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Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset

Big Horn Mountain's Sunset
Big Horn Mountain's Sunset

Catching a Big Horn Mountain Sunset (Clear Sky)

I’ve been trying to get this shot for 20 years. It was bright to say the least. A totally unclouded alpenglow sky (atmospheric ice). The sun is 93 million miles out and the ranch is only 130 miles out from the Big Horn’s Ridge line. The black Ridge (known as the “Red Hills” at the bottom is 40 miles out from my camera lens. I’m at the same elevation as the Red Hills where I’m standing for this capture. “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”

Rare (ish) confluence of Events, Photographic musings:

Catching a sunset on a 13,000 (Thirteen Thousand) feet high ridge from 130 miles away is a matter of proper positioning, timing and gear. I had to travel 10 miles south to get this image, I set up on early on tripods two long lenses, (800 and 1200mm). *This image came from a new Sony Alpha 7R4 which gives me a 60 meg .jpg out of the camera) The sun will set in the notch on the left in two days from the same location. If I slowly move north to my ranch, I can delay the travel time down the range by changing the angle between the sun, the range and myself… I have never seen this until the other night. Close but not on the peaks.. 

Tough to get Weather Window to the distant peaks. 

Weather is the most unpredicatable variable. I get to see the Big Horns from my vantage point a few times a week. There is always be clear days… Having said that, I haven’t had a window to this angle of sunset through the weather (clouds) for this in 20 years of living here. Usually there are obscuring moisture, clouds, ice or otherwise no view exists of the Bighorns. This particular day was a VERY clear day all day. I have big long photos of several directions from one of the highest points around here. Behind me there was a WONDERFUL Belt of Venus (BOV) against the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower Landscape. I did some time exposures of the pink BOV sky over that volcanic neck complex this evening after the sunset. Stay tuned for that. 

Equipment Suggestions:

A good quality 800mm lens (bigger than 800mm lenses at this distance make for multiple photo composites. This is a full sized 2×3 foot print from one image. . It would be bigger if it were composite as in a 2:1 aspect instead of a simple landscape 2×3. You might want some neutral density filters in front of your lenses unless your using a Sony Alpha or other similar large format sensors. I will testify for the Sony surviving direct sun images. I don’t profess to know how your camera will survive so best safe than sorry. Don’t let the sun burn a hole in your cameras sensor. . 

Color. It’s hard to know ahead of time (at the click) how an image is going to finish. This is a rediculous light environment for any camera. Under this much bright light and glare through atmospheric ice, it usually will finish in burnt umber, crimson or orange. This one did the crimson route. No one can look into this scene with the naked eye and tell me what it looks like as it would blind you. 15 f-stops of dynamic range on this Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back.. 🤔😲 The human eye has 21. No filters in front of this lens. Zip. Most consumer cameras have 10, 11 maybe 12 fstops. 


This was captured with a Mirrorless camera and I was looking at this scene on video so there is no direct light path to my eye. Do not try this with your equipment if it is a small sensor mirrorless camera not rated for this OR it is a standard DSLR that has a direct path to your eye from the sun. It will be the last thing you see in that eye with an 800mm telephoto gathering light and focusing it on your retina. 😎 Protect your eye. Your photography will end if they do. Title “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.