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Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie
Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

These two week old fawns are following their mother across a pretty good run along side of my Pickup truck. There of course was no threat from me. Pronghorn tend to run along with vehicles just to remind themselves they are the fastest land animal in North America. Typically they will do their best to speed up and run across the road in front of your vehicle. Since the local backcountry speed limit is 45 mph, typically, they can and do pass you. I’m not sure if there is an evolutionary advantage to telling your pursuers that you are faster…. Maybe next time they won’t try??? 🤔 😜 In two decades of riding these backcountry gravel roads, I’ve only hit one Pronghorn with a vehicle. We custom build bumpers just for such things on our vehicles so no damage to the truck but the Pronghorn didn’t do as well. 😔

Mom had twins because last year was a banner year for grass. Her body reacted and doubled down on the survivability this summer. So far, it is early July and the Grass is totally brown. The grasshoppers are already competing for the meager grass crop cut short by both a dry year cutting mandibles. The grasshoppers are as thick as I remember them since I’ve lived here but I assure you that they could and probably will get worse. India, Saudi Arabia and Africa are having REAL Plague of Locust Biblical stuff at the moment. Let’s not go there please ☹️ It’s going to be hard on that mother. ….

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

Title: Pronghorn Paradise on the Prairie

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Three Pronghorn Fawns Conspiring

Three Pronghorn Fawns Conspiring
Three Pronghorn Fawns Conspiring

Three Pronghorn Fawns Conspiring

These Tres Amigos are obviously conspiring to pull a prank on their mom just out of frame. They jump around bouncing and playing as you might expect to see from Mini Loki’s. These are legitimate triplets as I know the mother. She was enormous compared to the other pregnant Pronghorn Does in the area. I have watched them for hours now. Mom is relatively skinny having given birth to these three. Plop, Plop, Plop with no Fizz, Fizz I’m thinking.

“They are tight as three knots on a rope they are” 👀 . Yes they play most of the time when mom’s well used spigot(s) or sleep isn’t on the menu. I hope for the mothers sake that the grasshoppers this year aren’t going to be competing for this dry years vegetation. The grass crop is going to be hurt by this insect attack I’m afraid in this area anyway. More good timing. Waiting for the asteroid impact in 4 ,3 ,2 ,1 …..

I was lucky enough to completely circle this group with a box o’ cameras. If I am very careful and drive like a cow grazes, getting close is just a matter of time. I have to drive slowly through high grass these days as there are indeed fawns both Deer and Pronghorn potentially laying there unseen. (I only drive off trail on ground that I own).

One of my advantages taking photos is I’m very agile getting around to get the light and my subject properly oriented to each other. Owning the land, not having nearby boundaries to prevent me from moving into position. I could never approach these weeks old Fawns on foot. The Pronghorn mother wouldn’t allow it so zip gone…. My truck is my portable blind. In the Black F-150 Raptor, I must seem like a noisy grazing Black Angus to them. I need a horn that makes a moo sound on it. Think that might void the warrantee?? 😜 📷

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

Title: Three Pronghorn Fawns Conspiring

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Meanwhile Down By the Lake

Meanwhile Down By the Lake
Meanwhile Down By the Lake

Meanwhile Down By the Lake

The Black Angus Cattle herd out on “open range” were “Watering up” late in the afternoon. This natural spring fed lake watered several hundred cattle at about 30 gallons or more a day per adult. They usually fill their tank then get up the hill to better grass. All here are cows and calves. I doubt there are any bulls in the mix just yet but it won’t be long before it’s that time again. 

This is about as green as it has gotten this year. Part of it is this particular area is drier than others but over all it is indeed going to drought. The water is good sweet water with a tad of the cow next to you flavor I suspect as cattle have a pretty tough stomach. If you drink that water though there might be some intestinal ramifications lol. 

I drink NO natural waters without ultra fine filtration. THe cheapest way to filter your water is one of the many “straw filters out there). They are inexpensive protection, just don’t let them freeze after their first use. Honestly I haven’t had to resort to using even a stock tank for the 20 years I lived here. I always bring adequate supply in the form of frozen water bottles in an ice chest. I stuff water bottles in every spare crevice of my ATV and truck. This is dry country, almost a desert at 14 inches of rain a year. Carry enough water for 3 days minimum with you is my advice. Being without water is a bad thing…

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

Title: Meanwhile Down By the Lake

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Forest Fire Smoke Plume

Forest Fire Smoke Plume
Forest Fire Smoke Plume

Forest Fire Smoke Plume

It has been a very dry year starting about January and we are well below normal at our location. I was sorry to see this as I climbed up to a local high point looking from Wyoming to Montana across the border. This old seeder has been a star of many a close / far perspective in my portfolio. You have to admire it’s view (in all directions). That far ridge of mountains is about 50 miles distant from the antique planter as is the forest / range fire burning on the back side of the Red Hills.

So I wonder in the scheme of things how this seeder has avoided being burned on the range during it’s tenure on site. There have been significant grass fires. Some burned free until the first snows in the country. More so at the beginning of the last century than later through the 1940’s. Locals have fought grass and timber fires for generations. I have fought my share and spent days driving the ranches M813 Military 5 ton truck outfitted with 1000 gallon of water with a couple of 1.5 inch hoses off the fire pump. I primarily do the driving these days. Mostly grass fires under my belt. My fire rig fits poorly between trees lolol. I’ll do tanker duty though for the smaller rancher rigs on pickup truck. Done that a few times.

I didn’t have to use my fire truck last year. The year before was a few times. One summer was horrible in my past here for local fires. We were up the hills after thunderstorms to look for plumes and knock down the fire fast. This summer is tender dry with not much falling as I type this. Some weather is coming through the region so we will see how the dice roll.

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

Title: Forest Fire Smoke Plume

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Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex
Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

Or so the Satirical Headline Reads…

If I go out for sunset to work the light with a box-o-cameras, I’m pretty much serious about the process. I maintain a high operational tempo all day but go into overdrive with cameras chasing fleeting light.

So I just spent a few hours out in the backcountry trying to work this sunset. I finally give up on the light and head back to the ranch. A few miles of two tracks later I get to our driveway. A few hundred feet of gravel to home to a reclining chair. But no, I saw this apparition backed by Alpenglow occurring before my eyes. Thusly the involvement of a photon trap in the capture. Picking the right gear for the situation is of course the “game here. The cowboys had T-rex’s tail totally held back by a lariat firmly set into the saddle (just off frame right), that line was sure holding back the T-rex’s charge. The helpless bird was clueless it was about to get eaten of course. The second ropin’ hand on the left was going for a leg to stretch him out.

I didn’t stick around long enough to see the hog tie but I’m pretty sure those horses know what they are doing. The cowboys around these parts are versatile. Here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, there have been dinosaur encounters of many kinds.😜 Here, the chapped ones saved the day yet again. 🤘

These are silhouettes from the Ranches Main Gate Entry. I did the art years ago and had a plasma table cut the design out. The bird was serendipity as of course is most opportunistic photography 📸 .

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

TItle: Cowboy Saves Bird from T-rex

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Storm over Parks Ranch

Storm over Parks Ranch
Storm over Parks Ranch

Storm over Parks Ranch

Storms with personalities journey through our lands. Some have a sour disposition, others benign. This one was showing off with a very intricate set of flow lines in the storm. Bands of moving air rushing to the up draft built into these huge spinning tops called Mesocyclones. They range in size from embryonic newbies only a few miles across to pure monsters at 100+ miles in diameter. Slowly rotating along the way. The big ones spawn all sorts of problems here on the high plains. Tornados come out of these when well developed. Lots of rotation built into the systems.

The worst of this storm was a little behind this display but this was pretty nifty I thought. The swirling soup that was this storm did produce some small slushy hail with associated gusty winds at my location. Nothing spectacular for this country and NO lightning I could capture. That of course, is what I was waiting for to photograph. This is a very wide rectilinear 10mm lens on a full frame camera. This lens scrunches things on the edge just a little. I corrected for this best I could.

