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Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly
Red Plum and Dragonfly

Red Plum and Dragonfly

Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies. That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare. Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.

During the Carboniferous geologic period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.

There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water.

They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands. I don’t see them a lot on barbed wire though lolol.

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

Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly

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B1B Lancer Circling Flags

B1B Lancer Circling Flags
B1B Lancer Circling Flags

B1B Lancer Circling Flags

Being under the US Air Forces Powder River Training Complex has it’s benefits. I could hear the roar from inside the house. The B!B is many things but it isn’t quiet. B1B’s can be faster than the sound (probably close to light speed) but I haven’t heard a sonic boom for the 20 years I’ve lived here. If nothing else the Air Force is polite. There is nothing like maybe 100,000 horse power flying overhead. I’ve had the fly 500 feet off the deck directly over head. It’s a real punch in the adrenal gland.

I’m thinking someone forgot their extra Skoal can in their locker then had to head back. In training, they are probably stacking spirals to gain altitude.. The sky was perfect to preserved the trail through the big strategic bomber moves pretty quickly. I’m thinking he pulled some “G’s” around that pretty tight loop at 450 knots. 🤔

Strategically these fellows have a low radar cross-section to make detection considerably more difficult. Their ability to fly lower and faster than the B52, while carrying a larger payload makes this a heck of a plane. Advanced electronic countermeasures to enhance survivability makes it a two way trip.

This guy is out of 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. They have a fairly large around of southeastern Montana and North Eastern Wyoming along with a Bunch of the Dakota’s as fly over. We unfortunately had one crash about 50 miles from here about 5 years back.

Using a WIDE angle fisheye lens I corrected significantly for lens distortion. There is still a little down angle on the log ranch lodge but it corrected fairly well.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: B1B Lancer Circling Flags

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B1B Lancer Strategic Bomber

B1B Lancer Strategic Bomber
B1B Lancer Strategic Bomber

B1B Lancer Strategic Bomber

This 200 million dollar, international range, multi-role, long range bomber, built to combat targets across the world. They overfly our ranch irregularly (which I truly appreciate pilots!). We are that BIG white barn over the Montana/Wyoming border, you know it as an easy landmark. Sunset and Sunrise is a good time lolol. Come on over twice, let me get my camera out and my shoes on….😂😂

This happened just as the sun was going down over my shoulder causing a vibrant “Belt of Veuns” back show. I was photographing the sunset standing literally in the middle of nowhere when this big jet flew over at 450 knots or so.

Stratigically these fellows have a low radar cross-section to make detection considerably more difficult.
Ability to fly lower and faster than the B52, while carrying a larger payload makes this a heck of a plane. Advanced electronic countermeasures to enhance survivability makes it a two way trip.

Here this plane has it’s wings forward. This is a higher lift configuration. Usually used for fast tactical takeoffs and landings from airfields under attack. If he was interested in opening it up. Just sub light speed, the wings would be swept to the rear. There is nothing like maybe 100,000 horse power flying overhead.

This guy is out of 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. They have a fairly large around of southeastern Montana and North Eastern Wyoming along with a Bunch of the Dakota’s as fly over. We unfortunately had one crash about 50 miles from here.

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

Title: B1B Lancer Strategic Bomber

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Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out
Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart on a fence. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds a 20 feet apart lol. The left one is closer to me than the right (rear) one. They took off just after I came to a stop and started machine gunning the 1200mm lens.

I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

These Hawks look to be both the same sex… Might be wrong..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Ferruginous Hawks Heading Out

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Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting
Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

A clandestine meeting down Yonder by the fence line was occurring when I interrupted it. I suspect it was a lively discussion of one meeting with two different opinions resultant from it. Just like humans do. There may be some territorial statement ongoing during this capture. That’s good hunting ground behind them. There is about a 100,000 mice and other small voles/prairie dogs/ rodents out there for the taking. Who looks where takes on a big meaning lol.

Yet another capture driving along remote backcountry roads up here in the borderlands. I saw these two Raptors talking 30 feet apart. At this lower f-stop setting, the focal field was about 20 feet deep and these birds are 30 feet apart lol. I’m not a hawk expert and the distinction between Red Tailed Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks seems blurred to me. On bird is definitely bigger than the other. I suspect somebody knows the answer that will be reading this. Feel free to correct my ID as I’m only about 80 percent sure. The different sizes are an obfuscation.

