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Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge
Rim of the Ridge

Rim of the Ridge

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

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

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

Title: Rim of the Ridge

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Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands
Moonset over Winter Highlands

Moonset over Winter Highlands

The January Wolf Moon

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. 

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

Title: Moonset over Winter Highlands

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Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte

Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte
Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte

Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte (a little out of season).

Rainstorms were moving through the area this late fall day. This was before the first frosts. That seems a long time ago sequestered in the house most of the day. Various levels of Cabin Fever begins to creep into your psyche. Most ranchers get outside enough and maybe some light to keep them sane. A lot of times their wives go first unless they get out too. You’ve got to get some sunlight during the winter.

Sort of a cheap “Skittles™| knock off I’m thinking lolol. Rainbows are not fixed objects but will move as you move across the landscape. (Did you know that?). If you jump in a car and stay sunward of rain shafts in sunlight, you’ll have a moving rainbow. So to find the place to line this up you have to travel. I’m glad the Sun wasn’t much right (behind me) as I would have run out of ridge and gone over a cliff lolol. That has happened to more than few photographers

I all that conical / pyramidal butte “Turtle Butte”. In this late summer shot, you can see the normally mild mannered wanna be volcano, spew rainbows everywhere. Now we know where all the rainbows came from. They sky is stocking up. Makes sense. That butte is EXACTLY on the Wyoming/Montana border. That border is PRECISELY 1/2 way in between the Equator and the North Pole.

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

Title: Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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Cowboy Peace Offering

Cowboy Peace Offering
Cowboy Peace Offering

A Cowboy Peace Offering is for the long run

Just before the horizon rose to cover the sun

Only then is the cowboys work almost done.

Putting his horse away is just one

Of Several chores left undone

When or when do they have time for fun?

Frank Bliss (2019)

I don’t do much poetry but that may change as I get images like this that push me that way. I’ve been watching cowboys up here for two decades. I am definitely NOT a cowboy. I do however respect the heck out of the profession. If you think you know what hard work is, try putting up a mile of barbed wire fence mid summer. How about hay bales…ever picked those up? . Have you ever had to get an injured calf away from it’s angry mother to treat it? Does anyone out there think working outside all day, driving stock, fixing water sources and dealing with horses is easy? I’ve done a little of all those things. Has anybody here chased a 2K pound bull with a 500 pound ATV by bumping his rump with it? I will personally confirm to you that crash bars are a good thing for a 4 wheeler on a ranch.

I know many people that have been cowboys all their lives. This is cattle country up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Part of the American Redoubt we are. The cowboy lifestyle as far as I can tell is as good an existence as any I’ve experienced in my 9 professional careers I’ve had during my life.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cowboy Peace Offering

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Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha

Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha
Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. “Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha”

These two missed attending dinner today as I had a camera not a shotgun (in my hand anyway 🙂 ) This capture show 2 wild turkeys coming in for a landing in a hoar frosted environment. I’ve raised small flocks of turkeys and even the “tame” males have attitude to deal with. These guys are a force to be reckoned with if you ever get cornered by one with an agenda. 😜

Short Narrative for Thanksgiving lolol. Enjoy your time with family and friends. God Bless

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turkey Evasion Pattern Alpha

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Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee
Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

This is a sub-committee of the larger Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Pronghorn Ladies Club. The discussion started out as talk about a stock tank and a mid day drink. On the way, this fence crossing shows very clearly that Pronghorns make decisions as a group lolol. The stress is obvious….

There is an obvious internal discussion on going regarding this obstacle. I’m “OK” at lip reading AND translating from Pronghorn at the same time so you’ll have to trust me here . (Classical Reference to a recent commercial). It was the youngster walking in that not knowing any better say’s “just step over that wire” (or something like that). which moved the group. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it .

I’ve watch Animal behavior pretty carefully as I see it…. . When I notice hair on barbed wire, I see a place to plant a Game Trail Camera. (I buy pretty good cameras). It’s ALL about placement. There are so many signs that say watch this area. The trail walking to this 15 foot wide fence section then it shrinks behind the camera. Fences naturally funnel the animals to here and they take advantage of the downed wire to cross. If you want to dab a little buck urine on that hair, it will pause animals there for a while too. (good hint but be careful with the glass bottle, you don’t want it to freeze in the winter in your rig lololol).

2:1 Aspect

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Fence Crossing Committee

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Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground
Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground is a 2 feet x 3 feet image in full size. Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the early winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out.

The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.

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

Title: Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

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Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise
Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise is a perspective at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.

Photographic musings:

For some reason, I’m drawn to perspectives under icy sunrises. Focus close requirement(1) plus a sun show far (2)is my goal. Putting them in the same focal field is top on my list for planning this capture.

