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Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage
Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

I’m walking along this ridge line way back up into the borderland backcountry of Wyotana. I see this scene developing. That is NOT water dripping off that injured pine tree. That is pine sap and it is dripping in SUPER slow motion at these temperatures lol . The Pine Sap extrudes on any external injury by the pine. This will keep out insects from penetrating the wound. This of course is part of the process insect/pinesap to Amber made famous in the Movie Jurassic Park. Tree resin traps insects, it gets hardened by heat and pressure over time and you get an insect in Amber. Fossilization requires specialized conditions. Amber formation must occur in a wet low oxygen environment. Something like an estuarine, swampy or even a marine environments. (chew on that last one for a while). 😜🤔👀

Stripped of bark, this injury caused by a Porcupine will likely not heal. Particularly if it is deep enough an injury. Porcupines strip bark off Pine trees. Porcupine is from the french translation of “Thorny Pig”. They eat roots, stems leaves of many plants but definitely consume and even kill trees by girdling a trees bark. I have seen numerous trees killed by porcupines. The mountain men used to not bother them. Being slow moving, easy to catch animals, as such were easy pickings. So the mountain men saved them for Hard times and emergencies. Porcupines are greasy when cooked I understand. I’ve never wanted to skin one lolol. 2:1 Aspect

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

Title: Perspective Porcupine Pine Damage

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White Windmill Winter Wonderland

White Windmill Winter Wonderland
White Windmill Winter Wonderland

White Windmill Winter Wonderland

Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘 I’m aware of your addiction so I am working diligently to support your habit. Please don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this….. 😜

Here “Sneaky Pete” took the full force of a sticky winter snow. He was operating blind with the cover of his sail covered. All the while spinning in the wind overnight.

Mustings on Mid-Winter:

As I type this there is a 5 degree windchill after the current coldest day of the year. It has NOT been a cold year so far here in “Little Siberia”. That “Moniker” was handed down to us. Thee previous owners of the ranch had generations of observations. . They were describing the tendency of this high ridgeline dry ranch. It always has more snow than the surrounding lower ground. Based on 20 years of observation living here, I would whole heartedly agree with their name and statement. It is colder and wetter up here than the surrounding ground in the winter. In the summer it’s a crap shoot as precipitation is usually from spotty mesocyclones moving over. Somebody gets the rain, others don’t. But in the winter, snow systems are usually pretty broadly spread around the region.

Winter ends in May up here. This year it pushed into late late may. Every season has been offset later this year by the current Solar Minimum.. We are just about dead center of the sunspot cycle low. Turn down the furnace and it get’s colder. Go figure 🤔📷

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

Title: White Windmill Winter Wonderland

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Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines
Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines

This is a capture initiated by the -2 degree evening, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST settling down over the ridge with less than a minute left in the day.

Photographic Musings:

Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 1 mile out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunset for me is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.

Shadow line:

I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles into the light. Here I saw this long line of smaller pines covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.

The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. The trees are my cellulose filter in front of my lens. Regardless, I had to turn my camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment. Be careful pointing your camera into the sun.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sunset Through Frosty Pines

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Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick
Sharpie On A Stick

Sharpie On A Stick

This was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. The Prairie Sharp Tailed Grouse was about 16 feet up. . . It was about 3 degrees F at the time. .…I’ve never seen them eat those seeds before so I’m trying to figure out when perch where he did. There are better trees still with fruit on them in the yard. 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 10 others were hanging out nearby. There is a much larger flock hanging around this year. He was with a smaller division of that group. All the good images I will get of grouse this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

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

Title: Sharpie On A Stick

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Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland
Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Geologic Musings.

Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant in Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.

Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. T All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch . During some years past, they have been totally eroded from my place and are gone. Carried down the drainage one grain at a time. . ‘

Residual Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers above that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there… isolated. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there.

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

Title: Sunrise Side Show Borderland

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Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light
Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light (Full Screen is really a nice way to view with this image).

