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Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych
Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych (2- 20″x20″ images)

That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.

That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.

Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.

Title: Wyoming Volcanic Necks Diptych

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Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising
Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you 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 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. 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). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

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Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight
Bucks Grazing at Twilight

Bucks Grazing at Twilight

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Remember F-stop?

It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.

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

Title: Bucks Grazing at Twilight

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Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up
Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This left 1/3rd of a waning Crescent/last quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Quarter Close Up

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Hey Blue Eyes

Hey Blue Eyes
Hey Blue Eyes

Hey Blue Eyes

I don’t see a lot of blue eyed cattle…. But how often do you get this close? 😜👀

IT was a crisp cool 45 degrees this fine spring morning. Blue Eyed Bertha was enjoying the dew covered grass. Spring growth just starting from the winter dormancy. Every year are cycles. This mother has given us 5 calves so far. Starting to get too old to be sure of breeding, she was “sent to town” this winter. Blue Eyes has made the transition from lawn mower to be part of the food supply.😔

Such is the cycle of things on a cattle ranch. We do sell cattle for beef after all. Trips to town are the eventual result of a calf growing up to a cow living a cows life. I’ve known some of these animals for quite a while. Honestly this gal was a little standoff(ish) and seldom would cooperate with me going left when I wanted her to go right. Some girls lolol.

The 5 years she lived up here were never years of want. She always had food, always had water along with free health care and a place to hang out. There were always things to see, others to gossip with, new places to mark with their leavings. She wandered over about 5 square miles mostly with her head looking at the grass. I wonder if she ever took the time to appreciate the views, the sunset or the sunrise. She never sent a complaint to the management but I’m sure the weather was a concern now and then lolol.

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

Title: Hey Blue Eyes

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Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

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

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

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Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon
Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

My view from “Ridge 1” looking at the sun rise on “Ridge 4” which is about 10 miles distant. Working on Parallel Ridges gives you landscape ladders automatically.

The world we are living on is spinning like a top in space. Rotating around the earth the moon is albeit relatively slowly to our eyes. The appearance of the moon “rising” is an illusion. The Horizon is actually falling away fast enough that it makes a difference on long range rifle shots.

If you shoot a hypothetical “average” bullet at a 1000 yard target straight to the east, you better aim low…. say about 6 inches . If you aim to the west, you should aim high since the target is rising under your bullet. . You see to the east the target is dropping. Thus I’m saying that the horizon travels about 6 inches during the time a bullet travels 1000 yards. (over 1/2 mile). 6 inches is arbitrary as your bullet will act differently than my hypothetical one.

So the next mind game is to shoot straight north or south. You have to shoot neutrally, neither high nor low. Really long range rifle shooters use this in their calculations. Nothing like having your target rise or fall depending on the direction and distance the bullet travels over time. I’ve been involved in professional shooting for decades, trust me on this. You have to compensate at distances much over about 700 yards a little bit more each yard the bullet has to fly further. Most sportsman don’t shoot that far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring
Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn sideways the camera side ways They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣 When I go out into the backcountry, it’s always a mystery who I’m going to meet and how they are going to react to me. This healthy buck in mid-spring that was put off by my intrusion on his territory. He treated me like another animal with generally him trying to pressure me . I never try to push wildlife on my place as they don’t let me watch them again. They run away instead.

I have found that by being consistently not a problem for wild animals really helps approaching them. Acting like another grazing animal in your vehicle is my technique. I almost never get out and expose my human form to the critters. That would be un-productive. They only see my vehicle and my cameras. I’m still evaluating how these guys will react to my NEW vehicle.

The Pronghorn rut is long over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. All the ranches Pronghorn Have migrated with the first snows. THey walk 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin Natural Grasslands is a miniature version of the Serengeti Plain here in north eastern Wyoming. (Fewer Big Cats) Not so much in the summer but in the winter there are LARGE herds of Pronghorn that move there from a pretty big surrounding area to winter over the brutal conditions that we enjoy about this region. There is running water there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Pronghorn Green Spring

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Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath
Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1 mile out.

I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows like this 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.

You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.

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

Title: Summer Thunderstorms Aftermath

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Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does
Snow Frame Deer Does

Snow Frame Deer Does

These two does (mother and daughter) were casually walking across the county road when the young one paused. Perfectly framed by the melt. The morning after the storm this pair was hanging around in the “Bull Pasture” just down the road from our main headquarters gate.

This picture postcard capture in the frost and snow shows a mom with her yearling doe (fawn) .

I’ll watch this pair over the years as the little one grows up. She’s a member of a group that stays close to my homestead using a stock tank in our corral to water. I will be a baby maker in the years to come. She’s about 9 months old now. It’s difficult to ID particular does unless they have split or notched ears. I know their family group though anytime I see them. I’m pretty sure they know me too lolol.

There are many smaller groups of deer that separate from a bigger herd that dispersed in the spring. Now, Mid to late winter shortly after the rut (December) the smaller herds start to join up and by spring I have several herds of 30 or 40 animals running about in different parts of the ranch. Each herd geographically controlled by water availability and location. They don’t care about ranch boundaries so I share some of them with other local boundary ranches.

This is a 800mm telephoto shot. Getting this close without a long lens is usually an accident in the winter. It’s a lot harder to get close to the deer when you can’t get off the road lolol. As I type this it’s REALLY muddy.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow Frame Deer Does

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Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up
Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

Meadowlark All Ruffled Up ( a bit out of season but surely welcome. I’m tired of the ice/mud this year ).

Taken under EARLY morning yellow sunlight adding a colorcast to the entire image. I was just digging the Orange Lichen on the post. It takes a long time (decades) for that much to grow. The old cedar post could be 114 years old as it’s fairly close to the homestead. There are a lot of very old posts in the backcountry. We have 30 miles of fence that I have done some repairs on a time or two. 😜

The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.

This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Meadowlark All Ruffled Up

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Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes
Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

The 3 Missouri Buttes (the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The wagon train pioneers called them the “Three Sisters”. They were a major sign post along the way to all places west. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View to the southeast (the side the tourists NEVER see). That is all northwestern Crook County.

The weather during this sunset over my shoulder was a tad snowy. Those were all falling ice plates (Diamond Dust). The next morning I went up on that pass and worked that fresh snow as well. Lots of good captures on this timeline). Taken up on the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Road). The view is to the southeast. This is off the beaten path a tad lolol.

Geologic Musings:

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 3 (actually 4 but you can only see the 4th from above), peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck cooling slowly being insulated by the surrounding rocks. . We know this was deep as the columns of rock in the Devils Tower nearby cooled VERY slowly. This allowing the columns to crystallize in the eroded tower that the National Monument is famous for. Lots of material around them washed down the river to expose those necks. All that sand/mud is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Location: about 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

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Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass
Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

I know this deer as “Goal Post” I’ve watched him grow up since he was a fawn. He is really obvious as he is missing his brow tine over his right eye. He has already shed his winter coat as he’s looking quite well groomed here. Goal Post is 4 years old here from last spring 2019. He will be 5 in the spring. It will be interesting to see if grows much bigger antlers this year. He has never grown in that brow tine though. He just doesn’t have it in him I think lol.

Familiarity of myself with deer is a photographic asset for me. . His herd is one of several different groups I have been able “get used to me”. I have in the past been able to drive my rigs right into the herd without spooking the group. Intermingling with herds of deer is a very interesting activity to say the least lol. I just traded in my Jeep Grand Cherokee they were used to. Now I drive a Ford F150 Raptor (all black) which they don’t know from Adam. We will see if they are tolerant of the vehicle or not. I’m betting that it’s the way I approach the herd rather than the particular vehicle. I do my best to drive up like a grazing animal. Move, stop for a while, turn a bit, move, stop, move etc. rinse and repeat.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands “Wyotana”.

Title: Sunlit Buck Chewing Grass

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Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles
Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

JUST as the sun came up, lighting up that 15 mile distant ridge. Bright sunlight was about 10 feet over my head at the time. Less than aminute before I was lit up by the sun for my timeline.. In the distance the bright was working it’s way down the hill sides. The rain in the distance was far enough away to be a worth telephoto image. I was well over 200 yards out from Momma Angus to get her in focus along with the background with this long lens. Distance is your friend.

OK, another F-stop discussion…. High F-stop numbers take away a LOT of light from your light capture boxes. (camera). The higher the number, the smaller the hole in the lens for light to travel through. At the same time you make that hole smaller by turning up the F-stop number, you are thickening the “depth of field” focus depth. F-stop becomes a double edged sword. You can open up the aperture (turn down the f-stop number) and get a lot more light versus a pin hole at maximum fstop setting. But you loose depth of field/focus depth) So Bigger hole in the lens= shallow depth of field but a lot of light. A smaller hole in the aperture means less light but it gives you the ability to focus on things close AND far at the same time.

SO, you have to compensate for HIGH f stop numbers by adjusting the other two settings. Turning up camera sensitivity (ISO) boosts what little light that comes through a small hole in the lens. IT’s a double edge sword too though. More Camera Sensitivity (higher ISO) will give you a grainy image and introduce color noise. Speckles and big grain are not desirable so moderation is necessary.

Lastly you have shutter speed. Slower than 100th of a second you risk blurring the cow. Any movement from her would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto (rested).

Title: Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

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Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine
Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine

Well it’s time to start the gold mine because I know there’s more that one “pot o’ gold there’. I’ve seen numerous rainbows on that ridge…. Just saying… I’ve got the entrance all engineered out and ready to get the timber for. I figure if this isn’t a pretty durn close location for that gold mine, I don’t know where is. I wonder if Amazon delivers timber for mines? I’m sure the UPS driver wouldn’t mind.

Running with it

Microscopic gold is actually mixed in with the Hell Creek Sand. Tons of it on my ranch. You’d go broke mining it but it’s there. The term “Diffuse” applies to the tiny particles of gold. After all, all things end up in the sea. This ground is built of sediment temporarily paused. Stopped between stutter steps to the ocean. Now gone mountains west of us provided the sand, transported eventually to be laid down here now hardened to bedrock. (Mountains eroded long before the Big Horns rose. Those eroded mountains spread as sand across the continents surface as Hell Creek/Lance. Those ancestral mountains are long since history. But their substance remains in transit to the sea along with all the “Whiskey” I’ve ever swallowed.😜 As I say, all things end up there. w

Sheet Rainbows.

What I’ve done here is take a very long lens and zoom up on the right leg of a particularly well lit rainbow. It was a ways out anyway as this is a 1200mm lens about about a mile distant from the lens. Rainbows WAY out there are a requirement for this kind of image. Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena.

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

Title: Rainbow Ridge Gold Mine.

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Maiden Mother and Crone

Maiden Mother and Crone
Maiden Mother and Crone

Maiden Mother and Crone

A little moon Magic from exactly the Montana/Wyoming border. OK, that is 45 degrees north Latitude. Exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. It’s exactly 2700 nautical miles to either from here. One of the prime meridians. Might be some symbolism here. ☯

All taken in the month of December 2019 for the Full Cold Moon surrounded by waxing and waning crescents. The full moon on December 12, 2019 is known as Cold Moon, Open Moon or Big Winter Moon.

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

Title: Maiden Mother and Crone

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Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background
Lone Tree Golden Background

Lone Tree Golden Background

I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.

The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)

The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.

Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.

Lone Tree Golden Background

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Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset
Mule Deer Buck Sunset

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

We’ll he’s just a 4×4 but he’s framing that bokeh’d sunset pretty well lolol. I see a lot of bucks about, some are impressive, others still growing/maturing. This one is right in the middle. He’s starting to get a thick neck, by next year, he will be a better buck for sure. He did survive the hunt this year (2019).

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America and are known by those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears with a unibrow between. The hear extremely well with those big ears which is how they got their name. Their ears resemble Mules ears. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are successful survivors of what ever killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago. That was a very big extinction indeed and just 10K years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up big as showing in this Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group. They need the muscle for all the tussle.

Scientific data indicates that this growth is caused by a big surge in testosterone to the deer. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a big buck deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago. This initiated me spending 3 months building a deer resistant fence around the homesetad. That is a long story but both of us walked away relatively unscathed. (I did way better than him). 😇

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Mule Deer Buck Sunset

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Windmill and the Moon

Windmill and the Moon
Windmill and the Moon

Windmill and the Moon

Cranberry Alpenglow is a rarer color of back show than the pure pine. I finish images as I remember them This day ended with a band of this Cranberry color spread across the eastern sky. This is just a darker variant of the “Belt of Venus” pink Alpenglow.

Photographic musings:

I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any further as topography is my master in that. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon is considered an infinite focus. In low light, getting closer things precisely focused is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode….

High F-stop number give you deep focal fields. They become a double edged sword though. High f-stop also steals light which is in short supply in this lighting. Distance from the foreground object IS YOUR FRIEND. Getting too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. The moon has to be in close far perspective with almost anything to be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close/Far perspectives to work with. Topography is your to contend with. . Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do. Just take your time but not too much lolol.

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

Title: Windmill and the Moon

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Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

Pronghorn's Never Ending Story
Pronghorn's Never Ending Story

Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

Musings:

WE are looking at 8 Pronghorn slight downhill run where something spooked them. They decided to take a jog to the left. I see these guys running about daily in season. They can cover ground. I never push animals as they tend not to appreciate and remember. My next encounter would be shorter and further away if my vehicle acts like a predator and follows. I worked this out of a Jeep (since traded in the backcountry as a human form would cause them to run sooner. It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN. (anybody else see the flying dog in “Never Ending Story” in the clouds or is it just me ?? )

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) stopped it’s 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….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Title:Pronghorn’s Never Ending Story

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Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset
Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry.

These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go gown with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 200 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.

Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.

Yes there is a little pac man on the right center side of frame reaching over the lip… Sort of a Kilroy was here cloud….

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

Title: Bucks Enjoying the Sunset

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Great Horned Take Off

Great Horned Take Off
Great Horned Take Off

Great Horned Take Off

This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They also blend in rather well. Magic in the backcountry.

I was quietly driving down low in a wash/gully in my Polaris Ranger Crew. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. Never got a look at what. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. Makes you dizzy.😄 The path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands from the famous “Hell Creek/Lance Formations. here.

It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist. MOST dinosaurs did indeed die but the ones that did’nt had feathers, a tail and teeth. Their modern descendants are flying around us now. There are two types of Paleontologists. (BAND and BAD). Birds Are Not Dinosaurs and Birds are Dinosaurs. Most are the Latter.

I have a few dozen good captures from this encounter but I have bigger “fish” to fry at the moment lol. . This G. H. Owl.

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

Title: Great Horned Take Off

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Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road
Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Pronghorns Crossing the Road

Why do the Pronghorns Cross the Road? Well because they are Pronghorn lolol. Wyoming is home to about 1/2 of the worlds Pronghorn. Most of them cross the road in front of you when ever they have to go out of their way to do so. 😜🤔

I thought this vibrant green grass from the month of May. May is officially the end of the average last frost in this area. Well this year we had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July. Every season was a month late. Except the fact that fall was on a tuesday this year. The next day there was 4 inches of snow everywhere and that was October 1st. We really didn’t have an “Indian Summer” this last fall. Now in Mid-Winter I’m enjoying looking at some of the artsy things I did in the spring.

This image was not so much about the Pronghorn but more about the colors/contrast of the red gravel against the grass. Both textures and colors combine for the stage of a classic Wyotana Scene. Drive the backroad gravel on open range sometime. (Get off the highway). You WILL have pronghorn try to beat your car to cross the road in front of you.

Having said that, over two decades living 70 miles from town, we have unfortunately hit/been hit by some wild animals driving our cars. In 20 years, we are 13 deer, 2 Pronghorn, 1 coyote and one cow. Total damage to vehicles, 1 side mirror, one shock steering stabilizer and a broken bolt on a license plate bracket. Good Bumpers 😀

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

Title: Pronghorns Crossing the Road

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Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January
Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January (Moon followers Unite)

Different phases and faces of that celestial neighbor constantly present themselves to me during the day and twilight but I find myself not going out much in the winter after dark. I let my mastiffs do my wandering around the homestead at night.

When I do get out I after nautical twilight at night or before Civil Twilight in the morning. Usually I am completely focused on twilight. Some rare astronomic events have me peaking outside at cloud cover in the middle of the night. I really don’t sleep much but I do photography all day which makes my circuit breaker to pop sometime during the evening lol. I’m either on camera or on computer finishing these days. I get my chores done on ranch too. Take care of a greenhouse and a flock of 80 birds, 6 cats and my personal Mastiffs. I’ve been feeding haybales to our corraled/captured herd of Corriente for a few weeks. 34 longhorn cattle go through a 1200 pound bail of hay in 2 days.

I digress…. The “Waning” part of Waning Moon gets smaller each night until the “New Moon” where the moon is entirely in shadow. I do have some captures of just that 2 illuminated percent crescent. This moon will evolve over the next few nights into that sliver. This is a 4 picture composite of the face of the moon in real color through a 3200mm refractor optic. Handheld actually on the roof of a vehicle rested.

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

Title: Waning Crescent Moon January

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal
Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This top 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Up Close and Personal

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Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery
Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

Up higher in the backcountry I travel extensively. The high ridges in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands have a host of small groups of Pronghorn Does pooling their young fawns into a nursery. The other adult females/mothers are off grazing elsewhere. Of course the mothers were elsewhere unknown. However, I’m trying to figure out how the grass is better elsewhere lol. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for that behavior from my human viewpoint except… Getting away from the kids, ie. mental health lolol.

This is right at 6 months ago (as this posts) about a month after the fawns were born in June. It never got brown this summer. The babies had a banner year with good grazing. Green grass is rocket fuel to Pronghorn. Nothing like feeding the fastest land animal in north America high octane fuel lolol. I do see them eat sage brush all the time. They are the only animal I’ve ever seen nibble on it. I always thought they taste a bit like sage. I haven’t seen a Pronghorn on ranch for two months+.

There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. A pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns, I managed to photograph 5 in the same frame. I have more of this encounter. Those will gradually get finished over the winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.

I watched this group for about 10 minutes until something spooked the young ones but not the adult. Amazingly they all ran directly toward my camera lol.

The Pronghorn have all migrated 20 miles to the south. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands consists of a huge area of unpopulated ground. Thousands of Pronghorn migrate there.

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

Pronghorn Backcountry Nursery

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Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet
Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet

I’m always on the look out for framing deer inside of antlers of the foreground animal. A little out of season perhaps.

With all the cold weather coming in this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Spring Bucks In Velvet

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Deer Herd Sun Filter

Deer Herd Sun Filter
Deer Herd Sun Filter

Deer Herd Sun Filter

This is one of about 6 images I’m going to finish from this 800 + image timeline. There are many images that are similar but subtly different. I can’t finish all of them as many aren’t as good so….. Number 5 of 6 I believe at this post.

I was able to maneuver around on this small group of deer ruled by this buck. The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. This Sony Alpha 7R4 with a 600 x2 lens on it for an effective 1200 mm focal length at a few hundred feet distance. I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising remember ).

Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a jeep. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form.

We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Deer Herd Sun Filter

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Full Moon Belt of Venus

Full Moon Belt of Venus
Full Moon Belt of Venus

Full Moon Belt of Venus

A magical “Belt of Venus” morning up on the Montana/Wyoming border waaaaaay out in the backcountry. The sunrise is still 10 minutes away behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens. This high rolling backcountry is very remote and relatively easy to get to in the summer. It is NOT so easy to get to this time of year. This was taken late fall 2019 before the snow pack started to form this high up.

Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.

I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.

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

Full Moon Belt of Venus