This capture taken across the front yard of the Historic Parks Ranch’s original Homestead. Built around 1900, it is an amazing huge structure. Dated to the 1950’s last remodel. Made of locally obtained wood. Best spot in the watershed for a ranch with a half -dozen nice spring fed lakes around there. Caretakers live on site. Hunters sleep there in the fall.

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

Title: Storm over Parks Ranch

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Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts
Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀

This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.

The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.

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

Title: Backcountry Rainbow Hail Drifts

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Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose
Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

With perfect light, these three cooperated for a “sitting” for my telephoto. I was sitting about 50 yards out from them in my Ford Raptor and was SLOWLY working my way toward them. I take images as I approach, stop, move a little closer, take some more and so on until I get the full frame image I was looking for. Now it always doesn’t work for me with Pronghorn being as spooky as animals come. The only way I can get this close is by working up to them.

Boy are they Pregnant each and all. Last year was a very good year for precipitation. I never had to start my fire truck (second time in 20 years). So I’m thinking that 2 out of three (right two) probably have twins in the oven. It’s still a while till they birth so I will be keeping my eye open for fawns in the grass when I travel before too long. Deer will birth sooner than the Pronghorn.

It’s that time of year of renewal up in the high country. The green grass is rocket fuel for many creatures. Must be wonderful after dried salads all winter for them. I don’t feel too sorry for Pronghorn since they eat a lot of sage brush lolo.. I suspect their diet is improving rapidly with the oncoming green. The brown season is waning. Long live the green season!☯

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

Title: Pregnant Pronghorns Portrait Pose

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Red Robin in the Snow

Red Robin in the Snow
Red Robin in the Snow

Red Robin in the Snow

Robins that arrive too early in the spring have a tough time of it. They are usually insect and “fruit” eaters and a good friend in the yard. They do occasionally dive bomb me during nesting season a few weeks away. But in the mean time, this guy would settle for 38 degrees and a clear ground to hunt on. This little area of driveway free of snow under a large tree in the midst of a deep 4 inch crisis for this traveler. Puffed up against the cold, it will struggle for the next few days against the harsh high country spring weather. (taken a 10 days before this posts)

There are of course American Robins that Winter north of here in Canada. Generally the 36 degree isotherm contour on the map is their northern boundary. Of course any particular Robin might just be nuts and go too far north every now and then. They migrate in response to food presence / absence not temperature however. I understand they can move about 40 miles a day or night) when on the move. If earthworms or fruits are not available, the Robins will “Spread Out” in response to the diminishing food supply.

You might notice that Robins DO NOT SING out of their breeding territory. If your local neighbor hood Robins are singing, there are going to be some peepers being hatched in the not far distant future. Rarely they may produce their first songs on their wintering grounds but the majority will not until they reach their breeding grounds. . The singing is part of the way the male defends it’s territory. . Male Robins don’t particularly like other males Songs…. this breaks up the winter migratory flocks. I have another image of a half dozen Robins in a tree during this storm. All within about a 2 feet diameter circle. Still flocking and no songs…

Title: Red Robin in the Snow

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Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon
Melt Water Evening Moon

Melt Water Evening Moon

A magical “Belt of Venus” evening up in the eastern Sky. . The sunset was 10 minutes past behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the far horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the western/opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens.

This ground is relatively easy to get to in the summer and fall as it’s on a local county road lol. This was taken spring 2019 as the snow pack started to melt into ponds as which provided the mirror for this capture. .

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 technical basics a few times. I would 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. Just 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.

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

Title: Melt Water Evening Moon

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Triceratops Toes Composite

Triceratops Toes Composite
Triceratops Toes Composite

Triceratops Toes Composite (Real Wildlife)….

