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Looking Across the Watershed

Looking Across the Watershed
Looking Across the Watershed

Looking Across the Watershed

The 40 mile landscape across two drainages from this viewpoint this early summer. The Trees are in the Little Powder River Valley. Beyond the far ridge is the Powder River Valley. It’s like Yellowstone over there without the tourists and the exotic wildlife. All of this is grass and cattle county.

All this ground is eroded on top of a network of Tertiary Alluvial Fans. These are large aprons of sediment spreading across the land eastward from the Big Horn Mountain Range. It eroded spreading sediment out many miles in each direction. These sediments actually filing the greater geologic feature, the “Powder River Basin”. It was a sedimentary bathtub/down warp to be filled up before the aluvial fans could spread from the uplift. Those Big Horns were relatively taller in the past with the valley next to them much lower. That by the way is why the coal swamps formed there. They were formed on the low ground next to high mountains.

The sediments exposed in this image are mostly alternating of beds of Sand/Silt and Clay this 120 mile distance to the source. Over time the more recent rivers have cut down across the older beds between here and the distant mountains.

I’m not usually at tree level down in the river valley floor but this was a rare trip to the highway. Those travels cross part of this a little lower is the drainage.

I’m normally 10 miles off the right frame where I live about 400 feet higher in elevation than this “low” country. Across the river valley, the Mountains are in Montana. I am standing in Wyoming by at least a mile looking this direction. Most of my images have both states in them. Sky of one, ground of the other or both lol. I consider 5 miles either side of the border as the mythical land called “Wyotana”. Added together the 10 linear miles over the length of the Montana / Wyoming border would be 3700 square miles or 3 times the size of Rhode Island. I suspect the population of Wyotana is a thousand at the most.

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

Title: Looking Across the Watershed

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Northern Crook Co Wyoming

Northern Crook Co Wyoming
Northern Crook Co Wyoming

Northern Crook Co Wyoming

Throwback Thursday: an image from February 2020

Almost all of northern Crook Co. is shown in the photograph. It is a VERY wide panorama done with high end cameras. A lot of time carefully stitching 3 images, left, center, right into place. Carefully match the images contrasts / colorations as there is always differences even with adjacent photographs. All done in the digital darkroom not the camera. I’m not sure but my Sony Alphas MIGHT be able to do a hand held panorama like a cell phone. I never use that automatic crap, it uses too much battery power lolol.

This is a “TripTych”. That is a good google word for you if you’ve never heard it before…. The left panel frames the horizon…the Bear Lodge Mountains are the last ridge at about 70 miles distant from my camera. Beyond them is South Dakota. Closer in the center panel of the “Triptych” is the first National Monument (Devil’s Tower). The tower is about 35 miles from my camera in this capture early after sunrise that snowy morning. The right “Tryptych” panel contains the three volcanic cousins of the Devil’s Tower. Those called the “Missouri Buttes”. They were all part of the same volcanic system closely related in time and space. The Devil’s Tower had a better advertising agency than the Missouri Buttes. AKA known as the “Three Sisters”, the wagon pioneers knew them as a way point on the 19th century GPS they used.

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

Title: Northern Crook Co Wyoming

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Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Monster

Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Monster
Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Monster

Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Monster

Just to give you an idea of scale of this image, that white roof is the size of a regulation football field. That building is our stock barn next to my homesteads compound. (I call that our “infield”). This was taken using a 12 mm (very wide angle) lens to take in about 100 degree slice of sky. The top of the photo is essentially straight up. In other words, this is a big wide/tall view of about 1/3rd of the sky. This was right over us and worse moving in.

This was a mean one. The actively rolling Jump rope hoop on the right center was rotating nicely. It reminds me of a “Smoke ring” for some reason. Seeing obvious rotation is always an adrenaline rush. Then the rush for cover….

After the fact…checking my Davis Pro II weather stations (2) data on the actual stations showed two different high wind speeds. Station 1 was high wind of 79mph with Station 2 coming in at 84mph.

This storm did indeed do some damage and I got down to that big roof to ride out the storm under. It blew a plexiglass window out of the frame in that building, cartwheeled a previously nice calf shed over a fence, (damaged it), and tipped over 2 long empty above ground gasoline tanks on stands. We get high winds all the time so damage to trees was minimal around the house. Having said that, I have seen several broken pines out in the backcountry showing fresh damage. When you have full grown pine trees snapping, it’s classified as a “Stiff” Wyotana breeze. 😜📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) May 2020

Title: Mesocyclone Shelf Cloud Monster

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Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge
Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

Or is that Chaise Lounge? 😝

This late spring, the grass is not that high yet as it’s starting as a dry year. It may appear this Pregnant Pronghorn Doe was standing in high grass. Nope.. If you look carefully, you can see her hind leg folded up as she is actually bedded down. Also she would stand well over the Yucca right behind her. She rests unafraid of my presence. I actually thought she was standing while watching live in the camera. After a few minutes she didn’t move anything but her head I figured that out lol. That head is on a constant swivel as all Pronghorn practice situational awareness routinely. In my experience, they are on situation Orange most of the time and go red at a pin dropping. She can go from 0 to 60 even while pregnant as here though I suspect 50 might be her top speed capability in her “sensitive” condition.

Setting aside very difficult to capture Pronghorn Eyelash close shots of wild animals, the Holy Grail of Pronghorn Photography are bedded animals. Certainly I use long lenses that bring creatures up close and personal. However this was intended as a landscape composition that happened to have a Pronghorn in it lolol. I can’t tally all the things that have to align just so to get a capture like this. The layers of this composition are many (I count 9) which I LOVE to find while randomly driving along remote two track roads. I find new angles every time I go out here in Wyotana. This country is beautiful every which way you look.

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

Title: Perspective Pronghorns Sage Lounge

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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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Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light
Early Morning BigHorn Light

Early Morning BigHorn Light

This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that morning was climbing up the back of the peaks. Those clouds well past the 130 mile distant 13,000 feet high PreCambrian Cored, uplifted Mountain Range. Parts of Montana and Wyoming in this photo.

It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this photon trap. The sun was JUST rising over my shoulder. I was standing in the long shadow of the ridge I live on.

Getting to see weather move over those high ridges is a rare treat from this far away. These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide “Orogeny”. (Google Word of the day) Cloud peak is 13,175 feet. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east toward my camera. This deep basin is called the Powder River Basin.

The Powder River basin is a major source of clean burning coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns.

Those long fans of sand/gravel/silt and clay, dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. The first two sets of ridges are all Tullock, as are the hills behind them out to the Mountain range. They are all made of sediment that traveled from the Big Horns when they were MUCH taller.

Major Mountain Chain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from continental wide compressional forces. Huge were those forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks weathering to sand and clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed all the way… well just about to my front door.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Early Morning BigHorn Light

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Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts
Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

The Rain Shafts over the Barn on the Historic Parks Ranch in Northern Campbell County is classic. I used a telephoto shot about a mile out for the perspective across 40 miles of landscape with a 20 miles wide river valley between ridges here. The ridge in the shadows is only about 3 miles out . Weather over the far ridge. The ridge in the pink light is 40 miles out.

This is about 4 miles from our ranch. That direction is the closest drive I have to make to get to an asphalt road. The next closest paved highway is about 12 miles from here. These guys are my closest neighbor at around 4 miles from my homestead.. It’s 70 miles to the closest traffic 3 way light from here. The trip to those hills in the distance would take you an hour. I’ve had meeting I’ve driven to Casper to many time. (4 hours or so drive). Distances are big out here to go anywhere but where you are lol.

The Historic Parks Ranch is now part of a larger cattle association. It is managed under the Trail Creek Grazing Association. Old original buildings out here. In this remote backcountry were certainly built out of locally milled wood. The rough milled wood from cut from the local old grown pines. The original of homestead there is HUGE and finished around 1920 I understand. The 1950’s marked the last updates to the main house. Still utilized for hunters with year round caretakers living on site. That barn is classic.

Location: A few miles from The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Parks Ranch Rain Shafts

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Warbler and Turtles Sunning

Warbler and Turtles Sunning
Warbler and Turtles Sunning

Warbler and Turtles Sunning . (I have a big backyard)

First of all this is a game trail camera capture from last summer.. I have several 360 degree cameras that sense all around them for heat movement. I set this up on a landing under a tree to take pictures about 90 degrees to this. The heat of the Golden Warbler’s body triggered the camera and caught in freeze frame the turtle race ongoing on the log behind the grass curtain. The Male Warbler with Chestnut colored patches on his chest is not a particularly common bird up here. I caught this one several times with this camera though. I run a network of 29 game trail cameras spring through the early winter months. I have quite a few to gather after the winter isolation. Most will be out of batteries for various reasons. I do get interesting images from them. 🤔👀📸

That is a bunch of Western Painted Turtles sunning. This year I’m walking through there with a machete before I plant that camera. The grass is obfuscating to the turtles but I will get them next time lolol.

I saw the first Pronghorn on ranch for the spring this evening on the way to this pond. I took images of an early arrival Great Blue Heron this evening that will take a week to publish on line. A week is my minimum turn around generally these days. The time of same day “take the image” and “post the images’ has long since passed lololol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Warbler and Turtles Sunning

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View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground
View From the High Ground

View From the High Ground

The minute I saw this scene I knew I could capture the moody nature of the stage show unfolding in front of me. I love low light color when it comes out from it’s hiding place. There are so many areas of zen up here to anticipate and pursue. Even in flat light….

The sky leading up to this was mostly overcast. It is a bad bet/ use of time to go out with cameras. Each time I go to take pictures these days, I put myself further behind finishing the rest of my portfolio. If your new to my work, I’m only about 3700 portfolio images yet to finalize to current standards. I’m one page at a time, 4 a day building and posting “Pages” for several eventual books. Each Image I produce/post has at least a 250 word narrative. 1300 + finished pages contained within that web based “book” currently on line . 👀 I try to keep busy. lolol.

It’s easy to work with skies that are textured and complex but flat grey presents a serious challenge. To bring the colors that were vibrant in the flat light into a mechanical/electronic contrivance is a complex task lol. Several computer algorithms process images inside the camera even though I only use manual settings. I haven’t used anything auto on my cameras for years. I really don’t even know how to use those features except in theory. No auto focus, no auto light balance, no enhancements. Conversions of file formats occur automatically with the digital process from camera to computer.

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

Title: View From the High Ground

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Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise
Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

As I travel the misty backcountry mornings, 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,

It is a truism that any fence that precludes passage is a good fence. While it won’t keep deer from penetrating, 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: Perspective Wired Ranch Sunrise

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Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox
Perspective March 19th Equinox

Perspective March 19th Equinox (Today is the Equinox or old Pagan “Ostara” in the Wheel of the Year)

I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.

Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.

On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.

Close far perspective:

That nail on the post just made this photo for me lolol. 👀👀 totally am into close detail in the shadows. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. Anyone notice the mustard weed highlighted on the bottom 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title : Perspective March 19th Equinox

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Perspective Spring Snow Cover

Perspective Spring Snow Cover
Perspective Spring Snow Cover

Perspective Spring Snow Cover

Under veiled sun about 30 minutes to sunset, the golden lightt from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives of these wonderful pine bark textures with sunsets up on the high ridges are well worth pursuing. They provide me with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the hundres of year old tree lays waiting for the night.

This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape.

Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.

🤔 Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forrest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.

There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my right shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. Mud season is close and mixed with snow days.Mud will keep me off the ridges though. I actually have built the road through the snow up to this ridge top. There is however, no cleared road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective Spring Snow Cover

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Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up
Moon Quarter Close Up

Moon Quarter Close Up

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This left 1/3rd of a waning Crescent/last quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Quarter Close Up

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Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset
Perspective Thistle Sunset

Perspective Thistle Sunset

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish. Establish/ always set your main priority in this case F-stop first and adjust the other two setting (Iso and Shutter speed) as secondary.

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

Title: Perspective Thistle Sunset

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First Post this Decade

First Post this Decade
First Post this Decade

I’m betting this is the VERY FIRST Post this Decade on Facebook and several other social media sites. It is also the last post of the decade of the teens in the Mountain Time Zone any way.

Literally posted at 12 midnight December 31, 2019 / January 1, 2020 precisely but only on my personal FB page. It took a while to get it on other forums/sites lol. That’s mountain standard time however lolol. Machine accuracy.

I’ve met LOTS of real fence posts in my 20 years on a backcountry Wyotana ranch. Never had a seriously negative encounter with one other than the labor/toil necessary to implant one into the ground. This is a big corner post. I suspect that hole to be hand dug.

I don’t consider this hazardous duty though it was chilly at the time ❄️. This is a good long morning drive from my place just to do photography on “Wyoming Backroads”. Heading that direction is a rare event. I always look for old rusty signs on posts anyway. You have to see this stuff going down the road. Having a good camera with you is also helpful lolol. . Love old no hunting signs.

SO, Musings of the history here….

According to the plaque: This wooden post was planted in 1942 . The plaque says “Set BY EARL REYNOLDS APRIL 5 1942 a mere 77 and change years ago. 😜📷

There are 9 bullet holes where some vandal shot the antiquity. That obviously happened long ago as well. This is located in a remote part of northeastern Wyoming maybe 35 miles from my ranch.

Earl was working out here on a ranch during the WWII doing cattle production obviously. That war was a team effort. Need beef and the cowboys of the west were doing their best. There were a bunch of Wyoming men that died in that conflict.

Location: Northeastern Wyoming.

Title First Post this Decade

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Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter
Thistle Globe Sun Filter

Thistle Globe Sun Filter

I often find myself out in the middle of nowhere in the grass during sunset. Humm I wonder what’s around for filter material? 🤔🤔 Also discovered is the tendency toward you actually being where you are. A limiting factor certainly lolol. Photography is both planned AND accidental when it occurs. Rule one of getting a photograph:

RULE 1: Have a camera with you as much as possible. I don’t even like to go outside without one when I’m going to do ranch chores in the mud in the rain.☑️

I have a very limited amount of time to shoot sunsets. Depending on the sky, I choose what camera/lens combination I’m going to grab to “work” the scene unfolding in front of my eyes. A Clear Sky Sunset is an indication ahead of time to set up a “Close / Far perspective image. Here I was using the headlights of my Jeep (very bright) to illuminate this side of the thistle plant. The Thistle globe of seeds was my sun filter to reduce / minimize the difference in lighting between the front with the bright unbridled sunlight behind.

Anybody notice the Photobomber in this image? You have to look past the obvious to see the little spoiler lolol. Interestingly enough I didn’t see it until I got the image up on the big screen to finish the image. So I suggest zooming in on this capture lolol. 👀📸

Photographic Musings:

You need a HIGH f-stop number for the deep focus plus it’s reduction of light. ISO 100 (low ISO for bright light camera sensitivity), and use shutter speed to adjust for what ever lighting scenario/exposure levels you wish.

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

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Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter
Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

Forest Fires hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image. Various levels of smoke from burning forests give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact. I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels.

I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses. When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have lefts a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.

I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄

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

Title: Windmill and Smoke Sun Filter

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Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Western Painted Turtles Sunning
Western Painted Turtles Sunning

Sneaking up on Western Painted Turtles Sunning is a matter of patience and position. If they see you, they will dive. I don’t care how far away you are. They consider humans dangerous. So, a proper lens (800mm), a nice warm summer day when I had a few spare minutes and a couple of sleepy turtles. 

The really funny thing about the fly on the turtles shell, it that there are actually 2 flies there. They need to go rent a room. I think there are a few by the hour down in Gillette. 😂😂 

Taken from 15 feet away, I was blending into the background motion of a pretty windy day. Tree Branches moving, lots of tall grass swaying in the wind. . I’m peaking my well camo’d head over a bank VERY slowly. They didn’t sense my presence for some time. I worked them for at least 5 minutes pretty much circling them on one side. You really have to move slowly though. First time you sneeze, your done lolol. I attribute my stealth to the moving limbs and trees all behind me masking my motion. Admittedly, I was moving very slowly. 

These guys make lifelong pets with some living 50 years in captivity. Pet shops sell Western Painted turtle domestically raised babies. I’m sure many thousands have been released back into the wild. Soon after the novelty wore off, many have landed in the woods or a local pond lolol. 

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Western Painted Turtles Sunning

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Cowboy Peace Offering

Cowboy Peace Offering
Cowboy Peace Offering

A Cowboy Peace Offering is for the long run

Just before the horizon rose to cover the sun

Only then is the cowboys work almost done.

Putting his horse away is just one

Of Several chores left undone

When or when do they have time for fun?

Frank Bliss (2019)

I don’t do much poetry but that may change as I get images like this that push me that way. I’ve been watching cowboys up here for two decades. I am definitely NOT a cowboy. I do however respect the heck out of the profession. If you think you know what hard work is, try putting up a mile of barbed wire fence mid summer. How about hay bales…ever picked those up? . Have you ever had to get an injured calf away from it’s angry mother to treat it? Does anyone out there think working outside all day, driving stock, fixing water sources and dealing with horses is easy? I’ve done a little of all those things. Has anybody here chased a 2K pound bull with a 500 pound ATV by bumping his rump with it? I will personally confirm to you that crash bars are a good thing for a 4 wheeler on a ranch.

I know many people that have been cowboys all their lives. This is cattle country up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Part of the American Redoubt we are. The cowboy lifestyle as far as I can tell is as good an existence as any I’ve experienced in my 9 professional careers I’ve had during my life.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cowboy Peace Offering

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MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect
MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

This a view northeast from my Communication tower hill in Wyoming. The far ridges name, 10 miles distant, dubbed the Mud Hills. Those reside inside Montana. The Hill in between is rIght directly on the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming with my cameras. Currently as I type this, sustained 30mph winds are howling at 20 degrees. 20/30 days are chilly.

High Contrast Landscapes lens themselves to a wide treatment. The peaks are about 10 miles distant. This is a very wide image over the “Ranch Creek” Drainage. Montana 544 follows the valley going over the pass on the right side of the frame. TheMontana/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.

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 formatoin 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: MudHills Snowy Evening 2:1 Aspect

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Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait

Corriente' Longhorn Family Portrait
Corriente' Longhorn Family Portrait

Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait (Sport Cattle….sort of like sport cars)😜

This is a mother and her last two children. Mom who is 6 is center, son at 6 months is left, daugher at a 1.6 years just right. The two gals are still on ranch with the little steer going off to be roped.

Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. These young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. They are ALL athletes versus an Angus bred for bulk. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos and is an actual skill used in cattle ranching. Practice makes perfect.

The Corriente” Breed was brought into the America’s as early as 1493. These are a breed of Criollo cattle all descended from that old lineage. They are all to an animal tough, fast, self sufficient, and will paw at the snow and find grass in the winter. These are relatively tiny cattle compared to the modern beef cow. They almost went extinct with the introduction of bigger breeds. American Ropers and Doggers Know all about them. You know who you are 👀

Big Bulls are 1000 pounds, big cows weigh in at 800 pounds. Yearlings are around 400 pounds in both sexes. Qualities: Corriente” are Great Sports Cattle, These guys are supposedly easy to tame. They are lean beef and good eating. Small Herds are easy to keep. Hardy as heck, they actually require less food and water than other beef brands. Good cows to have a small herd of. They don’t take much diesel fuel to keep alive.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait

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Mud Hills Across the Border

Mud Hills Across the Border
Mud Hills Across the Border

Mud Hills Across the Border into Montana was captured early summer 2019. Traveling to these remote overlooks is 1/2 the gift of photography.
I don’t travel without cameras. Particularly when out on a photographic excursion where I’m actively “Hunting for the Wild Photon”. The Hillside where I’ standing on is precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though.
Scattered musings:
I haven’t looked it up but I’d be curious if that measurement has changed much over the centuries. Our ability to be more precise in our measurements surely change earlier estimations before satellite GPS. Of course there is some side discussions here related to geology that I’ll save for another post later lol.
Geology Factoids: The Mud Hills in the Distance are younger than the rocks I’m standing on. They are Tertiary Fort Union Formation sediments. hich are mostly alluvial sediments sourced from the Big Horns after those mountains rose. This the Mud Hills (I wonder how they got their name) may have some fossils like alligators, fish, birds, rays, fresh water clams and other invertebrates. They would not be abundant and have random occurrences up the section. The rocks I’m standing on are Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations. The random fossil beds here have DInosaur remains in them where the rocks above a certain point, don’t. Humm 🤔
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
Title: Mud Hills Across the Border

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Corriente’ Longhorn Twilight

Corriente' Longhorn Twilight
Corriente' Longhorn Twilight

A couple of the ranches Long horn Mom’s were hanging out near the back gate for this Corriente’ Longhorn Twilight the other evening. I had already returned from a few hours of photography out in the backcountry and was “winding down” ready to quit for the day. Then this happened.
I find that Light worthy of trapping occurs when it does and you have to be there. I was, it was and I did 📸📸

Exotic Cattle: Corriente’

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! 😲

Why Longhorns?

We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you make more money than raising them for beef lolol. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your angus herd…. Not good lol.

Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Corriente’ Longhorn Twilight

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Full Moon Setting Over the “Red Hills” in the Borderlands

Full Moon Setting Over the "Red Hills" in the Borderlands
Full Moon Setting Over the "Red Hills" in the Borderlands

The “Red Hills” provide the foreground for the Setting full Moon just after the sun came up and was fully illuminating the Prairie Dog Hills at the closest ridge line.

The Red Hills are 40 miles out, the moon is a little further I think…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.