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Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro
Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

I had never seen one of these guys before. Wonderful species as they lay eggs on the nasty weed “Leafy Spurge”. The larva eat the pesty plant. The Adults are pretty big at 3 inches across. First introduced in Canada to control the weed, we are in it’s known range.

99 percent of my work is resultant of random encounters. Finding this 3 inch wide moth was certainly random. Ran to get a camera. Instantly out my back pocket came a plastic bag and into the refrigerator it went. You always carry a baggie with you when doing photography right? 😜 I have found that by cooling any captured bug down to just above freezing, I get to actually photograph them. Going torpid in the cold, they just slow way down. It takes them at least 5 minutes to warm up in direct sun before they usually fly away. So you’ve got a moth that while slow WILL hang on to things. 5 minutes is FOREVER in my world of manual mode spinning dials and manual focus. Catch and Release…

The color scheme is the direct result of a single shaft of light moving through a huge tree. That tree positioned between the sun and my chilled subject sitting on a geranium. So it was really darkly shaded around me. Surrounded in a pretty big garden spot here at the homestead. This geranium was potted. Therefore I could move the pot coincident with the inexorably moving shaft of sunlight. About every 20 seconds I had to react or loose the light. It was a 3 D puzzle for sure. Worse the puzzle changes shape as you go lolol.

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

Title: Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

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Up Close and Personal Sunset

Up Close and Personal Sunset
Up Close and Personal Sunset

Up Close and Personal Sunset

This late in the summer, the sun sets about as far north as it ever does. Here the sunset at Summer Solstice, the inclination of our earths axis has slowly turned in relation to the sun. It is now setting a little more south each day until the Winter Solstice. The lower black silhouetted ridge has trees on it. Those are full sized pine trees at 55 miles distant from my lens. The sun is a bit further out…🤔

I find a vantage point that puts me as high as my horizon when that is possible. Knowing most of the trails up on the high hills these days makes my life easier lolol. That is very true of the morning where I have to wind my way around in the dark to get places I’ve never been to before or for a long time. It’s always easier in the evening when I’ve already come that way. This is VERY big country up here. There is 100 square miles area circled by the “loop of maintained road I live on the far side of.

I personally live about 400 feet lower than the ridge I’m standing on’s perspective looking at the far northeastern setting sun. Heck it’s not even setting up north of the arctic circle at 66.5 degrees north at the moment. We have 8 hour nights currently I live VERY close to 45 degrees north. A difference of 21.5 degrees. There are 69 miles per degree of latitude. Just a mere 1300 miles to where the sun never sets to our north from my homestead on the high prairie. But the further north you go during the summer, the shorter the nights get.

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

Title: Up Close and Personal Sunset

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Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall
Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

I watched the TV commercials very carefully. Just like the internet, it was on TV so it must be true….🤔

Based on Media Learning: I’m pretty sure that there is a BIG pile of “Skittles™” behind that hill top. The shafts of tasty fruity candy falling from the sky will definitely liven things up. That’s a lot easier than milking a Giraffe for the same candy. (If you know what I’m talking about, I’m worried about you 😜. ) I actually do like skittles. There might be a few too many there for just little me to deal with. I wonder how long they will keep? We only get 14 inches of precip a year… Imagine if all those melted into one big lump…. Skittles Butte…😜 😜 📸 So many strange phenomena these days

Back to my “Normal” programming…

IF I was on that hill top, I’d be looking at a full rainbow. This far back, I only get one bit of one leg. The lighting was VERY late in the day. Tall Rainbows are late or early (low sun). Really wide rainbows low to the ground are high sun mid-day rainbows. This sheet rainbow is simply one leg of what would be a HUGE rainbow if there were rain drops higher. Being surrounded by rain in an airplane is the best way to see a completely circular rainbow. I’ve never seen a completely circular rainbow let alone photograph one.

If I would have driven quickly up to that ridge top I would have left a muddy track so I stayed where I was. Knowing where to drive up here is a big deal as “Gumbo” is about in random places. Gumbo” which is Bentonitic Clay turns to slick mud that will stick a D-10 Bulldozer. I generally don’t drive off known trail after a rainstorm. That way I avoid having to use my trucks winch and ground anchor to get out of the mud… I’ve never gotten stuck….soooooo close though lolol.

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

Title: Hilltop Backcountry Skittles Fall

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Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover
Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

I was watching this long eyelashed gal from afar. I wanted to see what she was getting into. It was a choice between photographing her or a heavily clouded sunset. That sunset held little appeal to me. I drive a Black F-150 Raptor in the backcountry. It has been accepted by many of the local inhabitants. This gal was totally unbothered by my presence. She even let me move around a bit.

Living on a small ranch surrounded by REALLY big ranches pretty much is living in the wilderness. No mistake, this is a wild animal. She has just accepted me as no threat. This animal has been hanging around the easy water holes about my homestead. We have kept 4 stock tanks open for any comers for 20 years now. The wildlings like easy clean water. I go out onto the ranch land several times most days. I’m seen a lot by the local denizens. If I behave properly, the animals accept me now.

Sweet Clover is a biennial plant. The Sweet Clover is abundant so mule deer and antelope use it for forage throughout the year. It gets way less palatable later in the year getting “stemmy” and coarse. It makes a lot of noise under your truck then too. Burns hot too….. Wildfire concern every other year (this year). The pollen is problematic to some (me too) but the bees take full advantage of it. We have a California Honey company show up every few years here. They put out hives and give up several big cases of honey each time. It’s payment enough for me lolol.

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

Title: Pronghorn Eating Sweet Clover

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Crimson Tinged Blue Sunset

Crimson Tinged Blue Sunset
Crimson Tinged Blue Sunset

Crimson Tinged Blue Sunset

You really have to see this full screen to appreciate it. It is dark but that is because the dynamic range required to look into the sun. The Camera relents. It’s inability to replicate what my eye sees is obvious to me. Technology will eventually catch up. The human eye has 5 or more F-stops of Dynamic range than the best camera. IF you blow this image up, you can see lots of detail in the dark. If you looked at the sun at the scene, it would have blinded you the glare was so intense. Cameras seeing details in the dark while looking at other very bright things is why silhouettes are created. The camera is unable to do what the eye does. I point out that the camera is better at looking into the sun than the eye is though 👀😜📸

This timeline was limited to about 15 minutes as this is just a thin slit for the sun to shine through. The cloud deck was otherwise opaque to the sun. It was actually quite beautiful as a stand alone sky show. Always trying to work a scene, I had no way to incorporate the foreground into this scene. I was up too high on the ridges and at a point JUST above the next ridge in front of the camera. No time to move. The cloud deck never lit up from under significantly on this show. That was a trick mother nature held out for a short 8 hours later for dawn the next day. That timeline will make it’s way into my work flow shortly. Stay tuned….

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

Title: Crimson Tinged Blue Sunset

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Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette
Blue Windmill Silhouette

Blue Windmill Silhouette

All you Windmill junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal … I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Re Pete” the windmill surveys his domain with an unusual mostly blue twilight morning sky. Being a control freak, “Re Pete” here is intent to keep things around him in line. Little does he know that the crafty old sun will just sneak up over the hill and spoil his mood. This image is just a snip of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers Windmills for you their loyal followers. (You know who you are😜 )

I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol). Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of the still standing 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.

This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.

Memories:

I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost around a 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol

Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘

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

Title: Blue Windmill Silhouette

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Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset
Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

From the viewpoint of the mouse enjoying the late golden hour sunset. The end of the day upon the resident of the grasslands. Looking up to see if a hawk or owl is going to end it’s life. I hope they are oblivious to their own short mortality… None the less, taking the time to enjoy the color pallet unfolding before it’s eyes. The same effect is not lost on this photographer.

Working JUST below the shadow line of the setting sun, the blinding disk is obscured by the vegetation / hillside allows for the camera to see both the highlights and the dark detail. Ultimately my goal is high dynamic range of color with shadow detail. The highlights from the shafts of light filtered through the trees were my canvas here.

The Summer Alpenglow is the result of Moisture in the air frozen at altitude into ice. Those ice plates reflect and refract the available colors remaining after the light has traveled a high angle path through the atmosphere. Helping along with dust… block the shorter wavelengths of light. Absorbed are most of the blues and greens from the pallet of available colors. Purple is a mix of red and blue. Getting the camera just below the shadow line is important. Without the direct suns glare, you have the opportunity to get some of that shadow color even with a bright sky with filtered light.

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

Title: Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion
Turtle Butte Volcano Illusion

Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

Exactly on the Wyoming / Montana border, this Volcano simmers at behest of forces beyond our control. This of course is a satire and illusion of a volcano created naturally by a confluence of events and my position.

I love the long distance perspective of a properly involved deck of clouds colorcast by Alpenglow. These are real colors not unknown in this remote high country. The 180 mile long cloud deck positioned above a clear icy window to the sun. Our “volcano”, called Lookout Butte has a commanding view from the top as it’s name suggests. Being an “Insulberg” (google this), it has few characteristics resembling a Cinder Cone Volcano but for it’s shape. All form and no substance passing for an event of geologic significance in this fleeting moment. The chances of a thick layer of clouds across the sky lining up with the top is not terribly high so I cheat and move. The levers my ability to get just the right angle. The ability to move quickly from place to place is really useful for this kind of opportunistic photography. 👀

I don’t always work sunrise, but when I do, I always like a simulated volcano going off in the photo.😜. Illuminated by a dynamic gradient of long traveled cinema quality light, the actors of the stage show have a huge projection screen to perform under. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second.🕺 This show was the directors cut. 📸

I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Maybe 2 or 3 images from the twilight will be finished. All the images from the timeline that morning but with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share.

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

Title: Lookout Butte Volcano Illusion

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Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island
Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standing up in Wyoming looking over the border up into Montana as the sun rises to the east/north east. The trees in the distance are in Montana. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana. The Islands of old grown trees on the ridge lines are testimony to their tenacity against fire/wind and lightning. The snag on the right lost it’s battle with lightning it seems.

So perspectives and warm mornings go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the “close” details with a falling horizon exposing the sun.. All caused by the icy atmosphere in any of the fall winter, summer OR spring. We have alpenglow most of the year. There only has to be atmospheric ice suspended between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that crimson/orange/gold light at this point. Earlier in twilight a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight with crimson being the dominate colorcast that morning.

I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷

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

Title: Sunrise Over a Ridgeline Island

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Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch
Blue Heron Launch

Blue Heron Launch

IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.

The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.

Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…

I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .

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

Title: Blue Heron Launch

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Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge
Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

One of my favorite antiques on the ranch is this 1920’s-1930’s Deering Seeder sitting on the toe of a high ridge. The Cretaceous Sandstones capping/covering this isolated plateau of Sage and Spanish Dagger are these hard layers and lenses of hardened sand. This hard sand/rock was cemented harder than the sandstone taken away by erosion around it. Harder due to differences in the “Diagenetic” processes that turned loose plastic sand to rock. Notice I didn’t say magic processes. Good google word for today… It’s the reason the ridge is there… Hard rock protects the softer sandstone below…

The hard cap rock this scene is built over was laid down by just one act of a 3 million year long stage show. At the End of the Reign of the Dinosaurs on the coastal slope (piedmont really) toward the Cretaceous Era “Inland Sea” Sea sediments are 900 feet down here. Above them, the Beach Sand above that marine sediment. That is named Fox Hill Formation. From the old beach is where we get our water. Above that (below me) is another 700 feet of River Sand (Hell Creek/Lance Formations) that many ancient rivers carried lazily here.

I say many because these watersheds with rivers miles wide.. (think anastomosing braided channels of dendritic sand choked channels on a massive scale. Similar to the amazon water shed. This was the last stage for the dinosaurs to live out their last moments. The coast was extant from Canada to northern New Mexico. All along the coast of that land a mere 66 million years before present.

There were untold millions of high water/flood events in the history of this land. Mountains long gone to our west fed vast quantities of sand worn from them by wind water and ice. Our Ranch lies on 14 mile wide strip of Hell Creek/Lance formation exposed on the surface. This exposed due to streams and rivers moving thousands of feet of sediment that used to be above us away. Cutting into these old beds at a slight angle. Youngest rocks west with Older to the east.

Then somebody came along and “dumped this 100 (ish) year old farm implement here giving me a subject in this remote environment. What are the chances lolol.

In my world, the past is the key to the present and the future. Integral within our processes of the present exists hand me down learning from the past. Geological process occur without our being aware of them or not. My point is understanding the past helps predict the future as well as interpreting the present.

Oh, My LED lightbar on “Clever Girl” added some flavor to this freshly rained upon dynamic sunset through a storm in the deep backcountry.

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

Title: Veiled Sunset Rattlesnake Ridge

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Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride
Taking Life In Stride

Taking Life In Stride

As I surprised her as I came up out of a valley. To the table top of this broad ridge I was traveling. This deer wasn’t familiar with my Ford F-150 Raptor . It is suprisingly stealthy for carrying a 470 HP power plant on board. The low and throaty moping sound is now familiar to close deer groups. I pass many everyday that hang out near my homestead. I would be hard pressed to make those deer familiar with me to even look up from grazing upon my proper approach. This girl became definitely intimidated by my presence (through no action of my own I point out lolol). She bolted like I threw something at her, clearing the fence efficiently.

Deer can jump 8 feet high but I find 6 feet more realistic . I have an 8 foot electric fence surrounding my Homesteads Compound surrounding about 10 acres. All of the ranches human, dog, duck, chicken and cats live inside that area. The rest of the critters get the remaining 3490 acres to wander. Before I put up our deer “resistant” fence, many thousands of dollars of attempted landscape projects were devoured with passion. The only deer that have penetrated our defenses in the last several years have been shown the gate they came in on. They are quickly detected by the dogs which don’t leave the compound lol. Now the young deer don’t know the green grass paradise right over the wire. Thusly there isn’t as much pressure to penetrate the barrier now.

I strongly suggest electric fence to keep deer out of your homestead . Particularly when surrounded by herds of deer that water on your stock tanks lolol.

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

Title: Taking Life In Stride

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Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture
Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)

A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.

Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….

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

Title: Perspective Snaggy Backcountry Furniture

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Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Long Landscape to the BigHorns
Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Long Landscape to the BigHorns

Close far perspectives are always a favorite to bring to completion. Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘🤘

For me to publish this, I take an average of 1.5 hours per image. I then have to study that timeline to pick this photo. Then there is the small amount of digital darkroom time maybe 10 minutes.. then I have to write / type the accompanying narrative… I start at 250 words for an image. I could write 250 words about a clump of dirt these days after the last 6 months writing over 1500 narratives to accompany my portfolio images. Each post I publish on line, is an e-version of one page out of that eventual book. For now it’s all free reading lol.

So just ignore “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Any recognition by the public makes him insufferable. He’s been photobombing my landscapes for years up here in the high ridge lines of the Montana / Wyoming. The narrative is years long and “Sneaky” gets his share of recognition. Some fans instantly know him versus other less gregarious windmills. He is a notorious photobomber in the local tales of lore.

SOO, “Sneaky” here is the Close part. The 130 mile distant peaks of the 13,000 foot high BigHorn Mountains loom on the horizon the far…. The Windmill is 1/4 mile out, the first ridge 10 miles. The valley under the treed second ridge / mountain slope is the “Little Powder River Valley. Finally stand at 40 miles distant are the Red Hills, made of sediments from the BigHorns far distant. (Google Alluvial Fanglomerate).

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

Title: Long Landscape to the BigHorns

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Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

Tree Growing Out of a Boulder
Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below.

This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. Differential erosion leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen.

Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos or read the text. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀. I digress,

Enjoying a veiled sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report or an occasional zinnnng…. . Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

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Back Gate View North

Back Gate View North
Back Gate View North

Back Gate View North

This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. End of the electric, end of the phone and the last internet source lol. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile. Most of my images have both states in them (Wyotana) .

In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set 15 minutes before to the left side of the frame is still barely lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Raptors drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.

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

Title: Back Gate View North

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Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt
Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸

SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.

Photographic Musings:

Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…

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

Title: Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

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Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter
Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

This is the second finished capture of 3 from this sunrise stage show. The play started at 5:15 AM when I had a 5:36 appt at sunrise. There was very little indication at my homestead that this would be such a show. Taking in the information from a remote ridge lined camera I have looking east, I jumped into “Clever Girl” my Ford F-150 Raptor and started gaining altitude. A sunslit window to the light was showing…might have amounted to nothing…. I never know for sure if I’m wasting my time before I commit to an hour at least watching sky plays…

Our ranch is on a high ridge but I have to climb higher ridges to actually see sunrise. There is a 400 foot high series of parallel ridges to my east which effectively hides my east view. I see 130 miles to the west and 50 miles both north and south from my homestead. I see about 1000 yards east without climbing to the top of Ridge 1 to the east. The actual time AT my homestead I see the sun is about 1/2 hour later than what ever time the sun actually rises.

The Snow squall that was ongoing at the time (taken the first week of May). We are used to a late frost with the “last” frost being May 15th…This posting on May 20th, 2020… A very wet cold weather descended on us after this sunrise. Certainly the completely overcast (thickly so) cloud deck was quickly obscuring the solar disk at this capture. There was less than a minute of light left before the day turned to a gloomy lack of interesting light morning. Wet and rainy for a week thank god as we need the moisture.

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

Title: Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

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Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster
Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

In a huge battle many many years ago in a world far far away, someone lost their head….This did actually roll down the hill from whence it came…. It must have taken a heck of a sword to lop off that noggin. This is way bigger than I am lol.

If you’ve ever watched the spoof movie “Space Quest”, you might remember the “Rock Monster” that was chasing Captain Jason Nesmith. Some of these B sci-fi films have followings that create an entire world around the film. What follows is a short trip into that world…

Describing the creature this head obviously came from:

Gorignack is “Rock” in the language of Blue Demons) is a Biolithic species native to Epsilon Gorniar II

These creatures were known to be extremely violent. They were angered greatly by vibrations in the ground and sounds. Angry so much so that it goes on a rampage when provoked in a significant manner. The creature seems at least partially sapient as it has some form of language, the only words known “Trakahau gra fuyter!”, which means “Tranquility at last”.

It is unknown how this creature is held together, but it is a mass of many stones in a roughly humanoid form. It seems to be able to withstand the extremem conditions of outer space (at least partially). One here was obviously beheaded. Only for me to find some years later…

Back to my normal programming 😜🤘

You might note that the image has been rotated a little off normal up / top.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) Hell Creek/Lance formation boulder of sandstone.

Title: Backcountry BeHeaded Rock Monster

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Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue
Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

In early morning light, I got this silly capture the other day out in the small herd of Corriente’ cattle that let us live here. This old Spanish breed generates individual cows that are each their own character in a circus skit. Being no exception, this 4 year old mother to be has the physical limitations of not having fingers to reach in there and yank that cactus spine out of there. (I’m just guessing it was a sticker but certainly it might have been some NASTY tasting plant). Alternately, she was probably just telling me what she thought about having a long lens pointed at her.

I was working photographically this “lick after lick after lick” scenario for a few minutes anyway. I’m never sure how long some timelines occur over as a time warp surrounds me during camera clicks. I try to train myself NOT to have tunnel vision particularly when shooting pistols and cameras. Going focus forward (tunnel vision) situation will cause you miss things going on around you. I wasn’t looking for this while working a mother and calf about 70 degrees to the right. In my peripheral vision I saw a motion, got it. Rule 1.1 of photography: Have a camera with you.📸📸

This was actually framed live this precisely with the horns JUST fitting into the frame IN the camera not cropped after the fact. The problems using a fixed (non-zoom) lens is that you have to move back to make the subject fit into the frame. Usually by the time you move, the opportunity is toast. Rule 1.2 of photography: Get the picture… 📸📸

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

Title: Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

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Backroads Tree Burst Perspective

Backroads Tree Burst Perspective
Backroads Tree Burst Perspective

Backroads Tree Burst Perspective

I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a flat. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 70 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year. The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years at least for this isolated survivor. The county road continues for miles on in this huge backcountry. Traveling interstate makes you miss scenes like this. With a 45 mph rural speed limit, you might take a while to do the cross country on these roads so plan accordingly. 😀👀

A Cottonwood Tree grows in a wet area but will put roots deep into the ground. I haven’t done a ring count on this tree but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Cottonwoods here are easily hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge Cottonwood, about 40 feet high but very wide for it’s height. It HAS to be lonely in it’s obscurity along this long passage in the fabled middle of nowhere. The nearest stoplight in any direction to this spot is around 65 miles.

Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1900 when this area was first settled

Location: Wyotana a few miles from the border.

Title: Backroads Tree Burst Perspective

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Pronghorn Grazing Through Twilight

Pronghorn Grazing Through Twilight
Pronghorn Grazing Through Twilight

Pronghorn Grazing Through Twilight

I caught this gal Pronghorn nibbling on grass and other goodies in Silhouette. She was catching that last mouth full before the fading twilight during the new moon. It get’s REALLY dark here in the deep Wyotana backcountry. According to NASA’s website, we are as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean here. If you live near population, you really can’t appreciate how dark the night gets here.

Pronghorn are active most of the night I find. I find them sleeping at odd hours, resting when they are tired I suspect. This pregnant female is feeding for two. I can tell she’s pregnant just by her outline this time of year. The edge detail on this capture is amazing to me.

Photographic musings:

Low light/twilight work is my stock and trade. I primarily work in terrible photographic environments just like this one lol. Lack of light will make you do bad things to your camera resulting in lots of image problems. Grainy from turning up the ISO (camera sensitivity). No or a very shallow depth of focus because you turned down your f-stop number (lower) which makes your aperture (like the iris of the lens). Finally the last setting… shutter speed…. longer the shutter is open, the more the image is subject to blurring from shaking the camera. Plus the animal is not static so your looking at blurs from having too slow a shutter. Finding a balanced compromise results in images as this… Sharp, detailed and smooth colors without grain. I love the technology of mirrorless cameras….. 📸

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

Title: Pronghorn Grazing Through Twilight

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Rockypoint Wyoming Community Center

Rockypoint Wyoming Community Center
Rockypoint Wyoming Community Center

Rockypoint Wyoming Community Center

Rockypoint was located 52 miles north of Moorcroft and 57 miles northeast of Gillette. I’m not sure at this point where “Rockypoint “is” but I know where it was. About 4 miles south of this Wyotana structure that serves as a Community gathering point.

I’ve seen over 100 people crammed into that building eating some of the best pot luck dinners that rural Wyotana communities can put on. Everyone brings their best dishes for all to enjoy. I’ve been to dozens of dinners there. Locally, there is no better place to catch up on local news and gossip. Not that anybody here gossips much. We are naturally remote with a population density of less than 2 per square mile. Folks from 20 miles in all directions show up for Christmas, Thanksgiving and any other purpose those in charge decide to celebrate with a community meal. I’m thinking for the next year, it might be a little slow up there…. 😔

This was built by local families on donated land to serve just this purpose. The local ladies club that “runs” this building have fed folks remotely for numerous activities to raise the funds necessary to keep this all up. Feeding booths for rodeos, funeral dinners, and celebrations of all kinds have been served by this group. Everybody does something but hats off the the roughly dozen ranch wives that have for decades, served the community. Nothing from the gov’t here, all local.

Location: Rockypoint Wyoming, (Wyotana) about 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border.

Title: Rockypoint Wyoming Community Center

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Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus
Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus

It takes most folks a second or two to orient themselves and figure out what’s going on here. This kind of really up close and personal capture is not all that easy in my experience. No matter how you maneuver, the mother cow will turn to face you. The calf follows of course. Pivoting when ever she felt I had a clear window to her calf to hide it on the other side of it’s body. There is no familiarity with new mothers. They don’t care who you are, they don’t like you much. These cattle get a little frisky eating that rocket fuel called green grass early in the spring. The hormones are flowing full through the flood gates and calves are dropping out every day somewhere near by it seems.

I believe this is the ONLY position you could actually get into the “action” zone of this capture. From the other side, you couldn’t see the cafeteria, from the rear you’ve got….. well the rear…. Can’t see the calf for the mothers legs back from that angle. I got really lucky on this as I was “circling” around her from about 80 feet out, she kept turning then for what ever reason… stopped for a few seconds. Click 📷📷

This is not the neatest of processes. I’ve seen these calve’s faces COVERED with dried milk. Soaked with wet milk too lol. Mom doesn’t have a handy towel to wipe her baby down lol.

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

Title: Calf Suckling Momma Angus

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Rising April 2020 Supermoon

Rising April 2020 Supermoon
Rising April 2020 Supermoon

Rising April 2020 Supermoon

April 8th Pink Super moon rise to be specific.

See the medium sized Mare (Mare Crisium) at 12 oclock. The one near the edge. . That smaller crater will always point to 12 during a rising moon. It points to 3 oclock on a setting moon image. The little light from the twilight behind me was enough just to barely see the slope of that ridge. That ridge was around 10 miles from my camera/1200mm lens.

It’s not the moon that is turning in space to rotate that crater…. Actually you are the one that is spinning/rotating here on earth. IT’s all about your perspective. Question to think about…if your standing on Mare Crisium, does the earth ever set?🤔👀👅

A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔 Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though.

Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon. Now you know as much as I do about the Pink Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week or two after they are taken so this posts the 29, taken the evening of the 8th. It’s as fast as I can get to “recent” images finished and get the posted these longer /warmer days. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Rising April 2020 Supermoon

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Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar
Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar

This is an 90 degree tall image. Almost straight up is top frame. HUGE tall pillar and pretty durn good dynamic range in this capture. To look into the furnace but still be able to make out the landscape ladder is extensive DR. Most cameras would show that as a black silhouette. Try it :).

Sun pillars are shafts of reflected light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is due to a 12mm lens wide lens.This is not quite 2 times again the subtended angle/width of view afforded by your normal vision at around 55mm would.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice positioned at a high angle are required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way/orientation due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read sunpillars 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Really Large Sun Pillar

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Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer
Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

I have not photographed many American Kestrels in my travels. They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males. (Update: This has been identified by a much better raptor ID’er than I as a Swainson’s Hawk. )

Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew with speed. Apparently not happy with the surprise and this big Black vehicle. That’s 1….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

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Lone Tulip Battling Spring

Lone Tulip Battling Spring
Lone Tulip Battling Spring

Lone Tulip Battling Spring

Living in a remote secluded ranch for 20 years, I’m sort of used to isolation. Many of you are battling this “stuck at home base” period of our lives feeling alone. If you feel you are battling the elements here, you know, swimming upstream, up the creek without a paddle or are just plain isolated, I understand trust me. There are not enough hours in the day as it is up here, just add more on top lolol……

To keep my equilibrium, I try to put my world into perspective daily then isolate each problem I come upon placing it into it’s own little box. Take those boxes off the pile one at a time to deal with it. Funny how some boxes disappear on their own… This lovely flower, at the prime of it’s labors, covered by an overnight chill and snow trying to kill it. Just one little box in it’s life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 👀

The ability to shrug off these burdens that we usually put on our own back is a learned skill. It’s easier to sit back and analyze arm chair quarterback others but we sometimes drift to our own foibles under this assault around us. That is a mistake and causes depression. I find it’s the second guessing that causes the most stress in life. Regret, buyers remorse…etc. So I try like heck not to do it. Worrying about something that has past is a waste of energy. The Flower took the insult shrugging it off knowing that it would be warmer later. The earth relenting to the innate ability of the species to know when to hibernate and when to grow. Like most things that seem terrible as they are happening. The tulip somehow understood the melting snow and the warmth would be coming that morning.☯

“May you live in interesting times. ” variously attributed to: Chinese Curse? Austen Chamberlain? Frederic R. Coudert? Joseph Chamberlain? Diplomatic Staff? Albert Camus? Arthur C. Clarke? Robert F. Kennedy? Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Lone Tulip Battling Spring

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Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play
Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.

I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.

“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.

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

Title: Wednesday Windmill Twilight Play

Windmill Twilight Play

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Windmill Twilight Blue to Crimson

Windmill Twilight Blue to Crimson
Windmill Twilight Blue to Crimson

Windmill Twilight Blue to Crimson

Satire….years old narrative…

Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has thoughtfully placed himself dead center of my portrait landscape of this twilight sky show. I of course have no control of his actions as he is an attention seeker. I get for him that free publicity he’s longing for. The “deal is he works it out ahead of time with the deer and the Pronghorn to “sit” for me if I get him in the limelight. Seemed fair to me at the time and the animals do sit for me not and then… So when ever I get a cooperative Pronghorn (rare), I tip my hat to “Sneaky” for doing what he does best. Photobomb and give me a foreground object for scale 👁👅

Note: This narrative is quite complex with so little time and space for it all lol.

Windmill Junkies Unite: Windmill Wednesday :🤘 As I’ve mentioned before, don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…..☯

Musings on twilight color gradients: (back to reality).

I call this kind of twilight sky gradient “Alpenbows” Blue Down to crimson has a mix in between of yellow and blue to make green It’s a classic Twilight rainbow of color in the sky. The long through the atmosphere the light from the sun travels, the different colors drop out. Only red photons survives the trip down through the low atmosphere. Yellow higher, then mix Yellow with Blue to get green in between. Complete Color Gradients such as this are not common for me to see. I’ve seen WAY more the 20 years I’ve lived on the Ranch than all the years before.

Be safe out there.

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

Title: Windmill Twilight Blue to Crimson