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Frosty Hoar Frost Feathers

Frosty Hoar Frost Feathers
Frosty Hoar Frost Feathers

Frosty Hoar Frost Feathers

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..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Frosty Hoar Frost Feathers

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Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging
Golden Warbler Foraging

Golden Warbler Foraging.
Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .
Magical things often appear in the wetlands in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.
I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Title : Golden Warbler Foraging.

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Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising
Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising

Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .

Magical things often appear in the clouds in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.

I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras. My best camera (a Sony Alpha 7R4) has 15 fstops of dynamic range. My only good eye (I’m close to blind in one eye from an injury) has at least 21 f-stops of dynamic range. Far greater ability to see a black cat in a coal bin in a dark room and see the detail in it’s hair. Like seeing the tree silhouettes here under the very dark blue clouds. This was a tough shot to get :).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Dragon Cloud Rising

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Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn
Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

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….

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

Title: Grassy Bedded Buck Pronghorn

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Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border
Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border

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.

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

Title: Frosty Sunrise on the Border

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Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site
Parks School House Site

Parks School House Site

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.

Title: Parks School House Site

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Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

Sunrise Through Frosty Fence
Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

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…. 📸🤔

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

Title: Sunrise Through Frosty Fence

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Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Snowflakes Over Human Hair
Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Snowflakes Over Human Hair

Fibers in general will catch flakes and often hold them ideally vertically for me. I get into enough Photo-yoga without having to block light to get over horizontal flakes. I can’t think of a better media for this work as it won’t melt the snowflakes. The fibers area wonderful insulator.

Photographic musings:

Just before I started typing this narrative, I was outside with this coat looking for that perfect flake while enjoying a near zero windchill. The gear I use is variable depending on the lighting as I work from several Macro lenses. Each lens you should EVER buy should be a generational purchase. Don’t skimp on your optics… Macro Lens is the search term…

I have lenses I’m still using I bought in the 1990’s and use several e-bay acquired 1970’s lenses say weekly… They made gooooood glass in the 70’s and camera adaptors can put a nikon lens on a canon camera for example easily. On the other hand, I consider camera backs a disposable item after the repair cost exceeds a new camera. I wear a camera back out about every 1/2 year. They are worth less and less each new model that comes out. I haven’t worn one out to the point of not being able to repair one though just yet. What’s good about Sony is that you CAN get them fixed.

Environmental stress destroys complex delicate electronics, LOTS of manual settings, I beat up the settings wheels. They wear out. There is a lot of grit in the atmosphere/environment here too. I find that cameras in this extreme environment stop working in some manner in the 50-100k click mark. I easily take that many photos and more but spread that 8 cameras currently. I send one in about every 2 months or so lolol. I’m surrently back to 7 functioning workhorses for the next month or so.

Being short on cameras is sort of a handy-cap the way I do things these days sadly. Rapaired, they come back like new if History is a guide. If your able to afford it, having cameras and lenses covering all different focal lengths is HIGHLY desirable. I ALWAYS take 5 or 6 cameras and lens combinations with me while working to make what I do. You can sure take good photos with one camera body with multiple lenses though.

Problem is you have to change lenses during a shoot. No one has enough time during a sunset to be changing lenses. For an example: last night I worked 5 cameras for a half an hour last night as the Sun set directly over the Bighorn Mountains. Every camera has dozens or hundreds of images of that event. Changing lenses also introduces dirt and dust into your camera. You can buy cleaning kits on amazon. Not that hard to do. Get the right sized swab kit though…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Snowflakes Over Human Hair

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Worm March Moon Rising

Worm March Moon Rising
Worm March Moon Rising

Worm March Moon Rising

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.

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

Title: Worm March Moon Rising

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Campbell County Memorial Hospital

Campbell County Memorial Hospital
Campbell County Memorial Hospital

Campbell County Memorial Hospital

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…

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

Title: Campbell County Memorial Hospital

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Columbine Purple White BiColor

Columbine Purple White BiColor
Columbine Purple White BiColor

Columbine Purple White BiColor

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.