Random encounters result in opportunistic captures for my photon traps. (cameras). I see them….driving along a gravel road, stopping. Then getting out standing between the door and the car with a 2 foot long lens is a chore best accomplished with some haste. Doing so and not have the birds fly off is a whole different encounter. The chances that both birds would hold their ground on a vehicle incoming at 45 mph is small. 45 is the speed limit on most gravel backroads around here. Then have enough time during all that get a camera up and set properly in manual mode. . Elapsed time less than 20 seconds I would imagine.

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

Ferruginous Hawks Fence Meeting

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Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change
Blue Heron Shift Change

Blue Heron Shift Change

Here I caught mother leaving the nest. She sat there for hours while dad (right) is considering how to turn the eggs or rearrange some sticks. These nests are amazing to try to do yourself. The male will bring the female sticks and she will build the nest. We have 6 heron nests in our rookery.

The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here they are hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the top. These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus actors. They are total masters of their environment!📸

This bird was sitting about 200 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by doing so….further away. . . They are pretty used to my Jeep driving around and it is a wonderful portable blind. Pairs will change egg sitting shifts at irregular times so sitting and watcing for moving birds can take hours with a small 6 mating pair rookery.

This rookery is a wonderful photo location for long lenses and the trick is not to pressure the birds which I try really hard not to do… I get lots of natural behavior shots so that is the best indicator to me. 😊 Using my Jeep for a blind, Ive been able to observe these guys for hours at a time. 800mm and 1200mm lenses are the order of the day. Long things to hang out your car window. I use a v shaped bean bag on my window for general work but I can tripod too if I have to on that same window.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Blue Heron Shift Change

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect
Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

Taking a Great Blue Herons profile from the same elevation is a pretty low probability encounter. I use my Jeep as a portable blind. Adjacent to the 50 foot tall Cottonwood Trees, exists a steep grassy hill that reaches over 50 feet above the trees. The higher you go, the further you are away from the Heron Rookery. This required a long lens to reach out and touch this guy.

Sort of the “drone” point of view but I don’t fly the things lol. I’ve never captured an image before where you could see the top AND the bottom of a heron’s wings at flight. (I take a lot of Blue Hero). I find photographers shoot what’s in front of them…..Kinda like some hunters… I would really have liked to have this shot from the other side. The longer I work this site, the more likely this will happen again. Good photography is a function of being there and paying your dues. There are of course, some technical considerations for a long range shot. 📷 I used an 800mm telephoto lens for this image.

Photographed in the late spring. (spring was on a Friday in 2019) Swing seasons between white and brown are usually one day long in this high ridge line prairie country. Spring weather would be welcome with a storm due as I type this narrative.

The ranch wetlands these birds nest on are wonderful places for biologic productivity. The Cottonwood trees they roost in grow on a many decade old dam across a spring fed pond. That pond is also runoff catchment for several square miles but the runoff is all grassy, broad and not gully like. It’s wonderful hay country there. The pond is a nice several acre puddle. There are a series of water sources in the area so the birds to fly away to hunt as well.

Great Blue Herons are big up to 5 pound birds. That is a 5 foot wingspan across this 40×20 inch image.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Flying Away 2:1 Aspect

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Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching
Great Blue Heron Launching

Great Blue Heron Launching is a capture from early in 2019.

Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the missing Great Horned Owl Nest as well. Earlier that season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.

Earlier that season before leaves were in the way, I was able to see clearly all 6 nests in this “rookery”. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings.

These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Great Blue Heron Launching

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Heron Catching Some Wind

Heron Catching Some Wind
Heron Catching Some Wind
A Great

A Great Blue Heron Catching Some Wind was this bird way of starting to take off. Spreading it’s wings you could see the branch lift as the weight is lessened on it. These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree.

For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. They make their living eating frogs, small mammals, fish and anything else they can catch around their realm. These guys are widespread in our Hemisphere from the Galapagos to most of North America. They breed up here though. They like places where there isn’t much human activity. Where they set up their rookery is quite a ways off an already remote county road. Isolated they are from humans up here.

