Looking into the furnace is a hazardous thing to do with most cameras. I don’t suggest pointing a camera with a telescopic lens into the sun unless you really know what your doing. This was very bright of course going to places the human eye can only glance into for fractions of a second. More and your doing damage to your eyes. Don’t…I use gear that is good with this.
The old growth pines on this ridge, married a long time living together. Roots intertwining for well over 100 years. Sharing the same ground will tend to put everybody on the same page. The metaphor here leads to the conclusion that common interests exceed differences. The trees work together blocking the wind and gathering the light most of the time. Here they are cooperating with me making a nice frame for my sunset that evening. The have both survived decades of grass fires burning to their base. Survivors both.
The Yellow surrounding the sun is where the term “Golden Hour” comes from. What I’m after is the smooth yellow to blue gradient here with every color variation in between the two end members. Needless to say this is a wide lens involved to fit all of this in the frame lol.
When looking at a bright Crimson Sunset, one has to take it in perspective. Look how large the sun is relative to how you normally see it. This is zoomed WAY into just a little small area of the sky. Which by the way, is a big area of sky if you were out there under it lolol. So perspective is important to understanding these images. Hold your thumb out at an arms length toward the horizon. Your thumb would cover this entire frame. Postage stamp sized at arm’s length.
Skies banded are best. Or something close to best. I’m all about color, cloud and landscape gradients. I chase them incessantly. Both in the real world and in my dreams. The perfect banded sunset would be a bucket list item. The term perfect of course is up for debate.
You couldn’t look at this for more than a glance. The mirrorless cameras looks well into the bright Not as well into the dark without a time exposure. I think the same is true of the human mind.🤔
Our eyes however aren’t good at the really dark or really bright either. They are generalists sensors we use to deal with most of the events in our world. Apparently there was no survival benefit in our developmental past to look directly at the sun. This is why we invented hats with brims and sunglasses. Now why we don’t have night vision like canids or feline is a good question. In a weapons race, humans gave up an edge there to be functional generalists. 📷
Those of us that see images in clouds might pay attention to this wonderful western Sunset. A lamb is passing under the “Eye of Sauron” sunset. Wyotana (both states are in the photo) has some very impressive sky shows. I work over 400 of them a year and have for several years now. Having seen many of them gives me an interesting perspective that few having on terminator crossings. (Look it up on Google if you don’t know).
The terminator moves over us at 1000 mph twice per day. (The world is 24,960 miles in circumference) It takes 24 hours for one full rotation. That’s roughly 1000 mph that we are traveling in a fairly tight circle of 6917 miles in diameter. Traveling so fast in a circle it’s amazing we don’t fly off this big ball. There has to be SOME outward force eh? lolol.
This is a view west across the Little Powder River Valley from up on the west side of the Pass to Rockypoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. It’s 40 miles to the mountain ridges in the distance. There is a lot to be said for gaining elevation. This is about 10 miles from my homestead and roughly 3 miles south of Montana where I stand.
It’s amazing how the sky at the top can still be blue with the alpenglow popping out in the lower atmosphere. The light bathing those high clouds is still blue and unfiltered by the low/thick atmosphere. IT’s a classic Rule of thirds color ladder too lol. Laid out like a tic tac toe game. Just super-impose the game over the image to see what I mean. 📸
Finding windows through vegetation is a matter of either finding them randomly or making them for use later. This tree I cleared out some limbs months ago to make a slot just for this week. Fitting the sun into the slot is a whole different matter. First of all as the sun is rising it moves to the right. As it moves to the right, I have to move to the left. Tripods don’t work for this. Handheld will work just fine.
Topography is my master. To align such a vision, I have to be at just a certain x, y, z coordinate at a certain time. The earth has to cooperate with me to give me a place to stand. I have maybe a minute to work scenes like this as the earth will drop away and the sun would be hidden by the horizon. If the ground I’m on climbs, the sun would have to climb out of the bushes it’s resting on. It’s already climbing for the day. Here I caught it being lazy resting before the arduous climb to the it’s zenith that day.
