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Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss
Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

ART…. THIS IS ART. Well unless you take just the right or the left side by itself. Then it is just photography. Each is one photo next to itself flipped horizonally. The Magic is different people imagine different things with such a presentation. Your tendency to see anthropomorphic shapes in random data we are teaching to computers doing facial recognition. This is of course is a brilliantly bright setting sun breaking through a crack in the clouds over a ridge 40 miles out.

Some sunsets are limited to a very little spot of the sky. To look deeply into them when no human eye could is a spiff of using good equipment. It requires one to pretty much turn off your camera to light

This is an image I didn’t know what to do with thus the obvious choice…. The clouds were absolutely ROILING like a boiling pot live real time. I don’t do video. I’m not a videographer so I need to explain what I was seeing in this viewfinder.

When I look at a scene it can instantly transformed into a vision in my mind. In this case I saw a mask I was looking to. Some childhood memory of a Halloween costume no doubt. The best images bring back memories long forgotten. I find.

Mirroring scenes is a mental exercise I do pretty much with every sunset somewhere in any extended session. It’s just a check box for me to fill if I have the time. I always look for natural body parts in clouds so a set of eyes are welcome to the parts collection. 😜😜📷

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

Title: Who is Looking by Frank Bliss

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Perspective V Notch Sunset

Perspective V Notch Sunset
Perspective V Notch Sunset

Perspective V Notch Sunset

Good Morning from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.

Perspectives from the viewpoint of a kid climbing a tree, at least that is what I was after here. I always look at a scene and zoom in to that alternate view in my mind. I try to extend my perspective from where I stand to where the light is calling. These little areas of zen seem to just appear in front of me. Wyotana backcountry is rife with old ground, ground not disturbed by humans at all (except maybe for fires). . Lots of it by the hundreds of square miles. This is several miles off the nearest county road.

Wonderful backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷 I’m always looking for visual tunnels….

This shows the icy backcountry snow getting a crust on it with a few above freezing days. These followed by subzero nights. The crust actually makes it harder to get around because your wheels are always trying to climb on top of that crust. Your basically in 4 holes all the time coincident with your wheels. Plus the snow becomes like ball bearings…. It’s about time for a big snow though. February is a busy snow month historically. The wet season of course is in the spring when all the biggest snows are. Usually LATE spring around late April or early May have have memorable storms historically.

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

Title: Perspective V Notch Sunset

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Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar
Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

Perspective is indeed was a really cold morning but it was a pretty sunset. Crawling out into the pines seemed like a good idea at the time🤔 We actually have 2 fresh inches of snow on the ground here today (as I type) and expect some more of it. The scar on the tree is from a lightning bolt exploding the layers of wood with water in them. The heat from the bolt flashes the water to steam and boom. This old soldier survived it’s wounds.

This gloomy day with VERY flat light wasn’t that inviting. Anything exposed to the wind because coated by hoar frost. The temps were around zero with some light wind. T-shirt weather without the wind up here. Add some wind, put on the three layers under the Parka. I get out and walk around up on the forested ridges to see what I can see. I use these locations for many of my images. From the POV of field mice.

Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019 . Winter came early, rinse and repeat to mid-February. Last spring, Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was late starting by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal. All climate is local I point out. . Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. It’s just mid-February too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.

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

Title: Perspective Frosty Lightning Scar

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Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow
Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.

These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.

The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.

True Story here on ranch…

I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.

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

Title: Migrating Geese in Twilight Alpenglow

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Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset
Lone Tree Banded Sunset

Lone Tree Banded Sunset

In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.

From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:

Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.

I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.

I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.

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

Title: Lone Tree Banded Sunset

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Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge
Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge

Looking Northwest overlooking a 50 mile wide valley during the golden hour. The snow was not quite a foot deep. The ridge line road has better summer sunsets to the north west. The low angled sun cutting across the bath. The Day only has minutes left. Setting up for the sunset will take a minute. Interested I am in the lines and the shades of this Golden Hour. Long shadows stretch nearly to infinity at this late hour of the day. My ford has 13 inches under the lowest part of the drive train. A foot of snow is not even close to a problem. Now if it was drifting…… That’s a whole another problem.