There are 19 bones in the toes of “Triceratops horridus” . These toe bones are each a separate animals contribution to this composite assemblage. All approximately the right sized toe bones properly place to assemble those toes to scale. Our Ranch sits entirely with the Dinosaur Fossil rich Hell Creek/ Lance Formation at the surface. The 66 million year old/Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstone Formation is not abundantly fossiliferous but I’m sure there are several animals around here. The trick is seeing them through the rock. Each and every bone I find promotes an adrenaline filled EUREKA moment. I’ve been a student of paleontology since I was 5 years old with my first EUREKA moment. 🤔🤣

Each one of these individual bones was a separate excavation at different times and 3D place in the outcrop. None of these belong to the same Triceratops. It took a few years and a little work to gather the bits and pieces for this assemblage. Several of the pieces show repair, a few are as found broken/cracked. Stabilized all with a diluted superglue compound. (Paleobond or Starbond). Soaking into the porous bone, the capillary action wicks the thin cyanoacryilate stabilizing the fossil. Deposition occurred long before the Big Horn Mountains rose from the earth. 130 miles to their west. The River that transported these bones also carried sand from Mountains long gone now. Mountains come, and mountains return to the sea as sand carried down by the river.

The hooves/claws/fingertips are the RARE bones but I indicate that just “plain old” Triceratops toe bones don’t grow on trees anymore lololol. Particularly pretty well preserved ones. This particular fossil site providing these is a wonderful place. 📸

Table below is an Eocene lake bed from Kemmerer. The whole table has several fossil fish on it but that’s not the focus for this post. You can see a partial on the lower left corner and a tail on the far right. The white spots are cuprolites. For a Scale I used an 18 inch ruler. The table weighs about 400 pounds. It rolls well on it’s side though. 🤣👀

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

Formation: Hell Creek/ Lance Fm: Cretaceous Terrestrial RIver Sands and Mudtsones: Horn Sieve Beds, Coll: Frank Bliss.

Title: Triceratops Toes Composite

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Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn
Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

Going up this hill leads to this 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? )

Pretty Frosty in this capture lolol. This is the result of 4 days of freezing fog. Days of below freezing in March 2020. Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of this ridge is a favorite summer lightning observation high point. Of course to photo lightning, you want to be in a metal vehicle high on a ridge right?? 🙃

This is also the “Closest” high point to my driveway. I can see the east y horizon from here. I CAN’T see the east horizon from my house. It’s about a mile from my front door to this spot. The two track to here isn’t easily snowed over by drifts so I use this hill some in the winter to see what’s going on.

Winter has a dramatic effect on where I can and am willing to travel. I haven’t had to walk back yet. The new Ford Raptor is pretty capable but snow is snow. This winter is not over yet. There are a lot of snows between now and when it will get warmer. lolol. We will have our share of 1 foot dumps this winter I’m sure.

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

Title : Ridgeline Antique Frosty Dawn

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Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow
Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Super Blue Blood Moon taken Feb 1, 2018,. This is was the first of it’s breed seen in the United State since 1866. . The white part is the actual fully illuminated moon. The red, the earths shadow (pre-umbra and umbra) make up the bloody red disk. 3200mm astro glass.

A blue moon of course, happens when there are two full moons in a single month. Technically this Blue Moon is a fudge (again) by NASA since the actual full moon happened in the morning of Feb 1st not on Jan 31st by less than 2 hours in some places. I love it when NASA fudges. 🤔

Blue moons are not quite as rare as the old saying implies. On average they occur once every 2.7 years. The lunar 29.53 lunar month migrates across the 30 or 21 day calendar month. February has never had a blue moon….. There were two blue moons in 2018 due to the discrepancy in timing adding up over the years. There were no full moons at all in February 2018 for instance. There is some calendar magic ongoing as these lunar shows migrate around.

This moon was a super moon being at it’s closest point to the earth in it’s orbit at slightly under a 225 thousand miles. This compared to the average of 238 thousand. What difference could 13000 miles make….14 percent apparent size difference. It’s hard to see with your eyes but I see it comparing things like windmill sails to the lunar disk size from the same spot in the road at the same focal length. I have these fixed objects to compare the moon’s size with lol.

Location: Over Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. It was durn cold for this one lolol.

Title: Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

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Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising
Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

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Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon
Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

My view from “Ridge 1” looking at the sun rise on “Ridge 4” which is about 10 miles distant. Working on Parallel Ridges gives you landscape ladders automatically.

The world we are living on is spinning like a top in space. Rotating around the earth the moon is albeit relatively slowly to our eyes. The appearance of the moon “rising” is an illusion. The Horizon is actually falling away fast enough that it makes a difference on long range rifle shots.

If you shoot a hypothetical “average” bullet at a 1000 yard target straight to the east, you better aim low…. say about 6 inches . If you aim to the west, you should aim high since the target is rising under your bullet. . You see to the east the target is dropping. Thus I’m saying that the horizon travels about 6 inches during the time a bullet travels 1000 yards. (over 1/2 mile). 6 inches is arbitrary as your bullet will act differently than my hypothetical one.

So the next mind game is to shoot straight north or south. You have to shoot neutrally, neither high nor low. Really long range rifle shooters use this in their calculations. Nothing like having your target rise or fall depending on the direction and distance the bullet travels over time. I’ve been involved in professional shooting for decades, trust me on this. You have to compensate at distances much over about 700 yards a little bit more each yard the bullet has to fly further. Most sportsman don’t shoot that far.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Falling Horizon Exposing Moon

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Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet
Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet

I’m always on the look out for framing deer inside of antlers of the foreground animal. A little out of season perhaps.

With all the cold weather coming in this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

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

Title: Spring Bucks In Velvet

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Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising
Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Full Moon Rising

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Ladybug on a Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy
Lady Bug on Daisy

Ladybug on a Daisy

Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth green bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.

The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.

Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.

I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.

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

Title: Ladybug on a Daisy

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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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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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Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow
Golden Hour Sunset

Golden Hour Sunset on Snow. When the sun is so low, slowly working left of the BigHorn Mountains here, the light is quite golden.

You would be blinded looking into this scene but the ability to shut the camera down to light changes the game.

This is an overlook across 130 miles of landscape in north central Wyoming. Looking west into the scene that the pioneers saw at the end of a long day of travel. Custer was around here, Native Americans were all over this place for thousands of years. The history here is long, many have crossed that land but daily I walk places where no human has been before.

We are up high on the ridges where there is not much running water. We find TeePee Rings, a few artifacts, stone tools, even a couple of metal ornaments (rare). There actually exists one of the very RARE Documented Clovis Man Habitation site within 10 miles of my ranch. It’s not on my land however. Those same pre-historic folks walked around the post’ glacial landscape burning/slashing/hunting/driving game for a living. I have no doubt they were walking here to some of our artesian spring locations.

When the pioneers got here, they built dams below those artesian wells and formed lakes. The natives didn’t have that option and it can be a long way between water holes when you have deer bladder canteens to carry your water for the day…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title Golden Hour Sunset on Snow

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Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry
Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.

Years ago I used to think this was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.

This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting. This reminds me of a shower glass door for some reason lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry

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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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Channeling Japan in the Backcountry

Channeling Japan in the Backcountry
Channeling Japan in the Backcountry

Channeling Japan in the Backcountry is a capture that brings the orient to mind. Classic Pines, striking sunsets, sloping ground. I’ve never done an “Uphill” on the sun’s side before. The extra negative space somehow balances this equation of light and time.

This was a cold morning and I had been looking for a place to do this as the sky was phenomenal. A veiled sun is always a good subject to work on Parallel Ridge. Follow the shadow line and see what lines up. Get some trees a few hundred yards out, turn up your f-stop and see if you can get them in focus with the background. A long focal field utilizing a telephoto lens is possible. But only at the great cost of a loss of lighting getting into your camera. You have to turn light gathering ability up in your camera by either increasing your camera sensitivity(ISO) AND OR use a longer exposure to enable light in over a longer period of time.

