I don’t see a lot of really strong “Belt of Venus” Pink even in the winter but it’s out there if ice is in the air. At As the long traveled reddish light hits the projector screen the ice collectively makes, that ice glows the color of the light. Just before sunrise, the blue darker clouds barely above the mountains on those clouds is the shadow of the horizon on them. That shadow “zone” will turn pink as the shadow drops with the sun rising on the opposite horizon. The clouds above shadowed by the cloud deck topping the sun slit also on the opposite horizon. So just a bar of sunlight making it to cinema screen.
This is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The planet Venus is Often in the pink some mornings. The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow like mid-summer before. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. Interesting year.
Yes here you are looking at the Pronghorn Team for the Annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, All ungulate Triathalon Team Competition. I’ve already seen the Mule Deer working on their marching for the entrance to the venue as well. The Whitetail Deer, while ungulates too, tend to not show up on time as their clock is set differently. But the Pronghorn and the Mule deer will probably go head to head.
Now the Pronghorn can certainly Out run the deer on the overland part of the Triathalon. But they are less adept at swimming where Mule Deer Clearly have the edge based on past events. So it’s about even going into the Bicycle Phase. That’s usually where the event falls on it’s face, or sides, or head or ass….. We have never had a completed/finished triathalon here.
We have high expectations one of the guys will figure out the breaks. No opposing thumb was the grumble I heard. That is just a rumor though and you shouldn’t place much emphasis on it. Pronghorn are always rumor starters.
“Getting your Ducks in a row” is pretty tough I have heard. I have found getting Pronghorn in a row is somewhat less common. I have seen deer walking side by side much more. We will see how big the event is this year.
The Poetry of the moment is often hard to quantify but as poetry it does qualify. The color of the scene is a result of the cold hard physics of the world. The light proceeds on it’s path until some substance acts either to block or bend the dual nature of particles and waves. (This is a wonderful concept and worthy of an extended google search this AM). Light acts sometimes as a particle but also has wave like properties. Scientific wisdom everyone needs in their daily life but is beyond the scope of this narrative 😝 🤘
Turtle Butte from this angle is often confused with a volcanic cone (and even volcanic during a few of my journeys into satire). Maybe it’s just me. Impersonators are everywhere in geology. Things that “look like”. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about those volcano’s. FYI, they are sedimentary remnants. Hard Cap Rocks protect the sediment below… . It’s all in the details, not the shape.
Humans are generalists. We miss details but do gather a wide interpretation of scenes at first. Shape! Then we slowly start focusing on details like composition and color. The color here is spot on to the original scene. I take great care in this exposing the highlights such that detail is still visible in them. If you’ve never spent twilights in Wyoming or Montana, you’ve never seen skies like we have. My job is to climb the 300 foot high ridges in the dark to get into position before this amazing show of artistry by mother nature. My photography is resultant of the various to and fro journeys pursuing those dual nature particles. (Photons).👀 🤔 📷
Twilight captures in June tend to be a very early morning rise for me. I’m thinking the night is just right at 8 hours long between sunrise and sunset these days. That makes for relatively short nights by the time I maintain my cameras for the next morning. Get up, get the dogs on patrol and something in my gut for breakfast. Then grab cam and go.
I often travel miles over two track backcountry roads to get to various locations I like to work terminator crossings. Some highpoint/ridgelines I frequent more than others but it depends on the time of year. That time of year of course controls which direction the sun is rising and setting. The sun is very far north at the moment and 2 days from the Summer Solstice as this posts (about a week after it was written on June 10th).
I get to have the sun rise and set over landscape features this time of year that I only see align for about 2 weeks. Similar short lived opportunities occur around the winter solstice as the sun rise and sets are furthest to the south. This celestial dance happens year after year. I just adjust my planning for where the “next photoshoot” is going to be based on the calendar. I run into most of the wildlife I photograph either on the way to work a sunset or after a sunrise on the way home. I’ve given up photographing wildlife in too dark an environment. Fully a waste of electrons as wildlife moves too much for low light work. The ones I do capture are rare. The wheel continues to turn if you watch.. 👀🤘
I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. It is obvious her look was annoyance with me. I’m patient though and tend to wait out such attitude. It wasn’t long before she was back grazing with the group around her exhibiting normal deer behavior. They more or less are accepting my Black Ford Raptor as just another Big Smelly Black Angus moving across the Prairie. I seldom scare the local wildlife or push them intentionally. I have found that if you pressure wildlife, they will run from you next time you see them. So for me to get really close to the wild inhabitants of Wyotana, I have to be very respectful of personal space.
Most of the Does are VERY pregnant this time of year. The wheel of life is turning seemingly with a quickening in the late spring. The quantity of newborns born at one time assures a new generations. Deer have a few predators up here but human’s riding their machinations account for the majority of deer fatalities. In the two decades I’ve driven extensively in deer/pronghorn country, only a few over a dozen deer have been “hit” by our families cars. Less than one a year average. We have never filed an insurance claim from a deer impact.
Having discovered early on putting a custom made front bumper / crash bar/ deer bumper on any vehicle that will support it is necessary. Cars… no reason to put a 500+ pound chunk of steel on a Toyota lol. The pickups and SUV’s that we own are all graced with a significant steel front end. Hitting a deer at 60 mph or so is no fun certainly for the driver OR the deer. Bright bright bright headlights help too. Being able to see a 1300 pound Black Angus at night on a gravel road is a good thing if you are traveling. Cleaning a deer you hit at speed off your vehicle takes a while. Trust me on this. My son lost a passenger Mirror from swishing past a deer. They do hit you in the side sometimes ☺️
Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon an old homesteads and a windmill.
The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There is a demolished homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. Pieces and parts of past lives past scattered about. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully. I filled in that hole when I first moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance” and 35 feet deep x 5 feet in diameter. Hand dug… Many settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind but hopefully away from their water source.
This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys/herders that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Finally when this wind engine was installed, being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too. This is very big country open back country. It’s remote and just plain challenging to get to in the winter.
This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on). Don’t get me going on geology lolol.
About 10 percent of the time I drive by this remote road sign there is someone on it. This time the Kestrel, known as a “Falcon” is eating the head off a mouse. I was driving about 30 when I noted the as yet unknown bird on the post. Middle of nowhere, I had turned sideways driver window toward this guy and had but a few seconds to get the camera settings adjusted as appropriate. I keep all my cameras on Manual Mode. In fact I’ve never used them in any other mode so I do take a bit longer. If I’m driving I’m preset the camera but it still takes a few seconds….
The lighting was horrible to get this with the bright sun down behind the road sigh/post. This side of the very small raptor was in deep shadow. I dig details out of shadows as a matter of course in my photography but this one was a tough one. This is the best of 6 images he was patient enough to let me get prior to his departure. He didn’t even leave me a snack from his tasty morsel. IF I were on the other side of this bird with the light there, holy smokes would that have been a bucket list item. These are really beautiful little birds. The ability to hoover above a target is legendary. I rescued one on the highway once. I believe it lived if it survived any internal bleeds from the trauma that stunned it. I felt better anyway 🤔😀
Normally when you look at a rainbow off in the distance, it is actually way out there. Well if you get a 1200 mm lens and point it into the base of the rainbow, you might see something like this. That far ridge is at least 3 miles away with the closest trees at a mile. Telephoto images are notorious for having distance perspective crushed. You might think I’m standing at a normal 55mm just a few hundred feet from those closest trees. As I say… they are a mile out. Crushed is good for getting the proper look for this kind of perspective.
Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. You can move a rainbow to align it over what you wish if there is enough rain shaft plus you are mobile. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena. If looking at the sun, you see a “rainbow” like phenomena like 22 degree halos and a host of others are on the sun side of the sky. The other side of the sky is strictly rainbows.
Photographic Musings: Manual Settings… Only three settings.
Distance is your friend. OK, another F-stop discussion…. High F-stop numbers take away a LOT of light from your light capture boxes. (camera). The higher the number, the smaller the hole in the lens for light to travel through. At the same time you make that hole smaller by turning up the F-stop number, you are thickening the “depth of field” focus depth. F-stop becomes a double edged sword. You can open up the aperture (turn down the f-stop number) and get a lot more light versus a pin hole at maximum F-stop setting. But you loose depth of field/focus depth) So Bigger hole in the lens= shallow depth of field but a lot of light. A smaller hole in the aperture means less light but it gives you the ability to focus on things close AND far at the same time. SO, you have to compensate for HIGH f stop numbers by adjusting the other two settings. Turning up camera sensitivity (ISO) boosts what little light that comes through a small hole in the lens. IT’s a double edge sword too though. More Camera Sensitivity (higher ISO) will give you a grainy image and introduce color noise. Speckles and big grain are not desirable so moderation is necessary. Lastly you have shutter speed. Slower than 100th of a second you risk blurring moving objects. Any movement from anything would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto to 400mm (rested).
Location: Biss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
The sunset main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) orange or red. This sunset backshow spread across a huge Mesocyclone storm is Pink. This pink band is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going behind you watching a sunset. More so up here in the high ridges of the Montana / Wyoming borderlands. It you don’t turn around now and then, you miss this show. This one was fairly hard to miss though lol. These storms can be 100 miles across. I’d estimate this one is about 100 miles distant from my camera. You can see a LONG ways from the tops of the ridges around this ranch.
Your actually seeing the pink band (red light) surviving the long trip through the earth’s curved atmospherics lens. The storm colorized by that most tortured light shows the gradients well. The Blue Line / Shadow UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun sets in this time line, that blue band grows upward covering the storm as the sun drops further below the opposite horizon behind me. The top of the storm is still white as the light that high still has it’s blue components unfettered by the atmosphere. The storm is an ultimate projector screen for the light shone on it from our star. Color banding courtesy of mother nature. 👀🤘📷
Several image from this particular evening made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. They will work their way into my portfolio with time. I’m about 8 days from taking a photo to publishing the page with the narrative in my current work flow. During this spring I’ve been finishing 4 photos a day. I finished 6 a day most of the winter. I don’t think I can do that to my current standards this winter. We will see…
It is fairly unusual for a Pronghorn of any sex to walk toward the camera directly. This one is a doe. I can count on one hand the number of images I have even similar to this posture. Mostly visiting photographers see their butts heading out. Oddly, she was literally walking directly toward me for some distance. Must be near sighted… Or that Black pickup looked like an angus lol.
I would indicate though that if there isn’t triplets in there, I’d say she is going to have quads. Technically this might be the biggest “Fastest” land animal in North America. She might have been a little not fast enough last fall. I will tell you with certainty that she is not as quick as she was last year before that Buck got involved. I’m really not sure if she is aware of the fact that that “coat makes her butt look big”. I’m not going to tell her. A professional has to maintain appropriate relationships with photographic subjects after all.😇📷
I see so many Pronghorn each year I can’t keep track of individual does but this one seems familiar with me anyway. She looks pretty scraggly but that is only because she is shedding in clumps of fur. She’s perfectly healthy. Most Pronghorn in cattle country have big chunks of hair off their back as going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph has it’s draw “backs”. I’ve seen those scars get infected before but it’s not that common such that it kills them from it. It’s only known in the Presidential “Book of Secrets” why they prefer to go under fencing rather than over like every other ungulate in North America. 😜👀
A Dandilion Sun filter. I use “Cellulose” filters where ever possible to moderate the glare from that ball of fire up there. Sometimes what ever is handy… in this case :). I find you are where you are with only the gear you are carrying at the time. Noted is a spring bloom of the invasive plant in the backcountry. I find isolated patches here and there anyway. Fortunately, just about every part of the plant is edible and another food source.
I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Veiled Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. I only had a 400mm lens for a “macro”. Closest focus for this lens is about 4 feet away. I’ve certainly taken this shot before and will again. It’s a right of passage for the “Close / Far” perspective students to get this one.
Figuring it out is not rocket science but you do need to be in manual mode. I’ve heard from some that manual mode is scary and difficult. Wouldn’t know as I’ve never operated any of my current crop of cameras on any other mode. I don’t have a clue how to work them on automatic….
I would way prefer a 90mm (ish) macro lens though. The long macros work well for close ups of dragonflies on the wing … Most telephotos will take macroshots, the question is how far away do you need to be…. 😜📸
When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 mile out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind. High Ridges are their own reward even with out the photography. This is wonderful country.
Photographic Musings: The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities.
I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.
There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and extra glass in front of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Taken about 12 days ago from this post, narrative written 8 days ago.. Such is my work flow these days. Present future and past reflections a this remote wetlands echo back to us in time and space. A Cottonwood Tree covered dam built many decades ago. A spring fed pond is home to many a gorgeous vista. It will have many more. Each sunset/sunrise is a new pallet of color for me to explore.
I have so many choices of where to pursue the limited time I have to chase the light. Because the wind was dead calm at the homestead. The flags were slag. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the investment of time and gas. .
“Backcountry” …. I’ve defined the term before and for all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This little “Heaven on Earth” is 2 miles of bumpy two track dirt/grass road from the nearest county road. That county road is crushed red scoria (“Clinker”) gravel. Generally local gravel travel over well maintained roads is a dusty pleasure. I point out that these roads are fodder for “Clever Girl”. She eats them up. 🤔👀
So… upon gaining the county gravel, it is 14 miles of curvey / hilly 1.5 lane road to the closest asphalt paved two lane highway. . 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. 2 people per square mile density in this area while there are several hundred cows in the same area. Cattle Country with Dinosaur Bones. …. There certainly are more remote areas of North America but not a lot of difference from those to the lifestyle of living in the “backcountry”.
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.
The science of this is a little complex but here it goes. The light source is the late day setting sun but bouncing off my back Ford Raptors hood…you know…glare..😎 That bounce is important though in getting the photo as it effects the light…
The reason you guys buy polarized sun glasses is due to that reflection. When sunlight hits the hood, the light bounces off with a majority of it being horizontally polarized. Mostly all those reflected light waves are in the same plane, not a bunch of randomly oriented waves. The sunglasses you buy are plastic lenses with all vertical lines which only allow in light that is vertically polarized. This blocks all the glare horizontally oriented.
SO that is called “Crossed Polarizers”. A double filter as it were. Take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and cross them at 90 degrees and try to look through them…. They go totally black.
NOW put something between the source of the polarized light (either the hood or the first pair of sunglasses). I used here a delicate transparent feather that will pass light…. It bends/ refracts light a little bit out of that horizontal plane so some of it makes it through the second filter this side of the feather. So you see the colors as a direct result of a single polarizing filter on my lens (hand held and rotated), the camera on a tripod and pre focused. F22, ISO 300 and 1/100th to get your camera close .. It was very bright but the filter cut out 80 percent of the light but you can change that by rotating the back filter…. . 90mm macro.
The Cotton Wood Trees are freshly leafing. Still some cold days to come and the Cottonwoods flowers were out a week ago. About to test the thinest branches at the crest of this 50 foot tall Cottonwood Tree. These birds are roughly 5 pound, 5 foot tall fully grown Great Blue Herons. That’s a big bird coming in for a landing. You can see the wind due to the flowers all blowing from right to left. A 15 – 20 mph gusty wind was blowing. The branches were moving left to right. Sometimes dramatically from the wind that afternoon.
This female had just returned from it’s feeding mission around the area. They usually hunt within a few miles of their rookery. In this pretty high gusty winds, she had to land on a moving target. She nailed the landing as she was essentially levitating not moving and just dropping inches a second. These Avian Dinosaurian descendants are AMAZING masters of the sky. This a shift change with a neighbor watching..
I’ve spent some time watching Heron’s over the years. Building a nest near the top of 50 foot high cottonwoods one stick at a time is a story of a lot of trips by the male. Identification is usually because the male carries sticks to the nest and I’ve never seen a female do so. The male does the stick supply route over and over again but it’s the gals job to build the house. She will carefully weave and cajole all the loose sticks together.
I’ve seen them land and take off in all wind situations. This shot shows one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever seen a bird make. Floating down as delicately as spider silk in the breeze. It’s amazing to watch a fine motor skill control stall speed in the single mph digits.
Location: The Heron Rookery in the wetlands at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
The lighting was so unusual I pulled up and pursued it as hard as I could. The heavily veiled sun was peaking through up the hill. But not where I was standing hundreds of yards away. The angles were unusual. I was sun shaded but bright spotlights shone through the veil. This high lighting the hillside. This sunrise was a nice variation of the many themes I have experienced. Lots of contrasts and highlights are a good thing lol.
There is a fossil site below that tree… I haven’t really dug much there, just scratching the surface. I know there is a caudal vertebra from some dinosaur sitting up there under the edge of a boulder about a foot from where I initially found it. It’s only a few inches across. There are also a few bone cross sections (outcrop with bones sticking out) under the cap rock. I don’t believe it is worth my time to dig there as it’s likely just a few random individual bones. They are likely NOT bones from the same individual. Bones soon to become fossils were washed into that spot by the Cretaceous Age rivers. (End of the Dinosaur Era). 53 percent of the fossil record is composed of pieces and parts of Triceratops… They were the cows of the day..
Everybody on two legs (theropods like T-rex) at them. The more things change, the more they remain the same. 2 legged creatures of today eat those modern day cows too.
The Rain Shafts over the Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . Weather over the far ridge. The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out.
This is about 4 miles from our ranch. That direction is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles from my homestead.. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here. The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.
The Historic Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association. It is managed under the Trail Creek Grazing Association. Old original buildings out here. In this remote backcountry were certainly built out of locally milled wood. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand. The 1950’s marked the last updates to the main house. Still utilized for hunters with year round caretakers living on site. That barn is classic.
Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Well a “White Throated Swift” if I read my audubon ID correctly. They are silly fast birds. Getting one launching from it’s home…. lol. My reaction time isn’t as fast as in my youth. As a geologists I’m less interested in the bird instead of the WONDERFUL geology behind it. I’m always thinking about Cretaceous river systems operating up here in the rock record. Geologists read rocks like a book. The local rocks make for a great story ! ..
Transition to geology:
Indeed this Swift is a cliff dweller exiting that dark subsoil homestead built out of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formation Cretaceous River bottom sediment exposed here. Those various “rocks” are all different kinds of mudstone “pebbles”. These were rolled down a very large paleo-river. Each rock torn up from the clay river bottom up stream then rounded along the way. There is a nice mix of clast sizes represented in the wall. The current velocity in that paleo-river obviously carried these pebbles to cobble sizes down river only to dump them here at this spot. That river lost it’s ability to carry this material leaving it behind for me to observe 66 million years later. No fossils in this debris which represents the source’s likely-hood of having bones in the clay. (way long discussion ommitted).
Somewhat more recently, rain water has very carefully washed the sand away from the pebbles showing this well exposed “cobblestone surface that is resultant from that pre-historic river depositional event. Notice I didn’t say “flood”. Floods wash sediment down stream as well as scouring clay chunks out of the floor of the stream. It’s the cessation of that flood that leaves this kind of debris as these transported mud clasts behind. Slower velocity drops the suspended and saltated load instantly. This pile of river gravel was eventually covered by another river cycle of deposition. The next depositional event overlapping rinse and repeat millions of times. The same river swept back and forth across the Cretaceous piedmont filling the epi-continenal sea at the time. Dinosaurs skinny dipped in these rivers sands/cobbles.
Great Blue Herons are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These two are sitting in a fixed up nest that still remained from the year(s) before. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here for Herons. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action.
Absent all winter having migrated to warmer climes, they returned a month ago to start nesting. . These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will. Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants last year included a great horned owl and chick in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter. Raptors fly about harassing the Great Blue Herons.
I find Meadowlarks a difficult critter to photograph. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.
The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.
This guy was very tolerant of my Ford Raptor as it approached. I stopped literally about 20 feet away. Typically, they will fly but he stood at his “post”. At that close distance, with an 1200 mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. All meadowlarks are “flighty”.
As a group they they have been back in this country for 4 weeks as of this post in mid May. This is a bit early based on what I’ve observed the last 2 decades here.
Talk about a long landscape.. This is a VERY long shot… The Pronghorn here (all Males) are traveling but were nice enough to frame themselves at this remote ranch gate. The first ridge out in the “Prairie Dog Hills” is 10 miles distant from my camera. The “Red Hills” off in the distance are 40 miles away from the lens.
It’s obvious that Spring has Sprung. The grass is turning green. It is rocket fuel for the animals that have been eating brown grass all winter. Green season is one of birth and new growth up in a harsh country of long winters and frozen climate. These males survived the long winter this year.
Under this lighting condition, I was lucky to get as much detail as I did. The effect of extreme distance is with a REALLY long telephoto, is that even objects a mile away are in a different focal plain that the distant mountains. I had to resort to a low F-stop number to open up the aperture in the lens to let way more light in. The dark conditions just before the sunrise were such that deep focus was not an option while still capturing moving animals with no blur. I had to cave into the light and use the evil low f-stop number for a long shot. I really don’t like to do that. Rule #2 of Photography is to : “Get the Photo”.
Black and White… Handheld rested truck window, 1200 mm Zeiss/Sony optic/ Sony Alpha 7R4 camera body. This is a single image not a mosaic of the moon as I occasionally do with much higher magnification optics. 18 x 18inches. no sharpening applied thus no resultant artifacts seen so often in other forum posts. As it came off the chip with very minor shadows/highlights contrasting.
NONE of the earth’s current selection of climates would be happening without the moon. Remember the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates. Anybody that talks about the “earth’s climate” is full of hooey to begin the discussion. (say’s the old paleontologist). ⚒⚒⚒
(Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).
The moon is our planets protector. It’s moving mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Maintaining the earths 3D relationship to the sun means stability. Stability means life can develop. Too much variability is a problem…
Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)
The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary to stabilize the Tilt of our planet like a stable slow motion gyroscope. (Tilt relative to the “Ecliptic” (another good look up). Most scientists will agree with me to say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. IT does wander over time BTW but a long time…🤔👀
Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky all year.
Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸
Location: A little over Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) plus pretty much every where else 😜
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this cellulose frame moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Any photo is a balancing act inside the camera of just three settings. This is not going to happen in any camera in manual mode. To work this kind of image, it would be necessary to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along.
I find that pointing cameras into the sun gives me several different color casts from burnt Umber to Crimson (like this one). What I was hunting for here was the Edge Reflections from the grass around the suns periphery. The hightlight are awesome to me in this very intense camera environment. Working outside the envelope is always my goal unless there is something really cool in the envelope. .😜
Disclaimer. I only use Mirrorless cameras where I look at what I point my camera at through VIDEO. A standard DSLR camera I will never use or buy again. There is a BIG difference between the two technologies. A very good Pandemic feel good present for any photo bug out there is a new mirrorless body to fit their old lenses. They are easier to learn on no question over a DSLR camera. I buy camera backs as disposables but lenses last for generations. Looking at the sun directly through a standard DSLR camera can and likely will blind you. If it doesn’t do that, it could burn a hole in your cameras digital chip. If your camera isn’t rated for this, don’t do it. Be safe out there. Pointing at the sun with a telephoto is OUTSIDE the safe envelope for most cameras.
With a pink “Belt of Venus” twilight sky behind, the Male Great Blue Heron brings the sticks to it’s mate. The female builds the next and this is a brand new nest for 2020. There are at least 6 other nests in this treeline for these 5x5x5 birds. (5 foot tall, 5 foot wingspan, and 5 pounds). They are basically dinosaurs without teeth and tail in this paleontologists opinion. Tough light to freeze a flying flapping bird…
Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the Raptor and Owl Nests as well. Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.
I am able to see clearly all 7 nests in this “rookery” at this early date. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. The leaves will obfuscate most of the nests from my long lenses (150 yards across a lake and 50 feet up this Cottonwood)
These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.
Upcoming in the next few months…. (from late last summer 2019)
Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this storm sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.
I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. YGoing up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.
You might also notice if you look carefully….that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.
This White Tail Deer doe was literally moving out. Running with a small group racing across the road in front of my truck. Caught here just as she came over the road hump to run into the compression of the ditch. The physics of this moment caused my eyes to widen. I’d be plowing into the far bank of the ditch…. Not this little gal…
Seeing the situation develop ahead of time, I managed to pull a 45 degree turn in the road while stopping. This gave my lens a clear field of view to the group. Having only a few seconds, I’m known to have cameras pre-set up for the lighting of the moment. This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder.
