The Palouse is a vast and distinctly unique agricultural region along the Washington-Idaho border characterized by dune like hills on which are grown grains and legumes. The bare, undulating dune-like hills characterize the region. Witnessing this lovely, serene scene at sunrise helped us forget, however briefly, some of the recent chaotic reactions and uncertainties about the world-wide health crisis.
We didn’t see many rams in the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep herd that we photographed in Wyoming a couple of weeks ago. The few rams that we did see were young, not the older rams with the seriously curled horns that are a mark of maturity. The juxtaposition of this young ram with the ewe as they munch dried grasses makes it appear as if they are a couple, but they really are just a couple of sheep
Mule Deer, like the Mule from which they get their name, have huge ears. This Mule Deer, relaxing in the midday sun in Wyoming in the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Management Area, has a divot missing from its right ear but that huge pair of ears is hard to miss, especially when they are turned to the front.
The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming were nothing if not cooperative. They seemed to recognize us and our vehicle. I’ve been told that these sheep have good memories and because we were respectful and did not encroach, they accepted us and went about their daily routines. On our third morning, as we drove into the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area in search of sheep, I spotted a trio of ewes atop a rocky outcropping and alerted the others. By the time we got the vehicle turned around and stopped, only one ewe remained on the rock. It was the first (and only) time I was the first person to see the sheep so I have a particular affinity for this ewe who stood proudly and looked straight into my lens as if to greet me.
Moon shots with clouds have always intrigued me but until last week I had never managed to photograph the moon with clouds. In Wyoming, I had an opportunity to photograph a Waxing Gibbous moon as clouds blew by it. Getting the shot was not an easy task because the winds were brisk, the clouds moved quickly, and I was using my Nikon Z6 and FTZ with the Nikkor 500mm PF and hand-holding. Keeping the long lens steady while pointing to the sky and positioning the moon in the viewfinder proved quite a challenge for me. While I searched for my subject in the viewfinder, my friend Richard would tell me how much time I had before the moon disappeared into the clouds. I took the photograph in black and white so the sky looked dark and it seemed to be nighttime although it was only late afternoon and the sun had not set.
Just outside Dubois, Wyoming on US 26, the mountainous red rock formations are breathtaking. We stopped one afternoon last week to photograph these mountains when the sky was filled with dramatic clouds. It was the perfect opportunity to take black and white photographs with the Nikon Z6 and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 S.
After the winds died down in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains last week, we found another band of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep near the Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp, near the side of the road. They were so close to the vehicle that I switched cameras and lenses. I attached the Nikkor 300mm PF and the FTZ converter so I could use the lens on my Nikon Z6 with its MB-N10 battery pack. I took this photograph through the rear seat passenger window across Eric’s shoulder as the young ram approached.
The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming were not concerned about us or our proximity to them. They got so close to us that I had to back up in order to keep the entire animal in the frame. My Nikon 500mm PF super telephoto lens has a narrow angle of view and strong magnification, making the individual quite large in the frame especially at close distances. This ewe walked right up as if to greet me and say, “Hello there!”
The band of small band of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep that we photographed on our last day in Wyoming consisted of about 36 individuals, 34 ewes and 2 young rams. Here, one of the young rams, surrounded by a group of resting ewes, appears to be looking after his ladies.
This year’s trip to Wyoming to photograph Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep was a huge success! Despite finding only a few of the purported 1200 member herd in Wyoming we had some incredible experiences and encounters with those we met. We counted three young rams among the two bands we photographed but none of the hefty rams with large curls that we photographed last year. Most of the bands we saw were ewes that were very accepting of our presence. And, we found one absolutely adorable yearling. On our last afternoon in Dubois, I was able to photograph this yearling in the Whiskey Basin Wildlife Management area.