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Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro
Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

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

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

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

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

Title: Spurge Hawk Moth Macro

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Up Close and Personal Sunset

Up Close and Personal Sunset
Up Close and Personal Sunset

Up Close and Personal Sunset

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

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

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

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

Title: Up Close and Personal Sunset

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Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset
Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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

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

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

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

Title: Perspective Wildflowers at Sunset

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Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

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

Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Tree Growing Out of a Boulder

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Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter
Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

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

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

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

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

Title: Sunrise Snow Squall Filter

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Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue
Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

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

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

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

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

Title: Crazy Corriente Cow Tongue

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Horned Owl Grounded

Horned Owl Grounded
Horned Owl Grounded

Horned Owl Grounded

Gotta look close here….

This is not something I see everyday lol. Owls bolt quickly if approached or I don’t see them at all. They blend in rather well. I was “quietly” driving down low in a wash/gully in my UTV. Owls as a whole, stay tree perched. This one was eating a tid-bit of something, perched stationary on the side of a hill/ground. He was VERY well camo’d and I just caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. His feathers are a disruptive camo to your eye. I have NO idea how I saw him… 😄

A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common owl in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America. Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!

My path taken here is the proverbial “Low” road . This ground is a wonderfully dissected steep topography. Low ground between the fingers of the drainage reaching to the higher hills nearby . This forest has the spirits of dinosaur walking about as fossils do roll out of the golden Cretaceous River Sands here. It seems to me that all the Dinosaurs didn’t die at the end of the Cretaceous with the meteor/bolide that “killed the dinos”. That Extinction Level Event (ELE) killed 80 percent of Life on the planet . Took place a mere 66 million years back if you believe a geologist/paleontologist.

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

Title: Horned Owl Grounded

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Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus
Calf Suckling Momma Angus

Calf Suckling Momma Angus

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

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

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

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

Title: Calf Suckling Momma Angus

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Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar
Really Large Sun Pillar

Really Large Sun Pillar

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Really Large Sun Pillar

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Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer
Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Kestrel Sizing Up Photographer

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Ford Raptor April Moon

Ford Raptor April Moon
Ford Raptor April Moon

Ford Raptor April Moon

I will take a photo of anything in Perspective with the moon. The Far Ridge is 40 miles out. My truck/office/photostudio is about 200 yards from the camera. I just love how telephoto lenses CRUSH perspective. This is the “Pink” moon in it’s true shade lol. I guess it was less embarrassed that it has been in past years and just went orange just for this sitting.

From here on down I worked this moon extensively. This April 2020’s Pink moon had a window to it’s rise and set every time near full illumination this month. I seldom get one chance a month let alone 3 terminator crossings in a row while full close to the horizon. This was a rare weather window. I’m about a week behind with most posts. I bring some images forward ahead of the line to finish the same day but not very many.

From my homestead, it’s about a 3 mile two track trip to get to this high point on a remote ridge in Wyotana. This was still 20 minutes before sunrise which would occur over my shoulder. You get a glimpse of that sunrise in the Ford Raptors aluminum wheel. So far this is an exemplary expedition vehicle for me. New in December I have 1200 miles on it with 800 of that being in the backcountry. It is literally a ranch truck that I’ve been known to take into town. I used to go into town about once a month. These days, I have gone into town more than that as I was delivering product from my day job. I work in an “essential” occupation according to Homeland Security… . Nuff Said on that.

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

Title: Ford Raptor April Moon

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Dual Nature of the Twilight

Dual Nature of the Twilight
Dual Nature of the Twilight

Dual Nature of the Twilight

Sunrise, Moon set. This remote backcountry road here in the late Wyotana spring is easy to get around on. As I type this a spring storm dumped 6 inches on everything but the light has been flat. Six or more inches of snow that did blow around graces our backcountry drives now. At least for a few days we will avoid the mud season with 8 degrees on April 2nd, 2020. Winter comes late to the high ground of Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana).

The look back and the sky beyond is a technical challenge I’ve been working on for years. Occasionally I get one just as I remembered the scene. The inadequate technology in the cameras is unable to overcome the limitations of the physics of the moment. With a removable lens camera, this is the technical walking a tightrope. You can only capture deep focus images like this in Manual mode with a really good DSLR or mirrorless camera. It would be way easier I believe with almost any cell phone in the country. 🤣

I miss the familiarity/control of my old Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was under me for 15 years in this backcountry and never got me stuck. Of course I traded it in back in December, 2019. Last Truck sold by the local Ford Dealer that Decade. … The Raptor I drive now is WAY better but not as familiar yet. Knowing where the wider vehicle is…. tough… I digress. What a sky 📸👀

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

Title: Dual Nature of the Twilight

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Moon Balancing on Tree Stump

Moon Balancing on Tree Stump
Moon Balancing on Tree Stump

Moon Balancing on Tree Stump

Moon Lollipop? : Full Moon Landing? : Ent Showing off Celestial Basketball?, Backcountry Harlem Globetrotters Tryouts? …… So many titles, so little space and time. 🤣📷

I find that celestial objects follow a routine in their movements. This governs my movements pursuing it’s light. Our companion in space has habits that humans have noticed over time. Many synchronize to it in ways not entirely understood. There has always been a connection between humans and the moon. Just ask any Emergency Room Doctor on Full Moon Nights. I think women even more are connected than men. Your results may vary 🤔👀

Blamed for many things historically the moon has. That lunar disk has played an important role in our history and even language. “Lunatic” is derived from several languages denotes to the madness or hysteria caused by the moon. Then even from the Old English “monseoc,” implying lunatic, epileptic and “lunatic” literally translates to “moon-sick”; From the Latin word “lunaticus,” . That originally referred mostly to epilepsy and madness. Such diseases were thought to be imparted to humans. The moon was responsible for that.

The ancients certainly noticed strange human behavior coterminous with the appearance of the full moon. As a police officer in Ohio, I noticed an increase in strange events during the full moon. The scuttle butt in the station was “watch out, it’s a full moon. Interestingly, I heard the same during my years as an EMT from that group. Hearsay.

You just have to be there to look at the right time and place about 200 yards away…… 😜😜

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

Title: Moon Balancing on Tree Stump

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Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising
Blue Veiled Moon Rising

Blue Veiled Moon Rising

This is the second image from this timeline I finished.

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps. I look at this with awe. It’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows this. Agood moon halo is tough to capture. Dynamic Range is a big deal in cameras if your working in dim light. The ability to see that halo is a direct function of your cameras ability to see the details of the hair on a black cat in a coal bin. Just apply that attribute here.

Photographic Musings: To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto.) Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings you have control of in Manual Mode. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses.

Everything changes if you are using a fast f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. 15 f-stops dynamic ranch in these high end Sony Cameras ….. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights. I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. A 600mm supertelephoto lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either E-bay or Amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated. 🤔👀📸

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

Title: Blue Veiled Moon Rising

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Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon
Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.

I look at this with awe as it’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows a good halo to be captured around the moon.

Photographic Musings:

To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.

I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. That lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.

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

Title: Once in a Blue Moon

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Tire Tank Frost Feathers

Tire Tank Frost Feathers
Tire Tank Frost Feathers

Tire Tank Frost Feathers

I was checking stock tanks the other day. We had just enjoyed 4 days of overcast foggy AND windy conditions, all below freezing. There was a lot of moisture in the air freezing on what ever it contacted. Where ever there are disruptions in air flow, Hoar frost forms under these conditions. These are 3 inch long feathers which rank among the largest I’ve seen before in person. The tank water is flowing ground water. It’s 50 degrees versus the 20 degrees or lower of the surrounding colder dry air. You can watch the water vapor stir off the top surface of the tank in calm wind.

Here it attached to the thick rubber Equipment tire’s cut edge. These Coal Mine Truck Tires wore out, time to repurpose. Cost maybe 12 grand or more new. I bought one recently installed for 700 bucks. The thick rubber tire is laid down on prepared ground. Powdered concrete under the center drain PVC pipe already in place. This seals the tank upon filling the first time. These tanks will last a century and are a one time installation for me. They would be virtually impossible to hurt. Your truck would bounce off of them if you ran into it. Might break the seal lolol. Occasionally one will spring a leak, just drop some powdered concrete over the hole and fill it up with water will usually patch it. Repurposing is a ranching tradition.

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

Title: Tire Tank Frost Feathers

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Windmill Moon Over Trees

Windmill Moon Over Trees
Windmill Moon Over Trees

Windmill Moon Over Trees

“Sneaky Pete”the Windmill here provides a perspective regardless of his intent to photo-bomb this moon capture. I have no control over his actions. He just likes the attention. He and his bigger older brother “Re Pete” live and work here on ranch. They seem to work their way into my landscapes way higher than the statistical average compared to other ranch creatures. 😜😜😀

Photographic Musings: Manual Mode Phobia: (You know who you are) …. Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image. I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.

You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings. Balancing that light teeter totter requires you to set what is important to you first. More on this later.

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

Title: Windmill Moon Over Trees

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Trees Growing Out of Boulders

Trees Growing Out of Boulders
Trees Growing Out of Boulders

Trees Growing Out of Boulders

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Trees Growing Out of Boulders

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Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills
Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

This is a diptych left right pair image consisting of 2 – 20 inch squares. I really adore natural pastel colorations when they occur in Alpenglow. This is a north view looking across the Wyoming Montana border (trees are in Wyoming, mountains in Montana). Posted as second image of this mountain chain through these trees that I posted today. Please take the time to look at the other one and compare.

Most of the Great Master Painters of their day composed their art redoing over and over many scenes they discovered in their world. Say painting Big Ben in 20 different lighting conditions. I am BY NO MEANS a master painter. That is up the big guy upstairs who is responsible for most of the color work. My job is as a stenographer taking down punctuated moments in space and time. I don’t make this sky up lol. Thusly I will follow in those painters footsteps (err, brushstrokes). If their experience continues to be the teacher that I have learned it is over the years.

Those master painters of the 16th-19th century were more or less isolated by the transportation of the day. They were where they were so to speak. I consider each photo I take of the same scene but under different light and environmental conditions, a study of the natural perfection in that place. The framing doesn’t change much from study to study but the background morphs with the time of day, the weather and the yearly cycles. I try hard to stay in tune with all this. The complexity of nature is something that I’ve slowly started to realize as I spend more and more time in it.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Twilight Overlook Mud Hills

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Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook
Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

Autumn Mud Hills Overlook (Brown Season)

I am literally shooting across the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. The trees in the foreground are in Wyoming. The range to the north in Montana. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first range north of my ranch across the Ranch Creek Drainage.

Called the “treed” pasture this fraction of the ranch is about 2 square miles of grazing patch of mixed pine trees and grassy hills and gullies. It is a land of many uses: Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July.

We move cattle out of this pasture in early July. This facilitates the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship courses 3 and 4 use. This ground has been home to a nationally ranked Team Tactical Rifle Championship for 18 years. Almost 4 miles of groomed rifle courses in 16 shooting stations. All exposing 150 fixed reactive steel Targets out to 1200 yards. This location is the last (or first) station on course 3 lolol. Snipers nest with literally thousands of precision rifle shots at those reactive steel targets down range.

There are a few dozen locations (I’ve found so far) within this “Pasture” that has Hell Creek/Lance Formation. These rock contain dinosaurian (and others) fossils. I found my first dinosaur tooth in this pasture 18 years ago. I knew they were here, I just didn’t know where. You do have to look though occasionally I stumble on dinosaur bones laying in the grass. Just like any other stone in the middle of the prairie lol.. I have found several fossil locations that way. You can’t find them if you can’t see them lolol.

We even have had a nationally released 4×4 video in 2008 filmed here. Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Magazine filmed part of their “Ultimate Adventure” video series here that year. It’s out there if you want to watch several high end jeeps flip over. All trying to climb out of some of the soft sandstone lined gullies. As I say, a land of many uses…

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

Title: Autumn Mud Hills Overlook

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Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water
Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Homestead Reflections Melt Water

Veiled Sun begun, the waters of life in it’s various forms all in this capture. Vapor, Liquid and Solid all co-exist under the moderating winter up here on the high ridges. Phase change occurring live real time in this “Action” photo lolol.

Currently we are loosing snow pack and the ponds are filling. Not all melts as much snow directly sublimates (google this) in this dry climate. Melting of course accounts for much snow pack depletion in the spring.

Here it undergoes a temporary pause on a long trek to the sea. Melt water ponded up in our front yard along it’s normal course through our homestead’s compound. The snow pack preventing normal contours from flowing water to the water ways on the ranch. Remaining still is about a foot of snow covering the ground. This after a long period of 50 degree days in Late February / Early March 2020. We are low on snow this year locally. I’d like to see a few more feet till early May but at 4 inches at a time from 30 degree windless storms. I’m sure I’ll get that wish…. 😜😜👀

Living up on a high ridge mean we often have snow when at lower elevations there is no coverage currently. Drop 500 feet off our plateau to the adjacent lower drainage is instructive to the paucity of accumulated frozen precipitation this year. This situation is what I call mud / ice season, sort of a sub category of white season. Green Season is 2 months away yet. Last freeze is mid-may. The mud effectively keeps me out of the backcountry 😔📷

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

Title: Homestead Reflections Melt Water

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SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills
SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills (off season)

The perspective on this wide angle shot was amazing to me and I see this view regularly. Wyoming is on the left and Montana is on the right looking west right down the 45th parallel. (1/2 way precisely between the Equator and the North Pole coincidentally) This became a well dissected landscape. Rocks fractured due to freezing ice/ dry cycles is a huge process.. Boulders break into smaller and smaller iterations with enough time. Each sand grain thus formed actuates from the motion of wind and water. One sand grain at a time, the hillocks wear down, wash to the Gulf of Mexico

I stand on Cretaceous age sands but the Olive green tainted hills distant are younger age. Their rocks formed from sediments washed over 130 miles away from the BigHorn Mountains. This outwash from that massive tectonic uplift so far away transported here in the form of a “Fangclomerate” deposit. Those beds deposited eons after debris from the Big Horns filled up the tectonic “bathtub” . Located at their eastern mountain front (called the Powder River Basin).

The current rivers/hydrologic regime wore many thousands of feet of that debris off the older sediments I stand on. That just to expose them to the sky. All the dirt/rocks/sediment that USED to be above me, is currently all in transport to or in the Gulf of Mexico’s Mississippi River Delta. Just like the Prairie Dog Hills are made of sediments in Transport From the BigHorns (their source), to the gulf of Mexico (sink). Ultimately all of this ground will wash into the Gulf. That is assuming all precesses we observe today, continue into the future (a primary assumption in Geology/science)

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

Title: SkyScape Prairie Dog Hills

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Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart
Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

Way Back Wednesday: Back in early June of 2019 (or fast forward 3 months) this scene appeared in front of me. I often walk around our ranches “compound” . We have an electric fence around it precluding deer from entering. So we actually have landscape plants and flowers that survive. You can’t believe the amount of work that fence took lolol. It was absolutely necessary however with the average lifespan of a freshly planted tree being measured in days before the fence. Deer cost me many thousands of dollars before I spent more on the fence to prevent the former. 😔. It was a good project to complete…

Setting the stage:

It had just rained, everything was green, a smell of ozone was in the air, almost a chlorine smell it was so clean. After the long “Slog” through mud season, the ground started to firm, the plants start to grow. The average last day of frost here is mid- may. A lot of the perennials here come up earlier than that last frost. It was very late last year with Lilac blooming into July 4th (noted specificially).

Here in early March 2020, a blizzard just came through. When this posts, we have just had a warm week with all the snow melting and starting that mud season. The cycle repeats….🤔😀

The Iris is Native to Croatia. The Bleeding Heart is a form of Poppy native to Asia. Both hanging out on the Montana/Wyoming border. What are the chances…..😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Bearded Iris and a Bleeding Heart

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Gate Framed Setting Moon

Gate Framed Setting Moon
Gate Framed Setting Moon

Gate Framed Setting Moon

Done in the camera (not a crop), I call this what I consider a “formally” framed image.👀 I took a great deal of precious time to precisely alight that gate with the edge of the frame. Hard to do with the angle I had to acquire to line up the banded cloud veiled moon. Camera lens distortion and other laws of physics applied. It was pretty dark too I point out as the sun hasn’t risen just yet that morning. Taken later in the fall after the first snow. All melted in this particular capture. It’s all covered by the white stuff at the time I post this in early March 2020.

There are only a few days a month when the full moon is still up while there is enough light to capture a landscape. A significant portion of those morning have obscured (as best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.

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

Title: Gate Framed Setting Moon

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Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Mule Deer Buck
Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Mule Deer Buck

Big Male Mule Deer go to 330 pounds and the females go to 200 pounds. The are actually indigenous to North America. Those distinctive “Mule” shaped ears are obvious. They hear extremely well with those big sound catchers. I suspect they use their sense of smell way more though to detect danger. These guys are herbivores. They are survivors of what in the sequence of events back in the day, killed all the MegaFauna during the Pleistocene 11000 years ago.

Biologists say that a Bucks neck will swell up as showing the Mule Deer Buck Near Rut capture. They will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference adding more muscle mass. This is all related of course to the Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

Scientific data indicates: a big testosterone surge causes this growth. That dose of steroids makes the neck muscles get big and also causes the deer to become more aggressive. I had a close encounter with a deer in my back yard a few Novembers ago.

Photographic Musings.

I get to see some nice bucks occasionally. Getting their image is another thing altogether. Usually this is a random event out of nowhere which demostrates Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera/lens with you. I go out onto the ranch land with a box of cameras as standard accessories. . Each one set up with a different lens. If I wan’t to load up for some special event. My standard photographic field gear lenses collectively cover from 10 – 1200 mm focal lengths entirely and I CAN carry gear to go to 6400mm effectively if I have to. Taken with a 3200mm telescopic/ astronomical refractor telescope. By far the cheapest way to get into really long lenses.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Mule Deer Buck

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Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past
Shadows of the Past

Shadows of the Past

Winter sets in deep during mid-February. The cycle of the year repeats over the century this ground has been settled/worked.. This tractor first chugged along in 1939. The first year of the International M tractor. I need to change the tires on it but it runs if I add gas and give it a jump. It has a crank on the front but I’m not as strong as I used to be. (or foolish). I’ve driven this around pulling this and that on the ranch over the time I’ve had it. Lost a tire a year ago and have to just cough up the cash lol. A big ranch operation takes time and money spent fixing things. 😜

The long late day winter sun throws deep shadow casts on the ice crystal projector screen the surface provides. The contrasts present were blinding to the human eye. Those in and of themselves are unable to behold such a scene unaided by technology. The Icy surface intensifies the glare reflecting into your vision. You instantly avert your eyes to avoid damaging them. Sunglasses would have been inadequate. You can not look directly at the sun with them. Mirrorless cameras have significant ability to turn down the volume on the incoming light. I see the scene on a video screen before I commit to take the image. You’ll want to have a full frame mirrorless before attempting this.

Disclaimer. Do not do this with a DLSR as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. This could EASILY blind you instantly. I only use Sony Alpha 7 R series cameras which has no direct light path internally to your eye.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Shadows of the Past

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Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing
Buck Boys Club Trailing

Buck Boys Club Trailing

Only the Yucca and the Highest grass is standing above the snow back in this backcountry cul-de-sac of a valley. I was driving the ridges adjacent to this lower area. I’m able to drive mostly two tracks at the time I type this. It has been drifting a bit in the backcountry lately. Makes it hard on me. Tricky…

I have seen this group around in several familiar locations to them and myself. . These 3.5/4.5 year olds all have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. They have slowly started to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my new vehicle now. How I approach them is the same. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m a grazing animal. Stopping, moving a little and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before.

I wasn’t destined to integrate with the herd here, the terrain was against me getting to them in the first place. Problematic is the travel noise my rig was making. Too much noise busting over/through snow crust. Crunchy noises are not the best way to make deer comfortable I have determined. Make no mistake these are wild deer. These guys were moving slowly across the landscape trailing to bedding in this late day light. They each to an animal have seen me drive around here in my new rig quite a few times now. Hard to get this close in the snow however.

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

Title: Buck Boys Club Trailing

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Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych
Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych (3 – 20×20 inch images. )

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. For this Phenomena to occur, big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych

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Longhorn Bulls Fighting at Twilight

Longhorn Bulls Fighting at Twilight
Longhorn Bulls Fighting at Twilight

Longhorn Bulls Fighting at Twilight

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

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

Musings on Narratives:

I write like Trump talks. Chain of consciousness plus I type very fast. Believe it or not, there is a technical reason to have long narratives on your post if your a budding professional photographer as myself. Google will take note of you more/better and place you higher on search results. There are all sorts of technical things I do in my narratives to attract google. The saying is: If your not on the first or second page of google, your not going to be found. 300 words plus it is minimum per image I post.

I am currently posting 5 images a day each taking over an hour to do. That’s around 1700 words I write each day. I’m not sure who’s going to compile it into book but I hope it’s not me lolol. I’m sure a few books have already narrated in my postings and I have them all in a pile I can access.. Easy to assemble by sorting pages. The pages are out there already lolol.

I LOVE shares by the way ❤️ They are the nicest compliment you can give an artist on FaceBook short of buying his/her art lol.

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

Title: Longhorn Bulls Fighting at Twilight

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Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky

Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky
Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky

Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky (A good one of Halloween or just a Wednesday….).

Let me say right off, I did NOTHING to this image but crop it size it and put my signature on it. It is as it came out of the camera. It definitely matches the scene I was watching 40 miles out from my position on Rattlesnake Ridge. I have at least another 1/2 dozen images pulled back of this with the images “face ” slowly morphing into a not as good a happy face.

I’m always looking for figures in the sky but this one gave me goose bumps. I didn’t know whether this character was carrying a sickle or not lolol. Reminds me of a Nickolas Cage character that did a lot of flaming up on his bike in “Ghost Rider”. (Classical Reference). It even has a bandana. It’s probably just me.

Ok, It’s a scientific/atmospheric. phenomena. Falling ice platelets, reflective surfaces of same, resulting in a strong reflection with a pillar. The clouds on top prevented almost any other light from coming through. It was VERY dark where I was but for this spot light at the foot of the Red Hills 40 miles out.

One more redeeming characteristic in this image. It forms a very nice natural Letter T for my Collection of images of nature forming letters. A colorful letter T to boot. This was truly an extreme / unique sunset event as I’ve never seen such a display before.

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

Title: Sun Pillar Spirits in the Sky