So I’m collecting game trail camera chips, replacing batteries on 29 planted cameras out on the ranchlands. I have a habit of placing a good camera on fence braces which stick up above the wire being the highest things around. Then I take into account the amount of bird poop on the post. I have my own scale for such things as I have many more fence braces than cameras lol. Most big birds flare out to burn off speed just before they land so aim lower than the top of the post. I split the difference and give myself a “halfie where the image is 1/2 horizon, 1/2 grass. (shaking head side to side).
This has to be the single best game trail camera photo I’ve collected in years of images from my network. The Prairie Falcon volunteered for this one. An event like this is strictly random on the birds part. Setting the camera up just right is about the only control I have over the daytime operation of these things. I had 780 images on this particular chip. I pulled a few Pronghorn images, I was just about done with the batch, this popped up. My eye’s popped out and I started laughing. In the scheme of things, I will be hard pressed to get luckier than this. The Raptor was captured landing August 28th at 4 pm by the automatic Game Trail Camera.
Now if you say this looks pretty good for a game trail camera. It took me an hour in the digital dark room to clean up most of the problems affiliated with such cameras. They make a very messy, noisy, artifact covered image to my standards. Now this is an 18×18 inch file after I finished with it. :).
Abundant Pronghorn live on the western plains. One of their major wildlife refuges is the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. Made up of several blocks of land just to our south, the Grasslands are huge. All these animals migrated from the federal land refuge in the spring to pasture on the surrounding privately owned ranchlands. Summer pastures versus winter pastures. These animals have been doing this for the last 10,000 years at least.
This late in the summer, they are starting to group / bunch up. Earlier in the year the does break off to give birth. The males get in small groups. The males will slowly get control over the loose females in their area. Then the serious stuff begins. I count 3 bucks in this group.
The rut is coming very soon and may be happening to one degree or another at the moment. I’m not sure what the rough environment this year had on their activities but I usually get close to rutting activity. Trail Cameras do work for me 24/7 and I get a lot of opportunity to see Pronghorn in and around the ranch. I see some groups two times a day. Depending on how they are feeling, occasionally I get lucky and can move in close. When the groups are this big though, they get collectively and synergistically jumpy. Life in an ocean of grass.
Of course this is very dark. It looked like a refrigerator bulb across the yard. ONLY the red through yellow wavelengths were making it. Not many of those either. This reminded me of the Eclipse we witnessed down at Douglas Wyoming a few years back. The way the subdued lighting had everything awake but on hold. Almost like a pause before the curtain opens for the screen play to follow.
We’ve had smoke for two weeks now and I’ve worked every terminator crossing (look that up if you don’t know it) during that interval. Except this AM as I type this. A small cloud system came in and blocked my eastern view with nothing but a gray slate screen. Sort of like the internet was down in the denial. I was so used to getting up and about, shock to my system…. The nights are very short in the summer. It’s a good thing I don’t need much more than 4 hours of sleep. (as long as I get a nap during the day lol).
I’ve spent a good deal of time doing photography these days. This intense a smoke pall for so long is fortunately a rare event this severe. This plume(s) is equal or in excess of any I’ve experienced in my 20 years living in Wyotana. It’s been an interesting “disaster” year all around now with twin hurricanes landfalling on the Gulf Coast. I did some post-graduate marine biology teaching down at the Gulf Coast Marine Lab in Ocean Springs Mississippi. Those guy are getting clobbered as I type this. (Shaking head side to side).
At night in the deep backcountry of the Montana / Wyoming borderlands. Surrounded by miles of uninhabited ground. One feels somewhat together with the surroundings. The smells of the evening permeate the light breezes of this evening. The cool air moving in the gullies. A marked chill versus the heat of the day.
The moon was rising on a parallel ridge and I wanted a detailed image of it’s face along with something terrestrial for it to hide behind. I know the moon prefers to hide behind things until it climbs high enough in the sky. It seems harder and harder for it to hide behind terrestrial objects the higher it gets. The “Hide and Seek” game soon ends as the topography ceases to allow such fun. All of us are subject to the rules of the universe. We may or may not understand that depending on our age I have noted. The moon is no exception of course 🤔 😜 .
The vision evolved into a truly orange moon by the time I took this image that night. As it was first rising on the furthest east horizon that night. It was VERY pink that evening. I’ve seen very few pink moons over the years. Surprised by the color I was. Astonished really. Lots of trees in the way of that rising. Not much I could do about it at the time so I moved quickly to a nearby lake and got some good images too. Great timeline in the history of timelines.
I see many things in my backyard. (I have a pretty big backyard). Among the large cast of characters hanging out around our place is this Pronghorn Buck.
This Young buck has pretty tall horns from my limited experience… 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 made of 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 Grand Cherokee 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 summer where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing.
All of my wildlife encounters are random. I’m usually going somewhere on the ranch. As such I always travel backcountry with a box of cameras. I normally only have two cameras when I travel light. I have found that having instant options is a good thing. But then you have to know WHICH camera to grab for a particular scene… 🤔 Rule number one of photography is: “Have a camera with you. “
Killdeers nest on dry ground but you can sure find them wading around like they own the swamp. This Killdeer is hunting for goodies to eat certainly in the marsh. It paused looked, picked a target and beak to the water went for his intended target. Spearing or grabbing a worm along with some mud mixed with cow poop. My camera machine gunning images as it successfully “hunts”. Sucks to be the worm. 😜
The vast majority of Killdeer that live up here don’t get to enjoy water sports very much or so it seems. This is only about a 5 acre lake and adjacent wetland area. Considered a shorebird, this Ringed Plover is actually living up to their reputation. Most of them around “these parts” nest/hunt out on the open grassland / ranch land. Seeds and getting water from isolated stock tanks seems to work just fine for them. They are going to have an easy year with all the grasshoppers eating vegetation up. This has truly been a year to “take a Mulligan”.
Nesting up here they get a lot of elbow room in the grasslands. Technically the Killdeer is a shorebird of which I have many water’s edge photos of adults like this. But they are unusual in that they many times will nest far from shore. The chicks hatching from their relatively large eggs are born with their boots on. The babies are out of the nest as soon as their partially developed feathers dry. Soon they are out of the nest running around. The babies are well worth pursuing with a long lens. What a hoot they are. 😀
I work 5 different cameras for a veiled sunset of a complex sky. This capture taken JUST at the moment when the horizon moved up to support all that weight of our furnace. I’ve never personally picked up a stove that was light but this one sets the standard for mass. It’s mass is 2 x 10 followed by 30 zeros kilograms. It Emits 2.86 x ten followed by 26 zeros of watts in all directions. It is for all intents and purposes our furnace. Without a furnace, our house would be very cold indeed.
All objects from dust to planets in the vicinity of the sun revolve around it. We are tilted about 23.5 degrees to the “Ecliptic” of the solar system (There is your google search word for the day). Controlled by the amount of light we receive, our seasons vary. All controlled by that tilt. It controls the number of hours a day of sun which has a marked effect on warmth received and retained by our environments. Remember that the sun has NO environment. It has ALL environments. So generally anyone talking about “Earths Environment” is full of poo to start their argument. Just saying.
The Summer Solstice here at 45 degrees north latitude exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. If you want to really get into a google subject, search “equi-umbra” sometime and grasp all the iterations. It’s a good 20 minute absorbing science read lol. Enjoy that. I did. 😜 Summer Solstice marks the day the sun starts to set further south each day. So turns the wheel.
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. 🤔 👀 📷
Taken up on the ranch communications tower….. We have to get internet from somewhere now don’t we lolol. Having built this about 12 years ago, I maintain a couple of radio repeaters as our ranch business band radio plus the local 2 meter repeater to the local Ham radio network.
To start with let me say I don’t work with Canon Cameras too much any more but I pulled a 3 year old Canon M50 off the shelf and put a 8mm VERY VERY VERY wide Fisheye lens on it. If you can find one, they are a wonderful camera to learn on. Mirrorless cameras are WAY easier to learn as What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) is the game.
The clouds were patchy with a deep blue sky above. The sun had set but the clouds above were still bright enough to register. Your looking at pretty much of the entire sky here. The old Canon M50 is a wonderful camera but has a smaller image sensor. I use all “Full Frame” (larger image sensor) Sony Alpha 7 series currently and can’t even buy a wider lens than 10 mm for the platform. I would if it were there to buy.
Lenses that are so wide tend to compress the image on the edges. The Image is right at 180 degrees wide at the corners. That is VERY wide for a single image.
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.
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.
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.
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. 📷👀
I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.
I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.
I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.
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. 😔
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. 🤘
Lenticular Clouds are actually not that common from my particular location. I don’t see them too often but here is a lenticular cloud “UFO” that is obviously re-entering the atmosphere. These saucer shaped clouds typically form where clam moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this occurs, a series of large-scale standing waves can form above the mountain’s downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to or below the dew point, moisture in the air will condense to form clouds. Standing waves are lenticular shaped. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into invisible vapor.
UFO talk of late… I feel neglected by ET. No body cares about the 45th parallel when they have the 37th to pay in. (That is a little factoid to follow up on if you don’t know about UFO’s and the 37th parallel…
As a trained observer of nature and science of at least 50 years of my adult life. I’ve never seen any scene in the sky that I could not explain to a reasonable satisfaction. Having extensively photographed sky scenes for many years. Even with quality equipment way back to 1986 and working Halley’s comet. I’ve NEVER seen a UFO. I feel terribly left out. 😔😔😜📸
Getting someone with a science background AND an extensive photographic history with gear in hand to experience a close encounter would be fun. I volunteer but I don’t do well with motion so supply dramamine for warp speed please.
Rest assured that if a UFO that I can’t account for or explain it’s movements, I will have a photo of it that isn’t blurry lolol.
The mountain range on the left Horizon is the 90 mile distant Bear Lodge Mountains laying on the border of South Dakota and Wyoming. The 4 peaks on the right are the three Missouri Buttes with squarish Devil’s Tower between the Bear Lodge and the Buttes. Essentially your looking at the northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming in this image as I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming by about 1 mile.
This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow. Well you know those distant hills as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains.
The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there.
Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns.
Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol. The Bear Lodge Mountains are known as the Wyoming Black Hills and are indeed related to the geologic dome that is the Black Hill Geomorphic Expression in SD and WY. My ranch is on the farthest west edge of that uplift.
Location: Near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
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…. 🤔👀
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.
Jesus Duck to say the least. I’m not sure if much besides his feet are actually in the water. Humans can’t do that lolol. I’m pretty sure he / she was showing off for the two ducks just on shore that were watching this impressive display. I’ve seen ducks do this only a few times. The opportunity to catch one on camera was a pretty rare event I’m thinking….I’m tickled anyway… 😜📸
This was taken last summer as evident by the grassy shores and green reeds bokeh’d in the foreground of the frame. Shooting a long telephoto I sat in my portable blind (my old Jeep Grandcherokee last summer since replaced with a Ford F-150 Raptor). I spent about an hour watching this scene clicking away at the ducks in the water waiting for the Great Blue Herons (my actual targets for this photosession) on this lake. When the Herons show up, I’m generally not pointing at the water very much. The Heron’s nest 50 feet up the Cottonwood trees, the ducks not so much.
Ducks get my attention during the lull in other activities typically. I was focused on this guy swimming only 50 feet away…. It decided to do his Jesus thing and I machine gunned the camera catching this moment in Space and Time. It’s the small things that I really enjoy. I still consider myself as a Landscape Photographer. I am however, an opportunist and fairly quick on the draw with these long lenses.
This is ART… Did I mention this is art? Sometimes I take a few moments to be something other than a photorealistic Landscape Photographer. It keeps Frank from Being a dull boy with all work and no play figuring into my world 😜📸 Well over a dozen faces in this easily…
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it. It’s not just clouds of course. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic. Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. . Looking behind me to the eastern back show a bit after sunset on summers evening is a good habit.
Many photographers get tunnel vision and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. Taking many forms, these billowing clouds can be impressive. The shapes are random but usually fairly consistent in one way or another. I swear on a stack of geology books that I did Everything to this image in the digital darkroom lol. . It’s not a totally natural image.
However, If you look enough at clouds, you see some very odd things 🙂 I simply finished the faces of what I saw in this cloud system.
The hard part is being there with a camera (Rule 1 of Photography).
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Oh the history… Deep in the backcountry of Wyotana, is this old tin covered shack. It was used for many decades. From as early as 1900 some structures survive the years intact out here if the windows remain. Windows generally keep everything wild that might decide to overnight out. Cattle Pressure usually destroys windows in abandoned structure UNLESS they are in a fenced in an enclosure or corral area surrounded by other buildings. This on an abandoned homestead where the main house burned many years ago. It is indeed protected from cattle pressure.
This bunk house housed many hired hands over the years. All working on the larger ranch that used to head quarter at this site. Families came and went with the turning of the calendar. Generations perhaps of cowboys ‘passing through’ on their life journey. Father and son partnering, time passes, as eventually do the keys to the door. The number of boots passing that door must have been countless. Lives long since past. The poker games on the only table. The frost on the window ghosting one of the many hands passed with Aces and Eights. None of us has the perspective of this surviving relic of a past age. But perhaps to be a future alternative to the reality of todays world. We might all circle back to that life again.
Live in “interesting times” :
Maybe boring is better but change is of the essence wafting in the breeze. Not to worry as change has always been part of our existence here. It is as certain as life itself. When we become complacent and “used” to our lives, expect the unexpected. Things sneak up on you otherwise. Suddenly everything your “used” to changes. Then we reflect our thoughts to the stability of the old ways and realize that is where we belong. It is after all where we all came from.
I’m thinking I’m going to start practicing some more 1880’s technology than I already play with…. 🤔
Oh… the image…. Wonderful Alpenglow lights the background on an icy/snowy/frosty winter like spring morning. I love prodigious Alpenglow gradients during late civil twilight ❤️
Location: “Wyotana”, The Montana/Wyoming borderlands…
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.
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.
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. 📷👀
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.