This image is looking straight down. Just on the edge of a cut Coal Mine Equipment Tire. This tire is 10 feet across and holds maybe 800 – 1000 gallons of water for my stock. It’s indestructible of course. That tread cleat on the top is 10 inches across. These are 2 to 3 inch feathers which make them pretty big around these parts. With the right weather conditions, many unusual things happen up here.
New these tires cost maybe 12 grand or more new. I bought one repurposed for a stock tank recently installed for 700 bucks. One side wall is removed. Cut off with some effort and a water jet I believe. Delivered by semi-truck, he thick rubber tire is laid down on prepared ground. Hopefully near a pipeline spigot. Powdered concrete under the center drain PVC pipe already in place. This seals the tank upon filling the first time. These tanks will last maybe a century so they are a one time installation for me. They would be virtually impossible to hurt. Your truck would bounce off of them if you ran into it. Might break the seal lolol. Occasionally one will spring a leak, just drop some powdered concrete over the hole and fill it up with water will usually patch it.
Repurposing is a ranching tradition. When an object is useful, it will be stored on ranch for decades. I have used many iron pieces from 100 years ago in various welding projects lol..
Ever had to crawl up to get a shot? I’m too old for that stuff anymore lolol. It’s pretty hard to get a big buck laying down on the job of protecting his girls. Stealth is a slow pace but a long lens sure helps a bit unless your carrying it….
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….
This is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. All of this frost has melted since the image was taken but this morning we are hoar frosting again. Foggy and in the clouds as I type this.
A few days of spring return but with mud… There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the south side of trees from this storm. , the sun rising to the south east was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass and the trees. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worthy light.
This is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage (Divide) . This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I am standing in Wyoming and shooting over the Border to Montana in the distance. I usually work ridges in the early spring . I’m trying to get off the county road talking photos but Mud / snow will keep me out of the Backcountry. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges short of me laboriously plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. Slowly but surely, I will have better access away from the main gravel arteries . Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint. Spring storms often shut the door to me. Tis the wet season with more snow falling in the spring than during the winter here.
This capture caught these two young bucks standing on an old country school site. Bucks still with antlers…. (taken in January).
This is section 36 on the map of the local township. Every township has 36 square miles and is mapped by square mile sections. Section 36 is the state owned and controlled School section. Basically the law gives 1/36th of all land to the state automatically. I digress.
The little brown box to the right center of the photo, is the old oil burning stove that used to sit on the Trail Creek/Parks School. Generations of local kids went to school with this view out the back. I’ve heard stories of walking to school from those kids. There are people alive that went to that school. It is physically located about 2 miles south from our homestead as the crow flies. The building that was removed has a few signs it was there.
Other evidence, : the latent archeologist in me…
The aforementioned stove itself is an interesting antique. I’ve worked it with cameras but never liked what I got. I’ll get back to it sometime with the right light… but there are concrete foundations from that old school building, not huge and they looked like they were hand poured. Someone with a small mixer and bags kind of foundations….say 1930’s….. Those concrete chunks were pushed over the lip of and into a nearby gully where they serve as a rock which are currently being slowly naturalized by the environment. Evidence of past lives and events that will mostly be lost to history but they leave clues. It would be interesting to work this site with a metal detector eh? …
Location: just south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, the Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.
Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow can be as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top. Stuck is not good up here.
Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here.
The highest ridges locally are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions. Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔
I knew what time and place the moon was to rise but it seemed to take FOREVER for the March 9th rising Supermoon. It was precisely this color. The same phenomena effects the sun. “Golden Hour” and better, the red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow. That projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but the moon to my camera. This resultant from the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. Lots less yellow light made it through in this capture.
So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Of course when the moon OR the sun is apparently this low, you actually seeing the celestial object below the line of sight to the horizon. The image is actually bent around the horizon. The atmospheric lens literally guides the image around the surface to my camera/eye. Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄
This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having free access to many square miles of backcountry WY/MT is always a good thing with a camera. Both States in this Photo.. I was lucky the weather cooperated with me as it disappeared into a cloud deck 20 minutes later not to reappear for over a day.
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. Gillette”s Hospital Complex up on a high hill overlooking the city. Rainbow’s from above appeared to me. Might have just been me ….Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day.
I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover. I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel.
I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away… Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
Everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. Spring is but a few months away. Hang in there cabin fever sufferers.. Take your vitamin D , have more “whoopee” time as all exercise counts. Vitamin B12…. Get some natural sunlight colored bulbs around where you hang out. It will help as will taking up an indoor hobby like finishing images from the summer time I’ve put off till now. 👀
Columbine comes in many cultivars with various shades and hues from blues to reds with all the spectrum in between. A bicolor nature trends in the species. They are very distinctive if your not familiar with their bell shaped flowers. They have a huge elongated nectar spur . If you are unfamiliar with the flower, you should google it. You’ll see them hanging out in light shade. Stick your nose into one if you can as they are very fragrant. These are wonderful flowers build/engineered to attract humming birds and hawk moths. The same flower design prevents bees from penetrating to the nectar bearing parts. Long tongued nectar feeder get a break from these guys. Hummingbirds indeed are the most effective pollinator of the Columbine Flower. We have dozens of Columbine in patches of naturalized cultivars mixed with groups that were here when I arrived 20 years ago.
The Homestead here at the ranch has seen many different gardeners over the 100 years of habitation on this site. I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than all the previous gardeners combined lol. This is not to under cut their contributions. Built into this homestead were wonderful patches of flowers of all kinds. They were present when we moved here. We divided many overgrown clumps and get the fruit of that every spring now. Columbine are all about. Someone liked them a lot decades ago. There is so much history lost to the flow of the currents in time and space.
A capture from directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.
Its called “Turtle Butte” for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. Scattered dinosaur chunky chunks are present. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands, a variety of things are found just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. No big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken 6 months ago. The grassy remote ridge top I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Little Powder RIver Valley and the Powder River Basin lie between the Mountains and my ranch. Geomorphologically, I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day until June 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands separating Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. Overhead was a wonderful twilight sky clouded above to an under lit cloud deck. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me. I adore grass light filters 👀📸
To use the still green seed heads of this prairie grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy subject. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves and Geometric forms abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky /use these seed heads.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun so I don’t carry them. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the amount of light coming into the lens.. 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. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Oh, I’m using the LED lightbar on the front of my ATV for this shot. Twilight behind.
This is a deep photo lol. The Depth of Field (DOF) is very thick. Getting all this in focus is a technical thing that can be done in Manual mode as long as your camera is capable of the dynamic range required to get all this detail. These Sony Alpha 7R series have silly good ability in low light as you might have noticed following my work.
I always rant and rave against deeply blue snow which is (in my opinion) a very very very rare natural color only in EARLY civil Twilight.. Pink however does reflect off ice like a movie projector screen even after sunrise.. Pink is common relatively IF you have a set of mountains named (for real) the “Red Hills”. I wonder why they are called the “Red Hills”. 🤔
I see pink Belt of Venus” (BOV) Alpenglow light hitting the ground “Fairly” regularly in the winter. Normally at sunrise you just see the BOV as a pink band in the western sky just before sunrise. The shadow of the earth’s horizon being a shrinking with the rising sun, blue wedge under the pink band. With the sun arisen behind the camera above the horizon, that red light surviving traveling hundreds of miles through low angle atmosphere. It is the camera that is in shadow of the horizon. That shadow was moving at close to 1000 miles per hour toward me. (25,000 miles around the earth, 24 hours in a rotation = 1000 mph. Chasing the sunrise is a fools game unless your in a supersonic jet.
I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.
My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.
Musings on difficult photographic environments:
Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.
The hundred year old Parks Ranch I’m presenting here is certainly a historic place. This old red barn in and of itself is a pretty nifty place to see where generations of real cowboys handled their stock. Cribbing horses having chewed on the wood of the pens withing the large structure. Groups of geese flying about the area.
The old house on this property was built from locally sourced wood in the early 1900s. Still habitable of course and a local family lives on the property in an adjacent home. The original homestead a HUGE homestead. Built for 2 families it appears. I’d say 10,000 square feet in the old house.
The property has old Ranch buildings galore with all sorts of thing about you would expect from such a cowboy center of activity. You just have to love a 100 year old cattle ranches.
Stock Trailers, head catches, pens, fences, branding ovens, tack, horses, cattle. Artesian lakes surround this wondrous place. . A few worn horse shoes scattered about mix with discarded or just disused tack from the past. There must be tales about tales swirling about in the history of this old Ranch. Men and Women toiling over the three day wagon ride round trip from Gillette Wyoming and back to home. The flow of time slowly submerges events away from our collective knowledge. What is so important at the time, perhaps a new dress for a ranch child growing up, seems lost in the past.
Location: Historic Parks Ranch Campbell County Wyoming. 4 miles south of Montana but there is Montana sky and mountains in the distance. A few miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.
An 80 year old AERMotor Windmill watches over the domain it has observed for many decades. It has a perspective of day and night cycles. Longer still, winter spring and fall cycles. Solar Cycles and seeing generations of ranchers maintain the wind driven water pump. If it could only talk. I wonder how many cattle in 80 years have watered as a result of it’s labors.
This bloom is purple mustard I believe my allergies don’t approve. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.
Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.
I am literally standing on the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first Mountain range north of my ranch. It sits across the 10 mile wide Ranch Creek Drainage. We call this place the “treed” pasture as it’s about 2 square miles of mixed pine trees. There are many parallel ridges/grassy hills with deep gullies between.
A land of many uses:
Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July. We move cattle out of here in early July to facilitate the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship. Courses 3 and 4 use the borderland areas of our ranch. .
This ground has been home to a nationally ranked Team Tactical Rifle Championship for 18 years. Almost 4 miles of groomed rifle courses in 16 shooting stations. Exposing 150 fixed reactive steel Targets out to 1200 yards. This location is the last (or first) station on course 3 lolol. Snipers nest with literally thousands of precision rifle shots at those reactive steel targets down range.
There are a few dozen fossil locations (I’ve found so far) within this “Pasture”. Hell Creek/Lance Formation exist here that contain dinosaurian (and others) fossils. I found my first dinosaur tooth in this pasture 18 years ago. I knew they were here, I just didn’t know where. You do have to look though occasionally I stumble on dinosaur bones laying in the grass. They often look like any other stone in the middle of the prairie. I have found several fossil locations that way. You can’t find them if you can’t see them lolol.
We even have had a nationally released 4×4 video in 2008 filmed here. Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Magazine filmed part of their “Ultimate Adventure” video series here that year. It’s out there if you want to watch several high end jeeps flip over. All trying to climb out of some of the soft sandstone lined gullies here on ranch.
Under the Mesocyclone 2:1 diptych 2-20″x20″ images.
Im estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 15 miles distant. The image is about 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. Moving in towards me at that time. Being high on a ridge in a Jeep when one of these rolls over you can get exciting.
That’s a pretty big lightning bolt about 10 miles away from my location/ The left part of that bolt was miles long certainly. This is a little further out out from me than it appears as it is “zoomed in a bit with a telephoto. Telephotos crush perspective but cover a smaller part of the sky. You the trick is to point the camera at where the lighting flashed last time. Using a wide camera is easy but gives you smaller bolts. A telephoto properly pointed will get you up close and personal. I do use an automatic lightning trigger that will trip the shutter on the flash. I endorse no specific brand .
The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft on the right at this captures time. Thusly the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. A Thunderstorm sun filter….🤔😜📸 I am such an opportunist of a photographer. I use what ever natural light filter that is present…👀
There are just plain intense downpours under these storms sometimes. Depending on how fast they are moving makes you lucky or flooded locally lol. These only rain on a few percent of the ground area up here. Spotty! The ground under them becomes totally soaked if the storm doesn’t move.
Sunset Snow Squall (2:1 Diptych is 2-20″x20″ images) A snow filter to the light…..🤔👀📷
This might be a little abstract for my normal viewers. I like the artistic swash of color making its way through a tremendous dumping of snow locally. This was a wonderful moment of orange snowflakes falling heavily everywhere. They were big clusters of merged flakes the size of quarters some were. It was a very wet dump from above. Transitory as such things usually are, lasting about 10 minutes. Then moved on as it was getting quite dark. Time to go home. This storm left an inch on the ground in a very short period of time. Those dots in the sky here are ALL snowflakes from close to infinity frozen in their travels for this moment in space in time.
Here we are mid winter and the snow pack could be deeper. We have been having some smaller snows that are slowly adding up in accumulations. We have indeed had a strange weather year. All climate is local as the world has NO climate. It has ALL climates. Our climate this year started out with a month short summer. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July this year. Oct 1 is when winter started in 2019. It really hasn’t been cold here yet though. Most winters we see 20 below actual temps several times, not yet this year however. We have been below zero one period so far. This has been a pretty mild winter by local standards…. So far. (mid-february 2020)
When my name is included in the Title, the image is ART, usually taken from real photos . I disclose when I screw with images to any significant degree. I had fun with this one.
This Image became ART by removing 2 inches of the center hombre’s rope loop to give the illusion of it going behind the moon. The gate that provided me the photons for this capture, is our front gate. (albeit slightly re-arranged for this art work). When I screw with images I really can do anything I want but this is actually pretty true to what happened. Just a bit a rope, a little movement of the horses from their real positions and I end up with this illusion. I do like to occasionally put some art up. As I’ve said before, “all work and no play makes Frank a dull boy”.
The metal work is my original design but I did have it professionally cut with a computer controlled plasma table. We put this gate up 15 years ago at the front entrance to the Dinosaur Ranch. . There is also a T-rex on this gate but I excluded him for this particular illusion. This is ART remember :). With no rules I impose on myself to be photorealistic, I get to move, remove, replace, resize, recolor or pretty much do anything else I want to ART work. There are no limitations in the digital world. lololol (laughing maniacially). 👀😜😜
Magpies are cool birds. Lewis and Clark reported that they came into their tents to steel food. At that early time I suspect they didn’t really know about humans. Known to follow hunters to clean up the “leavings” from hunts. They are mostly a western bird with our place being centered in their distribution.
For birds, they are as smart as birds come and I suspect more than one has become a pet. As corvids (the same family as crows), they have runny droppings plus they are big bird. You might say they leave a big footprint… So with that pleasant thought in mind…. They eat about anything from carrion to simple grains, grasshoppers and dung beetles. I’ve photographed these guys on top of deer actively picking ticks off of the deer. The ungulates tolerate them as they get those irritating ticks off of places they can’t reach. I watched and photographed 2 magpies setting up a deer cleaning station one foggy misty morning up in the highlands. Those photos and discussion are elsewhere in my developing manuscript.
Musings on my musings:
If you follow me closely, you may notice I’m writing quite a bit on each narrative consistently over 250 words and more.. With some simple editing out of the redundant from post to post, I’m building a book right here in front of you. Enjoy the process. I’m writing about 1800 words every day average at the moment into these narratives. I now have over 1000 pages with images and associated narratives. . I’m not in a hurry but I am doing 5 images every day with narratives. Coffee table book or 2 some day………
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 🤔📷
Diving into the morning low sky mist, the incoming light from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth) has lessened from it’s peak. .. IT had just snowed the night before. Moisture was thick in the air.
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Tree and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol.
I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that anyone photographer could need.
A little Throwback Thursday for you this evening…. Too much winter weather for my taste even though it’s been a relatively mild winter so far.
The weather that mid-summer after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. This “little” cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Several of them developed into severe mesocyclones a little down the road in South Dakota. We got a couple of smaller storms wet us down that day.
I imagine in my musings that that Butte is a local Volcano and that cloud is the eruption. IT actually looks a LOT like the images from Mount St’Helens back in late 79-80. Back of the Butte blew out it appears to this geologist lolol. It made me do a double take as I first saw it.
We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. We need that water to raise all the grass we do. Just one cutting of hay so far each year over 20 years. Pretty consistent. It’s all about the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation in the spring.. Last year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck with water all summer.
Everything was covered by ice. During this winter cold morning with little or no cloud cover, the glare was excessive. The Shadows are Long with a slight down hill angle to the hill. This makes the shadows a bit shorter. However this is a VERY high contrast environment of white and black is way outside the normal photographic envelope.. Human eyes just can’t look into a scene as this without blinding ourselves. The Mirrorless Cameras I use that feed to a video screen. It actually lets me see this image BEFORE I click the camera. I can adjust the settings live real time on the screen. Love those Snow Diamonds…
There would be a star around the sun if it weren’t filtered by the branches. I way prefer cellulose filters to glass ones in front of my lens. Turning up your f-stop which is necessary in this high light environmnet has an added benefit. in this case by reducing the amount of light coming into your camera. It also gives you a very thick depth of focus.
In this high light environment, your also going to have adjust shutter speed really fast. Set your ISO really low (camera sensitivity) or both to compensate for the high light. Basically you have to shut down your camera to light. Many cameras will take a neutral density filter to accomplish this. . Your always balancing 3 different settings in Manual Mode on your camera. I use NO/zip/zero automatic settings anywhere. Not in my cameras or lenses. No auto focus, no stabilization etc. Manual photography strictly on a very modern platform. I get a pretty good battery life that way😄. Manual Mode is best.
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.
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.
Living up on a high ridge allows for local streams / drainage incise (cut down) and make deep gullies. This dam was built some time in the last 100 years. I have heard no oral history of it’s timeline. This is on State Land adjacent to my ranch. A pretty good sized lake sits just above this first ridge. The lake pictured here is a wet area below that lake. Soaking water through the sands leaking onto this ground. The water level in the ground is high here. Traveling through this backcountry is a challenge to say the least ….
Mitten Butte, the pyramidal shaped butte sitting right frame . It is not a volcano though we have some volcanic necks in this country (Devil’s tower and Missouri Buttes). Formed because of a resistant to erosion cap rock protects all the rocks under it. There is about 400 feet between this drainage low area to the tip of that hill. 40 stories of topographic relief here. Following this deep gully up stream is indeed an interesting 4 wheel drive as that country is BIG back there. Lots of ups and downs and few straight paths. You have to drive the “topo lines” a lot of the time and go way around things. It’s 10 miles to the nearest ranch in that direction. This is very much hard to travel across this scar in the hillside.
I often drive up into remote topographic cul-de-sacs. I’ll start out, go into an area to travel through, but the ground is such that “you can’t get there from here”. lolol.
Morning Alpenglow Rockypoint Wyoming (side show of twilight just before sunrise left of frame)
Rockypoint Wyoming is a good 12 mile drive over good gravel roads from my residence. That takes me about 18 minutes from my driveway it drive below the speed limit. I have found that I’m a rediculously careful driver. The police driving course I took and subsequent on the street work, watching speeders and turn signal stops all day,. I was also an EMT for 17 years. Saw a lot of the result of bad triving. Sometime Days at a time in a small town in Ohio lol. I digress…
So I’m driving by this intersection, I see, and locked up the “antilock” brakes. With less than ideal traction, there was a spasmodic response of deceleration. The car slowed jerking to a stop. I backed up, rolled the window down to verify what I was seeing. It was pretty cold at the time and setting up a tripod is of course the came.
I carry my cameras in a modified beverage crate with plush sheepskin over it. I take a box of 5 or 6 cameras out each time I’m working a sunrise / sunset.
Having that crate seat belted in as well as any baby. Each camera has it’s own lens set up for different situations of course. I avoid having to deal with changing lenses to get just the right optic to bare. Changing lenses is very easy but it introduces dust into your camera when you are working in an already dusty environment. I’d rather change lenses in my house next to a HEPA filter.
Location: Rockypoint Wyoming, about 10 miles south of Montana in Crook County Wyoming by a few feet, Campbell county behind me.
Watching over the Deer Herd (Natural Spirit in the Sky). This is NOT art and is Natural as I photographed it. It’s a total anthropomorphic illusion totally done by mother nature. Border Magic occurs..
I love it when an old man in the clouds is overlooking a herd of mule deer up here in the borderlands. Wouldn’t be the first time (chuckles) Spirits in the sky, particular when they are natural will ALWAYS get my attention. Click !. It lasted about a minute then morphed into something not so anthropomorphic lolol.
Heavily Veiled this sunrise was. I was a few hundred yards out. I’ve been able to drive in among this group but I was on another mission that morning. The Light was my target, not deer closeups in low light… The deer herd is one that frequents this hay field for the Alfalfa that grows there. Water is nearby/running. Isolated and peaceful up there. It’s a wonderful place. The trick is to get the local deer herd familiar with your presence. They don’t see a lot of cars/rigs there. So me driving up and moving VERY slowly across a field stop and go. Acting like I’m grazing, eventually wins them over. In 20 minutes I could have been inside the herd like I was just another cow on the prairie.
This was captured mid spring 2019 and I just found the image buried in an”Images to finish” folder. Sitting nested with 1000’s of untouched images that I pulled for eventual evaluation over the last year or so. Somehow this one got past me for 8 months before I re-discovered the capture a week ago. The main problem with having literally years of work already “in the can” is that sooner or later one has to finish those images lolol. I’m stoic about it. My OCD will get them all done over time. Problem is I keep going out and capturing more each day mostly lolol.
Double Your Pleasure, Double your Fun with Double Mint, Doublle Mint, Double Mint Bucks. (commercial Jingle rolls around in your head lol)
I caught these two brothers crossing the country road. I actually “know” these two having watched them grow up from fawns. One is 4 and the other is 3 years old. Running into them often around the ranch, they have seen me so much that they are “Fairly tolerant” of my old Jeep (anyway). I haven’t seen them since my new ride arrived. No clue how they will react to the new rig. I suspect that they will not let me get too close for a while? Familiarity is a big deal with deer. My old Jeep never pushed or pressured them. They just don’t know that about the new bigger black truck.
I tried really hard to move more to my right. That would have better nest those antlers. . They weren’t in the mood for sitting still for me. Deer are like photographing a 2 year old human. They are very photographic but they don’t necessarily want to sit still for you lolol. These two are thick as thieves they are. “The deer on the right is called goal post and is missing his left brow tine. A male mule deer’s ears are 22 inches wide. I’m curious as to how large he will be next spring but he is starting to put on some neck mass.
These guys with the award for synchronized posing certainly. I’m not sure how they could get more alike without me cloning them in the digital darkroom lolol.