These two “priorities” fortunately compliment each other while in your Manual Mode camera settings. High light gives you the ability to set your widest lens to it’s highest fstop setting f-22 (ish). This cuts back light considerably which you need . It also lets you focus on things 10 inches in front of this particular wide lens AND have the background in focus. I always pay attention when I’m buying lenses to look for ones with the shortest distance to focus close. (macro) but if you want to do this, you need a wide angle say 12-24mm lens with a close focus.

Shutter speed 1/100 – 1/400 depending on your light conditions and ISO (camera sensitivity) is low like ISO 100 or ISO 200. This was a very bright light environment in the distance but just. The sun was just clearing the ridge.

The right gloves for cold work. There are many brands but I use:

The joy of -2 degrees is that the gear doesn’t like it, but my fingers take the brunt of the cold abuse. They don’t operate the equipment as well either if chiled.. I wear glove/mittens by “Red Head” that have the ability to open up your fingers. Fine detailed adjustments on a camera take more tactile feedback than through a glove sometimes. Finding your location on your camera body is the biggest problem. I find it is always better to have warm fingers and have quicker control of the camera bodies settings oddly enough lol. “Red Head Mittens” have been used by this photographer down to a -20 windchill with good results. I was tougher then though……

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

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Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation
Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

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Book of Snowflakes

Book of Snowflakes
Book of Snowflakes

Reading a Book of Snowflakes

There are actually 3 if not 4 flakes in this thin book of snowflakes. The temperature/humidity/pressure has to be just so for books to form. They can all crow from the same center ice needle. Each flake of course is unique in the book. Sitting on a coats fur collar, this flake has long since turned to ice in a pile or has sublimated from solid to gas directly. IT’s been a winter so far of mostly ice pellets. About 6 snows in October I think.. Our air is dry here and sublimation is a major source of snow disappearance by a direct phase change. Captured in a tiny tiny moment of time and space. Forever now launched in Cyberspace as once it’s on Facebook, it’s stored until the internet finally crashes lol.

Setting the proper mood:

There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,
unlatching the fortochka in the morning light.
Let’s name them all, love, along the way.

Last night snow danced its boreal ballet
of whorls and swirls, fine arabesques in white—
you know hundreds of names for snow, you say.

Down crystalline paths we slip and spin, surveying
ice falls, tall drifts, single flakes in flight—
my love and I count them along the way.

In my head, sparking visions start to play:
once love’s begun, who knows? Perhaps we might—
There are hundreds of names for snow, you say,

gently, their meanings subtle, hard to convey—
elusive as love’s many meanings last night.
I wait. You walk—silent—along your way.

Feeling foolish, unschooled, I whisk away
a sudden, childish tear obscuring my sight.
You know hundreds of names for love, you say:
I’ll learn them all, love, along my way.

— Katherine E. Young : Public Domain

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

A Book of Snowflakes

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Reach For The Sky

Reach For The Sky
Reach For The Sky

Perspective: Reach for the Sky

Using really Wide lenses attempts to fit everything into the frame. Here a Sony Alpha 7RII is wearing a 10 mm lens. It sees well over 120 degrees wide or tall (1/3rd of a complete circle). So your looking at roughly a fourth of the whole sky/vista)Reach for the Sky is what this old growth Jack Pine grove is doing. Small grass fires don’t bother these trees much. They do get hit by lightning quite a bit as many of these old soldiers have scars from shocking encounters.

Wide lenses add a little distortion to an image on the edges. I can correct for this in the digital darkroom but just a bit of perspective is a good thing . 👁👁When ever I get a veiled southwestern sunset, I head for this ridgeline. Known on ranch (and here in my narratives) as “Ridge 1” . It runs for about 6 miles across the landscape. Fortunately for me, it is parallel to 5 other north/south trending ridges that allow me to work terrain. I am able to find little areas of Zen up there.

Ridgeline Photography : Mini Course

Using a veiled sun as a focal point under a cathedral ceiling is an easy landscape subject lol. Usually I’m moving from place to place looking for a confluence of angles and alignments in the landscape. I stop, get the “shot” and move on looking for another “alignment”.. Sunset doesn’t last forever. Knowing when to leave and move on is 1/2 of this game. Objects that create “Leading Lines” that draw your eye (like the trees pointing to the cathedral) or an angled hillside and tree line setting up a “wedge” or a triangle in the image. All pointing to the sun main “hero” of the image (the sun).

A good image needs “heros” (plural) to not be just a “snapshot”. Lots of “heros” in this image. Composition, using the characteristics of your lenses (using that distortion to add appeal to the image) The sun, the sky the trees, each is it’s own interest in the image.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana Borderlands.

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“Son: Some Day All This Will Be Yours”

"Son: Some Day All This Will Be Yours"
"Son: Some Day All This Will Be Yours"

Father/Son Talk..”Son, someday all this will be yours”. In the mean time ever vigilant mom watches their back while they have some quality family time right on the crest of a blind hill way on a remote county road. I stopped way back knowing I didn’t want to interrupt that family conference so I waited patiently…. figured I might as well take a photo….😂

This photo is of course an imaginary Pronghorn Family as the affiliation of the doe with the Buck is very transitory lol. The fawn will stay with the doe through the winter and weaned before the birth of her current bun in her oven. There were other does about too so he’s definitely not monogamous…..