So distance from your forground object is your friend. Don’t forget to look behind yourself when you “step back”. The few times I’ve fallen with camera gear were ALL walking backwards. I’ve stumbled a few times doing other things but falling on my ass….all walking backwards. Save the cameras though lolol. Scrambling around the ridges and hills covered with sage, yucca and other low bushes is challenging for vehicles AND on foot. Loose rocks. I’ve put a few miles over such terrain. Sure footedness is a skill I have been lucky enough to develop.

It’s the camera’s I’m worried about lolol. I drop or somehow ding one about once a year. Fortunately I’ve only ever damaged camera bodies. The lenses have done fine. I watched a long lenses 3K dollar rig bounce off the ground

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Channeling Japan in the Backcountry

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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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BigHorn Mountains Ground Blizzard

BigHorn Mountains Ground Blizzard
BigHorn Mountains Ground Blizzard

BigHorn Mountains Ground Blizzard . Highlights 😀

The sun had set a minute before. The wind on the peaks were certainly gale force pushing snow a thousand feet into the air or more. I’ve had more sun behind the “Big Horn Mountains” this week than I’ve had in 20 years of trying to get shots like this.

Bear in mind that the range is 130 miles away from my ranch. I’m look at a VERY SMALL part of the sky at 13000 feet high peaks. Twice a year in the late fall and early spring the sun sets behind the BigHorn Mountains. The angle changes depending on where you are from the range. At this distance, you need really long telescopic lens ability to get “this close” from my place. I suggest an 800mm lens to start..

This is an 800mm lens and the image is a 2:1 Aspect ration 40 inches by 20 inches at 300DPI. I personally love silhouettes and pursue them as readily as images showing the detail of the trees on the peaks in daylight. You gotta love huge mountain chains 📸

Boy do I have images from this week of the Big Horns 📸.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: BigHorn Mountains Ground Blizzard

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Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.

From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.

I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.

All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

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Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced
Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced is the real deal lol.

That is a fence brace, it frames, rustically here, 4 exhumed volcanic necks from the of Northeastern corner of Wyoming. The three on the right are of course the Missouri Buttes and the one furthest left is a little known place called Devil’s Tower National Monument. These 4 piles of hard rock that resisted erosion that removed all . This view is covering about 35 miles of landscape from this ridge.

This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big. These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them and supporting hard rock volcanic neck up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The soft sediments were removed all by the action of the Little Missouri River and the Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work locally. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of snow at the moment….for early November. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Volcanic Necks Framed and Braced

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Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline

Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline
Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline

This was taken on the morning of 11/06 (Wednesday) Exactly at sunrise. I don’t fully understand hoe this sun formed but I’ll give you my theory.. “Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline” This was a new one to me.

FIrst of all the sky was lit up pretty well through about 15 minutes of late civil twilight. So I’m watching the clock having picked my spot based on compass direction and brightness. I would point out this is EXACTLY what I was seeing through the eyepiece. At the right place at the right time this blob rose that I could have easily looked at with my naked eye. This is not a particulary bright scene which is why there is so much definition in trees.

No glare at sunrise with a “sun” must be rare. I have this on two cameras at different magnifications and framing. I have only finished this one as of yet. This was a dark scene with little light for right at sunrise. Just color and not brightness if that makes sense.

Theory

The Distorted Sun is of course sending light through hundreds of miles of atmosphere, storms, clouds etc. We actually only see a line of sight sun when it’s up somewhere ABOVE the horizon, any sun touching the horizon is actually below the line of sight. The atmospheric lens bends the suns image around thee horizon to your eye well below the line of sight.

This sun is distorted the absolute heck out of it by that “air lens”. I have not in thousands of observed/photographed sunrises/sunsets seen anything like this before. This is by far a very odd blob for a sunrise. The “sun” disappeared into the cloud banks and more or less shut down this show. I had maybe 20 seconds to get two cameras involved.

I’ve seen very formal distortions in the suns image. Stretched with a vertical elongation or sawtoothed edges I’ve seen. MIrage of the suns edge from bending around the earths surface real time I’ve watched. But I’ve never seen a blob with such color and shape? Never in my career. 😲 (Shaking head).

Filed under weird things I see working “Wyotana Skies”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline