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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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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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Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles
Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

JUST as the sun came up, lighting up that 15 mile distant ridge. Bright sunlight was about 10 feet over my head at the time. Less than aminute before I was lit up by the sun for my timeline.. In the distance the bright was working it’s way down the hill sides. The rain in the distance was far enough away to be a worth telephoto image. I was well over 200 yards out from Momma Angus to get her in focus along with the background with this long lens. 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 fstop 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 the cow. Any movement from her would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto (rested).

Title: Sheet Rainbow at 15 Miles

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Wetlands Under Crimson Twilight

Wetlands Under Crimson Twilight
Wetlands Under Crimson Twilight

Wetlands Under Crimson Twilight

Living up on a high ridge allows for local streams / drainage incise (cut down) and make deep gullies. This dam was built some time in the last 100 years. I have heard no oral history of it’s timeline. This is on State Land adjacent to my ranch. A pretty good sized lake sits just above this first ridge. The lake pictured here is a wet area below that lake. Soaking water through the sands leaking onto this ground. The water level in the ground is high here. Traveling through this backcountry is a challenge to say the least ….

Mitten Butte, the pyramidal shaped butte sitting right frame . It is not a volcano though we have some volcanic necks in this country (Devil’s tower and Missouri Buttes). Formed because of a resistant to erosion cap rock protects all the rocks under it. There is about 400 feet between this drainage low area to the tip of that hill. 40 stories of topographic relief here. Following this deep gully up stream is indeed an interesting 4 wheel drive as that country is BIG back there. Lots of ups and downs and few straight paths. You have to drive the “topo lines” a lot of the time and go way around things. It’s 10 miles to the nearest ranch in that direction. This is very much hard to travel across this scar in the hillside.

I often drive up into remote topographic cul-de-sacs. I’ll start out, go into an area to travel through, but the ground is such that “you can’t get there from here”. lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Wetlands Under Crimson Twilight