RIght at sunrise when the light from the sun is colorcast markedly red, any scene with hoar frost reacts vividly. Here on this high ridge with an infinite view to the horizon 100 miles away. This, the same light that makes the Pink “Belt of Venus”. Also responsible for the Red lIghting on distant hills these long traveled rays. Ultimately reflected to my lens. All pink is sky images are reflecting this very light. Those long red rays are going through the most atmosphere. The really bound off the bright white frost flowers and crystals. Catching it digitally is another thing 📷🤔

This scene is produced here to the same colors I experienced that morning. It’s as close as I can do it. Note how the snow in the shadows is grey/white .(natural) While the sunlit pure white frost turns into a nearly fiber optic pink projector screen.

Exposed surfaces to the wind were coated here by 3/4 of an inch of hoar frost. The north side of trees, grass interrupted the air flow of moisture laden air. This changed the “Triple Point” (good google word along water vapor). The Hoar frost growth is ice forming simply by moist air flowing over objects where a SLIGHT pressure change from the turbulence causes deposition of the ice. It’s crystal growth live real time that I’ve watched happening real time during several trips up on the ridges. I have gone up in terrible foggy cold weather to work the flat light before a time or two lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hoar Frost Red Light

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Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs
Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs

I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol

The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.

I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.

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

Title: Drifts Through the Discs

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Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset
Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

I introduce: my new backcountry photo studio “Trail Worthy” workhorse. You locals will see me in this from now on. Please don’t shoot me…..All Black Ford with a camera or two sticking out the window…..Hopefully the animals will accept it….

I have been telling you all that I traded my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That jeep earned it’s “Trail Rated” badge. I’ve been driving it around the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and surrounding backcountry for 15 years with it. It is now out of my hands. I will miss the old truck. I will not miss the ride quality of a Jeep though. This thing rides like a dream. 35 inch studded Goodrich snow tires for the winter up here. Lots of ice around.

Having said that, that bumpy ride of my youth has mutated to this purpose built specialty truck. This is a 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. My old jeep had a 320 Horse Power Hemi motor in it and was “quick/agile. This new truck is heavier but has over 450 Horse Power so the power to weight is familiar to me. It is WAY more agile than that jeep however. It might have some potential high center issues due to it’s length but it has full length skid plate underneath. This reduces the possibility of catching grass on fire on the catalytic converter which hangs out over 1000 degrees. Lots of fires under trucks. I’m thinking not so much here. So many crawling features, so little space here.

The only thing the new rig can’t do is squeeze between one gate on my place that the old jeep cleared by inches on either side. This truck is 8 inches wider than a standard F-150. This makes it much harder to tip over. The 360 degree camera system is novel to me. Backing up is MUCH easier. Computer controlled 14 inch travel suspension….Versus maybe 8 inch with the jeep. WOW.

The biggest upgrade here besides the amazing technology incorporated into the system, is the ability for me to actually carry a passenger. I could never do this in my Jeep as it was always full of gear. Not so much as with the securable dry storage is huge with how I configured the bed. “decked”.

I’ve been peripherally involved with 4 wheel drive. I live off road and drive trails daily. I still own 3 Jeeps after selling off my 2005 Grand Cherokee so I wont be without a smaller ride….. The local 4 wheel Drive Club makes the drive up here every few years lol. If you wish, youtube up the 2008 Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure” video. (an annual video production with 17 professional/semi-pro rig touring one day and 4 wheeling the next for a week). We were stop number 3 I believe with still images from the event here making several Front covers of that magazine’s/media company’s main publication.

Stock Vehicles usually don’t impress me. I am impressed officially to date. It is my new best friend. I have many good memories with my old friend. The king is dead long live the new king! I hope this one lasts as well as the jeep did.

Location: Remote NorthEastern Wyoming/South Eastern Montana borderlands. near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

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Pine Noodle Sun Rise

Pine Noodle Sun Rise
Pine Noodle Sun Rise

Pine Noodle Sun Rise

This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit.

The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly pink color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the sky opposite the sunrise. The “Belt of Venus” which is a very pink Alpenglow phenomena reflecting said pink light back. Pine Needles coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This pink color cast is not that common on local vegetation and is usually only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.

Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

2:1 aspect meant to be a duplex. (2-20×20 frames)

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pine Noodle Sun Rise

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The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing
The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing

I watch this melodrama many times a week. This was a mere opening act in a performance governed by the laws of physics and whims of mother nature that morning.

The Conductor Raises His Wand……. Tap Tap Tap

Photography is indeed a form of art. To learn to draw the eye and mind into an image without the ability of a painter to “make stuff up” takes a while. Composition is all about bringing a story to the observer (you) while engaging / pulling you to look deeper into the image. To bring out memories in you mind, by placing the image into proper perspective. This is my simple goal in each composition. Doing what I do is easy as I’m just following the light trying to encompass it’s meaning.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, northern Campbell County Wyoming about 70 miles from the nearest 3 color traffic light. There are a few red flashers at 50 miles away. No AAA… I live on the same ridge but 4 miles further north of this spot. I can’t see this much of northern Crook County anywhere else I know of or have been to. This ridge blocks my view to the south east direction. I love the sunrises from on top of this ridge. An equally as big a view exists on the west side of this ridge. It’s looking across to the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles away. I can see about 80 miles in this direction to the horizon. It is a 210 mile horizon to horizon sky from up there. Public Road 📸

Title: The Orchestra Starts Playing

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Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming
Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

Catching one coming in is harder than catching on leaving. Trust me on this 🤔📷

Duck when you hear a flock of about 100 of these guys (Sharpies) flying 10 feet over your head. There is a Large group around our compound that mob us about daily now days. These Sharp Tail Grouse are mooches off my barnyard and there i a pretty big flock that hangs out and about the place. My ducks finish feeding time leaving little behind. Amazingly, there always seems to be a flock of these guys sitting watching for an opening to come in for easy pickings. They are indeed flighty if they see human movement.

It was -10 degrees F when I took this image a few weeks ago as this posts. A fairly good sized flock was hanging out in the side yard. A few were nice enough to post for me in bright sunlight when I happened to have a 1200 mm lens with me. Up close and personal is of course the best way to see this wonderful feather patterns. Good camo too … The wind was blowing directly at his rear.

I’ve worked these guys in 30 below windchill and they just hunker down. As a species they seem to weather the storm quite well. Ranging up to Alaska , (The borderlands or Alaska….. humm, close call with Alaska being a bit harsher environment lol. . As far as I can tell, they care not about snow.

They are heavy birds and fall into powder drifts readily lol. They are fairly plump birds which I consider flying boats. One hitting you would ruin your day. They have come close to me before ..

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse Incoming

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Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost
Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost

The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, the Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still very spotty. I had to find a “Slit” through the trees to catch this. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Title: Woven Wire Hoar Frost

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Big Sky Windmill

Big Sky Windmill
Big Sky Windmill

Big Sky Windmill

Windmill Weekday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘

“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has positioned himself dead center of this BIG twilight borderlands twilight sky show. Habitual Photo-bombers like Sneaky are incorrigible. I have no control over their actions.

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. This is a pretty wide and tall image out of a 24mm lens.

Commentary on the weather:

We have way more snow than this at the moment. Winter has been very early this year. There is a lot of snow in the backcountry now and it’s not Christmas yet. IT has been a very moist year with every season being a month off. Spring was late and fall was REALLY EARLY on a Tuesday. Oct 1 Winter began this year. In the past I’ve driven down empty roads through Yellowstone in October before. I’ve never seen as cool/moist as year as this in my 30 years of living in Wyoming. It’s going to be a very long winter I’m afraid.. Starting winter early is bad.😫

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Big Sky Windmill

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Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan
Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan

While Sharp Tailed Grouse don’t migrate, it’s always a good idea to check your directions. 🤗

I have SOOOO many of these guys hanging around it’s actually kind of humorous. I’ve lived here for 20 years with this year having the largest population of of the “Sharpies” I’ve ever seen. I watched a flock of at least 100 of these behemoths. I consider them flying boats. They don’t look to me like they should be able to fly but I’ve seen them glide at least a half mile before. I will get the flock on camera this winter. Snippits so far is the rule….

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is about 8 inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. Uniquely American birds that survived the extinction at the end of the Ice Age. Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Checking Your Flight Plan

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Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker's Dozen Sharp Tailed Grouse
Baker's Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse

Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse is a capture of 13 Fat little Prairie Chickens feeding on Flowering Crab Apples, taken from my front deck 2x3aspect to 3 feetBakers Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse
Talk about a great puzzle!. This one would be just nuts…

As the winter goes on, the Sharpie flocks gradually move in on the main homestead. They attack the peripheral Flowering Crab Trees in our gardens further out first. Then the gradually get used to me moving around. Then they don’t even care if I’m around fairly close by. . The crab “apples” are smaller than cherries in this particular tree.

I never go out with a camera given time looking like a human shape. I love bulky hoods and cloths/coats that hide my human shape. A moving lump scares these guys a lot less than a moving human. It was 7 degrees the early morning I took this and I was working them a while. Spotted them inside and I just took my time getting into position for this. I very slowly opened the outside door of which they could plainly see me. Moving maybe 3 feet a minute with an 8 pound lens and camera to get behind a porch column was necessar. I rested the camera on the column of course and tried to hide my movement behind it.

This is a 1200 mm telephoto image from about 40 feet distance from my camera lens.

There are indeed 13 grouse in this image. Feel free to count them. I’ve done it a few times very carefully and I’m seeing 13. There were a LOT more in the tree. I couldn’t get the detail I wanted and have the shot wider. The local Sharp Tail Flock around our homestead is at LEAST 100 individuals at the moment. I’ve never seen this many birds winter up here before. It was a VERY good grass year so I will stick with that as a reason.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Baker’s Dozen Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day
Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!

Shed Horn Sheath.

That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.

I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.

I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bad Horn Day

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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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Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider
Orb Weaver Winter Spider

Orb Weaver Winter Spider: Captured December 1, 2019. ….. Inside…..

Araneus diadematus (Cross Orb Weaver) I believe is the correct ID. I am certainly not a spider specialist however they are photogenic.

We have been under winter/cold fall conditions outside since October first. So I’m looking out the front window and notice this little home invader. It had set up shop having built a pretty good web overnight. We were sleeping of course. It had a plan to get all the bugs in here.

This is a defensive posture as he was less than thrilled with a tripod and very bright lens was put in his face. Earlier, he REALLY didn’t like the high intensity UV light I put him under to see how he looked under UV. I was disappointed in it’s appearance under UV light. I resorted to plain old LED light of a Surefire Flashlight. (About 1000 lumen.) t’s not like flies were busy getting trapped in his web. It was 30 degrees outside so he wasn’t going anywhere. Best photographic subject ever trapped with no way out lolol. I actually ended up putting him down in my Walipini Aquaponic Greenhouse (the only one in Wyoming we think still). Hopefully he’ll say on ground level (there is a 20 foot back wall) and I’ll have more of this guy.

I actually have this guy as a baby spider. I took a family photo. A few thousand of these little guys hatched out about 30 feet from this spot. They spread to the wind. This one stuck by close enough to make it in the door somehow before winter and has been hanging low ever since. It will survive the winter. I doubt there is another of it’s species in my greenhouse so probably it won’t reproduce. There are plenty of things to eat down there though. Spiders keep crickets down so I don’t mind having a few harmless ones out.

I keep a Black Widow under glass down there to feed crickets to though :). She’s a big one. I’ll get her on film soon I’m thinking😀

You guys on “PhotoAssignment”, you can hear my wife (and some of you) scream! 😋

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (front picture window inside!)

Title: Orb Weaver Winter Spider

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Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail
Sharp Tail Grouse's Tail

Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail was a capture from 30 feet away with a LONG 1200mm fast lens. Sitting on a copper plate that protects the top of our main gate posts (18 inches in diameter) and 16 feet high. . It was about -2 at the time. . Frost on the copper… I would think the copper would be cold to stand on but what do I know? 😵

I was in my Jeep working out the drivers window. This guy and a flock of at least 50 others were hanging out nearby. There is a very large flock hanging around this year. All the good images I will get this year will be from inside of my vehicle. If Sharp Tailed Grouse see a human, they take off for a good distance. I understand they can fly for several miles at a time. From up here on the ridges, they could glide for 20 miles lololol. These guys are plump prairie Chickens.

The native Americans called them Fire Chickens because they would take advantage of burnt out areas moving in very quickly to take advantage of the feeding opportunities. They are plump birds for sure lolol. At least it doesn’t make their tail look fat ……. cue top hat rif…

They really don’t occur in the east or much bast Wisconsin OR west of the continental divide. They are quite a large grouse with the characteristic pointy tail. The purple cheek bags the males puff out in breeding season is spectacular. I will get to that one too ….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sharp Tail Grouse’s Tail

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Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…

There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.

The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.

I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise

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Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles
Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

Satire: This young punk pine tree was sure that getting his needles “noodled” would upset his adult mentors. The 1/8th inch of ice sure gave him a frosty “do”. I suspect he was about ready to go hang out down in the gully where he could watch things move down drainage at a geologic pace. It’s not a very exciting place to grow up out in the backcountry.😉

Back to my normal programming…

SO it was -2, I was walking a high ridge, the pines were all ‘noodled’ on the north side of the tree. . The sun has been up for maybe 20 minutes so thusly is just cresting the ridge. The crisp air is moving and seeping into my gloves/mittens which are almost always my limiting factor. I’ve worked up here with -30 wind-chills many times. I’ve had various cameras (mostly old used Canon 5D’s) freeze up at those temps. . Rapid temperature changes aren’t good for anything but you don’t want to keep your cameras cold either.

“Winter is Coming” (If you don’t know the classic reference by now, you need to read a few books lolol). I actually enjoyed the audiotapes of “game of thrones” tremendously while building things in my shops.

In reality it’s been here since Oct 1 and the day before was fall. (fall was on a tuesday this year). Oct 1 is when winter started up here which continue till April anyway. Winter does bring certain photographic opportunities however and I enjoy the crisp cold. It’s easy down here at 4000 feet after living at 6200 feet in Jackson Hole for a decade. Warm here but MUCH windier here in the borderlands.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective: Frosty Pine Noodles

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Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise
Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise is a perspective at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.

Photographic musings:

For some reason, I’m drawn to perspectives under icy sunrises. Focus close requirement(1) plus a sun show far (2)is my goal. Putting them in the same focal field is top on my list for planning this capture.

These two “priorities” fortunately compliment each other while in your Manual Mode camera settings. High light gives you the ability to set your widest lens to it’s highest fstop setting f-22 (ish). This cuts back light considerably which you need . It also lets you focus on things 10 inches in front of this particular wide lens AND have the background in focus. I always pay attention when I’m buying lenses to look for ones with the shortest distance to focus close. (macro) but if you want to do this, you need a wide angle say 12-24mm lens with a close focus.

Shutter speed 1/100 – 1/400 depending on your light conditions and ISO (camera sensitivity) is low like ISO 100 or ISO 200. This was a very bright light environment in the distance but just. The sun was just clearing the ridge.

The right gloves for cold work. There are many brands but I use:

The joy of -2 degrees is that the gear doesn’t like it, but my fingers take the brunt of the cold abuse. They don’t operate the equipment as well either if chiled.. I wear glove/mittens by “Red Head” that have the ability to open up your fingers. Fine detailed adjustments on a camera take more tactile feedback than through a glove sometimes. Finding your location on your camera body is the biggest problem. I find it is always better to have warm fingers and have quicker control of the camera bodies settings oddly enough lol. “Red Head Mittens” have been used by this photographer down to a -20 windchill with good results. I was tougher then though……

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise

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Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to Sunrise
Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

Perspective: Snag to Sunrise is a view right as the sun was coming up over the hill. The grass was just starting to highlight, the air was very crisp at -2 degrees. I tend to work wide lenses in really cold weather. They do better with a shivering photographer I think. Long lenses don’t like the shake lolol.

It had snowed about 4 inches but the 1/8th inch of ice that covered everything was problematic walking around the uneven slopes. The footing was treacherous as seeing sticks under the snow was not a sure thing. THe reason they call fallen logs snag, is that they snag you walking near them lolol.

Perspectives that go from closest focus (12 inches with this lens) to infinity are a challenge to compose. Having the snag as a leading line is an easy choice but the ice covered snag was sure novel to me. I worked this hillside through this entire sunrise…. until I got a tad chilled and then headed back to the Jeep. A few dozen good captures came from that morning. Winter has sure come early this year.

I can still get up on the ridges though and today (a week ago as this posts) is 50 degrees and muddy. We get a bit of a warm snap before it get’s serious lolol. I figure by late November this year we’re going to have a foot flat +and it won’t melt till late February. Winter is long here in the borderlands on the high ridges.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Snag to Sunrise

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Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse
Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is only a few inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. These birds are found only on the North American continent. . Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

The They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse.

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Perspective “Brace Yourself”

Perspective "Brace Yourself"
Perspective "Brace Yourself"

Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..

This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫

So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.

I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.

I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective “Brace Yourself”

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Barn Cat Yawning About Winter

Barn Cat Yawning About Winter
Barn Cat Yawning About Winter

Barn Cat Yawning About Winter is a true story. He’s bored (and maybe a little starved for O2 since he just wok up) lolol.

It was about -2 out (about a week ago as this posts) and this cat was already bored by the cold. Three of them were sleeping up along this south facing decking and inside of about a 6 inch snow free area. The sun was “warm”, the 10mph (way minus wind was blocked by the deck. Our group of 6 barn cats (oilfield kitten rescue) are all neutered, tame and vet checked/medicated.

We take very good care of them so don’t worry about the temps up here. All of them have gone through -30 before in many previous Wyoming Winters. They are 6 years old.

A fairly famous scientist, Carl Linnaeus named the domestic cat Felis catus within the scientific naming system. Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778), AKA with his ennoblement title as Carl von Linné , was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. The system we use today. So he got all the easy stuff done first lololol.

All animals are scientifically names (and thus grouped with other similar creatures) within his naming system. It’s a good google if your into scientific names to find out they SYSTEM. . It’s one of my weaknesses but I do know the language of paleontology . I take to scientific names like the proverbial peas to carrots….as long as it’s a fossil 😜 Paleontology students are given this assignment somewhere along the road in their education. Good to know.

If someone asked you to go take a photo of a yawning cat….. good luck with that🤔. Doing so might take a while for you to get it. I just randomly was in the right place at the right time with a long lens on a camera ready to click. I caught a few more sleeping cats on the snow with this session. (they could go in a nice warm barn but the sun was too inviting). Stay tuned 📸

Location: Front Deck, Homestead Compound, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Barn Cat Yawning About Winter

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Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

Frosty ComTower Guy Wires
Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

WIth these Frosty ComTower Guy Wires being covered by 1/8th inch of ice, they had a sag in them but not too muchmuch. I have seen them much more heavily loaded. This tower has been on this ridgetop for over a decade now. There was a LOT of thought that went into this connections.

Engineering is not my forte but I’ve had to dabble at times. I’m a ham Radio Operator plus our business band so we need a com tower lol. This is 1 of the three cable connection points that holds up the 60 foot tall structure on a tall ridge. It sees other towers in the area which enable us and others to get broadband up here. Our internet is pretty fast at times. (at times being the key phrase lol) .

There is an 8 foot long dead man 4inch diameter pipe. Thus is attached well the Rod that comes out of the ground attaching to the turnbuckles. The cables are all triple clamped of course. Look carefully at the rod as it comes out of the ground. There are spikes welded to it.

Those Points at the base dissipate static. This takes some potential away from the tower itself. Everything is thermite welded copper connections, lightning there instead of the taller tower that has smooth edges. Sharp point metal attract lightning. These are the points of ionization /static build up dicharge. They are a good start to a plasma ionized air channel to a lightning bolt. There is a ring and a “star” of recycled copper water pipe buried several feet deep as a ground plain and a grounding network.

This system has been in a lightning rich area high on an exposed ridge with a 60 foot tower of steel pointing straight up to the sky. For over a decade, I’ve never lost any Equipment to lightning up there so far. The building there is a faraday cage literally. Lightning has stayed out of there to date.

Contrast is king in this photo I’m thinking. 🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Frosty ComTower Guy Wires

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Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Wyoming Roaming Road Block
Wyoming Roaming Road Block

Here the local Wyoming Roaming Road Block was down in the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. These are Pronghorn Bucks still with antlers (not for long) and does mixed. They are on the move migrating down to that remote grassland to winter over the rough Wyoming Winter.

As this was taken, I was on the road to Gillette from my ranch for a ‘day trip”. It’s about 25 gravel road miles to this spot. Then another 12 miles of gravel before I run into concrete in the form of St. Rt. 59 (Wyoming) .

The Thundbasin National Grasslands are huge chunks (several spread around a few states) of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land with very few inholdings by private land holders. These ‘reserves” are hundreds of square miles of just an occasional power line and stock well or solar well. Of course there is the obligatory oil well facility but these guys don’t care about buildings. Usually geothermally warm water is the only running water and there is a few of those sources around here. They are oasis’s in the winter for wildlife living near them.

I’ve seen many very large herds of Pronghorn roaming just off one of the few maintained roads out there. Vehicle traffic is prohibited within the national grasslands. The only way to get miles back and up high is to horseback or walk in. I gave up horses a decade ago and walking more than a few miles backcountry with 20 pounds or so of gear gets pretty old pretty fast in the winter I have found. Reminds me of deer hunting when I was way younger. I’ll stick to the roads down in this country lol.

Location:25 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Thunder Basin National Grasslands, Campbell County Wyoming.

Title: Wyoming Roaming Road Block

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Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

Windmill Blowing Clouds Away
Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

What I like about a Windmill Blowing Clouds Away is that it is a dual illusion image. I can also clearly imagine an “Imperial Battle Cruiser in the cloud shape. Anybody that has actually not seen Star Wars Imperial battle cruiser…. you should stay under your rock lolol. OK, I understand that there are a few people that don’t like Star Wars but I have a history with Harrison Ford.

Back in 1999, I owned a little internet ISP in Jackson Hole named Blissnet and Harrison had an email address there. I also owned the macintosh repair operation in Jackson and was on call for macintosh work. I was called into his place by one of his people. Met Harrison and worked with him on several projects. I have many stories that I could share but I will share this one.

Harrison had bought a Mac Power book and a program that he could speak into and the software would type what he says. It was a fairly complicated install with external mics and headsets. The program required the user to read just one of several options of first chapters of various books. He chose the first chapter of Moby Dick.

So Harrison Ford is sitting immediately right of me reading into his computer the first chapter of Melville’s masterpiece. I had goose bumps the size of the Tetons.😝. He was brilliant and actually performed the verse as he went. Not standing up but it was by far the best read of ANYTHING I have ever heard.

Maybe some more HF stories later as I digress at some future date…

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill Blowing Clouds Away

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Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation
Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation

Here is a Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation that I pulled out of a series of photos where the lighting was all the same and the flakes were transparent in the lighting. I pulled each one of them out of the back ground and placed them on this parchment for an antique look. This could have come out of an 1800’s book stone etching of the same topic. It didn’t, it came out of mother nature and my digital dark room.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bliss Ranch Snowflake Compilation