Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.
The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.
The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀
I see this Antique Deering Seeder almost every day as it is located on a ridge with a view. Better I have all weather access to this spot. The Sunset that night was accented by the continuing fires west of us. We’ve only had one fire on ranch this year so far. That’s pretty good (knock on wood and where is that salt). This is the beginning of many smokey sunsets (since that is what is currently the rage around here). The air quality is considered “unhealthy” to endure by the powers that be. I am fortunately in an air conditioned truck except when I drive around with cameras sticking out my window. That might be hazardous duty of some sort. ☹️
The seeder has has this amazing view point for decades. Perhaps dating back to very early in the 20’s or so. I suspect it’s horse drawn nature was necessary early on. Gasoline would have been difficult and expensive to obtain. Horses thrive on the available fuel. There is a significant suspicion that much of the grass in our larger fields are resultant from the activities of this fellow. Clearing the sage brush must have been exciting lolol. Fires I’m sure played a significant role there along with a plow later. Then enters the realm of this Cadillac of Grass Planters of it’s day. Changing our environment for the “better”. Boy are there lots of varieties of grass up here now. 😜
Holy Smokes (sorry bad pun). Sitting in the grassy field 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road, this old freight wagon may have been here as early as 1906. It hauled freight for decades traveling the minimum 30 mile round trip to the nearest General Store. Both Rockypoint Wyoming and Biddle Montana were a day trip from this location by horse drawn wagon.
Bulk flour, sugar, salt, cow medical supplies, canned foods, canning supplies, seeds, cloth and every other household good you can imagine. The settlers survived this remote backcountry without electricity until 1956 (I understand). No telephone until 1964. No broadband internet until I built piped it in via Microwave in 2012 where it is distributed to various ranches and a local school 30 miles distant. This place has seen it all in the last 120 years. I’ve been here 20.
Wood exposed to the elements lasts a long time here. Even non treated wood. The generally dry (a few inches a year long on being a desert) environment here preserves many things. Nothing decays quickly I know of ‘petrified animals” (cows mostly) that have died. One is well over a decade old. It seems leather is preserved a long time too. I’ve found old leather shoes in an 80 year old over bank trash pile left from an old homestead.
The mentality then wasn’t to bury non-burnable trash but to throw it over the nearest gully bank. Out of site out of mind. Mostly the early homesteaders didn’t have plastics so only glass and iron are present in the landfill. A few early ‘plastics” mostly antique car parts/pieces are out there in the old dumps. Most of the ranches today are made up of many smaller original homesteads. We have 3 original homesteads on this ranch.
(This is one of a dozen image I consider a “Right Turn Clyde” series.) If you remember the 1978-80 movie by Clint Eastwood “Any Which Way But Loose” and his Orangutan “Clyde”. Upon being told “Right Turn Clyde”. The great ape would throw his massive arm to the right. This action usually punching someone in the jaw that needed such a thing. (deserved). Filmed in Wyoming on location in Jackson Hole back in the day. Those were the days back in Jackson Hole. I started experiencing JH a few years after that. Lived there for a decade. I digress…
So the Meadowlark singing has no concept of the sign he graces with his presence. Even so his presence is often left on the sign. If you get my drift 😜 Golden Hour Lighting….
Meadowlark Encounters are all to a one a random event. I wander from project to project up in this remote country. In this grass sea we inhabit the shore of, anything above the ground level is a perch for a bird here. It’s the high rise of the prairie and premium real estate. I swear I’m going to dedicate an afternoon photographing/ staking out a particular Right turn sign I’m aware of. You could mine Bird Guano around that sign and use the soil there as fertilizer. IT must be a very busy place on the planet but I only get short glimpses of it drying by. Observe and Investigate. (Rule 211 of Photography)
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.
I work images from the past years into my work flow daily as there is some back up to complete. This capture is from last fall. The Pronghorn Doe was quite a ways out and I like to have a tight field of focus with a “bokeh’d” fore AND background. THe depth of the landscape being accented by the perception of distance.
Those bushes around Jane (Doe) are “Spanish Daggers” (Yucca) plants have long pointy leaves. The flower / seed pods feed many ungulates in this country. Making them fat for the winter in fact. Each and every leaf, a sharp spear able to penetrate most tight blue jeans enough to draw blood. They are also a danger to take the foot off a person silly enough to ride a motorcycle through this kind of landscape.
By far the fastest way to get across this ranch via land is to be a pronghorn. The next fastest is a house cat trying to look like he meant to fall off that TV. Then comes a motorcycle. I have to admit that I haven’t opened up the F-150 raptor yet. With have a couple of long lenses strapped in the back seat. I might have to remove those to keep them from seeing zero – G. Tie a few things down lol.
Pronghorn…These guys are skiddish, quick to react by escaping. Always aware of their surroundings. SLOWWW and stealthy is the best way to approach. Stop, take some photos, move a little closer, take some photos etc. I know they are aware considering potential threats versus running away all the time. There isn’t much they don’t see. I’m at least 300 yards out for this deep telephoto perspective.
The view from up here on the high ridges can be spectacular. I usually see lone Pronghorn venture on the upper ridges. Rare small herds will be wandering this high above the grassy flats.
This is an unusual capture of this Pronghorn Buck was relaxed so much. He bedded down as I was machine gunning his movements with a very fast camera. Rapid fire pictures are something I do from time to time. Picking and choosing shots is tricky and you do miss things now and then lol. I’d way prefer to “nuke em’ from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”. (Classic Reference”). Rapid fire cameras that can take 50 high resolution photos in just a few seconds are miracles of technology. They do use up some disc space though lol.
Nice Horns ! This Young buck is still growing his horns larger even this late in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. All others don’t lol. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.
While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers are made of bone. Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter.
Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸
In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….
It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔
I laughed out loud and then took dozens of images in all sorts of frame compositions. I liked this particular capture the best. There are several very good cloud creatures in this image. The hoot is the face on the upper gray cloud. The north wind as it were … Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale” The Selfish Giant (1888) exemplifies the North Wind as a man who “was wrapped in furs. He roared all day. I’ve always pictured him in my minds eye as a grey old guy… here he is caught on camera.
I thought as this was taken, it was an exercise in futility for the old guy. It was early June and 80+ degree days are already past us. My sense of normalcy was safe or so I thought. Of course it’s snowing in the mountains as I type this now. Looks like the old fellow got his way after all. I have seen snow in every calendar month of the year in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming. I now have garden crops in and am hoping we will avoid the worst of the old North Winds effects.
Meanwhile on the rest of the image here overlooking both Montana and Wyoming. I’m also imagining a swan diving it’s head under the surface of a frothy ponds below the old guy. Pareidolia takes no captives and gives no quarter. If you have it, and don’t take definitive action to turn away, your likely to see all sorts of anthropomorphic shapes in clouds. If you do have this tendency, welcome to the club of us “suffering” from this malady.
Captures like this really wide angle twilight melodrama are always a welcome eye opener . Treated to this wonderful show I was. As it turns out it was just a promise of things to come. In my travels, I’ve experienced occasional morning light worthy of capturing in my photon traps last several hours as did this show. Well into the “Golden Hour” this play continued. Unfortunately there is no universal/international rating system of the various iterations I experience of twilight beauty. I might have to come up with one some day.
Taken a full 15 minutes before the horizon dropped away. Thus exposing our star in it’s full brilliance. The attenuation of it’s glare not as intense filtering through the veil of clouds on the horizon. The withering gauntlet experienced by the light on it’s path to the cloud deck above kept the shorter bluer wavelengths back. Only the strongest waves survive natures filters. True of light as it is ourselves. Nature filters out those things that can’t, won’t or are ignorant of adaptation to the conditions that prevail up on them.
The promise of a fully involved twilight sky is of a better day to come. Though sailors are to take warning so goes the wisdom of the ages. It’s a good thing living about as far away from the ocean as we do as such rules do not apply here. (We live 80 miles from the geographic center of North America). This was a wonderful day with more images from this timeline to come.
Our Lilacs are Blooming earlier this year than last. We had blooming Lilac bushes the 4th of JULY last year. This year is way drier and warmer. Lilacs beat by at least 2 weeks their late blooming past. Catching a bee on Lilac is nifty. Catching “Maverick and Goose” doing a flyby in their “hornet” is priceless lolol.
Photographic Musings: This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So High F-stop = deep field of focus (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. Light has to come from somewhere, so make longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher. Higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? I’d be interested to see if they could do it…
With ALL Macro shots, more light is your friend. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best.
As I point cameras directly into the sun I usually get either Crimson or Burn Umber colors depending on my exposure. I’m not one to argue with my cameras on this point as I can’t look into the scene without blinding myself. I have no choice but to trust the full frame chips that Sony uses in their various Alpha 7 series camera backs used in my work.
Getting up an hour before sunrise in the summer takes some doing to motivate at times. I usually worked the sunset 6 hours before. IT takes a while to wind down after photographing sunset so the night is really short. I usually only need 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night (if I get a short nap mid day). Historically I will work 7 or 8 sunsets or sunrises in a row. In my old age wisdom, I might not work certain types of skies. Clear skies are way common and difficult for me to justify taking the time to work them. Obviously I don’t work heavily overcast sunrises.
My day revolves around photography so if I’m not taking care of ranch business and chores, I’m working images. Either taking photos up on the high ridges or going through the timeline of files picking winners/loosers. Then there is the time to finish. The hard part are these narratives. The photos are easy 😜🤘 In full disclose, I’m also looking for fossils and artifacts as I go……
Full time photography is not for the computer challenged these days. If you don’t work 3 to 4 hours a day in Photoshop or Lightroom, I would be surprised.
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 find you are where you are when rainbows pop out of the sky. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun as they are reflective. The light hitting the water droplets in that rain shower reflected back to my camera in a classic ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet) order.
Finding a frame that “fits” the situation is of course always the problem. It’s easy to take a photo of a rainbow. IT’s harder to take a frame around the rainbow when there are two trees within a mile radius… Spring green grass below mixed with the golden stalks remaining from last year. Soon the green will overtake the gold with the grasslands brown season ending. The Cottonwood Trees in this small draw frame “Mitten Butte”. Famous in my world, the Monadnock / erosional remnant is 300 feet higher than the surrounding ground. I’ve been over it and on top of it a few times. The view is good up there but it’s a long stairway to be at just at the right time for chasing light. It’s a long walk down in the dark and then there is the 2 mile two track road to/from it lol.
Mitten butte has been famous in my narratives having been a volcano a time or two, a local Mt. Fuji in geofiction. Backdrops for hundreds of images. Here it’s accumulating Skittles™ in it’s saddle or so it appears… 😜🤔📷
If you look at the left side of this and let your imagination go… a french poodle begging… On the right side, a Gorilla looking fierce. Or if you want to really let your imagination go. I see 11 other faces in that rising cumulous cloud. (soon to be a thunderstorm as there was a LOT of lift in the air that day. Many of these thermals grew into big storms that hit to our east. .
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it for facial recognition purposes. Making familiar patterns out of random data is a common “affliction”. It’s not just clouds of course. Hearing hidden messages in music is a similar effect. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic.
Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. I consider them sprits in the sky. This was caught glancing back behind me to the south won a warm evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision working sunsets and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. I suffer horribly from this mental disease seeing faces and animals in almost every scene I look at. Some days it’s worse than others though lolol. 😜👀📸
During the early spring, Whitetail turn a wonderful light tan color. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over here but she still have some divots in her coat. A silky light tan to white look is the rule for healthy animals.
I actually don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I’m not that fond of them as they chase the larger Mule Deer Away when they move in. The Mule Deer are MUCH larger and less spooky. IF one has to hunt for any reason, most (certain me) would prefer to take a Mule Deer for the same priced tag…. We don’t have BlackTail Deer up here like you left coast residents.
I seldom can get close to them. I caught this one driving by her in the backcountry. Then she had to cooperate lolol. I’m not able to track over time these guys like I can follow the growing Mule deer. Whitetail are MUCH more shy in my experience. Quick to run from you as well. Having only a few second. Having Cameras generally pre-set up for wildlife photography is a good thing BTW…. . This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder. The shadows were very long and the unfettered sun was quite bright.
This is a long lens telephoto shot of course. I haven’t worked out a deal with them to sit for 55mm portrait lenses to date. I’ve heard that “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is working on that diplomatically…… (years long narrative if your now lost). 😜📷
Literally playing “King of the Hill”, this American Eagle had quite a view. This hillock is one of the higher Buttes about (erosional remnant sometimes called “Monadnock” which is a good google word for the morning). Several hundred feet above the surrounding terrain is a good spot to look for game without all that effort of flying etc.. I’m going to have to take a climb up there as this is a hill I haven’t been up yet. It’s a little scramble to climb sandstone buttes and not without some challenge. I might put a game trail camera up there just for kicks… See what flies by…
I saw the “silhouette” of the bird from a LONG way out. Way out in the hilly backcountry, it took me about 10 minutes to get THIS close. All the while this sharp eyed bird was watching me bounce around the backcountry well away from the closest “smooth” two track trail….
The whole game was trying to get into position to take the sun RIGHT behind the bird setting on the peak. The sun was actually above the bird just off frame. IF I could have maneuvered for another few minutes, he would have been in the crosshairs between sun and my lens. No such luck as he flew away seconds after this capture. I’m not sure why he flew but I wasn’t being subtle trying to get into the right position. I always stop in intervals while approaching wildlife. Get the shot, move a little closer, get the next shot, rinse and repeat.
The spring Alpenglow was rife with orange gradients. The suspended ice in the air is responsible for the orange color. If you haven’t experienced a deep orange late evening sky before, you need to spend some time up here in the winter… I was miles out into the backcountry minutes before sunset. It was a long clear sky sunset drive back…….
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.