A few days before, plowing this road helped this morning. Easy driving is a good thing. Winter this year has not been harsh YET. (Bad Luck saying such things). This really improves my time on target and make the ride much smoother. Bumpy snow and ice is always less than desirable. Now surfaces like this can be icy but not so here. Shoe Chains are a viable option in this country. There are some places on this ridge where I can see the Bear Lodge Mountains 100 miles to the east AND the Big Horn Mountains 140 miles to the west. That is a 240 mile horizon to horizon. I think that is under Websters under the definition of BIG Sky. Wyoming Shares the big sky with Montana, just not the slogan lol. I live in Wyotana so there is no difference for me. lol.

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

Title: Rim of the Ridge

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Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset
Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset

2×3 portrait orientation

Veiled sunsets as this are best viewed from high on the ridges here in the Wyoming / Montana borderlands. I travel deep into the high ridges to find views like this. A visual alley appears in front of me, I crunch to a stop and line up the composition. I find it’s easier for these scenes to find me than me to find them. Give the ridge a walk and see what pops up is one method I have used with some success. Of course getting up there is another discussion all together lol. It’s been muddy lately so I haven’t gone up the hill until tonight. It’s frozen up there now. There is no reason to tear up the turf that took hundreds of years to stabilize. It’s one thing to drive over grass when dry, it’s another thing leaving ruts in the ground. Ranchers are the best caretakers because we don’t want to hurt the productivity of the ground. I seldom drive off the two tracks and usually dismount to walk the scene.

Of course my photo timeline is governed by where I am and what the sky is doing so I’m pretty versatile. My rig will drive across most things but snow drifts will stop me. So far this year drifts have been far and in between with the deep snow being on slope sides. Stands of Yucca brush will trap deep snow and stick the unwary backcountry traveler. I drive a very agile new Ford F150 Raptor. Built/configured just for this. It’s a wonderful upgrade to my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I carry a radio anyway 🤔📷

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

Title: Notch in the Trees Sunset

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Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset
Golden Triangle Sunset

Golden Triangle Sunset

Close / Far perspectives lend themselves to clear skies. The details up close are of course my subject with the sunset only being an extra “hero” of the image. The totality of these landscapes in this country is staggering in their vastness and variety. Every hill crest has an entirely new world just over the top. All the hill sides are different in the angle and orientation of the vegetation living or laying. I keep a map in my head of the snags (fallen trees) that sparsely litter the hills. Treed pastures are prime hunting grounds for me photographically. The joy of being a landscape artists is I don’t have to pay models or deal with crying moving toddlers. No diaper changes mid shoot up here.

The “Golden Hour” (said with reverence) is that time of the day and hour after sunrise or and hour before sunset. The distance through the atmosphere that the light travels get greater the higher the horizon rises. Of course the sun doesn’t set, the horizon actually rises to cover the sun. Remember that things are as they are, not as you have been told or casually think about them.

I always try to keep narratives in the perspective that I’m trying to capture. Understanding how things work is key to working those things with cameras or any other way for that fact.. Knowledge is power and gives you the ability to anticipate outcomes of what ever process your involved with. Having done this a few times, makes the next one usually turns out a little better using the knowledge you have acquired in the past. Paying dues of course is the key to acquiring that knowledge.

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

Title: Golden Triangle Sunset

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Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset
Winter Prairie Sunset

Winter Prairie Sunset

Simple perspectives are my stock and trade. I have tried to make an art out of using the things that nature provides for me to photograph. There are so many little area of zen popping up everywhere I glance. The problem of course is there are so many and so little time so I just concentrate on the obvious stuff. Trying not to stand on my head or bend in a direction my design specifications don’t conform to. Fortunately this process involves a lot of walking on uneven ground carrying some camera weight up top. It keeps me in shape but more important it keeps me connected to the earth. Walking about is how I hunt dinosaurs in this country. Watching the earth is what I do.

Being very earth centric, I’ve spent my whole life considering geologic processes. Most are unaware of them and “blissfully” so. As a student of paleoenvironmental analysis, I see below this landscape and imagine the world that laid the sediment that eventually became those boulders. Clues in the rocks tell me books of information by their presence/characteristics. Geologists see past the beautiful sunset (enjoy those too). We imagine what processes leading to that rocks formation. I have a 3 D map in my head of the orientation of the rock layers under my feet. A useful thing to keep handy at times ….

It is somewhat complex to figure out what processes worked the sands these rocks are made of. That Hell Creek/Lance formation sand was deposited 66 +million years ago according to MANY scientists…. That’s 48.3 billion sunsets/sunrises. Actually numbers like that easily flow into my understanding of things when I imagine the inside structure of the earth, processes that occur now occurred then as well. You might say the perspective I have goes a bit under the surface of what I “look at”. Time is a 4th dimension to me. I don’t just look for fossils here, I look at the rocks to see if they are likely to have fossil in them first…..

Speaking of time, enjoy the snowy sunset and the Close/ Far Perspective.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Winter Prairie Sunset

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Sunset South of the BigHorns

Sunset South of the BigHorns
Sunset South of the BigHorns

Sunset South of the BigHorns

Late January is when this image was taken. The sun is slowly moving north each place and time it sets. Each night it will get closer and closer from my vantage point to the Range. Still north of the sun’s setting current locations are the Big Horns Mountains. They will for the next month come closer and closer to the sun setting in that big notch. Only once or twice in the last 20 years has the weather window cooperated with that occurring. Naturally this is all from my vantage point. I live/work across the 130 mile wide Powder River Basin. It lays between me and the 13,000 feet high Big Horn Range (the last ridge).

The ice in the crisp air was thick at sunset. Including the sun into the image would have been too much for the scene that presented itself to me. The landscape ladder that was resultant from the powerful gradients thus created by mother nature. It’s all very difficult to catch with our current technology. The cameras don’t yet have the dynamic range necessary to capture this scene without the negative space lower right. Don’t get me wrong. I actually like that dark space. Someday cameras will be up to the task without bracketing exposures and having to composite HDR.

If you are new to my narratives, I live up on and around the Montana / Wyoming border. Most of my work it north of Gillette Wyoming to Broadus Montana. We have a 50 mile view to the east from the first of 5 ridges I have easy backcountry access to that I hunt light on. I actively work both sides of the border virtually daily. As a landscape artist I primarily work light but if some of the wildlife locals jump into my frames I will allow it. Some of my narratives are years old and have taken on a life of their own. Please excuse my occasional forays into wild imaginings and fantasies both mine and more classical.

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

Title: Sunset South of the BigHorns

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Wind and Solar Power

Wind and Solar Power
Wind and Solar Power

Wind and Solar Power

Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite :🤘📷 Don’t let your mother know you look at subversive material like this….🤔😜

Veiled sunsets make it much easier for me to point a long camera lens at the sun. The glare blocking ability of clouds combined here with a photobombing windmill effectively reduced the stress on my gear. This night was a pretty one. Veiled suns are by far the best background for me to take a landscape with… If I could only keep “Re Pete” from moving into my scenes. I have no control over these windmills actions.. 😜😜📸 Attention hogs all how they work into my landscapes.

Silhouettes of trees which are much closer than the windmill which by the way is a tad close than the sun is. This windmill hangs out about 3 miles away from my homestead and is a rare shot in the winter. I don’t get over in that country much particularly now that mud season is “spotty” with days being above freezing and nights crisping up. Morning is way less muddy than evening. I way prefer winter weather in the high 20’s than the low thirties. I will not drive a pickup truck over saturated old Prairie. Ruts are damage to turf that has existed for several hundred years at least. The roads are almost as bad at the moment but at 32 degrees, it’s snowing as I type this.

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

Title: Wind and Solar Power

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Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Snowy Spotlighting Sunset
Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

Looking westward across the 40 mile wide Little Powder River Valley , a cloud bank will snuff out the light within minutes. I am often sent home early with no “photos in the can” by cloud banks shrouding the horizon. When I head off road to climb up ridges chasing light, the mid-winter wins sometimes. This night I went up hill. Over 300 square miles of landscape presents here, all covered by this snow blanket. We get most of our 14 inches a year of precipitation during the winter.

You will note how effectively Yucca plants have a tendency toward collecting their own stash of water. The result of this is to soak the ground around them. The Yucca is a great plant up here providing food to the deer all year long. Deer from both species eat the seed pods from Yucca which grow in significant quantities up here. Yucca flowers are edible too I ‘ve seen ungulates take advantage of them every year. The deer grow fat on them. Already eaten, mostly deer have consumed the seed pods. By Mid-Winter, the deer have consumed much of the food reserves on this ridge. They have moved on to other pastures. Typically they head to sheltered gullies with water near by.

If it’s going to be winter, I wish it would freeze the backcountry ground. As I type this it’s been staying around freezing and just above for weeks. Mud in the backcountry completely blocks me from access as I don’t want to rut up my two track trails.

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

Title: Snowy Spotlighting Sunset

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Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter
Grass Rake Sun Filter

Grass Rake Sun Filter

Antique Dump Rake with a view…

As hay is cut, it will soon dry in the field. This hay dump rake would gather the dry hay. As the wheels rotate forward, the rake lifts up and dumps the load of hay into narrow rows called “windrows”. This rake can be raised for travel back and forth from the field. This kind of rake was invented back in the 1870’s and was mostly pulled by horses. It replaced hand raking. Gasoline Machinations took off in the 30’s. I suspect some of these older rakes were pulled behind WW2 surplus jeeps for a time.

Hay ultimately must then be gathered into rows, called windrows. This allows for easier loading onto a wagon. The cutting back in the early days of the 1800’s was performed with a scythe and then gathering with a hand rake. This rake was a BIG improvement over that process.

It was the invention of a mower in the 1850s brought with it a demand for a suitable rake. In the 1870s the dump rake that gathered the dry hay from the swath and deposited it into a windrow. Later, a power-lift device was included so that a simple trip lever could be used to raise the teeth using the power of the wheels. These older systems were outdated in the 1940’s. A combined raking and baling machine came into general use as the older equipment was replaced.

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

Title: Grass Rake Sun Filter

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Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid
Wind and Solar Hybrid

Wind and Solar Hybrid

Satire: (Did I mention this is Satire?)

I see lots of things on the “way up the hill” to photograph sunsets. Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill photobombed my divergent shadow landscape yet again! (exasperated look on my face). He hangs out (mostly) about 1/4 mile up that hill I often travel to. I’m not sure how he manages to get into my landscapes but he seems to. I have no control over his actions…. 👀

Stories about “Sneaky Pete’s” accomplishments have spread far and wide. He has his legend and then there is actually living in the neighborhood with the guy. What happened here is he got a BIG idea about a Wind/Solar Hybrid invention and I think he was trying to communicate the specifics to me. I’m not good at translating him being much better with deer translations of stories than “windmillian”. Tough to communicate with him, he speaks faster or slower depending on the wind speed and that throws off my cadence…. 🤔😜😜📷 I have so much to learn…. I speak geology not Windmill…..

He is such an attention hound. In fairness though he is known as a skillful negotiator with the deer. He’s helped me before with various “deals” with the various herds to get them to sit for me I’m sure of it.😀

Windmill Weekend, Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘😜

Back to my normal programming ….

So I was actually surprised by this capture. I technically was working those aforementioned divergent shadows with a high f-stop on a wide angle lens. The high contrast environment lends itself for a good perspective image. “Sneaky Pete” provides scale for the foreground which was my interest. Winter in Wyotana..

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

Title: Windmill and Solar Hybrid

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Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon
Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

As I watch the sun descend across the sky moving to the right and downward as it travels. The light is so bright as to prevent the technology I am using from picking up any details in the landscape that I can recover. Too much dynamic range in this stage show. The scene was so bright, no human eye could bear it for more than a quick glance. The necessity to set the camera to expose the highlights properly can and does preclude catching any shadow details.

I was after the blue in the sky above the glare though. The Blazing orange alpenglow from the surface haze is only light that traveled long distances through the atmosphere. Only reds and yellows make it. But way up high in the sky, there is still blue light. That blue is unfettered by the atmosphere that high up. Because of the angle of the sun, that part of the sky is still in full colored daylight. That versus the red/yellow light that is being caught by my traps.

To have the sun drop into a perfect little valley for it to rest the night was also a consideration. To be in just the right place when this happens is a matter of planning and preparation. Knowing where cool terrain features are is just a matter of being there and learning/working your area. I have a whole list of things I CAN do any particular day. It depends entirely on the light plus where it’s coming from. 📷

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Sunset Waves Across the Horizon

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Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge
Burning Bush Ridge

Burning Bush Ridge (Cellulose Filter/Tree and all that)

As I’m walking along a parallel ridge waiting for little areas of zen to pop up, I sometimes am satiated. A vision is not an actual manifestation but something that occurs in the mind. An apparition is a physical manifestation of the spiritual object. I’m not sure that the difference is important in the scheme of things eh?

This scene would have given Moses second thought and pause. No human eye could have peered into this lone pine tree filtered glare. You would be blinded very quickly if you tried so don’t.

Lone Tree:

Only a few of it’s pine cones have yielded children. Little pines have started up along this ridge to start the forest back again in 100 years. Most of this country is open due to a big forest fire back in the 1930’s that burned till the snows came. There are treasures here.

Geology Under the tree.

I’ve left this spot untouched paleontologically intentionally. There are copious chunky dinosaurian fossil remains in the rocks in and around this particular tree. It’s on my ground so I own them. The fossils I’m seeing don’t demand my attention as I have a more more efficient/better bone bed to work elsewhere. That tree shelters this bone site.

This site has donated a croc tooth along with some Triceratops teeth off the surface. Teeth and large chunky bone are way different sized/density. Fossil precursors are sorted by cross sectional density. Rivers sort debris like gold pans based on current velocity. I know for a fact there is a tail vertebra about the size of your palm under a rock up there. In my world, I’m not excited by it. As they ran across them. I believe fossil sites had Native American Visitors not and then. Finding huge bird like bones on the surface would have messed with them.

I left it there as a matter of respect for the site. There are many of that particular vertebra in the ranch collection. It’s not scientifically valuable and I can show it the rare visitor that makes it up there as an untouched site letting them find it on their own as a matter of their education. There have been a few. This is near one of our rifle courses so there is relatively easy access to the site. Maybe a dozen folks have been there besides me.

The rocks there are of course Hell Creek/Lance formation. A 700 foot thickness of terrestrial river sands/gravels/siltstones/mudstones etc. All riverine based fossils, fish, turtles, crocs, amphibians, freshwater stingrays, dinosaurs, mammals, snakes, avian dinosaurs, This region has some of the best uppermost Cretaceous rocks exposed in the world. Our ranch has rock containing dinosaurian remains from the end of the dinosaurs reign. Then a meteor came crashing into Yucatan Mexico and changed everything.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands.

Title: Burning Bush Ridge

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The Sun Stuck in a Rut

The Sun Stuck in a Rut
The Sun Stuck in a Rut

The Sun Stuck in a Rut

In the past:

Wyotana Sunsets on ridges 10 miles out through a “sun slit” below the cloud deck.

These scenes can go either way as I set up evaluating where I wanted to go for that night. I have this little map in my head where terrain and the sun will align on a particular night. This Deep Saddle between two higher sections of that 10 mile distant ridge in the Prairie “Dog Hills”. A heavy overcast like this is always an IFFY thing to put the time and energy into. It’s a lot of workloading up the vehicle and take the cameras out for an hour or two.

Here I was chasing questionable skies. This is always a risky thing to schedule/commit to lol. The rare possible rewards such as this make it worthy of both your attention and my time. But just occasionally. I evaluate the weather before sun rise and sunset every day then decide my photographic activities for the evening. I got lucky on this particular image as the sun lit this sky up like a neon bulb. All as Sol dropped into the clear below the deck. I’m very picky on the light I work on these days lol.

Fast forward to the present:

I type this at 5 in the morning, 1.5 hours till sunrise. The scenario for sunrise seems to be coming to something like this. Overcast….. It often takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography on an iffy sky isn’t good time management. I have about 4000 backlogged images to refinish …. It seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol. There is always: “You have to be there with a camera to get the light” (Rule 1 of photography). The sky has been horrible all week for photography and the snow is old. We need some light snow to freshen the scenes up.

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

Title: The Sun Stuck in a Rut

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Belt of Venus Red Hills

Belt of Venus Red Hills
Belt of Venus Red Hills

Belt of Venus Red Hills

Looking west During Sunrise instead of at the “main show”. I look over my left shoulder, the “Pink Belt of Venu”s variety of Alpenglow DOMINATES the back show.

I wonder why they call those mountains the “Red Hills” ? 🤔🤔 Humm…

The Science of this.

The Light Version:

The Pink Alpenglow known as “The Belt of Venus” is literally the back screen of live real IMAX theatre screen I live surround by. Only the longer more penetrative red/pink rays of light make it through all the atmosphere to the relatively light grey / opaque atmospheric ice present. Here the BOV is working it’s way down’ on the Red Hills. The ice refracts and reflects even more red back to my fancy photon capture boxes. The red rocks on the hills are also adding to the effect of just the debris apron up of the Mountain. It is exposed to the sun over the shadow of the horizon behind me as the red light moves down the peaks. Technically the sun has risen for some places and not for others. I am standing in deep shadow as is the 40 mile wide valley in front of me.

Geology:

Between me and that ridge is the Little Powder River Valley with the Montana/Wyoming border somewhere in there. That little 6 foot wide river removed all the sediment between where I stand and those mountains all by itself. No kidding. I wonder how long that took a spring flood and yearly freeze thaw cycles to break up the bedrock so the river can haul sand/silt/clay most of the time? Geologic time is a difficult concept to grasp.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Both Wyoming and Montana are in this image. Looking West.

Belt of Venus Red Hills

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Grass Curtain to the Light

Grass Curtain to the Light
Grass Curtain to the Light

Grass Curtain to the Light

Out here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me. Close / Far perspective…

To use a stand of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Testures and lines 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 fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. 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. 🤔📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Grass Curtain to the Light

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

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.

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. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage
Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

I’m walking along this ridge line way back up into the borderland backcountry of Wyotana. I see this scene developing. That is NOT water dripping off that injured pine tree. That is pine sap and it is dripping in SUPER slow motion at these temperatures lol . The Pine Sap extrudes on any external injury by the pine. This will keep out insects from penetrating the wound. This of course is part of the process insect/pinesap to Amber made famous in the Movie Jurassic Park. Tree resin traps insects, it gets hardened by heat and pressure over time and you get an insect in Amber. Fossilization requires specialized conditions. Amber formation must occur in a wet low oxygen environment. Something like an estuarine, swampy or even a marine environments. (chew on that last one for a while). 😜🤔👀

Stripped of bark, this injury caused by a Porcupine will likely not heal. Particularly if it is deep enough an injury. Porcupines strip bark off Pine trees. Porcupine is from the french translation of “Thorny Pig”. They eat roots, stems leaves of many plants but definitely consume and even kill trees by girdling a trees bark. I have seen numerous trees killed by porcupines. The mountain men used to not bother them. Being slow moving, easy to catch animals, as such were easy pickings. So the mountain men saved them for Hard times and emergencies. Porcupines are greasy when cooked I understand. I’ve never wanted to skin one lolol. 2:1 Aspect

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

Title: Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

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Sunset Through Natures Blind

Sunset Through Natures Blinds
Sunset Through Natures Blinds

Sunset Through Natures Blind (The Furnace)

At 40 miles distant from my camera, the full sized 50 foot Pine Trees seem like brush on the far ridge. The Top of the “Red Hill’s clear across the Little Powder RIver Valley. You MIGHT be able to see a human waving at you standing on that ridge. So at 40 miles, it’s 211,000 feet to the mountains. Amazingly we can see a 50 foot high tree. CRUSHING perspective here.

The atmospheric Window was wide open between here and that ridge but on the other side of that window was a slatted shade to the sun. The Shade I speak of made here of course of cloud bands.. This instantly reminded me of a window blind. Must be an “Anderson” sunset.

There apparently are 2 small sunspots on this sun which were the first after the bottom of the current solar minimum (good google phrases there). There is too much cloud cover to resolve those in this environment. I do have the technology to get good sun/solar face sunspot images. I haven’t seen any for a while lol.

The 20 inch long , 8 pound lens/camera back rig i used for this is somewhat clumsy and slow to bring into play. But to get the sun proportionally this big compared to the ridge at that distance, you have to have a long focal length. Here is a case of bigger IS better 😜🤘📸

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

Title: Sunset Through Natures Blind

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Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight

Snowy "Red Hills" Twilight
Snowy "Red Hills" Twilight

Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight (dark environment low light image. )

I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.

Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.

The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).

Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana”. 3×2 aspect to 3 feet.

Title: Snowy “Red Hills” Twilight

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Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge
Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Sunset Over Deer Ridge

Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.

I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.

I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where with the snows. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open mid winter for them. If we didn’t keep water tanks open they would have to migrate. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.

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

Title: Sunset Over Deer Ridge

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Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off
Best Buddies Facing Off

Best Buddies Facing Off

In reality, these two bucks grew up together. I’ve been watching them a brothers from two different parents of a herd I’ve followed for years. Thick as thieves they are. Always hanging out together. I’ve seen them sparring many times but never with murderous intent that I’ve seen in males that didn’t grow up as best friends.

Regarding the image. For this to occur, I had to figure out that these guys traveled this particular ridge at the same time every day (roughly). I had to be in a position far enough away to get both the sun and the deer in focus under f-64 with this particular telephoto. I also had to be on a parallel ridge that let me climb up backwards up the slope to keep up with the sun setting. The sun of course always cooperates with me. 😜📸

Disclaimer:

To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.

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

Title: Best Buddies Facing Off

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Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter
Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter (or Summer Sunset Through the Grass…..)

Yellow gradient to red but there were some low clouds messing up a perfect gradient. It’s hard to fight mother nature but I like the yellow and transitional orange in this. Stepping JUST over a ridge line with a long lenses camera is at sunset becomes habit. I work parallel ridgelines all the time looking for close / far perspectives such as this.

The sun is SOOOO bright you couldn’t look at this scene with the human eye. I’m about 150 yards back from this grassy ridge with around 400mm involved. I work the shadow line on the far ridge. Distance is your friend with this kind of shot. Maximum F-stop settings (high numbers) give you a deep field of focus. Ifs your first priority to get the grass AND the background in focus. Good thing, it’s a bright scene and the High f-stop makes your aperture a pin hole. Go higher if you can. Then I mentioned, distance from the foreground object is key. You have to be far enough back to get the grass AND the sun focused at the same time.

As I type this, we are going into a cold snap you will have experienced by the time you read the post. I build these posts about a week ahead on average. I post 6 different images everyday on FB along with the story or lesson for the narrative.

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

Title: Grass Stand Sun Filter

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Stumped by the Sunrise

Stumped by the Sunrise
Stumped by the Sunrise

Stumped by the Sunrise

Clear skies or totally veiled skies are both candidates for this kind of “Close / Far Perspective. I will walk the shadow line on parallel ridges to find those elusive little areas of Zen. There are a million of those little areas in a scene but you have to line up with one to actually see it. It all has to do with angles and your viewpoint.

This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔

Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands. The snow ultimate controls the burns in nature.

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

Title: Stumped by the Sunrise

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Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter
Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter (Sunset middle of the summer so a tad out of season)

Geum triflorum is a perennial native to North America. This flower seed head pictured here have a host of nicknames. These include: Long-Plumed Avens, Three Flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers, Purple Avens and Red Avens. This is actually a rare plant across it’s range as naturalized invaders are out-competing it. 😕 I only know of a few spots on my place to find them. They are only 5 or 6 inches tall and not particularly obvious. They aren’t really an evergreen. Their leaves can last through winter turning red and crimson. This is easier for me to find than in the spring. I just make mental notes where I see them.

The Native Americans used an infusion of the roots , crushed seeds or pulverized roots as a kind of eye-wash, a tonic for menstrual Cramps, a gargle solution for sore throat and general stomach complaints. You will need to research further to get the processes involved in those uses. I only see them a few times a year during the late spring and earliest summer. Spring was on a Friday this year as I remember our yearly spring day. 😀

There is a little belly time involved in pursuing this kind of cellulose filter. I way prefer natural cellulose filters rather than glass filters. The Bokeh show us a sunset view . Rolling around on the open pine forest these are thriving in, has it’s host of risks. This is cattle country after all. Then there is Prickley Pair Cactus How else am I supposed to stay in shape? Rolling around in the woods.

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

Prairie Smoke Sun Filter

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Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset
Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

This is a very busy photo with all sorts of of things going on. Enjoy the looking. I ought to put a “where’s waldo” in some of these images lolol.

It was cold near zero when this was taken a week ago as this posts. “Winter is Coming” and in reality has come here to the borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year it has been confirmed. ❄️

The sunset here was a clear sky with low yellow alpenglow 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.

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: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations 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. This little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Many a small animal as it’s roots make quite a cover. 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”.

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

Title: Perspective Snowy Snaggy Sunset

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Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset
Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

So I’m up on a high ridge for twilight. The sun is down for 5 minutes and the clouds are lighting up with a still blue sky above. I was driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV that has 2 bright LED lightbars on the front. I sat down right up against the front bumper in the grass. I brought a 12 mm wide lens but I cropped the image down to the center since the edges were all dark. Only the center was bright enough to recover. I only expose the highlight properly and worry about the dark later. This actually came out much better than it could have.

Photographic Musings:

Close / Far perspectives under low light are rather tricky to capture. It’s takes a basic understanding of the requirement to use Manual mode on your camera to catch an image like this. High F-stop numbers, Long shutter speeds (tricky with moving grass), and perhaps a higher ISO to add a little camera sensitivity. Your priority here is depth of focus field. To get close grass AND the sky in focus at the same time requires you to use that requirement as your first priority. F-stop is the baby here. The other two settings are to get enough light to compensate for the high Fstop (very small hole in your lens to let light through). You have to realize that fstop is a double edge sword.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset