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130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns
130 Miles to the BigHorns

130 Miles to the BigHorns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: 130 Miles to the BigHorns

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Portrait of an Alpenglow Twilight

Portrait of an Alpenglow Twilight
Portrait of an Alpenglow Twilight

Portrait of an Alpenglow Twilight

Alpenglow with a Zig Zag Landscape Ladder with a reflective ice surface. That pond is filled by the melting snow off that hill.

This is pretty far back into the backcountry on my ranch. I didn’t even know there was a pond in this “Cul-de-sac” until a few years ago when I first found it. It was built in the 1950’s according to the engineers office. It only fills with melt water from about 200 acres of a small portion of this overall drainage system. This is sandstone country with about 500 feet in 10 miles difference between the “Little Powder” river in the valley with the ridge tops here.

I have to climb that far ridge to see the eastern sunrise and you’ve seen many dozens of images up on it. It’s a little harder for me to get to the top in the winter but I’ve done it numerous times. For those of you that keep track of such things, this is just east of ridge one looking at ridge two on the far south end of the ranch. That’s right at 300 feet difference in elevation and about 2000 yards to the ridge top. That takes a while to get there lol. It’s all two track roads over the divide. Then I walk or ride on ridge tops as is interesting with the light. I have an 80 mile view east from that ridge.

Musings on getting out of Dodge:

Knowing when to stop taking photos is a significant skill to acquire as a photographer. Wasting time, battery and disc space is bad JuJu. I know my camera backs pretty well and know instantly when I have the scene in front of me captured. The image rolls around in my head like a melody does for some. Then: It is necessary at that moment to analyze the possible future scenarios of the light unfolding in front of oneself. To predict the future is a skill worth working on. That very attribute leads me to a better area/angle/direction. Working landscapes is all about that. Finding the Frame.

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

Title: Portrait of an Alpenglow Twilight

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Back Show Buttes Twilight

Back Show Buttes Twilight
Back Show Buttes Twilight

Back Show Buttes Twilight

In the spring of 2019 mid-April, I took a “Wyoming backroads” trip up the Powder River Valley crossing the Montana / Wyoming border. This area is about 70 miles west of my ranch. It takes about 2 hours to travel to the start of this excursion.

The light this night was second to none. I drove this 2.5 hour drive in 4 hours. The last hour and a half was pitch black night on unknown country roads. I do carry two compasses at all times. I didn’t have a GPS which I have to admit would have been nice that evening. Navigating the crossing roads is not easy up here as they might start out going east but eventually wind straight north. So dead reckoning might just get you the first part. I’ve actually only been disoriented one time in 30 years up here. That was on an overcast night in the middle of a very large featureless grassy pasture. I had a compass which got me to a fence line with narrowed down my choices to two lolol.

The country along the Powder River reminds me of the Yellow stone plateau but without the geysers, tourists or buffalo. There are a lot of cattle ranches and CLASSIC photos to be taken along that drive. If you need directions and suggestions I request you PM me and I’ll get you on the right track.

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

Title: Back Show Buttes Twilight

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Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast
Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

I do see some RARE colorcast Twilight situations now and again. This is real color I swear. The red light making it to the clouds above totally saturated the snow below with the same color. Like a projector screen reflecting the red to my camera. I am very accurate in my highlight colors and this is as I remember the scene vividly. This is actually the West view/back show with the eventual sunrise 20 minutes later than this capture.

I have one other similarly colorcast dominated image with a more yellow color. It was too a morning early Civil twilight even . I have just finished it’s image which is waiting in the wings to post here in a few days perhaps. The yellow colorcast image was a different twilight entirely. I’ve experienced only a few occasions of this kind of lighting in several decades of watching sunrises/sunsets. . It takes a very specific series of conditions to make this kind of twilight illumination. Catching and reproducing color accurately in my images is what I try to do. If it weren’t this way and it was a normal twilight, I would have removed this color from the image (which I could easily do). But this was the scene as I experienced it. Dramatic as heck to be honest.

Being there with a camera is the hard part in mid-winter. This particular occurrence happened in December 2018. I kept the camera busy that morning lol. 📸📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Natural Twilight Pink Colorcast

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Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet
Sunset over Purple Carpet

Sunset over Purple Carpet

I hadn’t thought about this image for a while but it needed to be updated and posted in January 2020. Out of season images are a good thing this time of year lolol. The weather was warm late spring which this year was a month late. Spring actually occurred on a Friday last year (2019). While Fall was on a Tuesday. I remember those days well but either side of those 2 days were brown season and white season. Interestingly this last year, a third season kicked in. A rare green season. Last year was so wet that it was green through August. I haven’t had to fight a fire for 2 years which is a very good thing.

This bloom is purple mustard I believe. It tends to grow around cattle disturbed ground. This bloom is located on an apron surrounding a windmill/water source. Lots of cattle hang out, stomp on, eat grass away and generally over fertilize this area so opportunistic species move in. Waterholes in a 2 square mile pasture with 200 cow calf pairs get some traffic patterns established lol. Game/cattle trails abound here. You have to watch where you drive if you get off the two tracks. (Private Land). There are many “pitfalls”.

Having the ability to get “off road” is a big deal with photography. I see many photos that I “can’t get to” on others private property. Driving backroads of the Wyotana borderlands is always an adventure, but the two tracks ROCK. I currently have access to several hundred square miles of backcountry that I do work and have permission for access. Access this time of year is iffy but I still drive backroads when conditions permit.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title:Sunset over Purple Carpet

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Twilight Over Turtle Butte

Twilight Over Turtle Butte
Twilight Over Turtle Butte

Twilight Over Turtle Butte is a capture from 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. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.

Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things 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. There were 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. Everyone walks the trail…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight over Turtle Butte