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Aurora Northern Lights 04/22/23

This image of Aurora Northern Lights 04/22/23 is a capture of the most amazing aurora display ever… Taken on the Montana/Wyoming border 60 miles north of Gillette Wyoming around 10:30 PM at night. Sony Alpha 7R4, Zeiss 35mm, f 2.0, ISO 1000, 20 second exposure on a truck window tripod.

Aurora Northern Lights 04/22/23

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Bird MountainBlue Closeup

Bird Mountain Blue Bird Closeup 042523A

The little Rocky Mountain Blue Bird was sitting on his favorite perch doing Blue Bird Things.. Bird Mountain Blue Bird Closeup is the title but to find the file, Take the spaces out between the words and BirdMountainBlueBird is the file name Rodger.

Obviously this little guy has been here before. Left his calling cards behind.

Bird Mountain Blue Bird Closeup.

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Deer Buck Silhouette Big Sunset

A big Buck perfectly centered in front of a huge veiled sun provides an amazing visual image… Perfect for your wall. Along that line of thinking... how about a silhouette theme for your wall? ... Here an ALMOST silhouette (highlights on the hair) against the sun is a dramatic acquisition from one evening. I actually had to maneuver over a mile to capture this moment.. I saw the deer on the other side of the ridge and realized the opportunity. Again topography, time of day and situational awareness prevailed. Circling around him without raising the worry level of the jumpy ungulate was paramount. Fortunately for me (an you) he didn't really get concerned of my behavior which resembled hunting to me.. Hunting is sort of what I do when I pursue such images... Many similar skills are involved in the searching for such captures.
A big Buck perfectly centered in front of a huge veiled sun provides an amazing visual image... Perfect for your wall.

Deer Buck Silhouette Big Sunset

A big Buck perfectly centered in front of a huge veiled sun provides an amazing visual image… Perfect for your wall.

Along that line of thinking… how about a silhouette theme for your wall? … Here an ALMOST silhouette (highlights on the hair) against the sun is a dramatic acquisition from one evening.

I actually had to maneuver over a mile to capture this moment.. I saw the deer on the other side of the ridge and realized the opportunity. Again topography, time of day and situational awareness prevailed. Circling around him without raising the worry level of the jumpy ungulate was paramount. Fortunately for me (an you) he didn’t really get concerned of my behavior which resembled hunting to me.. Hunting is sort of what I do when I pursue such images… Many similar skills are involved in the searching for such captures.

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Reflections on Ice Under Trees

ReflectionsICEUnder Twilight Trees.
Icy Twilight Reflections (ReflectionsICEUnderTreeframeMittenButteCrimsonLarge1)
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Sunset On the Grassy Hill

Sunset On the Grassy Hill
Sunset On the Grassy Hill

Sunset On the Grassy Hill

Driving the backcountry I see many images but not all of them are straight forward just point and click lol. Without the Smoke Pall totally filtering all but the brightest longest wavelength colors. The sun was ALMOST naked eye viewing here which made the grass highlight possible. Halo’s in the grass around the sun are hard to catch when they are not BLOWN out by overexposure.

Normally the glaring intensity of the setting sun will over power the cameras sensor leaving hard colored edges around the sun, unlike this smooth gradient/transition. I really like smooth gradients in my images, if you see steps in my color ramps, either it was really like that or I screwed up something lol.

The color is true to the sky I was looking at through the camera. Most of the sky was smoke grey. This is a very small area of the sky through this telephoto lens. This image covers an area the size of a postage stamp at arms length. This was hundreds of yards away.

The thickness of the smoke of late has been troublesome. Animals and Humans alike suffer from the choking irritant. As I type this, the residents of Jordan Montana can return to their home. One of many fires ongoing in the area was ready to run over the town. The 50 mph winds and low humidities made for fire storm grassland conditions. One of the few redeeming results of a hot forest or grass fire is the color in the sky down wind. I’ve seen some smoke/light phenomena this week I’ve never experienced before.

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

Title: Sunset On the Grassy Hill

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Jupiter with Galilean Moons

Jupiter with Galilean Moons
Jupiter with Galilean Moons

Jupiter with Galilean Moons

Occasionally, when the ‘seeing’ is good, I pull out my big gun optics pointing them toward the Jovian Moon system. There are many more moons around Jupiter than are on this image. These four however are the easy ones. The little 12 inch diameter optic I used for glass here is not up to the task unless I do much longer tracking time exposures. A 12 inch light gathering ability makes it faster than catching the same image with a smaller aperture. I have also found that higher resolutions cameras give you higher resolution images lol. This is an effective 4800mm focal length.

The year was 1609 and a fellow by the name of Galileo Galilei pointed a primitive Duch made gadget up at the massive Planet. Looking through the pieces of glass mounted like a skeletonized tube. Galileo was important in the early development of the telescope as he taught himself to grind glass to build his own instruments. He notices that 4 “stars” were circling Jupiter. Humm. That single observation set in motion the Brilliant mathematical mind that man possessed. He was obsessed with the new telescope working tirelessly to improve the state of the art. In 1609, he was observing an 20X view that the human eye could achieve. That is similar to a 24 power rifle scope. I can’t imaging observing this with less than a 1200 mm focal length and a 6 or so inch aperture. Let alone a rifle scope. Better than naked eye though in use before the improvements by Galilei lol.

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

Title: Jupiter with Galilean Moons

Jupiter with Galilean Moons

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Reflections Off the Windmill

Reflections Off the Windmill
Reflections Off the Windmill

Reflections Off the Windmill

The Blue Sky of up high fame is positionally just right to be in relatively unfiltered light. All the clouds below are SATURATED with the reddish / brown color I call “Burnt Umber”. A filtered window to the sun off frame to the left let in enough light to reflect off “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill who appropriately was showing off his shiny surfaces. A matter of pride in a windmill. His older brother “Re Pete” lives about 3 miles further into the backcountry. Not as shiny, the 80 year old wind engine is. It was DEAD CALM or I would have captured that sail a spinning.

This night’s air quality wasn’t as bad as some lately. The cloud deck was a good projector screen for the smoke filtered light that night. This is of course a close / far perspective with the sky being the far part. Both in focus. Easy with a cell phone, tough with a manual camera. I was moving along the trail by this veritable legend in his own mind wind engine. I have no control over his actions but I saw the glint(s) off the side, stopped, backed up and composed the shot. Click. He was so becalmed, I think it was sort of a windmill nap. So I finally snuck up on “Sneaky Pete”… It has taken years….. Proof there are periods of no wind up here ……

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

Title: Reflections Off the Windmill

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Herringbone Clouds Back Show

Herringbone Clouds Back Show
Herringbone Clouds Back Show

Herringbone Clouds Back Show

So I’m on a high Hill top, more or less on the local top of the world. There are a few higher points around but they are a good drive across open backcountry. Looking across the Wyoming / Montana border into Montana Sky with Wyoming Land under my feet. A VERY wide shot in excess of 90 degrees wide, this capture is about 1/4 of the sky in one image. This was a marvelous evening with very little smoke in the middle of a month + of worse smoke. We do get a day here and there of late without too much Pall. We have largely been spared from the worst of this. Having said that tonight as I type, the air is much worse than any night I remember. You couldn’t see see across this field late this after noon.

This is of course the backshow from this sunset. I have to constantly remind myself to look over my shoulder as the main show is often captivating. I have to say the lighting was only slightly red for a change this particular evening. I have been doing photography for a full month in overly red colorcast lighting so this seem pretty minimal. Considering the filtering effect of the smoke eliminating most of the blue from the light reaching the ground from the horizon. The sky overhead was blue because the light reaching there didn’t go through smoke. Blue only penetrates so far through the atmosphere before it’s filtered away. The smoke makes that happen much faster than your average evening in Wyotana.

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

Title: Herringbone Clouds Back Show

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Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked
Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

A close / far perspective is never very far from my mind when working the backcountry. I often go places on ranch that I haven’t been for years. Sometimes that pays off in unusual ways. I really don’t find a lot of Pronghorn Skulls here. They are particularly rare here (anyway) with the horn sheaths still attached. Those fall off very easily as they are shed each year. To find a pretty well preserved skull already cleaned by the local insects…. it was a good morning lolol. I have a suspicion that when I get just the right place, I’m going to have this out at 100 yards with a HUGE sun between it’s horns due to the perspective. Stay tuned, it is riding in the back seat of “Clever Girl” until I find just the right composition for it.

I had been driving hills of late often going into 4 wheel low. The Raptor doesn’t have much trouble with the terrain. It takes me where I ask it too regardless of the smoke conditions. It seems to be able to breath just fine with it’s twin turbos lol. . Me I don’t like the air much, a little asthmatic from it, a slight cough. HEPA filter in the dash of the Truck AND in my living room at the moment. I keep the windows closed and limit my on foot time during this “inconvenience”. I normally drive TO the ridge and walk around. These smokey days, I’m driving all over the ridge and walking very little. Seems the smart thing to do. I’m also not putting my Mastiffs in their kennel. They hang out next to the HEPA and air conditioning vent.

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

Title: Pronghorn Buck Definitely Smoked

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Moon Above Mesocyclone Below

Moon Above Mesocyclone Below
Moon Above Mesocyclone Below

Moon Above Mesocyclone Below

The cloud on the horizon is the top of tall Mesocyclone (a really big storm). The intervening Ridges BARELY illuminated by the veiled sunset ongoing behind me. The sun was throwing very long shadows effected by the cloud cover over my shoulder. There was a storm behind me too. This storm is at least 80 miles distant. Certainly it covered eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, and a sliver of Montana. It’s Twin to the left is off frame and standing over the Montana / South Dakota / North Dakota tristate area. There were several of these huge monsters rumbling across the prairie that night.

The centers of these large thunderstorm complexes are 2 to 9 miles in diameter. They are huge spinning tops rotating about those spinning complex with a top cap many tens of miles across. They are land hurricanes of sorts. A weather engine powered by solar heating of the land. Rising hot humid air hits higher colder air which causes it to condense. This starts a rotation as the energy builds through out the day. By they time they get this big, they are in the small nuclear bomb range of energy levels. These are potentially very dangerous indeed with the cast of dangers they possess. Lightning, Hail and Flash Flooding are the major threats. It pays to be on the west side of these storms as the danger has passed at that point. Prayers to those underneath the right real quarter of the storm.

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

TItle: Moon Above Mesocyclone Below

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A Study in Drama

A Study in Drama
A Study in Drama

A Study in Drama

Pure Theatre watching a scene like this…

The weather was calm with a just a slight acid tinge of forest fire smoke in the air. Conditions have improved ever so slightly with the passage of a front. The ridge 10 miles away (furthest) being partially obscured by it’s light filtering/scattering properties. The terrible smoke on the west coast is being blown east to west concentrating it over the major west coast cities. This weather system is sparing us the worst effects of the conflagration on the coast. Soon upper level air will bring smoke from Washington and Oregon that will blanket most of Montana. I will probably get some of that in this next week with more yellow suns and crimson clouds to come in the near future. (This posts about 10 days out from the photos capture. ).

The layers of ridges in this country make for substantial “landscape ladders” for Close / far perspectives. The first ridge is a mile away from me. The next ridge is 5 miles. The cloud bank 20 and the sun…93,000,000. By Definition this is a close/far perspective. The cattle in the foreground hidden until you read this lolol.

This is a typical backcountry Wyotana morning these days. Orange lighting, deep smoke filled valleys. As I type this the air quality is dang good but there is smoke HIGH in the atmosphere over us. The sun this morning was described to my by a friend as “it looks broken”. Here the sun looks to be sliding down hill on the cloud to me. The layers of this landscape creating this visual ladder that I’m always looking for in my work.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: A Study in Drama

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Last Rainbow of the Summer

Last Rainbow of the Summer
Last Rainbow of the Summer

Last Rainbow of the Summer

A smokey rain bow for sure but I have more captures from this timeline of interest to be posted shortly.

I start this narrative by saying this is a VERY WIDE image. It exceeds 90 degrees wide or 1/4 of the sky. The Sun is EXACTLY behind me along with a whole forest worth of smoke from the west coast. The sunlight at this late daylight hour traveling through hundreds of miles of haze with particulates. From September of 2020, many local’s took photos of this rainbow. I was on an ATV at the time. “Clever Girl” was tied up to a trailer. I had just returned home from town on a trip to get poultry feed for my small paddling of domestic ducks and clutch of chickens. IT was raining, I was on an ATV (with a roof but no doors/windows). A box -o-cameras on the seat. Just a cotton jacket.

Having just come home from town, I had taken a shower. Upon a quick dress in fresh ranch clothes, I looked out the window, grabbed my gear and the first vehicle available to me. Fortunately I didn’t take much more of a shower nor did my gear. The storm had just passed so as to leave me mostly high and dry.

This double rainbow is likely the last I will see this year. Images of bright doubles are usually colorcast. Only the latest day rainbows are this wide as you are seeing almost 1/2 of the entire rainbow. Remember that from the viewpoint of an airplane a few thousand feet up.. a rainbow is a complete circle. Earlier in the day, you only get a small section of the whole circle. As the sun sets, the circle is HUGE. This was HUGE. Positioned here across the Montana / Wyoming border with the left leg being in Montana, the right in Wyoming.

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

Title: Last Rainbow of the Summer

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Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing
Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

Smoke “filters” from forest fires to reduce the light coming from our furnace make for interesting photographic opportunities. This added a sun rising a minute before the actual sunrise time. You will find sunrise time is not a fixed time. Depending on the atmospheric conditions prevalent at any particular terminator crossing, you might get a sunrise where the sun is actually below the horizon appear as if in a mirage. Perhaps a minute or two earlier than the scheduled time. I personally have never seen it rise later. Topography and the distance to your horizon may make a slight difference is rise / set times.

This phenomena is termed “Atmospheric Lensing”. This is a physics of light discussion generally at grade school level. Most have not heard of this. Here the sun is not actually up. Bent around the globe light can be. This by the refractions caused by the differing densities of the atmosphere covering the planet in the thin blanket. As the horizon drops, the sun eventually catches up to it’s actual position well above the horizon. Not here though. This image bent considerably by natural forces. The sun’s outline heavily distorted. I’ve seen a variety of different manifestations of this distortion. This was a pretty cool one. Looks like a chubby Teen Age Ninja Turtle in orange to me lol.

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

Title: Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

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Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

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Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light
Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

OK, This is a confusing image to me. As a fairly astute observer of things, I’d like to think I can explain what I see. Or at least I’ve come close enough for government work a time or two lol. This one is an enigma to me and has left me scratching my head to nail it the causation for this down.

I’ll present my thoughts. You can decide what you think or add a second alternative.

Looks like: Rain is falling in shafts being blown by wind to the right. These rain shafts are being illuminated by Crepuscular Rays from an downward angle from the right to the left. This made a classic screen door or rectilinear pattern here. I was quite amazed at this rare sky. So many things have to come together to make this happen. Oddball for sure.

Crepuscular Rays are a mix of shadow and light. The irregular cloud shapes make irregular shadows. Those clouds block the light in places reaching the already formed rain shafts. The light appears divergent from the sun’s position. They form only when the sun is positioned behind an irregularly shaped cloud or mountain which lets the rays of the sun pass through a cloud in bands. They don’t always happen at sunset. This was mid-afternoon and off schedule for the phenomena which tend to happen at sunrise or sunset.

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

Title: Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

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Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower
Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower

This flower somehow survived the very early frost we had last week (as this posts). It was on the highest point of the highest remaining flower (not too many left). Between the hail storm in July beating up every flowing plant with a view straight up got destroyed. At a minimum it bruised or at least broke most of the plant up. Just like I have 5 apples on a tree that normally would yield several bushels, I have a few flowers about. The suspicion is that this is high value real estate. All sorts of creatures were around this small bed in a sheltered area getting their fill with the pollen. Bees, Flies, Wasps bugs of all kinds were visiting this island in the middle of a hailed upon desert. The Mantis was staking it’s claim.

I’m sorry to say the cold probably got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. Particularly grasshoppers. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have found one in the ranches Walipini Greenhouse already. It’s our 6th generation of them down there.

I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was all in for good focus as well as a slower subject lol.

Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. They might see themselves in a mirror. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.

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

Title: Mantis on the Last Flower

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With The Help of Smoke

With The Help of Smoke
With The Help of Smoke

With The Help of Smoke

Done without a neutral density filter in front of the camera. Almost a silly unlikely capture. It is a rare image from my equipment that has very few issues with the silhouette against the sun. The smoke in the atmosphere obviously has some attenuating aspect on the amount of light passing through. Normally the camera is on the edge of the envelope doing this. All the normally insurmountable technical issues were overcome to get this one.