Not many people ever notice the rust colored feathers on their wings leading edges. Also of note are their chest feathers. The birds actively shread them to make a powder that soaks up all the fish and oils from the wetlands.

I’ve spent many hours sitting and watching these birds. After the nest is built, mostly they hunt/sit on eggs. The male will bring the female the sticks and the female does the engineering. Both parents feed the young and share the 4 weeks of egg sitting. I’ve had a pretty good window on several of the nests all breeding season in 2019. I have quite a few images to finish from these encounters still. Job security I suppose😀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Heron Catching Some Wind

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Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

Bumble Bee Pollen Mining
Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.

Photographic Musings:

This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸

Mini-Lesson for working on Manual:
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎


Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Bumble Bee Pollen Mining

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Robin Red Breast Beast

Robin Red Breast Beast
Robin Red Breast Beast

The hardest part of this capture Robin Red Breast Beast, is that the guy was really trying to get me….

This was a classic “Rinse and Repeat” shot opportunity. The bird didn’t want me there. He would go to the same spot in the nearby tree and fly at me and my 200 pound mastiff. Over and over and over again. The dog was not concerned. I was sipping a cool drink in the shade naturally. Comfortable in my chair fortunately. I happened to have an 800mm telephoto. A Sony Alpha 7RII camera attached nearby. Rinse and Repeat as I said. Give me enough chances and I’ll get the shot lolol.

I literally had dozens of chances at these shots and got quite a few as these cameras rapid fire very well. It’s always nice when the bird is predictable. You can aim for the focus and the lighting spot you want him in.

The trick is to time the click to the bird traversing the zone of focus. Light is rare under a tree . There is no direct light under the canopy.. You have to compensate for the lower light level somehow and ISO comes to mind. You need your speed and your f-stop to freeze the action and to give one deep focus. The ISO has to be the compensator. Turn it up ….make it grainy as a price….

There are a few more of these that will be trickling into my work flow. They all come from the same timeline over about an hour in my yard. The pair of birds this guy was part of raised their fledgeling just fine. Photos of it elsewhere too. You must have to watch.

This is a full framed image. It is not much of a crop. 3×2 feet

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Robin Red Breast Beast

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Robin Head On Close

Robin Head On Close
Robin Head On Close

Robin Head On Close is just that. Territorial Robins are in the spring.

Of course I’m mixing and matching seasons as I post these days. This was this year (2019) however. This guy was dive bombing me sitting back in my side yard sipping on an umbrella drink and a telephoto that goes macro at 15 feet. He always went back to the same perch. Telegraphing his intentions is a weakness in his approach. He would stoop just before he leaped giving me enough reflect time to click the shutter. Of course I use a camera giving me 10 frames a second (then) and I just wait for him to fly into my focal plane.

He really didn’t bother me much, finished my sippy drink plus took a few dozen good frames. I got the best part of the deal. My dog was more shook up by the constant busy nature of the bird. His prey drive was wanting to kick in but I discourage that unless it’s a person as I trust his judgement. Good King Corso, 220 pounds…Robin didn’t care and was all Kamakazi in it’s actions. 20 minutes was enough shooting. Half of photography is knowing when to leave the first shooting location and look for another.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Robin Head On Close

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Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha
Bumble Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

Bee Landing pattern alpha was tough to figure out…. I watched very carefully for a while to figure out how “Bombus” (250 species of Bumble Bee under Bombus) was approaching and landing on the bottom flower. There was a rotation involved with this bee (bumbler) moving between these two Hollyhock blooms and a few others.

Catching these guys in a 1/2 inch thick zone of focus while they are flying is “Challenging” to say the least. I have to get around 9 inches away with this particular 90mm Zeiss Macro lens to get this kind of image plus shutter speeds in the 1/4000ths range to freeze the wings. Those wings beat 250 times a second over a 90 degre arc.

Geologic Musings: There are a few fossil bees known from the Geologic Record. But the “Amber Bee Fossil “on Ebay for 12 dollars MIGHT be a fake LOLOLOLOL. Don’t buy “Amber” fossils on Ebay …. In reality, Bee fossils are quite rare and would be worth thousands on the commercial market and priceless to scientists. There was a nice bee fossil found from the Miocene northern Bohemia (recently released paper_ The Miocene was from 22-5 million years ago depending on the sequence. Technical paper but nice images in it. (Prokop,Dehon,Michez and Engel 2017 for citation if you want to look it up).

Factoids: Bumblers are the highest living insects actually preferring higher elevations. Someone found a colony on Mount Everest 18000 feet above mean sea level. Our 4000 feet elevation pales by comparison lolol. The biggest bumbler out there lives in Chili and is 1.6 inches long…. about 3 times the size of an average bumbler her in North America. Bees of course pollenate most of our crops and are a lynchpin in our ecology.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bee Landing Pattern Alpha

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Last of the Butterflies

Last of the Butterflies
Last of the Butterflies for 2019

This is certainly one if not THE last of the Butterflies for 2019. The next day all these flowers were frozen and most of the insects were pretty much destroyed as well if they hadn’t crawled into a warm spot. These high ridges get harsher, windier, colder, wetter weather than the lower river valleys we have such great views of. It is 12 degrees as I type this at 6AM… there is snow on the ground, hard freezes continue and will do so through the harsh winter I predict to come this year of low sunspot activity. In fact, the winter came early this year to the borderlands of Wyotana. Started October 1…

There will be a few more insect macros trickling in left over from this summer but remember I am reworking most of my older images to current standards and those will be posted as they are finished. 🤘 Those re-worked images will be working their way into my posts all winter. I am literally buried under the crush of images I have to work on this winter. Having said that… Job security is a good thing😀. I have a great deal of trouble identifying bugs, birds and flowers as I’m a paleontologist. Got my fossils all down, flowers bees and bugs….not so much lololol.

This little guy is Boloria eunomia. (Bog Fritillary is it’s common name ?) Their population exceeds 1 million and are a Northern Tier of central states and Canada distribution. Wyoming to Wisconsin then up to Alaska through Canada is common. Anybody see one further south than Wyoming?? Those that know say the population exceeds 1 million, I have maybe 1/2 that up here at times lolol… Their preferred habitat is “alpine tundra” according to the web. That pretty much describes this place most of the year lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Last of the Butterflies

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DragonFly’s Shadow

DragonFly's Shadow
MayFly's Shadow: Longer Than It Is

DragonFly’s Shadow. These baby ble eyed dragon flies are about 1/2 inch long had longer shadows here than their own bodies. This is definitely a dragon fly as it holds it’s wings outward when at rest. These guys Blue Eyes ROCK. I’m glad they don’t have a 6 foot wing span like their ancestors did back in the Carboniferous Swamps of Pennsylvania 😲 These guys have bcen around the planet for a long time….. just saying.🤔

Damselflies and Mayflies hold their wings to the rear at rest but they are all closely related. This little guy was casting a huge shadow…it must have been a big ego boost to the little guy hard to know lolol

This was from a few weeks ago before the recent snows just now making it’s way into my workflow. My time lag from capture to posting here is right at a week at the moment. Some much longer from the summer will crop up. I’m also refinishing a lot of older images to current standards so those will get reposted from years ago . There are some great images incoming if your just tuning in. 😊

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (I have a big backyard… 😎)

DragonFly’s Shadow

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Great Blue Heron Roosting

Great Blue Heron 50 Feet Up a CottonWood Tree: Breezy
Great Blue Heron 50 Feet Up a CottonWood Tree: Breezy

Great Blue Heron Roosting also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it’s hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the top. These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus actors. They are total masters of their environment!📸

This bird was sitting about 200 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by doing so….further away. . . They are pretty used to my Jeep driving around and it is a wonderful portable blind. Pairs will change egg sitting shifts at irregular times so sitting and watcing for moving birds can take hours with a small 6 mating pair rookery.

This rookery is a wonderful photo location for long lenses and the trick is not to pressure the birds which I try really hard not to do… I get lots of natural behavior shots so that is the best indicator to me. 😊 Using my Jeep for a blind, Ive been able to observe these guys for hours at a time. 800mm and 1200mm lenses are the order of the day. Long things to hang out your car window. I use a v shaped bean bag on my window for general work but I can tripod too if I have to on that same window.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Great Blue Heron Roosting

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Bumble Bee and Lilacs

Bumble Bee and Lilacs
Bumble Bee Gathering from Lilacs in the Spring

Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.

We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.

Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).

With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.

Location: Backyard, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bumble Bee and Lilacs

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Praying Mantis Hunting

Praying Mantis Hunting
Praying Mantis Hunting

I caught this Praying Mantis hunting on some Russian Sage out in my garden about a month ago now. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects (wet and cool) so there should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species obviously thought the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. He was “thrilled” to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂

Location: Back in the woods at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s headquarters, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

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Eyelash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)
Eye Lash Winner : Tachnid Fly (Gardeners Friend)

Up Close and Personal:
A Tachnid Fly is indeed a Gardeners friend. Hairy, spiny and without a peer, eyelash winner of the insect world. Guiness should be called (or sipped from a glass) in honor of this parasitic fly that lays eggs in other garden pests. They truly help farmers/gardeners and are a huge family of flies virtually every one of which is hairy as heck lolol.
They are munching pollen here and the “Last Man Standing” as I was walking through the woods after several HARD (around 20 degrees) over night freezes “hoping” to find a macro lens subject to cooperate. In this inch across image area, there is a LOT going on. I find the macro lens a lens of discovery as much as just technical photography. The LED illuminated ring around lens I used for this is about one inch from the Fly. Patience and very slow determined “Photo-Yoga” movements are necessary to get this kind of capture. Sort of a slow dance for me now . This is great stuff up close… 📸

There were several of these guys feeding on a group of naturalized asters back in the windbreak woods behind our place. Everybody else (bugs) were absent/in hiding or killed by the freezes. Snowflakes will be my next target with this lens.

Asters of course are tough tough plants but they were on their last legs here too. Fall insect life and green leaves here in the WyoTana borderlands are winding down.

Into winter we slide with punctuated winter storm events being the rule until it gets really cold lolol (laughing maniacially). Maybe a little “Indian Summer” left in the early winter on the high plains.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn

Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn
Green Iridescent Bee on an Aster in Autumn

The Green Iridescent Bee is gathering pollen from this surviving Aster after the freezes of late. This may be one of the last outdoor insect photos of this year.

This little guy is about 1/4 of an inch long total so this is an “UltraMacro” shot with a 2x mag factor at about 1 inch distance from the bee. There are lights around the optic so the slight yellow colorcast is due to that. I corrected it best I could without washing out the actual yellow of it’s body.

How to get 1 inch away from a bee….patience, and it is very much of a photo-yoga application. Smooth movements with no sudden changes of direction help tremendously lolol. Second finished image from this Photosession timeline and is a 2×3 aspect up to 36 high.

Location; Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend
Tachinid Fly: A Gardeners Best Friend

Tachinid Flies are indeed a gardeners best friend. They are parasitic in their larval life stage of course and their favorite target are major insect pests to the garden. They eat pollen etc but kill pests with their larva. They are not mammal flesh eating flies per se.
I had to laugh about the hairy butt but there must be a reason lololol.

Location: in the garden (even after several hard freezes below 20 degrees). Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Frozen in Time and Space

Frozen in Time and Space
Frozen in Time and Space

To freeze a Dragonfly in Time and Space, you need to be patient and persistent. You also need to understand that dreaded M for Manual on the top of your camera. A cell phone isn’t going to do this, a DSLR on anything but manual has no chance either. Sooooo, here’s the trick… (catching a fly in between 2 chops sticks is easier) 😂

Photographers notes: This is an 800mm telephoto in direct bright sun (requirement) with your f stop on that long telephoto being f22 ish for a longer depth of focus field. He had to fly into a little zone about an inch thick at 15 feet away (minimum focal distance for my 800). That lens acts like a macro at 15 feet. IT is on a Sony Alpha 7RII giving me 70meg raw files or 40 meg .jpgs depending on what I tell it to do.

So I’m following a moving dragon fly and trying to catch him in an inch wide zone, and almost fill the frame at the same time. (this is a full sized image not a crop except for the sides of the formerly landscape aspect). I’ve never used autofocus, I don’t think it would work on this anyway. I set up a zone and let the dragon fly…fly into it. Machine gun clicks at 10 frames per second.

I digress, the faster shutter speed (which sucks up light) has to be fast fast fast at least 1/2000th of a second or more to freeze wings.. I was about 1/1500th here… Just a TAD too slow and a compromise to get more light… . Faster shutter = less light and your already loosing light from the f22 adjustment). You give up light for focal depth and fast shutter…. You have to compensate somehow….. (only three things you really can adjust on a camera , ISO, fstop/aperture size and shutter speed)

So that leaves ISO (camera sensitivity) to balance your image and gain that light back…. Less is better when it comes to ISO since too much will make your image grainy. Note how fine the grain is on this image. IT’s the last priority though because it lets you get the shot which is an important thing lolol..

18×18 inch square aspect at full resolution.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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No Butts About It

No Butts About It
No Butts About It

Your not trying as a photographer if you can’t make a Fly’s butt look good lololol….
The Apple had fallen and a host of insects were taken advantage of the free meal. This guy was at the feed trough and some how I got in there up close and personal.

Sneaking up on a fly to get this kind of photo using a lens with a minimum focus of about 1 inch is not a quick process lol. Moving slowly is the game….really slow….📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting

Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting
Praying Mantis On An Orchid Hunting

About a week ago I saved this Hunting Praying Mantis from Drowning in a stock water tank. Here he’s hanging out on some of my Orchids that I am growing down in my Aquaponic Walipini Greenhouse.
They move a lot from a camera historically but he’s pretty tolerant of me as I actually had to detangle him from a mat of floating algae without ripping his limbs off. It took a few minutes. 😀 By taking him down into my Walipini greenhous, he/she is assured a longer life as it’s a jungle down there (10 feet underground) even during the incoming blizzard (as I type). It’s always 65 degrees + down there and humid as heck in the winter from condensation on the roof glazing…..It’s always raining there when it’s cold….
The poor thing would have drowned or froze in a week, either way, I randomly saw him struggling as I was walking by the tank while changing cards in one of my game trail cameras. What are the chances ?? He was seconds from drowning….I happened by…

Filed under things I see driving around the ranch.😎

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

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Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight

Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight
Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight

Catching a Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight and being able to do it reliably is a challenge for every photographer. The depth of focus at 9 inches away (where you have to be to get a shot like this with a 90mm macro) is around a 1/2 inch thick so getting a very rapid fire camera really helps as well as one that will take 1/6000th or higher shutter speeds. This is not a crop. Full sized file as it were.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands….in our garden with the hollyhocks…

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Bee Wing Blur

Bee Wing Blur
Bee Wing Blur

Bee’s wings Blur because they beat at 230 per second through a 90 degree arc. If you set your camera around 1/200th of a second and catch a shaft of light just right….. You’ll get a nice wing blur. You have to pick a flower at right angles to shafts of light from the sun. Then as the bee rises off the flower and into the light, it will light his blurred wings. if your timing is right. (at 12 frames a second I had one come out). Kind of a tough shot to get again I’m thinking lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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MayFly…Hey Blue Eyes

MayFly...Hey Blue Eyes
MayFly...Hey Blue Eyes

“Hey Blue Eyes”, these Mayflies are very small. About 1/2 inch long and are really jumpy. Apparently they don’t like that huge one eyed camera creature slowly encroaching on their personal space.
I have to get 9 inches away for this close a shot. Sort of photoyoga sometimes.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Bumble Bee Fly By Up Close and Personal

Bumble Bee Fly By Up Close and Personal
Bumble Bee Fly By Up Close and Personal

To catch a Bumble Bee Fly Up Close and Personal…takes some planning.
First I have to get within 9 inches of my subject for maximum magnification. WIth a LOT of light, I can maybe get 1/2 an inch focal depth at 9 inches (f22). Somebody could do the math but it’s not a deep focal field. It’s more like catching a fly with two chop sticks. You have to think ahead of the bee. You know…. “Be the Bee”😂
More importantly, you have to focus where the Bee is going to Be lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming Montana borderlands.