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MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night
MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

This MesoCyclone was Veiling the full Moon. Enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye. Using a 20 second time exposure, some lightning flashed during the interval. Details in the clouds that are seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. Time exposures over a second tend to overexpose the full moon badly. Even a moon that was unveiled. Limitation of the technology.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this rotating storm was around 100 miles across. Containing the energy of an atom bomb expended over it’s life.

The view I had of this storm was perfect enabling me to photographed it. I was up in the higher backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars. No other man made light sources in view from the highest mountain top around kind of backcountry.

Various colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples that were native in the camera’s software in this image. 20mm lens, cropped in a bit. I wouldn’t go over 20 seconds with a 20mm as longer would have blurred the starts. That time varies with the focal length of the lens so look it up on google lol.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔 Taken Mid Summer 2019. 2×3 aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: MesoCyclone with Moon at Night

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Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant
Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 70 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind me in about 15 minutes from this capture. 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.

We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.

That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Growing Mesocyclone SW Quadrant

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Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands
Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands (America’s Serengeti)

This is a must to take full screen. The Pronghorn’s are well camo’d in this image with huge alluvial fan deposits in the distance. Those sediments eventually turning into those rocks were transported from the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles back over my shoulder.. OF course I’m standing where there used to be rocks like that but erosion has removed them. Those layers were at one time continuous all the way back. Now rivers have cut big valleys in the apron of the mountains. Geologists regard things in a strange way 😜👀

So for this shot I was traveling from my ranch to Gillette Wyoming. , I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. That is a long gravel road that skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states. They wander quite a bit and there are sometime I see nothing but grass and scenery. Half of the time. No cell phone service and no AAA up here…. Just saying 😀

The Thunderbasin Grasslands are indeed a remote area. The closest stop light is about 40 miles. There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. There might be a few water and a few oil wells out there. They actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Pronghorn Herd Thunderbasin Grasslands

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Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming
Mesocyclone Incoming

Mesocyclone Incoming

I’m estimating this young developing Mesocyclone is 50 miles distant/ 50 miles wide. Relatively small for a Rotating mesocyclone. It was growing at the time. The sunset for that day is ongoing exactly behind the rain shaft so the bottom of the storm is pretty much backlit as well as your going to see through one. 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.

We had a summer Mesocyclone years back that sat over us and dumped 4.5 inches of rain in 45 minutes. Water was sheet washing down the hill behind my home and skirting around the house. Almost nothing got in but that slope was angle deep in sheet wash. I have since re-landscapes using mounds to redirect any potential sheet wash off the long hill to our back. It’s only been a problem once in 20 years.

That was a rough storm. Tragically a local cowboy from a nearby ranch was killed in that storm. A truck full of locals went out to see what the 100 year water dump did, drove to one of their herds to check them, road was fine. Drove back the road had washed out. That cowboy was a passenger in that truck. County Emergency Management called me to close the road off from my side of the washout. The runoff went through a major country road that literal gully washer did. It was a major culvert to replace and a big job. We couldn’t get to the highway from that road for a while.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Mesocyclone Incoming

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Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Round Up Stormy Afternoon
Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Round Up Stormy Afternoon

Late summer of 2019 it was time to run “the herd” through a crowding pen and sort calves from mothers. Some vaccinations ensued. Lots of “hunting / gathering required to collect the cattle. Collecting a herd of calves and cows from the square mile pasture takes maneuverability. These are real cowboys horses and good workers all.

The weather that after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. The little cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Just as the last cow was released, everyone retreated to our large barn for tailgate food while it was hailing outside. A good time was had by all except a few calves that got branded that day. This is a ranch after all. During the year the ranch has over 200 cow calf pairs grazing the various pastures. The big pastures are around a square mile here. Other ranches that are bigger have bigger pastures lol.

Rotating pasture ground is important to manage the grass. We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. Just the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation. This 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 all summer.

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

Title: Round Up Stormy Afternoon

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Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands
Thunder Basin National Grasslands

Thunder Basin National Grasslands (The only shaft of light I saw ALL hat Day. )

I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming. Driving toward my ranch, I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. This road skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states.

There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. Right side of the fence is reserve, left side is private ground. There might be a few water and oil wells out there but they actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.

I get the best Hoar Frost images from those geothermal ponds in the deep winter. It is a good 1/2 gravel road drive to the closest of those ponds though so I’ll only work them photographically a few times a year. If it’s -10 or lower, I’m heading that way for sunrises. Mostly those ponds are on the north side of this grassland complex. Gotta love vandalism of shooting signs. Shooting signs which cost hundreds to make, is senseless and a waste of good ammo. It’s also vandalism. 😞

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Thunder Basin National Grasslands

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Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind

Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind
Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind

“Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars” is a time lapse photo on a tripod set up under my deck. All the lighting you see is ambient inside our “compound” from various yard lights mulitiplied over 10 seconds…. The storm is a 500 microsecond lightbulb flash giving me lit clouds from within. As the storm travels, it’s leaving stars in it’s wake in the pure dark sky. Got em!

Photographers notes:

This is not a composite in fact the bright star is actually a planet… Jupiter. The flash was instantaneous but the stars needed the time exposure and the results fit like a glove📸. About 10 seconds at ISO 300 with f6 (ish) should get you here if you have a tripod, and a storm that leaves stars in it’s wake… Hint…. Longer than about 12 seconds gives you streaky stars…..

Have a great Sunday night all.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm
Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

This Mesocycone was Veiling the full Moon enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye but seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. This 6 second time exposure would have been overexposed badly with a full moon that was unveiled. This is the real deal seeing stars with a full moon.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this storm was 100 miles across. I photographed it in the deep backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars.

THe colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples in this image.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Storm Moving In

Storm Moving In
Storm Moving In

The Storm was Moving in at the time. I was in an open ATV and it was time to get home lol. I usually carry a big rain coat but that is for my cameras.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Twin Lightning Bolts Over the Red Hills

Twin Lightning Bolts Over the Red Hills
Twin Lightning Bolts Over the Red Hills

This telephoto shot of Twin Lightning Bolts hitting the “Red Hills” which run across the Montana/Wyoming border lands between the Powder River and the the Little Powder RIver Drainages.

Location: From Ridge one, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.