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Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising
Dragon Cloud Rising

Dragon Cloud Rising

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title : Dragon Cloud Rising

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Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border
Frosty Sunrise on the Border

Frosty Sunrise on the Border

This is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. All of this frost has melted since the image was taken but this morning we are hoar frosting again. Foggy and in the clouds as I type this.

A few days of spring return but with mud… There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the south side of trees from this storm. , the sun rising to the south east was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass and the trees. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worthy light.

This is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage (Divide) . This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I am standing in Wyoming and shooting over the Border to Montana in the distance. I usually work ridges in the early spring . I’m trying to get off the county road talking photos but Mud / snow will keep me out of the Backcountry. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges short of me laboriously plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. Slowly but surely, I will have better access away from the main gravel arteries . Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint. Spring storms often shut the door to me. Tis the wet season with more snow falling in the spring than during the winter here.

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

Title: Frosty Sunrise on the Border

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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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Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight
Buck Mule Deer Twilight

Buck Mule Deer Twilight

I see a variety of scenes driving the backcountry. This Mule Deer Buck caught in a mid- twilight Silhouette was up watching the sun go gown with me. He was ridge lined. I was able to maneuver way below him about 200 yards out and Click… Silhouettes of nice bucks are always welcome in my web gallery.

This Mule Deer Buck was definitely aware of me but yet tuned into the sunset. I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain. Then moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….

The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away. They are usually on a parallel ridge. Of coruse they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times. I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Mule Deer Twilight

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I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry
I Love the Backcountry

I Love the Backcountry

What are the chances of finding a heart in the barbed wire miles from anywhere?

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Catching a virtually veiled twilight took considerations for the conditions. . The horizon dropping, exposing the sun with time. It’s civil Twilight still.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded). Twilight is by far the best time of the day for photography. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings.

I’ve seen few aurora but I’ve seen so many twilight sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green at 557 nanometer wavelength. There is little of that hue in any twilight that I have ever seen😜

Twilight gives me a huge variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol. This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Title: I Love the Backcountry

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Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Reflections Melt Water Sunset
Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Reflections Melt Water Sunset

Long Red, Orange and Yellow wavelengths survived the gauntlet of the atmospheric filters present. This lake looks HUGE but I assure you it’s a perspective trick of angle and light. It is a small melt water pond on ranch probably 50 feet across but that is irrelevant to the illusion. If it were not windy that night, this would have been a very nice mirror. I know the bottom here and have driven into this pond before to work it from the center. This is an ephemeral pond that will dry up in the summer. The bottom is firm thick grass.

Reflections from lakes are always darker than the skies they are reflecting. Rippled water presents a smaller surface to reflect the available light so windy surfaces are even more dark. The dynamic range of these Sony Alpha 7 series never fail to amaze me and I’ve used them for 2 years now. I put a lot of clicks on camera bodies lol. Hard use up here in the backcountry. Lots of dust /environmental exposure plus wear and tear.

This location is for all intents and purposes, directly on the Montana/Wyoming border looking almost straight west. As this posts the sun is setting closer and closer to straight west each night until the March 19 at 9:50 PM MST. It will set at 270 degrees that day but just a tad earlier lol. I will be working long east west fence lines for the next few weeks with out a doubt. The sun will be at the end of east/west roads as well. There are so many opportunities over the next week folks, pay attention to sunset and sunrise and where those “leading lines” lead to.

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

Title: Reflections Melt Water Sunset

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Purple Mountains Majesty

Purple Mountains Majesty
Purple Mountains Majesty

Purple Mountains Majesty

Boy this is a classic Pastel Western Mountain Scene. The Big Horn Mountain Chain rises from the between basins on either side of the huge tectonic uplift. A 130 mile long landscape with the first ridge past the trees being 40 miles away from the camera. Take in mid-twilight about 15 minutes after sunset. It was quite dark considering how well this came out.

Photographic Musings:

Perspective’s with a little foreground bokeh (google this) is unavoidable working low light twilight conditions. This pastel scene was difficult to get as I didn’t have a tripod with me at that time. I was just resting them camera on a vehicle body.

The only ways to gain light in your camera working in low light is, to either 1: turn down your f-stop numbers (open the aperture up which as a side effect, reduces your depth of field), 2: longer exposure (I was rested only, no tripod so 1/10th of a second is about as long as you can do rested. That is holding the back of the camera while resting the lens on something. OR 3: Turn up camera sensitivity which will give you lower quality grainy images to gain light by a Higher ISO number. Lower ISO’s will give you a fine grained image but it takes more ambient light than this to use.

I had to give in somewhere, f-stop it was. Turn it down to f11 on this 400 mm telephoto lens capture.

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

Title: Purple Mountains Majesty

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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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

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

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

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

Title: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills
Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

This is a diptych left right pair image consisting of 2 – 20 inch squares. I really adore natural pastel colorations when they occur in Alpenglow. This is a north view looking across the Wyoming Montana border (trees are in Wyoming, mountains in Montana). Posted as second image of this mountain chain through these trees that I posted today. Please take the time to look at the other one and compare.

Most of the Great Master Painters of their day composed their art redoing over and over many scenes they discovered in their world. Say painting Big Ben in 20 different lighting conditions. I am BY NO MEANS a master painter. That is up the big guy upstairs who is responsible for most of the color work. My job is as a stenographer taking down punctuated moments in space and time. I don’t make this sky up lol. Thusly I will follow in those painters footsteps (err, brushstrokes). If their experience continues to be the teacher that I have learned it is over the years.

Those master painters of the 16th-19th century were more or less isolated by the transportation of the day. They were where they were so to speak. I consider each photo I take of the same scene but under different light and environmental conditions, a study of the natural perfection in that place. The framing doesn’t change much from study to study but the background morphs with the time of day, the weather and the yearly cycles. I try hard to stay in tune with all this. The complexity of nature is something that I’ve slowly started to realize as I spend more and more time in it.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

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High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight
High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

Snaggy Silhouettes are fodder for my photon capture boxes. (cameras). I always like snag silhouettes but when a sky is fully involved showing off to me, it’s enough to get my attention. (I’m spoiled) This is not an easy tree to be at right at sunset as it takes a little travel to get there in the backcountry. All two track trails suitable to 4 wheel drive only most of the time. To find standing snags on ridges isn’t as common as you think. Lots of snags standing in sheltered from the wind areas. This is fully exposed and will be laying down pointing to the south (ish) sooner or later. The prevailing winds from the north west will eventually win the battle with this old soldier.

Such organic forms are rife with smooth curves, contrasts against colors of a veiled Wyoming Sunset. The sun JUST peeking around the trees / snags base. Raw organic. Rainbow gradients are always to a one beautiful. I’ve never seen one I didn’t like. 📸 Always expose the highlights correctly. Worry about the shadows later. 📸 We call fallen trees “Snags” because as you walk, they will Snag your leg and trip you. Pines die here mostly due to lightning strike or wind damage. Igniting from a lightning strike, they may burn for days if not extinguished (usually by the rancher).

I have maintained a 5 ton truck just to fight fires up here for 12 years now. If you get too many snags in your “woods”, your going to have a hot fire. In their defense, they provide homes for wildlife. I call them wildlife trees myself. Woodpecker holes abound in them.

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

Title: High Ridgeline Snag at Twilight

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Twilight Delight Eye Candy

Twilight Delight Eye Candy
Twilight Delight Eye Candy

Twilight Delight Eye Candy

I attend virtually every interesting sunrise/sunset that occurs up here on the high ridges along the Wyoming/Montana border. The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch has about an equal amount of land in each state. Most of my images have parts of the scene either the sky or the ground of each or the other state. (now that’s a sentence lololol_😜

Musings:

I see a lot of heavily saturated sunsets on forums and I see them too occasionally. I record them accurately. What I’m saying is.: This is the actual scene as it occurred without any highlight/color tomfoolery. I love this image as it is with detail in the colored areas, not solid color. My technique is all about exposing the highlights correctly. I’ll worry about the shadows in the digital darkroom. I left the landscape silhouette without bringing out what detail exists there. I seldom molest highlights.

Recording then presenting them exactly as I experienced them. I about said “Catch them on Film”. ……. I paused and considered the accurate replacement phrase. What exactly am I doing with this Mirrorless Digital Camera. No film here. These things use a digital chip inside to record the image in Red/Green/Blue dots. Technically it’s recording a series of 1’s and 0’s in sequence that when run through first Sony then Apple’s machinations via software. Of course Adobe had a hand. Then Facebook attacked what I uploaded with a compression process. The resultant jpeg/file quality drives me crazy sometimes. The full sized files are amazing. Full screen is a must here for sure as this is an image that needs to spread around your field of vision. 📸👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana”

Title: Twilight Delight Eye Candy

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Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches
Twilight Through Branches

Twilight Through Branches

Rarely do I get home from a photographic excursion to have the sky “re-light up” after it had “finished” it’s show earlier. Here is a good second act from that evening. I bet I don’t have 2 architectural/buildings in my photography a month even just in silhouette lolol. I love this tree…..

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

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

Title: Twilight Through Branches

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Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART
Moon Owl Composite ART

Moon Owl Composite ART

Art then Science:

The chill of the upcoming winter was in the air. I captured an old soldier of a wildlife tree. Heavily used by Wood Peckers and Flickers to hunt in for grubs. It oversees/overllows all on it’s high backcountry ridge redoubt. A safe nest for a dozen creatures. Within is a rest from the relentless high ground wind. A rest here for this Great Horned Owl while the rising moon lights up the scene. While dark to our eyes, the extraordinary night vision of the hunting raptor (and my Sony Alpha 7RIV) pierce the darkness. 😜 📸

Did I mention the above is art. The moon just by itself is a 16 image composite. I own the owl silhouette and the snag/twilight photo. Took me a bit to do this well. 🤔👀 (Landscape up to 3×2 feet)

Now the Science:

The owls perception of the night world and need to detect the smallest movement a trait of the species. This would be a real world nocturnal and uncommon encounter. I’m ignoring the limitations of physics and gear to get an image like this require it’s construction in the digital dark room. This scene has happened millions of times however. They would be REALLY hard to catch in the real world. It’d take a heck of a lens to do this at maybe 500 yards out. Having said that, if this ever unveiled in front me in the real world, I could certainly capture the image. That is, if I were given about 5 minutes to get into position/set up lolol.

While active during the day at times, they habituate the darkness and are totally apex predators in this environment. Just to stress the point, none of this would be happening without the moon. (Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).

The moon is our planets protector. It’s mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)

The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary for stabilizing the Tilt of our planet like a huge slow motion gyroscope. Scientists say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky. Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸

Title: Moon Owl Composite ART

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Winter Twilight North View

Winter Twilight North View
Winter Twilight North View

Winter Twilight North View

This a view northeast from one of my favorite overlooks just in Wyoming looking across the border north into Montana. Sunrise is seconds away to the right of frame. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, the snow is melting with a 50 degree day and melt water is running in the fields. The winds are blowing and the cold front is incoming. The next time I go the three miles of drifted two track roads, it will crunch along the way from the ice patches.

This image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. The Montana / Wyoming border area remains a beautiful unspoiled area. Way bigger than most states. Eastern Montana/Wyoming are highly under appreciated in the drive through tourist trade lol. Everybody stays on the interstate highways at 80mph. As a photographer I would way prefer to drive backcountry roads at 45 mph through an area I haven’t been to before. So many things appear around the next bend that are photogenic every time I travel backcountry.

The Mud Hills sediments composed of the Tullock/Fort Union Tertiary rock formations are younger than where I stand. They COULD contain fossils like crocs, mammals, trees, leaves, amphibians but NO dinosaurs. The ground I’m standing on however is highly likely to have dinosaur fossils within a mile of where I stand. . This ground is eroded Hell Creek/Lance formation and it is dinosaur bearing. Older than the rocks higher on the hills. Humm.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (looking across the border).

Title: Winter Twilight North View

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Twilight over Rifle Range

Twilight over Rifle Range
Twilight over Rifle Range

Twilight over Rifle Range

Most of you know Bliss Dinosaur Ranch hosts the nationally sanctioned Tactical Rifle Championship up here on ranch every July. (Sanctioned by the “Riflemans Team Challenge” )

The course of fire consists of 8.5 miles of groomed pin flagged back country trails. There are 28 different mowed shooting stations with over 290 reactive steel targets downrange. (2 courses each in both Montana and Wyoming) . If you look carefully, you can see a few reactive steel targets set up. This visual tunnel looking through a the trees to the hill/backstop 800 yards in the distance where a few more 10 inch blue square plates reside.

We have had the “Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship” as a dedicated even up here for the last 11 years. Sporting events around the globe are being cancelled due to “Pandemic” . There of course is a discussion of what to do among the board of directors of this long running 501 C3 non-profit event.

We raise funds for Wounded Veterans and their family having given away in excess of 100K over the years. Hopefully we will have no cancellations from Corona Virus this summer. Not having this event would be a serious disruption to the whole series to say the least. Having said that: we will evaluate based on conditions as we go here.

I’ve actually had a major shooting event up here every year for 18 years. The first 7 years the event belonged to someone else. They just held it here which we facilitated. After that group “retired” from the game, a small group of folks picked up the reins. We only had 6 shooting teams our first year. Now we have an average of 26 teams over the last few years and now we are affiliated with “Rifleman’s Team Challenge” for accumulating national points toward that National Championship. Professional shooters from around the country usually show up a day early in July (registered and paid for) and we camp/RV for 3 days until everyone has engaged two days of field shooting and a third day of team versus team challenge.

Every year, over 100 people descend on us for 4 days of RV and tenting with the shooters spending 4 hours each hot July day on courses of fire . It is quite a culture shock for our little quiet homestead. 🙂 This event is not open to the public generally but we do take donations for the prize table or cash for direct vets. 60 volunteers put it on, none of us are paid.

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

Title: Twilight over Rifle Range

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Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop
Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

(Summer Alpenglow)

This 220 pound “King” Corso Mastiff is one of 4 Mastiff’s of 2 different breeds living in our ranch compound with us currently. (Along with my nephews tiny poodle mix lolol). He was walking away from a a cool bath under that spigot after the last run of the day. (I have that bath on another similar image) The cowgirl gave the short haired dogs a few minutes to dry in the summer air and off to bed. Living with mastiffs has it’s big rewards with just a few detractions.

The Drool Thing:

As a rancher wearing ranch cloths, I don’t mind so much the drool issue.. If you’ve never been around Mastiffs that were bred by the Romans for war (not table manners), you haven’t experienced living with a salivating horse before. Generally they are clean enough for dogs but the strings of drool are impressive. I should have waited until after he drank to show the foot long strings that occur after eating or drinking. I bet there are some patentable characteristics for the sticky, stringy properties of Mastiff Drool.

So I’m sitting in my computer chair working while my wife is feeding the mastiffs. (they eat outside but we hand feed them meat rolls about a pound each. ). She let the dogs right in and the first thing the big one does is come over laying his head on my arm. I almost had to take a shower lololol. The command is now, “Wipey Wipe” after feeding BEFORE the dogs come back in. They don’t like their face wiped but they let us do it lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Ranch Life Twilight Backdrop

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Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights
Twilight Longhorn Highlights

Twilight Longhorn Highlights

I’m not sure what it is about this capture. It is a low light image. It just stood out to me for some reason. I finished it bringing all the detail out of that cows hide that I could without introducing artifacts to the mix. I always expose highlights properly in the camera. Then I have to deal with the darks/shadow detail in the digital darkroom. This capture destined to become a silhouette image I thought. The detail that was hidden in the shadows yielded to my gentle coaxing. I think I really like the highlights on the cow itself. Certainly I like the whole mix lolol.

The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Longhorn Highlights

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Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show
Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

This is 10 minutes before sunrise this late fall morning when i ran across these two. They were actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local deer are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol.

This country is big. I drove about 3 miles out into the backcountry to have these mule deer cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Pink Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Blue Streak under the pink sky is the shadow of the opposite horizon against the sky. The Pink is the red Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment. much more so than the surrounding low country. ….for early march. It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Bucks for an Alpenglow Show

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Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky
Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

A capture from directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.

Its called “Turtle Butte” for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. Scattered dinosaur chunky chunks are present. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the borderlands, a variety of things are found just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. No big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.

There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Turtle Butte Twilight Sky

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Waves of Grain

Waves of Grain
Waves of Grain

Waves of Grain

Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands separating Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. Overhead was a wonderful twilight sky clouded above to an under lit cloud deck. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me. I adore grass light filters 👀📸

To use the still green seed heads of this prairie grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy subject. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves and Geometric forms abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky /use these seed heads.

I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun so I don’t carry them. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the amount of light coming into the lens.. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷

Oh, I’m using the LED lightbar on the front of my ATV for this shot. Twilight behind.

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

Title: Waves of Grain

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Prickly Pear Bloom Twilight

Prickly Pear Bloom Twilight
Prickly Pear Bloom Twilight

Prickly Pear Bloom Twilight

Snug as a Bug Surrounded by Cactus Needles eh? 👀😜

I was driving along a two track trail with the bright lights of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV. Big Bright LED lightbars are a fixture on all the vehicles I routinely take into the backcountry for photography. Not only do they help you see what you don’t want to run into, they show you what you do want to find lol.

So, after a long sunset photographic work session, I spied this Prickly Pear Cactus Boom down on the prairie as I was passing. There was still some residual color in the western sky and I was determined to get it. This flower just happened to have a green beetle within enjoying the relative safety of this environment. Can’t blame him really. Scented room with a view until I came along with my smelly noisy UTV I suppose. At any rate, I’m sure it all calmed down there as I pulled away.

Prickly pears belong to the Genus Opuntia which contains over 150 species across the globe. The deer in this country grow fat on cactus “figs” grown on the low paddle shaped cactus. These cactus have been used in Mexican cooking for hundreds of years. Take off the spines, and they cook like vegetables. I’ve eaten fresh prickly pear and I compare it to a cross between water melon and bubble gum.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Prickly Pear Bloom Twilight

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Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

Twilight Tree Trunk Frame
Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

Twilight Tree Trunk Frame (Summer)

Wide angle perspectives (Close / Far) are fun to find. When I finally locate the visual tunnel of the sun through the parallel tree trunks, I’m looking to compose something very close and still focus on the very far. The edge of the trees are tough in this light. Acquiring this kind of image is an exercise in high f-stop numbers. Boy are those f-stops exhausted from the exercise 📷😜

Photographic Musings: More Manual Camera Strategy…

The only way to capture this is with a camera set to widen it’s depth of focus field. To be able to resolve the wonderful lichen on that boulder AND still have the clouds and the sunrise in the same field is the ballgame. Shadows are long the first 5 minutes of a sunrise so time is of the essence. I get out and walk along the spines of high ridges. I find /walking looking on the back side of a ridge from the sunset exposing these little areas of zen just as I walk along.

Here I spied a “visual tunnel” worth of my limited time. The number of textures and different objects in this image is just an example of the intensity of some of these scenes. Winter adds yet another dimension to this capture. I work this spot when ever I’m on that part of the ranch at sunrise (in this case). I call this ridge “Sunrise Ridge”.

F-stop is one of three things you adjust in Manual mode. You know, the M on the big dial dominating the top of that Removable Lens Camera. The one that you run on automatic mode most of the time if not all the time…. Turn it to M.

You need to adjust each in accordance to your priorities. In this case I needed a deep field of focus. Remember if you need to focus BOT the lichen up close AND the horizon at infinity, you need high fstop. Priority ONE.

Priority two is Speed of your shutter. Notihng in the frame. was moving very fast here. . Minimum handheld shutter speed with a wide angle lens is maybe 1/80th of a second. faster takes away light from your camera.

The last adjustment is ISO (Camera sensitivity). Left over to adjust for your first and second priority. Use it to add or subtract light/ overall exposure live in your view screen (on a mirrorless camera), or afterwards with a DSLR. Spin ISO around to finalize the exposure/balance the light equation. Each setting has it’s own spinny wheel on the camera. Learn what does what on your controls.

More later…

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

Title: Twilight Tree Trunk Frame

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First Post of the Day

First Post of the Day
First Post of the Day

First Post of the Day

Things I “see” as I travel the high ridges.

Here in the backcountry of the Montana / Wyoming border region, the approaching dawn takes away from the night. The night is fleeing the scene at a discernible pace. Heavily weathered, a corner brace supports tons of force pulled by 6 pieces of tight wire. This one is part of a very old border between an adjacent ranch any mine. It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. I have photos of deer slipping through this brace proper lolol. It does a good job of keep adult cattle out though. It has served it’s purpose for at least 50 years and probably much more. There is no oral history regarding this or that fence line that I have gathered over the decades I’ve lived here.

There is 30 miles of fencing up on this small ranch alone. Imaging how much work that was over the decades to 1: install and 2: maintain BLOWS my mind. 99 percent of the fence posts were hand dug. If you haven’t dug a 5 inch post hole 2 or 3 feet deep, you haven’t really experienced life. Trust me on this. I’ve had numerous first time newcomers that are not ranch wise get fairly well educated by handing them a t-post pounder/driver and a t-post to put in. There are 10,000+ t posts in 30 miles of fencing. I’d estimate there are hundreds of corner braces anyway. A hundred year old ranch has generations of little (and big) jobs invested in them. Black holes for work they are.

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

Title: First Post of the Day

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Landscape Twilight Windmill

Landscape Twilight Windmill
Landscape Twilight Windmill

Landscape Twilight Windmill

Windmill Weekend, Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘🤘👀 You know who you are 😜

Notorious Photoboming Windmill “Re Pete”, brother of “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. They continuously photobomb my landscapes / skyscapes. I of course have no control over their actions as you that follow this long running narrative certainly understand. Each of the “Pete” brothers has his distinct characteristics and personality.

“Re Pete” the Windmill is an AerMotor brand I think was built in the 1920’s. Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol. “Re” is located about 3 miles into the backcountry from my homestead. It’s all two tracks and some interesting terrain to cross to get there. Nothing is close here. Its quite hard as I post this mid-winter to get to this windmill. I guess if he wants the publicity that he seeks, he’ll have to come to me …. 😀

Veiled sun sunsets where the sun dives behind the cloud always give me pause to do a close far perspective but since the angle to see this windmill through the trees changes nightly, I have to check in regularly. The topography isn’t always cooperative in composing such images as this. .

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

Title: Landscape Twilight Windmill

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BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape
BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The lighting for this was subdued to say the least.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. The width of those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here. You are quite zoomed in here. 👀📷

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

Title: BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

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Bracing for the Sunrise

Bracing for the Sunrise
Bracing for the Sunrise

Bracing for the Sunrise

As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this twilight, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window to the twilight. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).

Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.

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

Title: Bracing for the Sunrise

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Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky
Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

This view of a 130 mile long twilight BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a few weeks ago just making it into my workflow. The grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The first silhouetted ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock is older than the Big Horn Uplift . Those ancient sediments dive under the debris worn off the BigHorn Mountains.

Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting just north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall now.. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day. I starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.

I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go to photograph these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Bighorns Backlit Twilight Sky

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Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise
Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

The Backcountry sparsely populated now in mid winter. Few animal are about. The odd Jack Rabbit living mostly random grass left over from the summer cattle. Mice and Pack Rats round out the majority of the mammal population in this region. There may be a few deer about but they tend to stay near the forest not the gumbo covered flats. The grazing is sparse in Bentonitic (gumbo) clay rich soils.

Most of the Pronghorn which frequent this area all summer have migrated south. They move down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. This is down the road in Wyoming about 30 miles. So this land, dominated by fox, coyote is overseen by birds of prey. Those masters of the sky dominate the hierarchy of predators for this targeted population of small mammals.

It has been cold of late as I type this a week before it posts. Forecast is for snow moving in a few days before. Hopefully not so much but we do need the moisture. IT’s the snow that makes that spring/summer grass for the grazing of all species. We get most of our yearly 14 inches of precipitation from snowfall. Last year was exceptional exhibiting a wet summer and fall.

It’s still REALLY early for calving but it won’t be long. Ground like this opens for grazing mid-spring around May. In the summer you can see hundreds if not thousands of cattle on this same ground.

Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Snowy Windmill Alpenglow Sunrise

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Show Me the Ranch Gate

Show Me the Ranch Gate
Show Me the Ranch Gate

Show Me the Ranch Gate

Sunset through a Veiled sky just after the horizons shadow passed over me. The hills behind me are still in daylight. The contrasts are difficult for a camera system to capture. To have detail instead of shadow in this kind of shot speaks to the gear.

It is now mid winter up here on the ridges of Northeastern Wyoming and SouthWestern Montana. In this view west both states are in the distance. That mountain range is 40 miles distant from my camera. From the middle of the corral system next to our homestead looking west. I can’t tell you how many cattle have been through these corrals over the last 100 years. I suspect it is in the 30,000 range or there about.

Our ranch is a small “hobby” ranch versus the big ranches in the 20 Thousand Acres (or more) spread that surround me. Our place is only 3500 acres or 5.5 square miles. It’s enough to keep me busy that’s for sure. Never underestimate the power of a piece of ground to be a black hole for your time and money lol. Even worse, there are dinosaurs in this ground lolol. They take some of my effort from time to time up here too. There are 30 miles of fencing on or around my ground. I’ve spent my share of time building and fixing fences over the years. I have some fence work to do in these corrals at the moment. I had some bulls go through an outer fence behind the gate. Dang!

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

Title: Show Me the Ranch Gate

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Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show
Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show

Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.

I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.

The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.

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

Title: Crimson Morning Sky Show