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Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped
Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

I can’t tell you how many have inquired how the “REALLY” fat pregnant Pronghorn Doe is doing. Well here she is with her brood. I understand that female Pronghorn release 6 eggs which all fertilize. She sheds the ones her body determines she can’t take care of based on the environment. Last year was a very green year. This year is a grasshopper year. Cutting grass early this year is the game before the grasshoppers eat it all up.

At any rate, I’m able to approach this female closely as you know if you are following me. That feeling transmitted quickly to the young ones. At first they were a little wary of this big black Ford F-150 raptor around them. Before long I had circled around them to get them fully in the sun. What was really hard was catching them all 4 together. Watching the group for about 1/2 hour, I only caught this one image of them all bunched up. Typically the fawns were being kids exploring and jumping around like all juvenile animals on the plains.

I have MANY image from this timeline. It’s not often I’m tolerated so well by a Pronghorn group. I hope this relationship continues all summer unaltered. We are about to cut the hay in this field so they will move. I’ll have to figure out where they moved to though. That may take a while as this is a big place. I know where they water though which is a good place to start. 🤔 👀 📷

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

Title: Pretty Pregnant Pronghorn Popped

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Emergency Stimulus Check

Emergency Stimulus Check
Emergency Stimulus Check

Emergency Stimulus Check

Let me start out by saying every number on this check but the date and amount has been changed for this image. . I didn’t take a great amount of time doing it perfectly either lol. That would have taken some time. None of the routing or account numbers are even close to the original. This is “Basically” how the original looked but is as much as I would mess with such things. Illusion… Strictly VOID

Just reporting that the Economic Impact Check to compensate us for ….. what ever….. arrived. It just was deposited into a cloud funds that generally run the ranch. We are building a second greenhouse for about the same money as this check. So maybe that project was funded by this. Growing food with this funding is leveraging the funds. Those gardens will produce value for many years.

As a photographer, this would BARELY buy a good professional camera back for instance let alone a purchase lens with it. Parents, you want to get your kids into either photography OR firearms. Both shoot things, are a similar hand eye coordination skill sets. Even better, they cost a lot of money to play. They will never have money for drugs if you start them young on either “hobby”. Just saying.

So at any rate, I’m building a small above ground (for a change) greenhouse. I’m starting to engage a local hardware store buying posts/panels/wood chips/mulch/PVC and I suspect I will spend “Stimulus Check” much before the project is done. It’s growing vegi’s now. We all need to start producing stuff guys….. Collectively we can win this. Food I grow is food I don’t have to buy from the system freeing up food for others.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Emergency Stimulus Check

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Three Pronghorn Shortly

Three Pronghorn Shortly
Three Pronghorn Shortly

Three Pronghorn Shortly

Holy Pregnant Pronghorn. This gal is so pregnant she looks like one of those balloon animals I’ve seen in various cartoons. Just about ready to float above the water hole 4 legs up in the air. Not the fastest land animal in North America at the moment eh?

I’ve taken a few images of pregnant does before and they don’t typically get this big. This may be one of those “does this coat make my butt look fat” moments. Damned if you tell the truth and damned if you lie. There are certain situations in life where there are no correct responses. I’m thinking that within the month there will be three as she has to have a pair of buns in that oven. They usually have twins during a “good” year. It was a long but relatively warm winter for the now miserable mother to be.

Pronghorn birth after both Whitetail and Mule deer in June. That means that by the time this posts, at least a few pronghorn fawns will be scattered around the prairie. This necessitates a great deal of “watching” out in the grass ahead of what ever I’m driving. I’ve seen them in two tracks and even on county gravel roads hiding as a small motionless lump. I’d rather not find one with my vehicle. So for the next few weeks I’ll be treading lightly watching for baby Pronghorn in the grass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Three Pronghorn Shortly

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Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette
Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.

All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.

Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜

Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.

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

Title: Shaded Sunrise Snaggy Silhouette

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Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal
Lady Bug Yellow Petal

Lady Bug Yellow Petal

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Lady Bug Yellow Petal

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Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road
Pass on Trail Creek Road

Pass on Trail Creek Road

I love the lighting on this red gravel road in remote Wyotana. Golden hour a week or so back…

The High country here in my part of Wyotana has rare arteries of easy gravel travel sparsely dispersed. One path often looks like another. It’s often hard to get there from here. Turning east on a local gravel road may end up taking you north so driving by dead reckoning might live up to its name. I have a name for tourists using GPS as their only source of direction finding. IT’s called “Death by GPS”. I’ve had GPS in several vehicles tell me to turn in places that lead to nowhere. I don’t trust GPS very much without some secondary information confirming the computer… Being led into a Cul-de-sac is not ideal for cross country travel in my experience. With all the visitors planning backcountry trips….

True Local Story: A semi-truck driver from urban Illinois was following his GPS around the backcountry. He went by my place and took a turn into a 100 square mile cul-de-sac into the backcountry to our west. Well it was summer time, 95 degrees, mid-day, sunny. He high centered his rig trying to turn around 5 miles into the middle of nowhere. Stuck He had little water and had to walk almost 2 hours to get to the first shade shelter which had no water. By the time he got to the first ranch and found a hose with some shade, it was a close call. He missed a solar well on my property by about 800 yards. It took him 6 hours to get a ride. He was SOOOOO lucky. As I say, Death by GPS….

No one knew he was there. You need to know your route, use a compass, plus the compass in your head, make sure you are expected at your destination and someone knows where you intend to go. Try not to deviate from that plan. Have days of fluids too…. Just some advice from a long term Wyotana backcountry geologist/explorer. It’s hard to argue with hard paper maps.

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

Title: Pass on Trail Creek Road

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Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business
Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed that sheath yearly. I seldom find them… They don’t shed them here, they migrate south and drop them in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands.

While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers however are bone.

Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . The horn composed of a slender/flattened blade of bone grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. Retained the core is. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand.

“Clever Girl” my black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated.. . The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spent some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow.

Local animal groups are becoming used to me. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these and other magnificent animals. I can occasionally circle even the Pronghorn groups to properly get light plus closer, closer, closer…. Captures like this will make their way into my work flow and get posted. I am currently 10 days out from taking a photo to it being posted. 📷👀

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Tending to Business

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Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords
Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

These 3 younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. Taking turns with male aggression. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner taking all in the long run.

These Bucks actually get along pretty well in the “Boys Club” they hang in most of the year. But this is as close to a full blown organized training session I’ve seen this year. Getting ready for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, annual Pronghorn all male review for a party of just the Does. Hot and heavy in the fall, it’s a yearly thing up here… So turns the wheel of life. 🤘📸

So on an overcast tuesday HIGH up on a backcountry Ridge was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut. It can really be violent when big Pronghorn Bucks cross swords. It’s all fun and game until someone puts out an eye!.

. Probably 4 year olds. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred. All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment.

They all migrated over a month ago from about 30 miles south from the Thunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds with thousands in the larger Grassland area where they overwinter. I once had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here for the last 2 years. . He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as a pronghorn can be tolerant. Grunt was a nice buck too. 😔

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn Bucks Crossing Swords

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Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex
Powder River Training Complex

Powder River Training Complex

We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.

These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.

“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘

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

Title: Powder River Training Complex

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Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych
Happy Herons Pair Diptych

Happy Herons Pair Diptych

These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree. This Pair has set up shop with the left bird returning from a hunting trip. For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. The nest is just off frame right. I am lucky to have the topography such that I can get to their height across a lake from their nesting site. I am about 150 yards out for this capture.

Blue Herons eat a pile of fish…. but its diet also includes frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even small mammals if they are in striking distance. While it’s pointy dagger like beak has developed for catching prey, an unusual tongue also helps. No teeth in that mouth though their avian dinosaurian ancestors certainly had teeth lining that mouth cavity. The hunting behavior was handed down generation after generation though and these guys are exemplar walking metaphors to dinosaurs. Some did survive the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous after all… The avian dinosaurs 🤔

Herons whole anatomy is all about fishing along wetland edges though. They even have specially adapted neck vertebra/muscles that enable them strike like a rattler at prey but they don’t usually catch and release lolol. I note that catch and release is a human invention not seen in nature unless you consider cat’s playing games with their prey……

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

Title: Happy Herons Pair Diptych

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Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead
Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

First note the jet contrail against the left side of this frame. It clearly curves around the HUGE Mesocyclone to the right of frame that was terrorizing Sundance and Newcastle Wyoming at the time. I was driving to Gillette through the Thunderbasin National Grasslands driving around it too . Smart Pilot there lolol. The road I’m on is about a 20 mile gravel trip to get to the 2 lane concrete highway traveling that direction. I usually run into something very Wyoming down there and this is no exception.

To see a storm that large mid day is not good news for those east of there under it’s influence. They have a presence you have to be near to understand but lets just say they intrude on your personal space from a long way’s away. 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.

These monsters are the source of most of the “bad weather” we experience in Wyotana during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. That energy is released over time but it’s still a LOT of kenetic and potential energy up there. They take their own time over where ever they travel.

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

Title: Detour Big Mesocyclone Ahead

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Green Season in Wyotana

Green Season in Wyotana
Green Season in Wyotana

Green Season in Wyotana

Thank god, been waiting for this a while…. (since OCT 1, 2019). The water falling is washing away the brown to leave the green underneath. This must be why all the flood water is brown downstream right? 😜📷

With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground. I consider winters here easy.

I spent a decade living / working in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course. I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

Title: Green Season in Wyotana

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Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight
Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

This kind of capture is why I run a network of high quality game trail cameras (29 currently) to catch some of the inhabitants of my ranch in a more candid way. I watched this MeadowLark time and time again land on this post with animals crossing the funnel this gate creates. This one is the best by far. Pure infra-red Game Trail Camera capture in a very early twilight environment.

Photograhers notes:

Each game trail camera (GTC) image is problematic from a professional photo finishing standpoint. Let’s just say these images from the GTC take a while in the digital darkroom to get them to my current standards lol. The problem with Game cameras on automatic is I have no real control over the lighting adjustment. Low med and high lolol.

Apparently it just got this below that low light threshold and was still in black and white. The only parameters you can control with most game trail cameras is 3 levels of exposure and IR sensitivity for detection of animal movement. Placement of the camera…. I find this is by far the most important thing. Composition of the shot and having a funnel or attraction to have the animals go to where the camera is actually pointing is the baby. Set up those wildlife funnels.

Have a great evening this Tuesday night and be safe out there. It’s an interesting world you guys live in.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Deer and Meadowlark Watching Twilight

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Like Flowers Against the Storm

Like Flowers Against the Storm
Like Flowers Against the Storm

Like Flowers Against the Storm

Standing strong against the elements here on the Mt / Wy border the Tulips expect there to be hard times. They store reserves in their bulbs and are tolerant of the stress to a “degree” or so lol. It will be close to the last day of frost here in zone 3A on May 15th a few days after this posts. We have planted vegetable starts a month ago in the ranches underground Walipini Greenhouse. I have hundreds of starts to plant. But they are NOT outside just yet. I have preying mantis eggs in the refrigerator to keep them from hatching just yet. In about a month I’ll buy about 20K lady bugs for the developing gardens….

The weather this spring has been variously warm and dry. There is not enough water so far based on my observations for the last 2 decades. I’d even take a few inches of snow at the moment though leaves on the trees and bushes are seriously starting to bust out of their buds. Hopefully, this trend will change at least back to the normal of 14 inches of rain a year or more.

Our latest gardening project has been 10 new 8’x4′ raised bed gardens and a roof rain water collection system with a 1000 gallon water tower. I’ll have images of this as it is finished about a week from when this posts. Unlike some places, there is not regulation of water collected on the roof in Wyoming or Montana. I’m still scratching my bald head over that reasoning. Now you know why I’m mostly bald with all the things I’ve seen in my travels…. 🤔👀

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

Title: Like Flowers Against the Storm

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Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan
Great Blue Heron Wingspan

Great Blue Heron Wingspan

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 missing Great Horned Owl Nest 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. Earlier this season before leaves are in the way, I am able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. 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. They are sitting on eggs currently It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Great Blue Heron Wingspan

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Forest Fire Smokey Skies

Forest Fire Smokey Skies
Forest Fire Smokey Skies

Forest Fire Smokey Skies

With forest fires way to our west this last summer, some of the sunsets were seriously moderated by the smoke. Any particulates in the atmosphere will act as a defacto filter that reduces overall light along with a color filter. Low in the atmosphere, all colors but the red were effectively prevented from making it to my camera by the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Normally Yellow light would be a component of the lowest sun but not under these extreme conditions. Up higher in the sky the RELATIVELY unfiltered light was blue (ish). The smoke effecting the sky show from top to bottom. I’m not looking forward to fire season this year. It has been very dry so far heading into early summer shortly.

In all fairness, last summer was a better fire year “up here” though some local smaller fires broke out. We were wet all summer thank heavens. Unfortunately, places like California Burned but we were mostly out of the serious smoke from those events. I’ve seen HORRIBLE air quality here from forest fires west of us . We’ve had days where it was just plain unhealthy to go outside.

The only good part about the big unchecked fires brought on by mismanagement of the forest litter, is the wonderful photographs they bring on downrange of the fires. Having fought a few fires over the years, I will tell you they are terrifying. If you’ve ever seen a 200 year old 50 foot tall pine torch and was fighting that fire anyway, you might be my friend.

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

Title: Forest Fire Smokey Skies

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Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer
Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

Boy talk about attitude…..👅 . I actually don’t see this too much. Blue Tongue to the wind is something that might happen every few minutes. They don’t lick a lot I’m thinking….

This is a Pronghorn. It is not an “Antelope” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…

The best way to tell a male is to look for a black cheek patch under the ear. This is a female sans the patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. They take about 20 foot long single strides when running . These guys own the title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands of their foothills.

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

Title: Pronghorn Razzing the Photographer

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Many Layers of Twilight

Many Layers of Twilight
Many Layers of Twilight

Many Layers of Twilight

Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.

This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.

Photographic Musings:

This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Many Layers of Twilight

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Last Gasp of the Winter

Last Gasp of the Winter
Last Gasp of the Winter

Last Gasp of the Winter

This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.

The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.

Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.

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

Title: Last Gasp of the Winter

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Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture
Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture

These guys are ghosts anyway. At 2 PM on a moonless overcast night, this Coyote was prowling around one of the ranches well treed washes. Several miles into the backcountry my Trail Camera String of 29 rigs (as of spring 2020) has a great capture every now and then. This pregnant female is a good indicator that the species will survive way up here on the high ridges of the MT/WY borderlands.

If I am smarter than the Wiley Coyote caught here, I anticipate where they will walk, place my Trail Camera at 18 inches (hopefully above the flat snow level). I find 18 inches is about perfect for most work. Putting these cameras in the perfect place is a matter of looking for and finding signs of animal heavy use. The cattle pressure up here obliterates or obfuscates a lot of subtle animal signs/marks/tracks. I also try to figure out where I’d go if I were a Coyote . I’m not aware of ANY dens ON the ranch. Surrounding ranches I’ve generally been on but haven’t searched as well as I’ve looked about my ground. This is BIG country with lots o’ hidy-holes.

According to the camera, it was 5 degrees F with a new moon when this image was taken. Game Trail Camera Captures using Infrared vision/flash are ALL grainy and lumpy. This is because there is literally no light at this capture. It was likely black as pitch in a box on the top shelf of the basement closet.😜📸

The 200 dollar game trail camera does a lot better in this environment than any several thousand dollar pro camera lolol… Still the relative quality is of a newspapers low resolution dither of dots….. Tough in pitch black lolol.

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

Title: Infra-red Coyote Capture

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Moon Sign

Moon Sign
Moon Sign

Moon Sign

Right Turn “Clyde” series…. (Lot’s of detail in that dark )

This was less than easy to do. Handheld long lens rested on the Ford Raptor’s open door, (Clever Girl herself) with the 48 inch Rigid LED light bar lighting up the reflective sign. The trick of course is to get back far enough to get both objects in the infinite focal length. Then you still have to place enough light on the sign…. Now I handicapped myself by sticking with the truck. I could have walked back another 100 yards with a monopod and still have the same light on the sign.. I’m not always tolerant of windy/cold and this was a windy/cold night. Taken about an hour and 20 minutes AFTER sunset, the only real sources of light was the 98 percent April (Pink) Moon and my headlight. That is a dark night sky behind.

There were stars but even this crazy high dynamic range camera couldn’t sense/see them. The clouds right around the moon that were lit up, made it into the cameras data stream. Getting any detail around a moon of such wispy clouds scantily covering a moon is not something I’m able to accomplish some nights. Very very iffy that process. I’m thinking an average cell phone is not going to capture this.

This April 2020’s moon was every present for 4 photo-sessions in a row. I can’t remember a full moon interval where I’ve gotten to work it so much. The April supermoon, our orbiting partner was as close as it gets this year to the earth for this.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Sign

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Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

Young Pronghorn Buck Profile
Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed the sheath yearly.

While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers howeverare made of bone

Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . Each horn is composed of a slender, flattened blade of bone. That grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. It is retained. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand.

My black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated. The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spend some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow. Local groups will become used to me by the beginning of the summer. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these magnificent animals. They will make their way into my work flow. 📷👀

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

Title; Young Pronghorn Buck Profile

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130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns
130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns

Imagine what a pioneer traveling to those peaks with an ox cart thought when he saw this vista. 🤔👀

Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.

I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains. Closed to the sun that window was that night. It hid far to the right off frame. The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange colorcas. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.

Only lasting a few minutes. The sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this month of the ranch which will slowly work their way into my work flow here.

The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: 130 Miles to the BigHorns

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Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Raptor Dive Bombing Heron
Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

Photobombing Hawk. This image is so deep it almost looks almost fake to me but I swear I did NOTHING to this other than some shadow work to bring out some hidden details under the birds wings. The edge detail on those birds is just SPOT on focus as fine as I have ever seen at this 150 – 200 yard distance. The trees behind were blurred (bokeh) as I relented F-stop/depth of focus for gaining shutter speed here. I gained sharpness doing so in the zone that is in focus. The lighting was early morning hard right over my shoulder. I’m thinking the “field of focus’ is maybe 4 feet deep at this distance. The 3-D appearance of this stunned me in it’s depth. Closing speed has got to be 100 MPH. Both birds were cruising with the hawk veering away the last second!

Calling this unlikely would be an understatement lol. I was tracking the Heron with a partner of his across the tree line. 50 feet high Cottonwoods house their nests. A 1200 mm lens, 28 inches long resting on my trucks glass. (lens is padded) I saw them incoming a ways off . Fortunately I had a few seconds to “spin the dials” in anticipation of a 1/2000th sec shutter speed. (see above for some more camera on manual mode hints) So I got lucky on the light. I was “machine gunning” the camera rapid fire. I also caught this raptors partner diving in as well but it is well out of focus in that capture. A total of 3 hawks dove at this Heron Pair that had already claimed a nesting spot on the trees. They are all building nests at the moment down at the ranches wetlands.

Raptor War: This week I found a Red Tailed Hawks body at the base of the tree the Heron’s nest in. Photo of such on my web gallery. It lays there still as it’s illegal to collect any piece part or even a feather of a Raptor or most other migratory non game birds. (Fed Laws) I’ve seen Herons there every year for 20 years.

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

Title: Raptor Dive Bombing Heron

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Two Pronghorn One Butt

Two Pronghorn One Butt
Two Pronghorn One Butt

Two Pronghorn One Butt (Illusion)

I usually don’t take too many photo’s of Pronghorn walking away. I was watching these young buck wander off and hit the machine gun button on my camera. From my perspective, they were swerving back and forth. It appeared a semi-drunken path as the cattle trail pulled them side to side. The way their color is, blending is part of their evolutionary camo plan. A wonderful color scheme as they really blend into this country. Thusly produced a seamless illusion of “Siamese Twins” I don’t get a chance at too many of these.

Graphic Artist note:

I could have EASILY removed the extra legs but I think they are fine so you can see what’s going on. I get this kind of alignment occasionally. More so from HEHIND lolol. I’ve even built images similar to this for fun. This one is legit and unmolested.

Photographic Musings:

Boy are these Sony Alpha 7R4’s fast on the trigger with a 60 meg .jpg resultant each click. 📷👀 Machine gunning cameras that produce big files is costly to backup and store. I do fill up 32Gig cards with these things. Usually in about an hour and a half’s work on a normal day out in the backcountry. I always run into something interesting out there.

Long Lenses Crush Perspective tremendously. Far and near objects become “closer” in the frame through them. Long telephotos are tricky to use versus wide angle short lenses. They are very sensitive to motion.

Location: my backyard at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Two Pronghorn One Butt

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Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond
Reflections Moon Icy Pond

Reflections Moon Icy Pond

The ephemeral wetlands of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, entertain many reflections every day but you have to be there at the right time to capture those photons that are worth catching…. The winds were somewhere else as the water here was mirrored as smooth as it gets. Dead calm air is quite unusual up in this high ridge line country. The ice floating on the surface of this rapidly depleting due to the warmth… Melt water pond will be here but a few more weeks. This water level is quickly dropping soaking into the Hell Creek Formation sands underlaying this spot.. There is NO snow left to melt up the hill from it. Nothing to feed it further so I’m expecting it to disappear shortly.

This nearly full March Worm Moon that evening a few weeks ago was a beautiful sight rising just a few minutes before sunset. I worked it with 4 cameras/lenses over about 30 minutes. I have a few photos to finish from the “sitting” lol. The “Golden Hour” lighting tinting everything an orange hue that is classic for the timing of the sunset ongoing over my left shoulder. The sky show there is a subject for another post another day. Seeing the full moon while the sun is still up only occurs for a few days a month, perhaps 4 chances during the month.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, (pretty much directly ON the Montana/Wyoming border, the 45 parallel, precisely 1/2 way between the north pole and the equator. Exactly🤔

TItle: Reflections Moon Icy Pond

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Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club
Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

The Tres Amigo’s here are walking back home from a long winter down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands.

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Scruffy Pronghorn Boys Club

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Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water
Reflections Over Melt Water

Reflections Over Melt Water

On a glass Melt Water Pond, high on a ridge that straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, this water from a nearby grassy field. Formerly snow earlier that morning, this melt accumulated very quickly. Nearly 60 degree days lately. Over several hundred acres covered by a foot of snow will fill a good sized pond lol.

So the wind was becalmed and the correspondingly glassy surface of the melt water provided an amazing mirror. It would have faithfully reflected what was beyond for the cameras. So I decided to drive my new truck into the pond and mess up the surface. (I know the bottom). One shot is all you get at this…

Driving through water:

I’ve never had a wheel slip in mud with this truck. As all 35 inch tires are in various 4×4 driving modes. Ford F-150 Raptors are complex and amazing to this old school 4×4 driver . If there is a cooler factory Baja capable truck made anywhere, I’d love to drive it. It’s perfect for what I require to get me into places where most vehicles won’t AND keep me fairly comfortable. My old Jeep Grand Cherokee would get me anywhere. It would just throw you around inside lol.

I like the view this ground has of the horizon. It has a very thin lake shore making it’s horizon band across the image. I’m very aware this is a “Halfie” which is like photographers rule #237. Never have your horizon across the Center. At least it’s level and I never worried much about rules. It’s best not to know about them sometimes as you can’t break them if you don’t know about them…. Right? 😜👀

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

Title: Reflections Over Melt Water

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Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset
Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.

The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.

Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.

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

Title: Deer Watching the Frosty Sunset

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Corral with a View

Corral with a View
Corral with a View

Corral with a View (Moon Setting from my side yard. )

Back in the cold January of 2020, we had a little more snow on the ground that we do now in Mid-March 2020 as this posts. This is a corner of our corral system from just inside the fence of our front yard. Looking west this small part of the corral system. This enclosure was being used to keep some 1200 pound hay bales. Safety from the small herd of Corriente’ Longhorns we keep about. Corriente’ cattle are seriously able to take care of themselves in the winter. Like Bison they paw at the snow to expose the grass under the blanket. Angus and most purebred domestic breeds lack enough instinct to perform this task.

The mountains in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. The Little Powder River Basin between myself and the Red Hills. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming ridge.

This Waning Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. This was a full moon a few short days ago. I chase the moon from time to time. Here such that it is in the same image as the Pink Blush from the “Belt of Venus”. A variety of Alpenglow . Sunrise over my shoulder with a pink back show. If your going to be “Stuck” in a corral as stock, it might as well have a great view. 😜📸

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

Title: Corral with a View