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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😋
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…
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.
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 ….
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
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.
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 📸.
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).
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 📸
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.
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”.
This 22 Degree Halo Perspective is a really gold colored on in my experience.
I’ve seen them white before like the clouds on the right but the mid-golden hour lighting seemed amazing to me. Click The halo is actually a transmissive rainbow of sorts. Most rainbows are reflective with the sun behind you and the. This 22 degree Halo is between the sun and you.
Sun Halo’s are not uncommon but you have to look at the sun to seen them which can be a bright thing,. Usually you have to squint eyes then block the sun with your hand to resolve them against the glare. The discussion on what a sun halo is caused by would be about 300 words so I’ll leave that for another day…..
The ranch gate here I framed quite formally with a very wide (120 degree) 10mm lens. It’s a precise frame to the Landscape/ 2×3 aspect of this capture. Done in the camera not really in the crop as this is a full sized 2×3 feet image at high resolution.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual)
Your lenses will differ but this lens focuses as close as one foot . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera. Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). Google f-stop and learn what it means (if your trying to learn how to use your camera. (I buy some lenses based on how close they focus at a minimum. There are ways to shorten focus distances but there are problems with that too lol.
Generating this image of a Polarized Orb Weaver Web, In a rare play time moment, I’m using 3 filters.. A big polarized sheet behind the web, a linear polarized (not circular) glass filter for my lens, finally an Orb Weavers Web to reduce the amount of light coming into the camera placed between the two filters.. The two”crossed” filters were adjusted/rotated so that I still got some sun through and the colors as well.
Two polarizing sheet filters at 90 degrees to each other cancels all light coming through. Black. Slightly rotate one or the other polarizing filter and some direct light as from the sun will come through. But when you have something between the two polarizing sheets, they change the way light is polarized so it makes it through the second sheet not blocked by it. That is the web you see here. .
This is sort of like a really big petrographic microscope (which I’ve spent months on) but in Large scale. You can try this by crossing at right angles 2 pairs of polaroid sunglasses. Put something like a thin quartz pebble between them and shine bright light through the crossed assembly.
Of course the play of light is like that with polaroid sunglasses and automobile windows. . It all was very faint of course and I “brought it out” but the result is self explanatory. Cool stuff Orb Weaver Spider Webs….
If you want to learn more about this phenomena, research optical mineralogy or petrographic microscope on google. Same application here more or less the same physics involved.
I’m not sure of the seed plant here. Grows in big bunches. Not a lot of them on ranch so they are probably a noxious weed I don’t know lolol. Anyone got an idea??
Our ranch is about 1/3 pine treed pastures and about 2/3rd’s grasslands. Autumn down on the flats off the old growth treed ridges is a different perspective entirely. Thats a good mix of winter and summer pasture. You don’t want your cows in pine trees as the pine needles they eat cause spontaneous abortions from the turpentine they contain. Deer do just fine with them but not cattle.
Autumn happened on a tuesday this year in full disclosure. This is actually winter in this shot between snows/melts and was taken about a week ago as I type this. (2 weeks from when it posts. ). Up here in the remote ridges/high backcountry of Wyoming/Montana borderlands, we have a pretty long ramp up to full winter. That ramp is pretty steep this year so far lol.
The sun was just dropping below that cloud deck highlighting everything in a gold light with about 15 minutes to go to sunset at this point. I love perspectives and wide lenses
Sunrise over Coyote Ridge is a really long lens capture overlooking a long ridge about 10 miles away.
The Crack of dawn is literal here as the cloud bank above was very obscuring of much light . The rest of that morning was toast due to cloud cover sadly. I often go out and get only 1/2 or a 1/4 of a sunrise sky show. Clouds move in an mess it up….
Up here in the Wyotana borderlands, the “Sun Slits” where the cloud deck blocked the horizon can be beautiful for sure. The RIdge got it’s name as I’ve seen Coyotes up there numerous times…. It’s a big overlook over there. When your up on the “ridges” you have a 180 mile across east west horizon I can see.
I actively photographically work 5 different parallel Ridges. Miles long, they are a quarter to half a mile apart. Each with it’s unimpeded views of the horizon. I move along the shadow line (terminator) of the opposite hill and the sun/moon looking for opportunities and frames.
This is a lot of negative space in an image but I personally like sun close ups and silhouettes of ridges lol.. The low angle light traveling through atmospheric turbulance is clearly distorting the suns edge. The ridge line up close is sharp as a tack and focused. It’s the several hundred miles of air between that ridge and the sun that is causing that effective blur on the background.
The blur effect is effectively a mirage. Since the sun is (literally) actually just below the horizon line of sight at that time…. The atmospheric lens is bending the sun’s image around the horizon before it is physically in the line of sight. . This is not line of site 🤔
I also remind you this is not the sun moving, it’s the earth rotating and the horizon dropping away from covering the sun. Things are as they are not as they seem 😲
These scenes are BLINDINGLY bright so don’t point your average DSLR Camera into them and expect to not be blind if you look through the viewfinder. I use only mirrorless cameras and if you don’t know what those are, don’t try this at home 😎. Protect your eyes. I watch this on video to set up my camera.
During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better. The two rusty nails in the lower right corner of this just grab my “deep focus” love of this particular lens.
The bent rod on the far left is a BLM Benchmark that someone’s vehicle hit with and bent at this tight corner in the remote backcountry. It’s been there for the 20 years I’ve been driving by it lol. The rail has the Benchmark Wired to it.. Keeping the cattle from moving it was the purpose. 250 dollars to disturb lolol . I haven’t touched it😀
These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practic every year. We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my ranch alone. Some of the big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol.
The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be unpassable shortly. My ridge line lookout spots will be snow drifted in. I’ve been known to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on ridge one. The high ridges are snow light on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways.
Found out near by a 1930’s Remote Backcountry Homestead located on my place. This cast iron Junior Stove Door (wood probably as coal is a bit south and wasn’t free). The 1920’s issue “Junior” was found in an over bank “trash” dump from that old Homestead which inevitably is over the lip of a nearby gully. The original stove probably rusted out or cracked from overheating but this door survived. Nothing but steel and glass out there as MOST of the wood from that place has rotted over the 80 intervening years but there are nails and pitfalls to watch out for. Dangerous place to walk about I think.
The Homestead was abandoned after the father died of an acute appendix. He was unable to get out to medical help due to winter in the 1930’s. I met one local Women (a daughter of that man) that grew up out there in the Late 1920’s and early 30’s. Little House on the Prairie was a castle compared to this log structure these guys built. The woman fed this stove door more than a few times as an adolescent, bare footed in the summer, dirt floor in the kitchen with a goat hanging inside the door. (I’ve seen the photo and have a copy but don’t own it, the family does). I’m sure this Junior Stove Door was just inside the log cabin door. Piles of wood waiting their turn for the flame.
Background in the Back Country:
This I met that daughter as a “getting” elderly woman of then in her 80’s. She several times brought her extended family out to the site to see humble beginnings. I managed to navigate them out there (way out there lol).
The problem with going there were the many problems for big SUV’s. . Getting a group of 15 people that far in to sage and past a few deep gullies is always an interesting task for the new off road drivers of their ‘SUV” that has never been “off pavement”. Going off gravel, off two tracks through the open prairie is always fun to initiate new drivers lolol.
Someone close to her contacted me when she was in Hospice. We made a bouquet and tray with artifacts from the homestead she grew up on. A ford emblem from a ford truck, a bit of running board made the “plaque portion. Wildflowers decorated the 1930’s patina’d mason jar included on the small “tray”. I wasn’t there when she got it. 😔 That little family in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana lives on as one of it’s matriarchs closes her circle of life. There are a LOT of stories like that but have been lost in the shadows of time.
2×3 landscape aspect Make a cool wall hanger for someone named Junior lolol.
“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.
A couple of the ranches Long horn Mom’s were hanging out near the back gate for this Corriente’ Longhorn Twilight the other evening. I had already returned from a few hours of photography out in the backcountry and was “winding down” ready to quit for the day. Then this happened. I find that Light worthy of trapping occurs when it does and you have to be there. I was, it was and I did 📸📸
Exotic Cattle: Corriente’
The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲
We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you make more money than raising them for beef lolol. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your angus herd…. Not good lol.
Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.
I caught this Praying Mantis hunting on some Russian Sage out in my garden about a month ago now. I’m sorry to say the cold got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects (wet and cool) so there should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species obviously thought the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. He was “thrilled” to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂
Location: Back in the woods at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch’s headquarters, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
Here in the borderlands we are part of North America’s “Serengeti” with herds of wild beasties mixed with our domestic stock.
The symmetry of this image totally grabbed my OCD by the short hairs. The jaw hit the floor and I maneuvered around it to ‘get the shot’ lol. There is so much geometry to this composition. Lines, squares arrows, crosses are everywhere. Holy composition Batman…! There so many things lining up in this image. Things don’t normally line up so well for me lolol.
I’d seen the hay bale alignment weeks ago but Imagine my surprise to see three different species in the same photo lined up like soldiers marching across this borderland hay ground (both Montana and Wyoming in this image). Click 🙂 Now if I had elk living here not just passing through lol. Deer to the right, Pronghorn to the left, Angus standing on both sides of the border. Maybe a few eagles on the haybales (I actually photographed a couple of American Eagles fighting high in the sky out in this field a few days ago. Composite in the works for that. Pretty far away though. This is a wonderful area for wildlife.
This field is several miles back away and “over the hill” of the nearest country road. Lots o critters there usually.. There is a 365 days a year running water tank in this pasture which help all the non-migrating critters cope with the winter out there. The next closest water is miles away. I actually have a section of water pipeline running all the way out here from my homestead to provide water to who ever in this pasture. I put in that water line for stock/cattle but available all year for who ever needs it. That was a lot of trenching and a lot of 2 inch PVC pipe over 2 miles at 16 foot a pipe section to assemble (glue) then bury 6 feet down to avoid the freeze… Ranching has a variety of job descriptions lololol.
Fly Jet Blue to the Moon but can you imagine a primitive Amazonian Tribe looking up and see this…. An arrow penetrating the moon….. Traumatic to say the least…. They would probably change the course of their society based on this happening over their head 😂 I bet there are some strange stories to explain the technology they see overhead mixing in with the lore and stories about the sky handed down by their ancestors. Someone would be making it up and others would be believing it (shaking head side to side).
Leading up to Click…
Me on the other hand saw this happening about 30 seconds before it occurred. I had my trusty 800 mm lens handy on the seat next to me. Unfortunately I had to start that camera up from a cold OFF setting… focused, setting tweeked and waiting for the click. Had about 5 seconds to spare as it turned out. Most of that seemed like I was waiting for the camera to go through its 3 second cold start window lolol. Like watching water warm up in a tea pot…time slows down when your ready for something to happen lol. I wasn’t far off, I was doing landscapes before with this camera, Already set for an infinite focus which is what this is so I was “close”. Working on Manual takes a little more time occasionally.
Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day lolol. I only see jets a few times a day period as we are off the main routes here. Random lucky occurrence and actually looking up now and then. I was driving working light out in the backcountry and looking up is not something I do every minute. . I have a few other images like this but from other close encounters that will slow work their way into my workflow and get posted. 🙂
Ladybug, ladybug! Fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children all gone. All except one, and that’s little Ann, for she has crept under the frying pan. (tickle child under arm)
Memories of Bugs Now Frozen
Heard that rhyme as a child more than a few times and repeated it to my boy a time or two. It instantly came to my mind when I saw this little one hunting on top of this huge (relatively) Yellow Yarrow head. I have several dozen good bug photos still to finish going into winter. None still outside after all the freezes we’ve had this fall already. It’s going to be…. errrr. is an early winter this year. As I type this it is a sub-zero Windchill outside. Twitter thinks the north pole is over Wyoming/Montana.
These guys are little tanks moving about and are happy as a clam if they have their head buried in a crack with their butt exposed to the world for all to see. The armor must work though. Boy they eat aphids like they are a delicacy. This is a wild one but I bring in thousands for my aquaponic green house to control unwanted pests. I understand that some plants produce food/odors that attract Lady Bugs as they do eat nectar and pollens when their normal prey of noxious bugs aren’t about and available.
I have been known to buy thousands of lady bug for my Aquaponic Walipini Greenhouse that has been up and running now for 5 years in December. Same tomato plant and same fish after 5 years lolol. Handfulls at a time arrive to control insect pests down in that underground greenhouse. This Lady bug is a wild one though.
This is an Adult Coccinella septempunctata Linnaeus, the sevenspotted lady beetle
Photographing Moor Rising: Lone Tree is a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. It’s a good skill to hone for when the right situation presents itself.. Like this 📸
You have to get working that camera on Manual if you want to do this kind of work lol. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of fstop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitiviey) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 Suffice to say, distance is your friend here and lots of lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet tall from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Full frame not a crop.
This highest point around “Red Hills Overlook across the Little Powder River valley to our west has a spectacular view.
This high point I’m standing on is known on ranch as Rattlesnake Ridge because the cowboys of the past blew up a rattlesnake den there or so the story was told to me by an old timer years ago. We don’t have a lot of rattlesnakes because of some dynamite that was a useful tool decades ago and easy to get then lol. I understand the den was blown up on this boulder strewn hilltop.
I’m actually standing in Wyoming for this capture. The Mountains on the horizons, the “Red Hills” are 40 miles distant and 15 miles into Montana as you look at the peaks. This image is 50/50 pretty much equal of both states lol. Lighting up here is wonderful at times. 😀
Geologic Musings:The Chain of Mountains in the distance is called the “Red Hills” which are what’s left after the Little Powder River at it’s base removed all the material between where I’m standing and that far ridge (40 miles out to the peaks). 😲 The “Little Powder” is a 10-20 foot wide river currently, was responsible over time for removing all that sediment between where I’m standing and that Mountain Chain…..That’s moving a lot of sediment over a long time (I’m at essentially the same elevation here as the saddle between the peaks in the distance). I am however stratigraphically (geologically) lower in the rock section though as the normally flat layers of rock formations are diving in that direction about 50 feet every mile. The rock units are diving into the huge bathtub that is the Powder River Sedimentary Basin at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. You get 30 percent of your electricity from coal swamps formed in that basin nationally.
Regional Geomorphology: My ranch is literally located on the eastern Edge of the Powder RIver Basin and the western edge of the Wyoming Black Hills geomorphologically. I’m located pretty much on the “inflexion point” between those two regional geologic structures almost exactly… Both structures resulted from a regional compression on a huge scale about the same time because of huge tectonic forces acting regionally bending layers of rock about. 🤔 I live on the middle of the teeter-totter this way too …..
Satire: “Turtle Butte” came to life the other morning with a series of rumbles and tremors resulting in a discharge of smoke and no doubt all sorts of other volcanic debris. This particular butte, only 50 miles from the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck complex, sure looked convincing the other morning when I took this🤣 Could be a precursor to Yellowstone’s caldera popping like a teenagers face before a date.
Just a geologists musings😎 with a photographers habits..📸
Happy Halloween .
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. In fact turtle butte is precisely on the WY/MT border.