The Pronghorn rut is over at this time so most of that business is taken care of by now. It’s time for them to migrate about 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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend
Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Flies are indeed a gardeners best friend. They are parasitic in their larval life stage of course and their favorite target are major insect pests to the garden. They eat pollen etc but kill pests with their larva. They are not mammal flesh eating flies per se.
I had to laugh about the hairy butt but there must be a reason lololol.

Location: in the garden (even after several hard freezes below 20 degrees). Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Backcountry Rainbow Spanning the Wyoming/Montana Border

Backcountry Rainbow Spanning the Wyoming/Montana Border
Backcountry Rainbow Spanning the Wyoming/Montana Border

Spanning the Montana/Wyoming border with Montana on the left, this backcountry rainbow was fun the other day.. This little storm got me quite wet. The cameras where a challenge to keep dry for this one. Had to wipe a lot of lenses lol.

Location: Backcountry ridge 2, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Slack Flags in Wyoming (Rare) but Snow Not So Much!

Slack Flags in Wyoming (Rare) but Snow Not So Much!
Slack Flags in Wyoming (Rare) but Snow Not So Much!

I saw an extremely rare event the other morning about 6AM, Slack flags in Wyoming are Rare but snow….not so much lolol. It’s going to be a long winter……(I’m predicting about a decade but it could be 100 years). :).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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“Here’s Looking at You Kid” or is He Looking at the Sunrise?

"Here's Looking at You Kid" or is He Looking at the Sunrise?
Buck Silhouette But Which Way is He Looking?

Which Way is he Looking, This Buck Silhouette is confusing to me as to which way he is looking. Is he looking away or toward the camera? Don’t confuse grass highlight for body contours now lol. This one is a real mind bender. I know which way and MIGHT tell 😎

Getting a nice buck between yourself and a good sunrise? Priceless.❤️

The illusion is caused by the telephoto’s ability to destroy perspective. This is a very long shot, the deer looks HUGE…BUT the sun that would be currently rising behind the hill is way bigger than he is in apparent size.

If I had a 10 foot ladder to get up on from where I was standing for this capture….there would be a rising sun behind deer shot….The topography prevented this obviously lol.. My point is, the sun would appear to be wider than the buck is so he is actually being illuminated/highlighted literally on both sides making it essentially impossible to figure out which way he was looking. Very much of a rarified optics environment/opportunity for a odd ball capture as this.. This is an Optical Illusion distantly related to divergent light rays (crepuscular/anticrepuscular rays) and camera optics.. plus apparent/relative sizes. The physics behind a capture like this is just amazing to me.

Ambiguity is hard to catch as an image (I was about to write “on film”🤣) (RLT’s) or Really Long Telescope Lenses absolutely CRUSH perspective.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming Montana borderlands.

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Big Horn Mountains Rising 13000 feet Seen From 130 miles Away

Big Horn Mountains Rising 13000 feet Seen From 130 miles Away
Big Horn Mountains Rising 13000 feet Seen From 130 miles Away

This 8 layer landscape ladder of the Big Horn Mountains Riding 13000 feet above sea level as seen from my ranch 130 miles away. I’m up on the Montana/Wyoming border to the northeast of the highest parts of the ranch. I get a good weather window to see these weekly but not many of those are this good. This was an 800mm rested telephoto shot from a high ridge. The grass is about 1/4 mile out, the first treed ridge (the Red Hills) is 40 miles out for an idea of scale here.

I took a trip to Sheridan last week by the time you see the images….. Many good photos from that journey all backcountry for the 119 miles (3 hours) trip on gravel. You can’t easily get there from here by highway.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Reflections Off a Backcountry Pond (Daylight Blues)

Reflections Off a Backcountry Pond (Daylight Blues)
Reflections Off a Backcountry Pond (Daylight Blues)

Reflections Off a Backcountry Pond (Daylight Blues) is a rare image from me. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day.
But the wind was dead calm and I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.

Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…

This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road. The county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away.

This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Mirror Mirror # 3 Incoming Dragon…or is That a Rabbit?

Mirror Mirror # 3 Incoming Dragon...or is That a Rabbit?
Dragon Incoming...or is that a Rabbit? (ART)

Mirror Mirror #3 Incoming Dragon or is that a Rabbit…. is ART of course.
It’s the left 1/2 an actual sunset, reflected to the right on itself then the whole thing mirrored top and bottom very carefully. I thought the Rabbit on the top and the Penguin on the bottom created by the “totem Pole” effect right up the middle of doing this mirroring with certain images.

This is the third of this series I’ve recently posted but I have others dating back years that I will eventually get brought up to current standards and uploaded. Just a matter of time.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (1/4 of it), the rest came from my Mac workstation lol.