Photographic Musings:

The big lemon colored sun is an easy capture in and of itself. Getting something terrestrial in front of it without large red rims around objects (diffraction artifacts). Washing them out is typical. I have pointed a camera at the naked sun with trees in front a few times (thousands) before and have never gotten this quality out of the composition. Sharpest edges ever in this type of composition lol. Again, only a smoke attenuated sun will do when you need a celestial object for a “sitting”. Of course I lost 1/2 of the light by letting it set 1/2 way lolol. High fstop (the softness) for deep focus, fast shutter in the 1/6000th range, LOW ISO in the 100 range and a lot of atmospheric filtering.

I’m always trying to work sunset at less than f22 if possible. I suspect this is f60 ish. A tiny pin hole in the aperture. It’s a 1200 mm lens with a very high resolution camera (170 meg raw+ .jpg) which allows me to come up this close without much of a crop. There is NO substitute for high resolution and high dynamic range in a camera.

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

Title: With The Help of Smoke

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Forest Light Through the Pall

Forest Light Through the Pall
Forest Light Through the Pall

Forest Light Through the Pall

So I’m out “enjoying” the smoke in the air and I see this. Click. It was thick and a knife might cut it. But only if it were a big knife. lol

The shadows and the light are always interesting back in the pines. We have about 3 hundred acres of Jack Pines and Cedars on ranch. Most of the rest of this place is either gully, ridge top or grassy flats. All of it is good for cattle grazing at various times of the year . I’m not sure this air is good for man nor beast. I had asthma as a child but this hasn’t given me much trouble “yet”. I’ve fought quite a few forest fires and have been in much thicker. I might start wearing a mask up here just for this.

On a good note, the recent freeze (last week) has let the fighters catch up locally. The whole nation is getting seriously smoked with 90 major fires in 13 states. An area the size of Connecticut has burned in total I understand. That’s 5,500 square miles or there about… Wow. To put that in perspective: Campbell County Wyoming where I live spans 4800 square miles and this is just one county in Wyoming. That is a very large area to burn I point out.

God Bless to all those displaced by these fires. Be safe all and get ready to move fast if called to.

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

Title: Forest Light Through the Pall

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Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

Landscape Funnel to the Sunset
Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

I’m always riding parallel ridges working the shadow line. I see some amazing silhouettes daily. The peculiar red light affiliated with forest fire smoke is characteristic. The low ground effect slowly giving way from yellow tinted clouds to white tinges on the clouds straight up. This is sort of a gradient with a broken projector screen only reflecting parts and pieces of the smooth transitions of color. If you see the “All Seeing Eye of Provenance” that the sun creates here, consider yourself in good company. You Masons out there should pick that right up on this lol. All it needs is a triangle around it.

The smokey sunsets of late have been a boom for me with orange color. If you’ve seen the orange skies making national news a week back, There have been some afternoons around here where it was indeed VERY orange. The crowd in the big west coast cities just aren’t used to it so it’s news there. Being under smoke, one experiences very subdued lighting. A LOT of ranchers are discovering the weakness in solar voltaic water pumps with this sky. Also the renewable crowd in California are figuring that out as well. If a smoke Pall covers the sky, solar panels won’t run much. I’ve had a 4000 watt solar array feeding my electric “cloud” and sending back to grid for 20 years. I bought my first solar 30 years ago. Some of that is still running but not as well under smokey skies.

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

Title: Landscape Funnel to the Sunset

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Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond
Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

IT was extraordinarily still. 20 minutes after sunrise. A perfect mirror in the stock pond. Cattle herds have been watering here for over 100 years for a timeline. Yet longer ago, the Sands of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations providing the water that fills the small glass smooth earthen berm’d tank. This water body looks much larger than it appears here. The perspective of the very wide lens messing with us. More of a puddle than a pond. None the less, a provider of a perfect double image for me to capture during this rare (long term) smoke pall moderated sunrise. This is probably the only good effect from too hot a burning forests x 100 … massively cool photographic environments….

Reality Check:

Even though the sun appears higher in the sky, it is quite dark under the thick plume from western fires. The forest releasing all sorts of combustion gasses and soot. This isn’t as bad as all the man made structures burning. All those plastic fumes are mixed in with the forest by products as well. This is an unparalleled event as I see and understand the enormity of these combined fires. The hugely damaging “Bobcat fire” alone plus 27 other blazes in California alone are adding to the flavor (literally you can taste this stuff) of the air.

I’ve seen a lot of smoke before from fires but I haven’t smelled the fires as much as this year. Nor have any previous year I’ve experienced in my 30 years living in Wyoming been this thick with mixed haze. As a geologist I will tell you that this isn’t 1 / 100,000 of how an exploding Yellowstone would effect the sky.. That would be pitch black raining ash. That was climate change if you don’t think it has changed before lolol.

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

Title: Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

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Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

Perspective Wheel On the Prairie
Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

These close / far perspectives are always a challenge to me. I have to put myself into a mouses mind and imagine the sheer size of human machinations. This Antique steel wheel has been standing here for many decades. It overlooks a huge vista all around it. Ridge top locations allow for such luxuries. It pays for it’s view with the extreme exposure to the elements. The metal parts of this old farm machinery will be here hundreds of years. That is assuming it isn’t recycled in some dystopian future society.

This fairly “clear of smoke” sunset has been a member of a rare population of late. As I type this Massive fires are burning along the west coast. I can only hope that wet or snowy weather comes quickly to the west this year. It’s likely the only thing that will stop those fires. 125 years of not enough controlled burns apparently has found the dead fall fuel load too high in many locations. I’m glad to see the relatively smoke free skies like tonight. I of course was taking a few photos of the setting sun.

The 22nd. of September (Equinox) is coming in a few days from this post. I will be working east / west perspectives with the sun aligning up with all sorts of things. Twice a year I get to do that. Once this month I get pretty clear skies.

Best wishes to all the folks under threat from the fires.

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

Title: Perspective Wheel On the Prairie

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Perspective Snag Sunset

PerspectiveSnagsunsetBlueComplex060621A
PerspectiveSnagsunsetBlueComplex060621A

Perspective Snag Sunset is a wonderful image caught on a high ridge.

When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.

I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.

Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.

If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Perspective Snag Sunset

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Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise
Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Boy has this been a long stretch of Smoke Pall Sunrise events. I keep telling myself it’s a once in a lifetime situation. This tends to make me pay attention to the smoke conditions and sunrise times. I don’t always get to see the sun crack the horizon. This is the first light from the actual sun to reach my camera that morning. I knew about where it was going to rise (the notch on the ridge just left/below where it is now). I was there on time but not a photon made it through the smoke gauntlet to my capture boxes. NADA, nothing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above or anywhere on the satellite map. The low smoke on the ground completely occluding the window to our furnace for a good 20 minutes.

The ambient light on the landscape came from the sky above. It was illuminated through clearer air up high and more like a white ceiling than a blue sky in this pall. Chasing color in this lighting is perhaps a waste of time but I am digging the dozens of different colors of green and red displayed here. The fall is well upon the grasses. Brown season started early summer this year. Trees have not lost their leaves yet in this country which missed the earliest freeze by 1000 feet in elevation. (we are higher here so when the cold settles in the valleys freezing everything, not so much here ).

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

Title: Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

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OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama
OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

Corriente’ Cattle have been on the ranch since 2012. We have Black Angus too but these guys are much more photogenic. Something about the horns that gives them a western look.

Fully covered skies where I catch any animal that I can silhouette are automatically better by their inclusion. I would indicate that everybody was looking at this sunset that evening. I’m sure that even the glutton on the right took a few seconds between chews to enjoy this vision. It was hard not to notice this sky show. It stands out in all that I have seen as pretty impressive….

This can only happen during a totally overcast evening with thin / spotty enough clouds to allow the light to get under the canopy. A cool night, this particular evening was very moist with alpenglow rife to provide this colorcast to the show.

Bear in mind that this is a long range telephoto shot so the area of the sky wasn’t as big as this perspective would have you believe lol. Telephotos crush perspective and you never know how big an area of sky you are seeing. This frame covers an area of sky about the size of a postage stamp at arms length at the horizon. It’s a mind bender I think. This was a good night for images as this held on for 10 minutes anyway. That gave me plenty of time to get around… Click …

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

Title: OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

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Fall Equinox Fence Line

Fall Equinox Fence Line
Fall Equinox Fence Line

Fall Equinox Fence Line

During the Fall Equinox (on Sept 22nd during 2020) Smoke Pall over the skies from the fires to the west.

Around the Equinox, the east / west trending fences have a tendency to fall into order with the universe. For all intents and purposes, this fence line is directly on the Montana / Wyoming border . Montana on the left and Wyoming on the right. Looking East at Sunrise. Ive done many fence perspectives straight on with the fencline. Getting above it so far was an act of crushing perspective with a long lens from a far away hill. Looking over this west slope of a local divide between upper drainage courses.

Many of my photo’s have parts of both states in them. Either a Wyoming ground with Montana Sky or visa-versa. Here the sun looks over all that ground. It is having a great deal of trouble getting it’s light to the ground. The Pall of Smoke this particular day (this has set in for a few months I’m thinking ) was different than each day before it. The strange “filtered light” feeling reminds me of watching a total solar eclipse.

You might note the “Hump Gate” mid-fence. It’s a Cattle gate I designed to put on the ground without having to dig a hole under it. Cattle don’t cross it but ATV’s zip right over it. Idle minds are problematic in my world lol.

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

Title: Fall Equinox Fence Line

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Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming
Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming

I’m sure your all tired of “Smokey Sunsets / Sunrises by now. I sure as heck am. Except for the amazing sky thing, this is getting old. Snow is coming to the high country of Wyoming and Montana as I type… About a week before this published. Still early September for that storm. It hopefully will shut down a few fires to clear up the air a little. Some individuals with lung ailments are not enjoying this month much….

If there were snow storms incoming I’d be taking photos of it as long as there is light. I have to admit that I’ve seen phenomena that were new to me through the smoke palls. This particular image is a front moving from right to left with the smokey air to the right. The Clear air is to the left. The bank of clouds blocking the sun are forming in advance of the air mass shadowing the sun and providing a projector screen to show the light shafts above.

Photographic Musings:

IT was actually pretty bright out. Cameras have trouble with dark detail when looking into very bright light. Sometimes I can tease out that landscape. This capture didn’t have enough data there to deal with in the digital darkroom. Creating artifacts is not my job… I could actually see landscape detail averting my eyes away from the sun. I was playing the same game with my eyes as was the camera. Dynamic Range of your eyes is better than your camera by the way. Your a better generalist than the camera is. That camera can looking into the furnace though with out any discernable repercussions. Not so much with your eyes lol.

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

Title: Wedge of Smoke Incoming

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Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End
Hair Standing on End

Hair Standing on End

I came over the top of a hill giving this Mule Deer Doe a start. Ever had the arms and neck go prickly before? A little adrenaline, a little furtive movement…high alert. She settled down in a few minutes and resumed grazing in the small group near her. This time of year everything is getting aware of the seasons change. Usually long before human are. The nights are getting longer now. The fall equinox is but 6 days away from this post. I see the change in their coats starting. They are starting to get a little bushy. Sort of like me not visiting a barber for 6 months. (I actually cut my own hair lol).

The does ears are big and sensitive but a ridge can muffle the sounds coming up the other side if the wind is up. Just appearing 50 yards out, I definitely got inside her comfort zone too quickly. Fortunately I managed to photograph her quartering off to me.

Boy if I was hunting…. meat for the taking for a landowners doe tag. It’s getting close to October when the serious hunting starts in this area. I personally don’t hunt unless we are having a population problem that needs thinning. I’d just assume play “counting coup” with my camera on the deer.

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

Title: Hair Standing on End

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Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky
Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky

This subdued sunset brought to you by the soot in the air contributed by hundreds of western wildfires. Hopefully you’ve been off grid and out of the way of these plumes. Such a Pall changes not only the air quality but the amount of solar radiation that makes it to the surface.

This image is my best try to get the scene exactly as I remembered it. The wedge of smoke from various Montana fires were moving this way. The cloud front was forming in advance of the smoke pall with the smoke moving with the front. I have seen this develop before and got the heck up the hill well over an hour before sunset. I figures that as the sun dove behind that jagged bottomed cloud, that shadow would get projected in the smoke below. The result is a fan of crepuscular rays radiating outward away from the sun well above the cloud deck. This is a fairly expansive display. Taken through a very wide lens at 24mm .

This is the second nice crepuscular display I have seen from this years smoke/brown season. They are somewhat predicatable to me but to get the ducks to actually line up is an entirely different matter lol. This would be a nice candidate for a mirror/mirror ART treatment I’m thinking… I’ll have to make a note to reflect this back on itself. I bet a nice face will appear magically.

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

Title: Inverted Crown Sky