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Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads the view. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the bright scene on your retina. A quick though of eye damage, you blink and a minute later your vision is back. . 

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about. 

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. 

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunset

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Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January
Wolf Moon 2020 January

Wolf Moon 2020 January

Here I’m using a windmill filter to moderate the bright light coming from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth). I lost about 30 percent of the light which is enough for my camera to pull the tower in the haze out of the dark. It would have been harder to do with the extra light had the windmill not been in the way. Those durn Photobombing Windmills always seem to work into my landscapes but this time, “Sneaky Pete” helped me some. I have no control over his actions…. 😜😜

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. All the while, at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol.

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

Title: Wolf Moon 2020 January

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Caveman Picture Window

Caveman Picture Window
Caveman Picture Window

Caveman Picture Window

Wilma and Fred have nothing up on these accommodations. This is a small dry cave up on our ranch. There are quite a few overhang shelters in the extended “area” I’m familiar with. This is BIG country to say the least. I’ve been up here actively exploring for 20 years. I just found this shelter last year. It’s cozy in there but it’s dry. How many of you would crawl backwards into a dark small cave. I figured I’d see what lived in there lolol.

Hell Creek/Lance formation covers our Ranch. It’s the famous dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. There are no fossils obvious in this spot. The ridge upon which this shelter is located is typical. Aa hard well “indurated” (google word of the day) sandstone caps it like an umbrella. . The material that washed away to expose this cave was softer/less resistant to erosion. The cap rock usually protects everything under from exposure thus begins the removal of softer rocks surrounding. Eventually you have a hill or a flat topped butte. In this cave, you have a rare case where the cap rock couldn’t keep agents of erosion from removing the loosely consolidated sandstone that obviously used to fill this hole.

Of course here as everywhere agent of erosion like Wind/Water/Ice/Hot/Cold/Rain/Freezing/Thawing are the driving factors to remove boulders by making sand out of them. The sand blows or washes away. This ground used to be covered by thousands of feet of younger sediment. This sediment has been removed by the agents of erosion over the eons leaving this cave. view

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

Title: Caveman Picture Window

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Married Trees Sun Filter

Married Trees Sun Filter
Married Trees Sun Filter

Married Trees Sun Filter

When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High fstop defractions and long shadows dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide.

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

If your buying gear soon….

Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Married Trees Sun Filter

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Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce
Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce

The metadata attached to the image showed 45 degrees F. . The ice was not thick to begin with. You can see the tracks behind the canid as he trots along the shoreline. He’s right on a razors edge here…. I’m thinking that this is not a good habit for a coyote to have. Hard to argue with the image though lol. He’s just a few pounds from breaking right through to the lake below. It’s not really deep where he is but there are deeper spots around the edge of this lake.

It’s got to be easier walking than on the shore but that ice was NOT that thick. I have several captures of this fellow over several days doing this same thing. Each is unique in it’s perspective as I have several cameras covering this area. Each camera has it’s own characteristics of color and exposure based on light conditions. They are after all…automatic cameras.

I’m currently running 29 game trail cameras. It takes several trips to check them all. I usually do it while I’m actually at a location. I’ll be picking some cameras up for the winter. While others I’ll refresh the batteries and let them run all winter. I’ll check them in the spring, swap out SD cards (modern digital image storage chip). Then freshen the batteries is the final task. A good game trail camera will use 16 – 24 AA batteries a year.

18 x 18 inches square aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote About to Pounce

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BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill
BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill

Taken off the road on the way to Gillette Wyoming. I’m Traveling the “back way”. All gravel, no AAA, no cell phone service, but the radio works lol. I pass one or two trucks on this road (30 miles long) each time I take it. Unless the weather is screwy or it’s really early, this road I’m on is a relatively busy place.

I stand on ground at the same elevation as the Intervening ridge. . Right at 4000 feet above mean sea level. Now those peaks off in the distance, that’s the BigHorn Mountains. The tall peaks in that little eroded wrinkle in the earth’s crust are just now 13000 feet high. The billions of year old granite core of the continent exposed in the center of the range. All of the sediments that used to be up much higher than the core. All those eroded and filled up the big bathtub between my camera and those peaks. The Powder River Basin between has 6000 plus feet of JUST Tullock formation. The Tullock, an alluvial fan deposit, stretches from the Mtn’s to the camera.

The Coal Swamps that allowed the Powder River Basin (bath tub at the foot of the Big Horn Mtn uplift). Think of it like a sine wave with mountains on the high side of the wave and the Powder River Basin is the trough. The top of the wave erodes and fills up the trough. Those sediments from the peaks flowed toward me and reached the hill I’m standing on. It’s all Tertiary Tullock Formation. All that big bathtub filled up with sediment laid down AFTER the dinosaurs died. It was a low area adjacent to highlands thus the swamps and all the coal the Powder River Basin produces.

Location: 13 miles south of Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: BigHorns from Bowman Hill

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Rodent on a Rock

Rodent on a Rock
Rodent on a Rock

Rodent on a Rock

This Northern (not the Wyoming Pocket) ) Pocket Gopher was on the Montana / Wyoming border. The Northern is considered a Sub-species of the Wyoming Gopher though… Underground mostly, this one was active as I randomly wandered by his ground in the backcountry. I spied the movement. Any hawk worth it’s name would enjoy this though I suspect he blends in pretty well on that sane of the same exact color lolol. I suspect the rock was warm too from the sun that bright early morning. It may well have been warming itself.

His burrow was next to this chunk of Hell Creek Sandstone. I saw him several times getting up on this rock to take a look around. I’m thinking it was pretty bright for him. It took a bit to get into position for this one. He didn’t like me at first but after about 15 minutes he was back at it again. This was not an easy one to compose lolol. He was king of the hill as far as he was concerned. Understanding your position in the world is an important perspective to gain lololol. 😜📸

Of course this is posted a bit out of season. I’m pretty sure this guy is sleeping here in mid-winter as I post this. He’s in a burrow under the backcountry snow at the moment. Filled his burrow with seeds and other stores. You have to admire an advance planner that stores food for the lean future. IT’s a good survival strategy.

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

Title: Rodent on a Rock

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T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough
T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough

Yup, a Tyrannosaurus tooth sitting in the matrix. Wrapping it up for the trip back to the ranch headquarters is the next order of business. There it will be cleaned at my leisure when I get a pile of such things to clean so it’s worth setting up the micro-air-abrasive fossil cleaning cabinet. The black enamel of the tooth is etch by tiny rootlets that covered the surface. The chemical reactions at the rootlets deeply marked the enamel of the tooth.

Fossil Teeth: Selective preservation…

Teeth were “plentiful with many per dinosaur. They often broke off, the new ones erupting from below. Shed teeth were called spitters.They were literally spit out or lost eating. Some teeth passed through the digestive system. Quaintly named (sh**ers) by collectors. I’ve been told by older and more experienced paleontologists the way you tell the difference is their taste…… 😜

Here pictured next to the 6 inch wood awl that I used to dig it out of the Hell Creek/Lance Formation quarry wall. I have a 50 foot long by 4 feet thick in the center, river channel filled with mixed debris. This debris was dropped by the river for a reason. The current velocity dropped enough to leave what it carried here, behind. The bigger/heavier things came out first so we find a lot of big bones. The little things concentrated somewhere else with a lower current velocity.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: T-rex Tooth in the Rough

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Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus
Horsey Belt of Venus

Horsey Belt of Venus

MOON MONDAY 3PM offer… Moon photos all day today. This is number 4.

These two jokers were hanging out where I was driving just as the moon Full December moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, the blue like under it is the shadow of the eastern horizon on the western atmospheric ice screen. There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon. As the western horizon moves upwards, the blue will disappear along with the full moon setting in due time.

Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image.

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

Title: Horsey Belt of Venus

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Full Horse Moon

Horsey Setting Moon
Horsey Setting Moon

Full Horse Moon…. instead of Quarter Horse Moon…. 😜😄

I would like to thank the quarter horse and the moon for sitting for me. A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The horse was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool morning by the way. It was around 10 degrees at the time, 10 inches of snow all over the ranch land. This neighbors horse was with his all black cohort free ranging out in the backcountry. I happened by about the same time the horizon was rising to cover the moon from below. What a coincidence 🤗

This setting moon that morning was very visible with the sun rising over my shoulder left frame. The lighting was wonderful, the sky robins egg blue with wisps of clouds. The horse was only about 150 yards out for the soft focus in the close/far perspective that this image is. I’d preferred 200-300 yards but beggar opportunist photographers can’t be choosy sometimes 😜👁 Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the horse would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the horse. I couldn’t walk any further back and still line this up. Topography is my master.

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

Title: Full Horse Moon 122019B

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Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt
Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

I know, it’s out of season in Wyoming, not so much down south at the moment though. Be careful down there. As the cold air moves over us, the arctic blast does BIG storms in LA, MS, AL, GA….. Be careful out there and prayers for those effected by the storms.

In this complex summer image, I set the camera up at the mirror to reflect the sky slit 90 degrees left frame….Flash….. Can you find the Deering Seeder? This was a HUGE mesocyclone that hadn’t even reached us yet. We were just under it’s leading edge here. That shelf cloud is an indication that it’s about to get sporty. The 80 mph winds this brought with it did some damage. The big hail missed us though. That big white roof is our big barn which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field under that roof. It’s an old roping area under there.

This storm donated quite a few lightning photos. I usually work storms like this up on the ridges definitely in a car. The car doesn’t make you immune to the strikes but it helps. Your not going to get killed by ground current if your not touching metal is the plan. Not that the bolt couldn’t hit the camera. I’ve been pretty close to some strikes before and it will wake you up. Looking forward to working it with the new vehicle with no moon roof. I ordered it WITHOUT a sunroof (a several thousand dollar options that will probably leak). More metal overhead is a good thing I’m thinking lolol.

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

Title: Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

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Veiled Full Moon Halo

Veiled Full Moon Halo
Veiled Full Moon Halo

Veiled Full Moon Halo

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.

I look at this and see a moon orbiting a gas giant planet such as Jupiter. That is because I live in a science fiction world of fantasy at times. I also have a somewhat overactive imagination but that is for another story lol.

Photographic Musings:

To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.

A big super-telephoto fast Canon lens to do this work is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.

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

Title: Veiled Full Moon Halo

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

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

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

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

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

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Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out
Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart on a fence. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds a 20 feet apart lol. The left one is closer to me than the right (rear) one. They took off just after I came to a stop and started machine gunning the 1200mm lens.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

These Hawks look to be both the same sex… Might be wrong..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

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Meadowlark’s Morning Song

Meadowlark's Morning Song
Meadowlark's Morning Song

Meadowlark’s Morning Song

As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass covered by the white blanket. We just had a 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton truck with a horse trailer attached get stuck in the snow.

This seems to be a popular post with all the decorations sitting on the top. When every you have many acres of birds with one tall post, it is going to be used as a perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.

These guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out feeders as my cats would make short work of that plus I feed birds generally out in our barnyard when I feed my chickens. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock and about 1/2 a gallon to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that trough. I can’t blame them.

The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring posted here a day after the solstice.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark’s Morning Song

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Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge
Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

Winter leaves a few nice scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have so many choices where to point my cameras. There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow. I am always trying to adhere to those rules. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and vertically. The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. The Visual tunnel to the mountains 40 miles distant is just above center. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”. So I clicked lol.

Those are the “Red Hills” off in the distance. We actually have more snowthan in this image as I type this. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface. Coating everything.

This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is very close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.

2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Landscape: Snowy Borderline Ridge

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Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis
Sunflower with Praying Mantis

Sunflower with Praying Mantis

I caught this top level insect predator hunting on a sunflower out in my garden about three months ago now. I JUST got to finishing the capture. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂

I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was for good focus as well as a slower subjec lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

I don’t see many of these out in our gardens but my Aquaponic Green House in on it’s 5th generation now of Mantis babies. About every 8 months or so I have a hatch take off down there. I bought some egg 4 years ago + and they are still going supporting themselves in that 40 x15 by 20 foot “Wyoming Walipi”. That means it’s an underground green house and is all aquaponic using all water (except for some orchids where I have some hydroton nuggets involved. .

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

Title: Sunflower with Praying Mantis

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark
Happy Face and the Meadowlark

Happy Face and the Meadowlark

My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.

Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.

Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.

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

Title: Happy Face and the Meadowlark

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Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder
Sharpie Over the Shoulder

Sharpie Over the Shoulder was one of those looks of interest but of little concern. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there is a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place.. It’s slim pickings when my ducks get done with feeding time but there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings.

It was -2 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear so he is slightly fluffed up for this capture.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. They seem to weather the storm quite well. They range up to Alaska and they mostly get as cold as we do there. As far as I can tell, they care not about snow. But they are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by one flying. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharpie Over the Shoulder

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Orange Banded BigHorn Mountains

Orange Banded BigHorn Mountains
Orange Banded BigHorn Mountains

Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.

I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.

This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T

The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.

2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: Orange Banded BigHorn Mountains

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Praying Mantis at the Altar

Praying Mantis at the Altar
Praying Mantis at the Alter

A Praying Mantis at the Altar was captured from this last summer…

The purple Russian Sage was growing in and around a barberry bush and in the middle of it was this big green Mantis slowly crawling about. Crypsis is a side to side rocking motion they use to “resemble” vegetation blowing in the wind. They rock/sway a lot of the time. Really small ear buds I’m thinking 😜

They are really green when freshly molted turning brown with an old skin being ready to shed. I’ve had Mantis live 6 months down in my Wyoming Wlipini greenhouse breeding all year long. I have at least 4 years of successful Mantis Breeding on going down there. This is a wild Mantis though.

It may seem like yesterday but it’s been 63 posts since my last mantis photo lolol… Putting 6 posts a day out there adds up fast.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Praying Mantis at the Altar.

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Polarized Orb Weaver Web

Polarized Orb Weaver Web
Polarized Orb Weaver Web

Generating this image of a Polarized Orb Weaver Web, In a rare play time moment, I’m using 3 filters.. A big polarized sheet behind the web, a linear polarized (not circular) glass filter for my lens, finally an Orb Weavers Web to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera placed between the two filters.. The two”crossed” filters were adjusted/rotated so that I still got some sun through and the colors as well.

Two polarizing sheet filters at 90 degrees to each other cancels all light coming through. Black. Slightly rotate one or the other polarizing filter and some direct light as from the sun will come through. But when you have something between the two polarizing sheets, they change the way light is polarized so it makes it through the second sheet not blocked by it. That is the web you see here. .

This is sort of like a really big petrographic microscope (which I’ve spent months on) but in Large scale. You can try this by crossing at right angles 2 pairs of polaroid sunglasses. Put something like a thin quartz pebble between them and shine bright light through the crossed assembly.

Of course the play of light is like that with polaroid sunglasses and automobile windows. . It all was very faint of course and I “brought it out” but the result is self explanatory. Cool stuff Orb Weaver Spider Webs….

If you want to learn more about this phenomena, research optical mineralogy or petrographic microscope on google. Same application here more or less the same physics involved.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Polarized Orb Weaver Web

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Autumn in the Grasslands

Autumn in the Grasslands
Autumn in the Grasslands

Autumn in the Grasslands is full of colors.

I’m not sure of the seed plant here. Grows in big bunches. Not a lot of them on ranch so they are probably a noxious weed I don’t know lolol. Anyone got an idea??

Our ranch is about 1/3 pine treed pastures and about 2/3rd’s grasslands. Autumn down on the flats off the old growth treed ridges is a different perspective entirely. Thats a good mix of winter and summer pasture. You don’t want your cows in pine trees as the pine needles they eat cause spontaneous abortions from the turpentine they contain. Deer do just fine with them but not cattle.

Autumn happened on a tuesday this year in full disclosure. This is actually winter in this shot between snows/melts and was taken about a week ago as I type this. (2 weeks from when it posts. ). Up here in the remote ridges/high backcountry of Wyoming/Montana borderlands, we have a pretty long ramp up to full winter. That ramp is pretty steep this year so far lol.

The sun was just dropping below that cloud deck highlighting everything in a gold light with about 15 minutes to go to sunset at this point. I love perspectives and wide lenses

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana grasslands.

Title: Autumn in the Grasslands.

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Crimson Crack of Dawn

Crimson Crack of Dawn
Crimson Crack of Dawn

Crimson Crack of Dawn is literally just that:

When the sun starts rising, I’m working very long lenses looking at little postage stamp at arms length sized areas of the sky. The tree was hundreds of yards out from my position as getting it in focus was a priority. Distance from the foreground object is your friend.

If camera settings need to be known, looking into a really bright scene like this, LOWEST ISO number, Higher fstop number and really fast shutter speeds. Most camera users need a neutral density filter in front of the lens but I don’t need them with this Sony Alpha 7. I really don’t like them on my cameras as I often get ghost images in really bright off lens center axis photos. Never use em. Neutral Density filters reduce the over all light coming into your camera.

Set your priorities and start working in Manual Mode folks. You can’t take images like this without it.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crimson Crack of Dawn

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Order Versus Chaos

Order Versus Chaos
Order Versus Chaos

The symmetrical Order Versus the Chaos of a Bad Hair Day.

One of the most ordered things in the universe sitting amongst a scattered scaffolding of coarse hairs. Clearly Chaos defined.

Captured here by a nice really TINY snowflake. It’s Sitting individual hairs of BobCat fur. I find animal fur a very good platform to shoot snowflakes from. The hard part is getting the BobCat to stay still long enough to get the shot……..🤔

Fur in general will catch flakes and often hold them ideally vertically for me. I get into enough Photo-yoga without having to block light to get over horizontal flakes. I can’t think of a better media for this work as it won’t melt the snowflakes. The hair is a wonderful insulator

Photographic musings:

Just before I started typing this narrative, I was outside with this very piece of fur looking for that perfect flake while enjoying zero windchill. The gear I use is variable depending on the lighting as I work from several Macro lenses. Each lens you should EVER buy should be a generational purchase. I have lenses I’m still using I bought in the 1990’s and use several 1970’s lenses say weekly…

On the other hand, I consider camera backs a disposable item after the repair cost exceeds a new camera. They are worth less and less each new model that comes out. I haven’t worn one out to the point of not being able to repair one though just yet. What’s good about Sony is that you CAN get them fixed.

I’m about to send two 1400 dollar Sony Alpha 7 RII cameras back into repair (400-900 dollars each camera so far). I wear out several Camera backs a year these days. Environmental stress destroys complex delicate electronics, LOTS of manual settings, beat up the settings wheels. There is a lot of grit in the atmosphere/environment here too.

I find that cameras in this extreme environment stop working in some manner in the 50-100k click mark. I easily take that many photos and more but spread that 8 cameras currently. I send one in about every 2 months or so lolol. I’ll be working with only 6 functioning workhorses for the next month. That is sort of a handy-cap the way I do things these days sadly. They will come back like new if History is a guide.

If your able to afford it, having cameras and lenses covering all different focal lengths is HIGHLY desirable. I always take 5 or 6 cameras and lens combinations with me while working to make what I do happen. You can sure take good photos with one camera body with multiple lenses. Problem is you have to change during a shoot. No one has enough time during a sunset to be changing lenses. For an example: last night I worked 5 cameras for a half an hour last night as the Sun set directly over the Bighorn Mountains. Every camera has dozens or hundreds of images of that event.

Changing lenses also introduces dirt and dust into your camera. You can buy cleaning kits on amazon. Not that hard to do. Get the right sized sqab kit though…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Order Versus Chaos

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Up Close and Personal

Pronghorn Doe Up Close and Personal
Pronghorn Doe Up Close and Personal

Getting this up close and personal to a bedded Pronghorn is not a common event mostly because it took me an hour to work up to this gal who was still bedded as I drove away. I probably have 1/2 a dozen images “about” this close to a living Pronghorn but this is probably the 2nd closest I have with the closest being just an eye shot of this gal.

Approaching a Pronghorn

Some of them obviously think of my Jeep as just another grazing animal and tolerate me in pretty close as long as I drive like a grazing animal walks. (long story). Cars are without a doubt good portable blinds…no question. But the only shooting from them is with a camera lolol.

There is the discussion of getting animals used to vehicles because this isn’t a problem here so far…. It’s getting them used to the human form that is a bad thing. Hunters don’t hunt up here from vehicles if they are doing it legally. (well maybe some handicapped hunters shoot from vehicles). Hunters mostly get out on foot and because of the human form in the past shooting things at them, chasing them etc, pose an easily recognizable danger to the wildlings. If I get out of my vehicles, the result is these critters are “OUTTA THERE”. They don’t like the human form.

Poaching ?

Poaching of course is always an issue but that isn’t a really good idea on a place where the proprietor is out with cameras all the time Also this is a VERY big place so just because I have a photo of a big buck photo, I’ve got about 100 square miles to search for it. Fences are no barriers to Pronghorn and Deer. They go where they want to. If you want to poach, go elsewhere lolol.

Slow but sure wins over impatience pursuing Pronghorn Portraits all year long 📸

Location: Bilss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Up Close and Personal

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Pronghorn Sliding Under a Fence

Pronghorn Sliding Under a Fence
Pronghorn Sliding Under a Fence

This Pronghorn Doe Sliding under a fence during it’s spring shedding make her back look much worse than it is. She was dumping hair by the clump along her back from rubbing on wire crossing fence lines last spring. She’s fine from this maybe a few scratches and maybe a few get infected now and then but I don’t see it very much.
There are only three wires here with the 4th broken so this is a favorite place for wildlife to crawl into the hay pasture from the pasture where the water source is. (Game Trail Camera
at the “funnel”). The fence has been broken here for years left for the game to get through. They are used to it…. I Even have a blurry picture of one of my Corriente’ Long Horns jumping this fence. I even have an antelope doing the same thing jumping over which is pretty rare lolol. I’ll get around to that image as I run across it and get it posted .

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.