IT’s obvious by the wear and tear on the wood under this hole that it has been landed on thousands of times. The relentless job of feeding young, the coming and going of small but strong claws grasping for purchase there. Someone took the time to hollow out this hole and I’m betting on Common Flickers being involved. That species is by far the most active Pecking bird that I see here in the borderlands.
Close/Far Perspectives are my stock and trade with cameras. I really enjoy working wide angle close focus lenses. Using natural lines drawing your eye to the vanishing point it a long used technique in both painting AND photography. I can think of no finer subject than a majestic tree that gave it’s life to become a home. I’m sure this abode will be here 20 years further on down the road as the tree itself is sound yet. Unprotected wood can survive perhaps 100 years in this dry climate. We have ranch / farm implements that old with wood parts remaining but that was hardwood. This tree is pine.
This tree has several other shelters contained within it’s natural architecture. Several other similar entrances grace it’s remaining substantial bulk as a 15 foot tall standing stump. It’s top laying off to the side bleaching in the summer sun, it’s branches slowly being rubbed off by cattle pushing against to scratch an itch. Wildlife trees are special places providing food and home to a host of backcountry creatures.
I traveled 180 miles to get to this windmill before sunrise and of course have a whole timeline of this trip but this was the best capture of the drive. I was doing a presentation to a committee for a donation to the our 501C3 fundraiser for wounded warriors we hold every July.
The butte behind was such a good background I was torn how to compose this and settles on this. I had to stay on the road as this was well fenced off plus it isn’t my ground so I tend to stay off working only from the road. There is plenty to do from the road I point out.
Old Wooden Windmill towers are good for MAYBE 50 years. Some may last a bit longer. This is over in southern Campbell Country. . . There is big backcountry down there south of Gillette. . Very few 7-11’s about but commerce / ranching happens here. It is genuine backcountry Wyoming.
Middle of the day with the sun behind me is a rare image for me lol. Mid summer and me getting away from the ranch is a rare thing. I often go on short road trips on Wyoming/Montana backroads and not see another vehicle. Breaking down is not an option up here without LOTS of survival supplies this time of year. Blankets, sleeping bags, food and basics are all on board. I do have a very good radio that communicates via repeater from 30 miles away if necessary. Not to worry.
Clear skies or totally veiled skies are both candidates for this kind of “Close / Far Perspective. I will walk the shadow line on parallel ridges to find those elusive little areas of Zen. There are a million of those little areas in a scene but you have to line up with one to actually see it. It all has to do with angles and your viewpoint.
This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔
Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands. The snow ultimate controls the burns in nature.
This is a very busy photo with all sorts of of things going on. Enjoy the looking. I ought to put a “where’s waldo” in some of these images lolol.
It was cold near zero when this was taken a week ago as this posts. “Winter is Coming” and in reality has come here to the borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunset here was a clear sky with low yellow alpenglow show which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide.
Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol.
RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.
The air is full of ice turning the sunset low sky yellow. This little shelter under this tree has provided an expedient rain shelter. Many a small animal as it’s roots make quite a cover. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing. Particularly on these wind blown slopes. Soon this fairly recent tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes. Thusly then to graduate to full fledged “wildlife tree”.
Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation (Tough Long Read)
There might be a few words to google here. My apologies ⚒⚒⚒. Geology has it’s nomenclatural requirements. To put all this in the big picture is the tough part.
Our Ranch by coincidence 🤔 is located upon a 700 feet thickness of Sandstone. It has exposures of the famous Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Cretaceous Period) The Uppermost Cretaceous was a period of life on a coastal plain similar topographically to the piedmont of North Carolina. Locally the climate was pretty lush, warm and wet. Meandering Huge Rivers choked with Sand / silt worn off the rapidly eroding mountains to the (current) west. The land lay of different orientation that currently.
North America appears to have been rotated 90 degrees west of how it’s positioned currently. Located around the equator with plate tectonics moving/rotating the continent to it’s current position over the intervening 66 million years. T-rex, Triceratops, Duckbills, ankylosaurs, all those dinosaurs kids know the names of lived here. Here one died…
This is higher up rock section toward the top of the Hell Creek formation not long before the massive “Bolide” (google this) struck the earth. Chicxulub Mexico sits on that big impact area. punctuated the extinction process already underway at the end of the Cretaceous. Big 80 percent of all species Extinction events. Extinction ultimately is initiated by a populations inability to reproduce .
There was a pizza oven effect from the radiant heat from all that Bolide ejecta re-entering the atmosphere. That effect didn’t help anything that wasn’t underground or in the water (mammals) as 20 percent of species survived this age. There is a discussion that dinosaur and other groups were waining in density/diversity near the actual time of the Bolide ended the age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs as a group died off but avian dinosaurs did not. (Birds are dinosaurs more or less just short tail and teeth). Eventually the environmental effects killed off the food web in the ocean too. Bad time on the planet for most.
This sediment is called Bentonite. Wyoming sells LOTS of Bentonite. Cooking it turns it white. Lots of industrial uses. Dave Love (a famous Wyoming Geologist) famously wrote/said: “Wyoming is a wonderful State, we can sell our dirt”. 🤘👀⚒ Bentonite is a clay rich volcanic ash as this is a lake deposit. This rib belonged to an animal that floated into a body of water. Spreading of this carcass did occur and one rib bone excavated was vertical as someone stepped on it and pushed it into the mud on edge. I found a raptor tooth mixed in the mud with this 20 percent Triceratops carcass. (It was Dromeosaur richardoestesia )
Above the Triceratops rib is it’s upside down fragment of pelvis. Another rib hides in the upper right corner of the frame. This was one of the smaller ribs collected on a smaller Tric. The little bottles are full of thin superglue which we consume by the pint. We have the tip off the end of it …. A rib like this will come out in 30 pieces and reassembled back at the ranch headquarters.
Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).
Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.
Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.
Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective.
There is SO much going on here. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” but what to level?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge to the left. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Quandary. Tilting the camera would have ruined the illusion and I actually like the angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon level with the image. The perspective of the grass highlights leaning left, the big level grass table horizonal leading to the right leaning far horizon and sky. wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too.
I JUST got what appears to be a good tilt shift lens set up for my Sony full frame cameras. Stay tuned for some perspectives this winter as I bring this optic tool to bear. Tilt shift is a new game for me. I think I understand the possibilities with it. I’m going to have fun with this technology making perspectives. I will explain more as I get images to share. Stay tuned.
Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil sees the first light of day in “Some Time” 😜
The latest Cretaceous Age here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch was a time of fine grained sediment accumulation deposited from huge rivers. These rivers were sweeping back and forth across the landscape choked by the sand and finer grained sediment load they carried. Sand sized material was the rule for these rivers ability/capacity to carry things down river. This Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil survived it’s transport from the distant past to the present under my gentle brush.
With the exception of isolated small scale deposits like this, the Hell Creek/Lance Formation is largely barren of fossils. In 5.5 square miles of HellCreek/Lance formation on my ranch, only about an acre can be called ‘fossilferous”. That acre is the total of 25 smaller locations (microsites) and a bone bed Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil sits here “In situ”. (In place in the undesturbed bedrock).
This fossil is positioned in the outcrop deeper than you might suspect. Your looking at a toe bone physiologically behind a claw/nail. it is 4 more inches deeper into the outcrop so this is the top 2 inches of the bone exposed. Triceratops had big toes lolol. It’s deeper than it is long. I like to take photos of fossils in the outcrop as it’s sort of the “Eureka”/adrenaline rush moment.
Geologic Musings on this ranches “Dirt”:
Geologists consider the Cretaceous to have ended 66 million years ago. This toe bone has literally not seen the light of day in that unfathomable period of time. The sediment it is in, is a mix of sand, clay with chunky chunks (up to 2 feet) of torn up river bottom clays. The ripped up chunks of clay were rounded by bounding down a river/transport. There is a 2 foot thick or so blue clay pure of any fossil or other detritus directly under this 3 foot thick channel. That above that clay is a channel packed with chunks of clay/mud from upstream. . A mix of at least 3 different mud chunks from various sources nearby. I’ve seen chunks of mud angular like they got torn up 50 feet up stream. So this is a “channel” I’ve been following that tapers on either side that filled up with ripped up chunks of upstream river bottom mixed with a variety of bones from who ever was walking around at the time.
The bones were dropped here for me to find because the river waters slowed enough in this location to drop them out of suspension here mixed in among chunks of mud. The spaces between the “Cobbles of mud” are filled with sandy material that “Sifted in” from the flowing water. This is classic river sedimentation/deposit stuff. That is where you find the little fossils too. Sands mixed with smaller rounded pebbles of river bottom clay. It’s all part of the “Bed load” of a river and what is in it depends on river current velocity… (followed by a really long discussion lolol). IF the river is fast enough to move
“Bet You Don’t See Me”: This deer heard something from the 360 degree game trail camera spinning (internally of a camo’d shell) and it made her look that way for a nice portrait view of her in that moment of time and space. This Automatic camera was planted on a short t-post in the middle of a natural traffic funnel and joining of trails here on ranch.
Located down in a deep gully and several fences funneling trails down to the spot are angled inwards to here. Anything that is going this general direction is channeled to this point where I keep 2 of my best Game Trail Cameras. There is a game/fence crossing about 20 feet behind the camera so anybody wanting from Montana/Wyoming across the border and back have to go this way or jump a fence somewhere else. Mostly Pronghorn and Deer choose the easy path and don’t like jumping. Deer Jump Way more than Pronghorn do fences. So they walk right by my cameras. You’ve seen several images over the last few months from these cameras.
Game Trail Camera Thoughts
Proper placement of Game Trail Camera is about the only control you have over those contraptions. Some do very fine quality images during the day (like this one). Others are better at night. Seems no one builds the ideal Game Trail Camera for me yet lolol. I run a network numbering 26 of them currently. They cover a lot of choke points (water holes, gates to feeding grounds, etc).
You can usually set three different exposure levels and sensitivity levels for the movement IR sensor but that’s about it. Set it and walk away for weeks or months. See what wanders by and what the cameras built in auto software does 😊 . It’s be nice if they would do a 3 shot exposure bracket. Maybe someone makes one but I don’t know of the device.
Satire: Seen… little areas of Zen detected about the homestead, capturing a Napping Gnome Last Day of Autumn. He was humming the “take my picture” song. My photon capture box was functioning within normal parameters and I facilitated his whimsical wish. These creatures all to a one want to get famous without doing anything. Made from the same publicity seeking mold that “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill was cast out from. These guys love publicity.so the game is don’t make a big thing about the gnome, but please notice the fly down on the piece of iron. It will drive them batty when they see it… 😜
These Gnomes harbor some of the Magic obtained from Halloween last night so I thought I’d post this the day after. What a life attitude. 40 degrees and sunny so pull up a sheltered spot and humm a tune …. . This guy is having a grand old time the day before a winter storm is incoming. (as I type this about a week ago as you read this). Little does he suspect 😂 I will endeavor to take this general photo say once a month through the winter and see how the old guy is doing… 😜📸
Gnomes as a group seem to move around on their own as I come and pass by their positions around the infield of the ranches homestead. One day this guy (and the other two of them) are seldom in the same place they were the last time I was aware of their presence. I have to watch where I drive if I’m mowing the yard in summer or pushing snow in winter. You never know where these guys are going to end up at. Ive seen them in trees before. Foraging I suppose🤣
Location: Some wheee around the infield of the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This Hawk on an Electric Pole was a fortuitous capture. He watched my approach which was slow and jerky (stop and go). 5 minutes later I had his photo. My jeep is indeed a portable blind. He wasn’t concerned about my car but If I got out of my vehicle, I know he would have flown prior to the first good click ….
This is a dark phase one as I’ve seen these guys range from dark to much lighter brown. In all fairness to my ID (I’m not a birder”, his tail isn’t as red as I’m used to in the Red Tail Hawks clan. For all I know he’s some other bird but I’m betting on the Red Tailed Hawk ID for now lolol. I’m a way better photographer than I am an ornithologist (which I am definitely not ).