Object oriented, Landscape 3×2 aspect to 3 feet.

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

Title: Columbine Purple White BiColor

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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

The stripe of orange Alpenglow under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the cloud deck This image was taken ON the border line of Montana / Wyoming.

The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. That is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀

I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.

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

Title: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky
Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

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BigHorns Landscape Ladder

BigHorns Landscape Ladder
BigHorns Landscape Ladder

BigHorns Landscape Ladder

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorns Landscape Ladder

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View from Behind the Jeep

View from Behind the Jeep
View from Behind the Jeep

View from Behind the Jeep

The morning was cold but we are having a bit of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts a full 8 days later lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky with the setting moon above. This is not a composite as if it were it would be in perfect focus. I’m thinking that’s going to hard to do this way. I was 50 feet behind the car to take this with a long telephoto NOT out the window which is WAY easier lol. The red on the right side of the frame is a tail light of the vehicle. Kind of a proof of concept image for me , 👀📸

A Backcountry drive in the borderlands: (This image was of my Jeep)

Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year is hard driving with much snow depth. There are thousands of miles I’ve traveled backcountry when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Vastly limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’ve been off on two trail tracks lately (are you kidding lolol) with my F150 Raptor to work at the moment but photographing remote country roads has it’s advantages. . The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.

The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective way behind the rear view mirror and a moon gives you was worth the effort.

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

Title: View from Behind the Jeep

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Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus
Moon Set Belt of Venus

Moon Set Belt of Venus

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.

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

Title: Moon Set Belt of Venus

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Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

Geese over Trail Creek Drainage
Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

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.

Title: Geese over Trail Creek Drainage

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Windmill Pond Mid Spring

Windmill Pond Mid Spring
Windmill Pond Mid Spring

Windmill Pond Mid Spring

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.

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

Title: Windmill Pond Mid Spring

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Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season
Middle of Brown Season

Middle of Brown Season

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.

As I say, a land of many uses…

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

Title: Middle of Brown Season

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Under the Mesocyclone

Under the Mesocyclone
Under the Mesocyclone

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.

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

Title: Under the Mesocyclone

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Sunset Snow Squall

Sunset Snow Squall
Sunset Snow Squall

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)

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

Title: Sunset Snow Squall

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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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Moon Roping by Frank Bliss

Moon Roping by Frank Bliss
Moon Roping by Frank Bliss

Moon Roping by Frank Bliss

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). 👀😜😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Roping by Frank Bliss

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Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post
Magpie on a Post

Magpie on a Post

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………

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

Title: Magpie on a Post

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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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Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull
Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

Boy was this young bull a trouble maker. Corriente’s really don’t care too much about fences. He at 1 year of age got a whiff of some angus heifers and managed to spend the night before we got him out of that mess. Waaa Hooo… Barbed wire is no match for these guys motivated. His name is “Salt”. He mother is a short hair version of him colorwise. This is the only long haired Corriente we’ve ever bred.

Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. This young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill of roping from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. It’s easier to get the rope around the horns. But the horns are big enough to have the rope cinch there. Versus angus purebreds, cattle of this breed are ALL athletes. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos/ ranch work. Practical skills used in cattle ranching and the sport of such. Practice makes perfect.

He spent his summer running from horses. Then being roped is usually the end result. . Lopped off were the two items causing his bull issues. So he’s not quite as much of a problem lol. He will be a sporting cow for a year until he get too big or his horns get too long. He’s getting a bit big already.

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

Title: Yearling Corriente Longhorn Bull

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Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset
Notch in the Trees Sunset

Notch in the Trees Sunset

2×3 portrait orientation

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

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

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

Title: Notch in the Trees Sunset

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From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came
From Whence I Came

From Whence I Came

Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…

Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.

I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.

If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.

Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.

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

Title: From Whence I Came

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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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Summer Storms Sneaking Around

Summer Storms Sneaking Around
Summer Storms Sneaking Around

Summer Storms Sneaking Around

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.

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

Title: Summer Storms Sneaking Around