I remember this lovely little fellow crawling about a beautifully lichen covered patch of sandstone to warm up. This was a 90 mm macro lens which at about 3 inches away was placed VERY carefully next to him with me attached to the other side. The term slow motion applied to my technique to get to this little pencil thick 6 inch long fellow in range. Then I had to get him focused. It was very bright giving this a pretty deep focus. The sun was warming the rock / snake early in the morning. Probably I looked like a big creature with one really big eye to this baby snake. I managed to catch a few good images of it.
I understand these guys make a good pet (for a snake). Eagerly taking most small prey, insects, mice, small eggs, anything they can fit in their mouth. Even wild ones handle well in my experience though they put on a good imitation dangerous snake act. They can also defecate on you when scared. They tame down significantly with handling. Generally they are not biters in my experience. Evolution blessed them with some slightly enlarged teeth that can indeed inject a week venom. This perhaps causing itching and irritation at the site. I suppose some could be allergic to it badly. Bitten by one I have not been and I’ve handled many. They get up to 3 feet long. Good Snakes I consider the species.
On a side note, I had an encounter shortly before I typed this with the 4 foot long bull snake that lives under our decks. He looks pretty healthy with lots to choose from around here this spring. No other local creature bothers him even the dogs. The cats are WAY interested but would loose that fight lol. He’s a big boy. Curiously the chickens that live in this yard haven’t killed him as they often do to rattle snakes. This summer I bet even the snakes are eating grasshoppers till they bust. I didn’t have a camera for that big boy as the lighting was non-existent under the start of a storm at the time. 😔 Both Species are wonderful snakes to have around.
Finding a Huge Mesocyclone Spinning 50 miles+ off in the distance, I’m thinking “Perspective” 📸 So I had a “Far Object’. This little Spinning top of a storm with the energy of the atom bomb spread out over it’s lifetime. This is just the right 1/3rd of the storm. I easily could have made a triptych out of the total storm. Over an hour after this capture, I was chasing this storm and indeed took a very wide composite image of the sunset projecting red on this storm. Both daylight AND twilight captures of this storm are now in my portfolio.
These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as potential monsters if they roll over you. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. Yes tornadic activity can occur out of them. Hail is also a HUGE threat.
They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow more mid-day . 📸 Having passed right over us. This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across. Still Blue with white clouds, the twilight colors later in any sunset timeline are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere.
Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.
Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…
Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.
This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.
I was following this good looking Pronghorn Doe from below. I had a long lens on it quickly stopping in my tracks. My appearing over an adjacent ridge suddenly caused it to move. Here is the story…
Sudden appearances of scary smelly, noisy vehicles always throw a wrench into a nice day grazing in the backcountry. This is not a traditional multiple exposure. It is a digital recreation of the even placing the animal precisely on the landscape as it was recorded. The digital work alone took hours but I like the result. Thought it was worth your time as well…
SO this is ALL the SAME Pronghorn “documenting” each stop over the same patch of ground. From right to left the Pronghorn moved, stopping as the bird captured in the frame flew very close to it. The spooked doe stopped and watched it. Moved about 10 feet and watched me for a few second. From that quick glance she moved into a nervous shuffle only to stop and pee (more nervous activity). A quick circle and she was back watching me yet again. The thought settled in her mind I was a threat sitting there. Thusly she decided to head more to the left, looked over the ridge, evaluated and changed her mind. Quickly zipping back to the right where she extended and left my area.
I don’t do a lot of these….. Art, did I mention this is ART? It’s built on 9 different photographs… 😜📸 2:1 Diptych Digital Composite
I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. This is a rare sunset early golden hour photon hunt. I’m not usually headed this direction in the afternoon with a tendency to go deep backcountry. This hunt was a road trip mostly watching the storm move through. My bucket list is to get a rainbow against this scene….
Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument is on the left. The “Three Sisters” (right) as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic necks. Exposed by eroding the material away from above/around them.
Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed on sand grain at a time. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. Rivers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin. The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).
The lighting this evening was spectacular. I find you are where you are when the “Golden Hour” hits with it’s long shadows and rich earthy tones. This is big country here in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana (looking southeasterly into Wyoming). Thousands of square miles of less than 2 people per mile population density.
This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.
Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.
Everyone needs some purple in their life at LEAST once a week…
Rocky Mountain Columbine comes in many cultivars with various shades and hues from blues to reds with all the spectrum in between. A bicolor nature trends in the species. They are very distinctive if your not familiar with their bell shaped flowers. They have a huge elongated nectar spur . If you are unfamiliar with the flower, you should google it. You’ll see them hanging out in light shade. Stick your nose into one if you can as they are very fragrant.
These are wonderful flowers build/engineered to attract humming birds and phoenix moths. The same flower design prevents bees from penetrating to the nectar bearing parts. Long tongued nectar feeder get a break from these guys. Hummingbirds indeed are the most effective pollinator of the Columbine Flower. We have dozens of Columbine patches of naturalized cultivars mixed with groups that were here when I arrived 20 years ago.. The Homestead here at the ranch has seen many different gardeners over the 100 years of habitation on this site.
I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than all the previous gardeners combined lol. This is not to under cut their contributions. Built into this homestead were wonderful patches of flowers of all kinds. They were present when we moved here. We divided many overgrown clumps and get the fruit of that every spring now. Columbine are all about. Someone liked them a lot decades ago. You find the dandelion seed?
Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are only 2 arcs in this image. I have a very similar shot from last fall 2019 that has a much deeper vibrant rainbow. . I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has 2 nested within 👀📸
IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. It is less than desirable to squish around in the fresh mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit back to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol. I have a map of such things and assemble composition opportunities in my head. So when X happens I go to Y location and so forth.
Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow” Rule 1 of photography is “Always have a camera with you”. I prefer about 5 as a minimum though I could get by with 2 in most cases…. With the right 5 camera/lens combinations I have access to every possible focal length from 10mm to 1200 mm. Just grab the right camera. The camera backs are all the same brand (work the same)……. 😜😜
The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).
That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.
This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.
That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.
A mere 10 months ago, this Mule Deer Buck was crossing the road “to get to the other side” (according to “Sneaky Pete” the windmill). The Sweet Clover was in bloom, the bees were filling their hives with honey from it. The 4 year old buck was just starting to grow his antlers which already have a 5×5 configuration.
I know this buck as “Tweeddle Dee” because I’ve seen him do a Tweedle Dumb thing or two over the last few years lol. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the forth year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.
I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.
I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.
Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.
Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.
Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these
Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.
Jumping into my photo, “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill provides a close for this “Close / Far” perspective
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
Gotta love Yellow/golden Alpenglow. A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The Bighorns look pretty close in this image. But its taken by a 1200mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns look huge, way larger than they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. The area of horizon can be covered by your thumb at an arms length.
The Big Horn Mountains are indeed distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Enjoy your “time off”, make the best of it you can. I’ve been working every day as hard as ever up here in the middle of nowhere. Be safe all.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.
Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.
On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.
Close far perspective:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. 📸
Coyote Hunting the Shoreline .(Game Trail Camera Capture)
There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans. This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds. From what I’ve seen, they can bite you about 30 times per second per second.😀.
I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.That ice was 1/2 inch thick at most. If she keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw.
I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks. 2×3 aspect up to 36 inches wide.
When I try to read the early morning as to whether or not to go out to chase the light, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning, nailed it!…. Once I decide to go out 40 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the muddy spring (sometimes more accessible than others). Driving across hills here will get you into some Bentonite and stick you easily miles from anywhere. I stick to the road when it’s wet in the high country.
This Alpenglow show that morning was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many displays this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The rare purple colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”. This is certainly an unusual light environment in cold, clean Wyoming air.
If you haven’t already, look up the term Alpenglow as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some Alpenglow in the show. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.
The red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow behind the snag pine tree. That phenomena projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but on the moon.
This just the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around these days in snowy or muddy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE a celestial alignment will occur with what hillside. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having effectively unlimited access to many square miles of backcountry Wyotana is always a good thing with a camera.
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a bullseye into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise.
The sky starts to light up quickly, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀
This was taken over a month ago in early March. We had light snow then, none now…. Dry year but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops.
Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.
These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. These guys are our largest shore bird in North America. (National Audubon).
They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing callsThey will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. I find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.
This was a late spring snow storm from the spring of 2019. It caught everybody by surprise. Robins, Meadowlarks and Curlews were wading knee deep in the white stuff. Much to their collective dismay I’m sure. I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔
Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.
The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise.
Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight. In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. .
Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
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.
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” 😀
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).
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…. 😜⚒⚒