Whitetail turn this wonderful light tan color in the spring. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I really don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them as they are WAY spookier than Mule Deer. I’ve heard that when Whitetail move into an area, the Mule Deer move out. I see the Whitetail leave each winter migrating to lower climates in the drainage. The Mule Deer overwinter in this high ridge grass prairie having the whole ranch to themselves for 7 months of the year.
This is 10 minutes before sunrise this early spring morning when i ran across this fellow. He was actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local critters are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol. Pronghorn are way more tolerant before Civil Twilight that after.
This country is big. I drove about 2 miles out into the backcountry to have this guy cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Orange Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Orange is the surviving Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere. Th ere is was reflected from atmospheric ice acting like a projector screen.
There is no snow here at the moment as this posts. . ….for late April. We have had BIG snows in early May…… It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in the high Wyotana borderlands can be harsh at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
I was on a mission communicated clearly/assigned to me by my dogs. It was of their need for an “urgent trip” to “Go Outside” This little 220 pound Corso Mastiff had the look of a 5 year old on stage that “has to go”. He was sure he was going to “make a mess” and definitely went through the his “get my attention” routine. So while they are genuflecting to my greatness in operating the door, I was trying to get my coat on and gather a camera. The latter activity is a standard procedure along with strapping a good side arm.
So I get outside with the 2 dogs that claimed they “had to go”. Well they sort of said that. At any rate, the Male heads out and spies one of our ranch cats outside. All pretense of “I gotta go dad” when right out of the discussion. The cat was post holing across the yard occassionally shaking a paw with ice where it isn’t supposed to be. Suddenly the sat spies the dog that was already at speed moving in his general direction. The Female could have cared less and actually had “to go” oblivious to the chase just beginning.
Now if you consider this big fellow like a bear, you know to run downhill and turn at the last second. That strategy worked pretty well until it made the decision to climb up the tree to get out of reach. I caught the scene at the final standoff. I think the cat came out of it pretty well considering 😜📸
It seems to me that his is a pretty good actor. Had to go huh???.
The Three Sisters were one of the landmarks well known to those on the pioneer migrations. They could be “seen for a hundred miles” from afar. While navigating the open prairie over two track trails rutted from the wagon in front of you. Out of the morning mist, something you have just read about appears in front of you. Three Sisters were back lit up by alpenglow and the rising sun far off screen left. Also Known as the Missouri Buttes. They were an important landmark to the old wagon trains and settlers out in this country. It took a while to get from Saint Louis to this spot.
This taken a few weeks from now back in 2019 and just finished. Just at sunrise far to my left.
The Curved trail of red crushed “clinker” rock leads to an abandoned homestead in the middle of a BIG grassy area stretching 30 miles to the Sisters. The old homestead at at this location burned down many years ago. Like so many other places it was absorbed into a larger ranch. Our ranch has at least 4 old homesteads within a few miles of us. All abandoned from when this remote country didn’t have electricity or phone. Those conveniences didn’t come in to the many areas around here until the ranchers put up the poles and ran the wires back in the 50’s and 60’s.
You all have a great day and be safe in your abode…
Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road. Campbell County Wyoming.
Now you see why I maintain a network 29 game trail cameras. It’s a lot of work lolol. Well worth it. Every once in a while, I get an up close and personal face that I could never get at distance. Long lenses are one thing, getting close to a wild Coyote in the backcountry is not going to happen very much. I occasionally run upon a Coyote that is curious about my rig with my yellow flashing light running. (2 times).
The captures I get from these automatic cameras never fail to amaze me in their candid nature. Natural faces doing natural behavior. I’m thinking this male heard the 360 degree camera rotate into position to capture him. He turned in curiousity to see what the noise was. Flashing in an image balloon over his head popped up a “breakfast” as a vision…. I’m sure he was disappointed, continuing on with his Coyote business.
The quality of Game Trail Camera captures varies widely. This one is only an 18 inch square aspect. I usually don’t take them larger… Running these game trail cameras all year long, I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is the issue . They keep on recording/clicking though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off repeatedly wearing down the battery. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them. Location: