winter all along the east coast, but not in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. I have never ever seen a swan in the deep backcountry. A random encounter of a rare species in these “here parts”. I could have said to it, “You ain’t from around here are ya?”.
This was last summer early to mid warm season. It was a wet summer too so the lakes were full. . I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sneak up on a wild swan on a small lake but trust me on this. It’s not easy even with a long lens. This was a long lens by the way coming in at 2400mm. This guy had something white on his beak. This is not your basic tame swan on a city lake lol.
Now I also have this guy on game trail camera captures over the next few weeks. He/She was probably nesting in some of the remote lakes up here in the borderlands. Most of this country doesn’t get much human activity. Human activity would certainly spook this wild bird. They tend to scoot off if your spotted. Getting this surprised me. I guess a little stealth paid off here. If it was nesting as I suggest, it was a few thousand miles south of it’s ancestral breeding grounds. It is a rare sighting according to the books..
View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was a few minutes before sunset. Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.
Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck. Orange as this is a mixture of the two effects.
The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here from my eyes unaided perspective.
I find that you are where you are when the sun goes down. I tend to levitate to reflective scenes but this I live on a “dryland” ranch. We don’t have any running water except during a big rain. Then we have flash floods lolol. Limited to the gullies fortunately. We did have a 4 inch rain in about an hour during which shin high water was running around the back of my house. So we do get some water dumps now and then. Forest fires up wind veil the sunsets as this and give the whole world an eclipsed feeling. 🤔👀
This lake however is a spring fed pond with artesian water rising from about 600 feet down. There is a fault or flaw in the seal over the widely spread Fox Hill Aquifer which enables water to trickle up from that source through all the intervening rocks . Hell Creek Formation sits on top of Fox Hill and has layers of Bentonitic Clay which would stop water from rising without some structural insufficiency breaking those shaley/clay seals. In other words, the Artisian water source under this has a crack it’s following up to the surface.
Geology is self explanatory if you can read the book. The Cretaceous Fox Hill Formation was the Beach for the Dinosaurs… The space between the sandy terrestrial river deposits and the epicontinental ocean just east of here in the Cretaceous. I envision Dinosaurs laying on beach chairs with little umbrellas in their drinks. I’ve never found a fossil umbrella though. Actually the Fox Hill is exposed at the surface about 14 miles to the east of my ranch. It is mostly un-fossiliferous as one would expect from a higher beach energy washed sand (a little argillaceous). I’ve never found a fossil in it. It’s a regional Aquifer stretching from Canada to Colorado and has a LOT of water connate in the formation. It’s good to know that the water we drink has been down underground for a “while” 😀
We do get some wind up here now and again. One breezy morning with the wind over my left shoulder, the sun was rising over my right shoulder. Emitted from the sun, my back was bathed with un-impeded infra-red heat. The wind was certainly not moderated by any but that on my back.
In case any of you have never tried photography under high country wind conditions, consider the weight of your tripod. My Ford F-150 Raptor weighs around 6000 pounds and isn’t that terribly large so it is a pretty good tripod. Better pointed into the breeze lol. Working from inside your vehicle free handed if you have the light to perform such stability magic. Resting the long lens I’m using for this on the truck window. If you use a window mount, I’m thinking it’s a matter of WHEN you break your tempered window with the leverage of the system. You have to not jostle them. 🤔📷
10 miles out are the “Prairie Dog Hills” and looking across the Wyoming/Montana border are the Red Hills off in the distance. The border is where the line of trees in the center running right to left. All the grassy area this side of those trees is is corner of our place. Past that mark is as I say, another state. I own land in Montana but not that particular direction. More over my right shoulder lol. Most of my photos have both states landscape or sky in them somewhere.
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).
Most of you know Bliss Dinosaur Ranch hosts the nationally sanctioned Tactical Rifle Championship up here on ranch every July. (Sanctioned by the “Riflemans Team Challenge” )
The course of fire consists of 8.5 miles of groomed pin flagged back country trails. There are 28 different mowed shooting stations with over 290 reactive steel targets downrange. (2 courses each in both Montana and Wyoming) . If you look carefully, you can see a few reactive steel targets set up. This visual tunnel looking through a the trees to the hill/backstop 800 yards in the distance where a few more 10 inch blue square plates reside.
We have had the “Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship” as a dedicated even up here for the last 11 years. Sporting events around the globe are being cancelled due to “Pandemic” . There of course is a discussion of what to do among the board of directors of this long running 501 C3 non-profit event.
We raise funds for Wounded Veterans and their family having given away in excess of 100K over the years. Hopefully we will have no cancellations from Corona Virus this summer. Not having this event would be a serious disruption to the whole series to say the least. Having said that: we will evaluate based on conditions as we go here.
I’ve actually had a major shooting event up here every year for 18 years. The first 7 years the event belonged to someone else. They just held it here which we facilitated. After that group “retired” from the game, a small group of folks picked up the reins. We only had 6 shooting teams our first year. Now we have an average of 26 teams over the last few years and now we are affiliated with “Rifleman’s Team Challenge” for accumulating national points toward that National Championship. Professional shooters from around the country usually show up a day early in July (registered and paid for) and we camp/RV for 3 days until everyone has engaged two days of field shooting and a third day of team versus team challenge.
Every year, over 100 people descend on us for 4 days of RV and tenting with the shooters spending 4 hours each hot July day on courses of fire . It is quite a culture shock for our little quiet homestead. 🙂 This event is not open to the public generally but we do take donations for the prize table or cash for direct vets. 60 volunteers put it on, none of us are paid.
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.
Window to the Moon (Take you back 8 months for this one)
In my side yard is a wonderful old tree that I seldom work with cameras. I had to get enough distance away such that the camera could focus on both the foreground / background. Then I had to find a very rare hole in the canopy to set up the composition. This photography stuff is tough to get all the angles and distances to overcome the limitations of the technology we use.
Close / Far perspectives such as this are indeed a sub-hobby of mine within the larger world of photography I immerse myself in.
You’ll need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera.
A short 1/2 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. You need a Longer exposure… That means more light into the camera to compensate for the high F-stop’s little pin hole aperture. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). Around ISO 500 should get you close with these other settings and a long lens. There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.
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…. 😜⚒⚒
Under veiled sun about 5 minutes to sunset. The golden tinted light resultant from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives with these old fallen sentinels of the high ridges are well worth pursuing. They provide the artist with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the fallen tree lays waiting for the night.
This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔
Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.
There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my right shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. I actually have built the road up to this ridge top but there is no build road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷
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.
With all the cold weather lately, this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.
Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.
Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)
Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.
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.
(Need some Reds and Pinks in our lives once a week. Posted Feb 2020 MidWinter).
We might own nearly a million plants of this species.: Echinacea angustifolia, the narrow-leaved Coneflower on our ranch. They certainly provide the local butterflies a feast during their bloom. This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant. Studies have attached the use of echinacea to a reduction in inflammation, lower and an improved systemic immunity overall. All availble Over The Counter of course. A good source of “Anti-oxidants”.
There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds . Noted are claims of effects on other viruses. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. Other say this link is unclear. It is claimed by “test tube studies” to have properties, 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 . Some of our gardens have clumps of it blooming in the spring. . Emplaced decades ago in this old homestead we inhabit.
Fall Buck Walking Through. : In winter the Mule Deer bucks will shortly loose their horns. I’d sure like to find this set. The more I go out the more I find. Funny how that works.
I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. This is a 3200mm telescopic shot out of an astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.
They have no aperture adjustment (no f-stop /iris/diaphram as it were). Wide open fast lens, short focal Depth of Field as a result. This is an example of being 300 yards out from this really nice itinerant Mule Deer Buck. He was giving me the evil eye anyway and the group he was with did not know me “vwery well” (Emphasis Slavic / European accent’ on the vwery). Having a stupid long 3 foot lens in your back seat is a problem if your rolling around the backcountry in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Securing it becomes an issue which of course slows bringing it into play. .😜😜📸
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.
Always aware of glare effective my images, I not that this particular night was very very golden from the ice projector screen floating in the atmosphere. This is a side show well to the side of the sun which is off frame hard left. It won’t be long until the sun sets in that V-notch as the sun sets a little further north each day on the Big Horn Mountains. Standing at Ridge one on my ranch, The last “Ridge” seen here 130 miles away. That ridge has several 13,000 foot peaks seen her
Photographic Musings focusing on :
When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim or very bright. Slow speeds let in too much light. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring plus you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and use a rested camera.
My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…
Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..
Walking human 1/200th.
Running anything 1/800th
Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th
Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th. Looking into bright scenes? Try 1/4000th…
These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀
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)
Moon Rise in Pitch Black (This is the Moon NOT the sun AND full Screen is a Must).
Moony Alpenglow I’m thinking. This is a 20 second long time widefield exposure with the camera aperture at low f-numbers (wide open). ISO is less than 1000 for this. High ISO is an evil thing in night time exposures.
I don’t do much work late at night as I do photography all day so there has to be a nap time somewhere. On the occasional night when I’m up over a mile away from my door up on Ridge 1 late at night, I usually bring a tracker along. Set up on Polaris. Takes a few minutes usually. Your camera mounts right to the tracker. 300 -400 bucks on amazon.
Rule of 600 in Star Photography:
The rule states that the maximum length of an exposure with stars that doesn’t result in star streaks is achieved by dividing the effective focal length of the lens into the number 600. A 50mm lens on a full sized sensor camera, therefore would allow 600 / 50 = 12 seconds of exposure before streaks are noticeable. That is unless you are using a device that moves the camera the same rate as the stars move. These “trackers” are a fairly inexpensive gadget but you do have to understand how to find Polaris (North star). Then you can take sharp stars over long intervals instead of getting lines from them moving.
Of course 20 seconds with a wide open iris totally overexposes the moon. That was the point. I wanted to see the moony Alpenglow it was projecting even faintly visible to my naked eyes lolol.
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).
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
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