That morning was cool for a early august sunrise. Some morning are in the low 50’s up this high. Nothing like the days I lived in Jackson at 6200 feet where we actually could routinely get some snow in the summer. Not so much down here at 4000 feet in Wyotana.
I love using natural materials to filter out the glare from a setting sun such that the background colors appear. Between lens reflections and flares, the glare makes for a harsh photographic environment. Resultant in umber colored images unlike this blue sky to yellow transition. When I utilize something like this tree trunk to block, completely hide the sun, a different world emerges from the light overload. Almost nothing can look at the sun unfiltered. Modern Large sensor cameras do pretty well (fairly high end mirrorless NOT DSLR cameras) at not melting a spot in the sensor pointing into the nuclear furnace.
Chasing Gradients of color hue or saturation is a worthy use of my limited hands on camera time I feel. The yellow / golden light surviving the trip through the lower atmosphere making it to my photon capture device is dutifully recorded digitally. What ever software algorithm the camera settings impart to record the scene as a series of Ones and Zeros (I0III000I00)Billions of numbers long. It is my job to bring the digital file out of the camera and bring it into the digital darkroom.
It is my choice to finish them as I remember them. Everybody that actually is a photorealist must process the photo in some way or another. Cameras are terrible at getting it right. First of all I intentionally expose ONLY the highlights correctly. That way you can actually see detail in them. They are not all blown out as if you try to get dark detail. Blown out is lost information and bad photography.
Then you use the tools in a program like Photoshop™ or Lightroom™ to bring the dark areas back to reality. This process expands the dynamic range of the image. I brought the green out of the tree from pitch black. It’s a little thing but it’s exactly what Ansel Adams did with his contrasts and differential exposures. He did his in the chemical dark room and this would have taken him months to do this in black and white. Let alone the color thing. Technology has advanced a LOT in this field over the last century.
Still early before sunrise. The pink clouds in the distance distract from the briefness of the moons remaining time aloft this morning. Going down….. My intent was to photograph this wonderful scene with the moon much lower. I decided to take this image as that misty ground haze would totally obscure the lunar disk before it touches down. (it did). The horizon rising to meet it’s apparent descent. As the earth rotates inexorably in harmony with the cosmic clockwork of the universe.
This old working ranch barn is well maintained and fairly original to it’s early design (in this country). Ranches here were settled around 1900. There were cattle drives though this country earlier than that. This area opened up when various land grant programs from the government. Dozens of families moved up into sod houses in the area. They made the paths, figured out how to get water, did some fencing with posts they cut. This area was opened up by horses pulling wagons for decades. It’s a long way to town from here. (Gillette). Probably a 4 or 5 day round trip for supplies at first. Camping on the trail was the rule of the day.
This structure is on the historic Parks Ranch to which we are a neighbor. The Parks were a class act around 1900 (and later). Taken around 5:30 AM that morning. Getting light but still twilight “Belt of Venus pink back lighting.
It takes a drive “up the backcountry ridge” for a view of the western sky. After the sun has set. I see scenes like this every other day up here sans overcast skies. I find myself so used to the lighting I’m exposed to, overlooking a beautiful image that needs to be finished is a real thing. Scrolling through hundreds of captures after working any one particular sunrise or sunset timeline is a tough job. I usually under-expose everything so sometimes seeing it raw out of the camera is difficult. That mountain/ the far ridge is 50 miles distance. There are no yard lights visible over that distance. This is big empty country.
Photographic Musings: No over-exposure allowed. Only expose the highlights correctly. I adjust the image’s dark area back to reality later. Having found that over exposing twilight skies JUST to get some landscape detail is just improper. The best way is to capture a proper twilight sky without blowing out fine/intricate details. Some clouds are smooth, others have amazing patterns. THe detail lost in an overexposure is gone. Same thing happens when a beginning artist turns up the volume on color saturation or intensity. IT blows out the detail. There is a HUGE amount of detail in this properly exposed alpenglow colorcast sky.
Without the digital dark room, you would have a just black silhouette on the bottom. Here you have two ridges clearly visible with some detail present. If your purist and don’t like “changing” what came out of the camera, your ignoring the fact the camera by itself can’t capture the real scene. My eyes could clearly see the ridges in the distance. I had to coax it out of the digital file though. Photorealism. There wasn’t a silhouette there to my eyes. I produce images as I experienced them.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming / Just a Beautiful Twilight
Layers of ridges with 10s of miles between. Long landscape ladder perspectives that climb the gradients of color step by step are wonderful when they magically appear. Alpenglow caused by atmospherically suspended ice particles is the glow. That caused by said ice along with dust and particulates effect on the incoming sunlight winter or summer. This captures late hour with just about 5 minutes left in the day, the light is markedly golden thus the “Golden Hour” moniker. I work the golden hour anytime.. Constantly impressive, Golden Hour Photoshoots. That is done often up in this country.
I call this “working the edge of the sun”. If you do it incorrectly with what ever zoom lens your using, your going to get lens flares. Long shafts of light artifacts from stray light in your lenses. Patience and experimentation is necessary to figure out your lens. Remember not to use a DSLR type camera or a small sensor Mirrorless unless it’s rated for into the sun work. It’s tough on sensors (melts spots in them) if you point a camera incorrectly set up letting in too much light. Note that melted spots in your image chip is not a good thing unless your into abstract art through the lens. If you learn nothing else from this, don’t blind yourself with a DSLR camera pointing it at the sun. If you don’t know the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, you should google and learn so you know.
It’s a challenge to do photography at the edge of the operational limits of your camera. Just don’t trash your camera back lol. I’ve done hundreds of these with the Sony Alpha 7R 2,3 and 4 platforms.. Those are full frame chips all. That fact disperses the heat from the sun over a much larger area. Those will take it. I suspect most full frame cameras will. 📷
Crimson Sunsets with a boulder field acting as a sun moderating filter. Otherwise the glare is such it makes it very difficult to catch the detail in the clouds above. I point out that cloud frame is a Pariedoliac’s dream with a dozen faces, figures, creatures and imaginary anthropomorphic shapes. I’ve got horses, dolphins humans faces. I swear I did not put those shapes there or add dots for eyes or any of those cheating activities. This is a totally natural image with a pretty much closed down camera to light. That sun is bright. The human eye could not look into this scene.
Taken at the top local top of the world with a hard boulder covered butte top protecting the sandstone below from erosion. Most buttes are built by cap rock protecting the softer sediments below from being removed. Ridges are formed because everything softer was carried away by water moving one grain of sand at a time. Just lots of time.
Photographic Musings. High F-stop for the deep focus plus loosing some light. (you’ve got an overabundance of light here). Low ISO because you sure as heck don’t need a sensitive camera here. Shutter speed is going to be fast but the boulder filter can lengthen that out a bit. Each of the Manual settings is a double edge sword. If you want deep focus, you need a lot of light. F-stop is your iris size inside the lens. A pin hole gives you very deep focus fields. But a pin hole doesn’t let in much light. Manual is all about balancing light.
JUST after the sun disappears behind the rising horizon, I clicked this. The simple image of a sunset is only overcome by the beauty of the event. Watching thousands of sunsets from start to finish has taught me nuances in lighting. Both Causation and Effect become apparent with enough observation. There are an infinite number of angles to look at something. There are more that I can imagine in my mine. (more than infinity). 😜
Sunsets this time of year from my ranch are getting more and more straight to the west. From my position one mile inside of Wyoming, your looking at both states in this frame. Wyoming is to the left and Montana is to the right. Living on the border with access to both states has it’s advantages. I am sandwiched between two counties fire departments and get pretty good service lolol. This late into a drought year has me looking over Amazon and elsewhere online for firefighting tools. To have a smoke free sky like this image might take a while with a pretty good fire 50 miles west of here. You can’t see it here as this was the day’s ending before it started burning.
So enjoy the clear sky sunset while I’ve still got them making their way into my work flow. The last two sunset/sunrise I’ve worked have been heavily influence by the smoke from that fire. There will be other images of that fire’s smoke plume incoming and published here soon.
When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.
I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.
This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.
Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.
Sometimes the sunset sideshows I see are just overwhelming, then a Pronghorn Doe wanders into my “visual tunnel” that I’m working. Layers of interdigitating hills. Slow tapering like so many water waves on a pond. The Golden Hour Lighting and long shadows add to the contrasts and hues. Accentuating even the drought covered grass’s early brown season patina.
This was taken about a week before a grass fire blackened the hillside just before the tall ridge of trees near the horizon right of center. That whole field was burned over about a mile. I’d say 12 fire rigs of all sizes made a local debut for the 2020 fire season in this country. About 30 men descended on that ground within an hour of it’s announcement. It’s still very dry. We have been enjoying trains of lightning rich storms.
The Pronghorn doe was moving from Yucca plant (Spanish Dagger) to Yucca Plant enjoying the abundance. That is a plant that plans ahead. Their shape on the prairie causes snow to drift and cover them better than the surrounding area. They get a LOT of their watering in the winter. Their lush blooms are eagerly sought by most ungulates. I understand they are good in salads… 🙂
Besides the other minor world wide issues, locally: Drought Hail and Fire this year has surpassed in intensity the green well watered year we experienced last year in 2019. I’d like to play this year over and it’s not even close to done yet. Think I could do that??
A Couple of old soldiers standing on this saddle of this mile distant ridge. The perspective long telephotos give you is crushed between the two ridges here. The far ridge is 8 miles out from my camera. Sort of a “Close/Far” perspective.
These trees are old growth that survived a major fire in the 1930’s that “burned till the snows fell”. There is a mix of grass and forested areas in this region. Our ranch is about 25 percent ‘treed’ pasture. The rest is just grass and sage with a few dinosaur fossils mixed in on the surface. That is prime dinosaur hunting ground amid those small outcrops. I never know what I’m going to find walking areas like this.
Twilight Landscapes are much easier before the sky gets too bright. Photography is a light balancing act. Having your camera try to see into the dark needs a tripod or sandbag to stabilize the camera. Extend your exposure so you can get more light. Take that gained light away by turning up your f-stop to a higher number giving you a longer field of focus in return (Double edge sword) Only of course, if you want to have it all in focus instead of just those trees lolol. To sum that up: giving up light you gain with a longer exposure then taking it away by turning up f-stop to give you deeper focus…. Then you have only ISO (Camera sensitivity to adjust to give you a proper exposure.). You can also adjust for a longer shutter too if your brave.
Summer sunsets happen early. This one at 5:31AM. The ridge I wanted to work for this had a good view of the crescent moon. Working the crescent moon from 5 AM until it was lost in the haze. Keeping busy with cameras is a good thing. I was loving the roiling distortion around the edge of the solar disk. It’s a result of the atmosphere distorting the shape and the details. The sun is ACTUALLY below the line of sight (below the horizon). The atmosphere is bending it’s image around the corner for a few minutes at the rise.
I have Sirius XM radio plus a reasonable audio system in the Raptor. This has been a good thing up here. I went out doing backcountry photography for years on an open ATV with my cameras in a open basket. No tunes…. I’ve work open ATV’s to -30. Having had cameras literally not work from the cold…. I put 3500 miles on that ATV one year doing backcountry photography only in this area.
This year, I’ve accumulated 1300 miles of only backcountry driving. In the Ford Raptor’s first 6 months. The Raptor is an all weather, all terrain, comfortable photographic studio for me to work from. There are not many places it would not go within reason up in this region if I asked it to. Think of it as a “Free Runner” which is a truck built for racing courses like the Baja 500. So far, it will do anything I ask of it that I’m not afraid to do. 📸 🤘 More hail dents than I like on it though….. ☹️
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has positioned himself dead center of this BIG twilight borderlands twilight sky show. Habitual Photobombers like Sneaky are incouragible. I have no control over their actions. I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀 WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in.
Radiance: (Websters) : the quality or state of being radiant 2 : a deep pink : the flux density of radiant energy per unit solid angle and per unit projected area of radiating surface. (1 and 3 nailed this) I’m thinking that I’m digging the Flux Density here but maybe it’s just me. Of course totally square natural frames and visual tunnels always are a nice hero or two to add to the images mix.
All images are combinations of light, angle and the subject(s) of the composition. My job is to bring them together into a coherent mass… jumble if you will. Coherent being the key word. Chaos is the tendency of the world but bringing order to chaos is what I often pursue. Those are the images that somehow bring a semblance of logic to the disorganization that is so prevalent in our universe. They make sense to our minds sense of balance and proportion. Leading they eye naturally as the masters of the 16th century figured out toward the focal point of the image. Here is a sunburst as the center. Ago old technique, modern technology to look into the eye of the furnace that keeps us warm.
This “Golden Hour” capture is classic to the intensity of the sunsets in air full of ice. Alpenglow glow colors the air golden. Only the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset qualify as the “Golden Hour”.
Talk about a busy photo. I swear rainbows and lightning in the same image together is not a common thing to happen in front of your lens. You have to hunt this stuff and then set up the possibility. It was very dark but I could see the “Right Turn Clyde” sign to align it with the the blurred windmill. (you remember those two Shows 1978 and 80 right). The Windmill had a great view of the rainbow that had formed with a faint compliment secondary rainbow. This was very late and the only light left for the rainbow was the long traveled pink light. Normally you see this as a pink Belt of Venus on the frozen atmospheric ice.
Here the “Belt of Venus” pink backshow light was all that available to the rain droplets to refract back to my lens. The pink color being as strong that night as I have seen it in a summer evening. I’ve seen it WAY stronger in the winter. Winter of course is the time of year to watch Alpenglow in the Wyotana skies. All the ice makes for amazing shows. The same light reflects in a much darker shade off of water droplets than ice crystals. Light to amazing pink in the winter is standard, this openly cranberry color is an odd one for me to see. Thus it is my gold standard to finish the image. It made a huge impression on me at the time.
Obviously I have several finished images from this timeline. Each a little different in it’s coloration as the sequence of events played out in front of me. There are times I REALLY love doing this.
Taken from “Sunrise Ridge”. That is a magical place that gives me view to the east as varied as you can imagine. While the area I work hard photographically has is long list of beautiful things, I lack waterfalls, huge mountains and National Monuments/Parks in the front yard. A flowing river has always been a dream. But here I am stuck on a dry ranch.
Dryland ranching sounds romantic because it’s ranching of course…. Dryland when it’s actually really dry… not so much. The Dryland part is a quirk of fate. I ALMOST bought a ranch way across the state at Clark Wyoming right on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone river there. I would have ended up doing similar “hobbies” there as well. No matter where you are, there you are I have found in my travels. No dinosaurs in Clark but that area of the country is somewhat complex geologically. Interesting stuff laying around everywhere. Yellowstone right over your shoulder. Good seat if it blows too…. I digress..
Silhouettes of trees with just a bit of green showing in the shadow nether world. The ability of the camera to look into the sun AND see detail against the brilliant sun is blocked by technological limitations. I could set the camera so that it COULD see the detail in the silhouetted areas (dark areas) OR detail in the sun but getting both is beyond most technology requiring only one shot. Stacking multiple images with different settings can give you the best of all the worlds. That is a process that I don’t like for it’s complexity certainly but more importantly
In another 15 minutes this would have been a red rainbow. Considered Rare as they only happen RIGHT at sunset. I know this as it did in fact turn red later but for at this click was still orange. The sun was setting over my right shoulder. It was partially obscured by various clouds at various sections of the timeline here. This series of storms like a train trailing cars ran just to our east giving me wonderful views of the activity sunlit by the colored light. That light reflecting off the storm back to my optics. The long waves surviving the low angle ridge through the curved atmospheric lens.
The sunset ongoing over my right shoulder was in fact quite a good show. It takes a good main show to give me enough light to see the back show during storms. Only a very complex atmosphere could give me the proper conditions for this unusual capture. That is my communications tower just to the right of the bolt. It has been hit hundreds of times. Ummm… working from up there takes larger stones than I have to be up there in a serious electrical storm. I’ve spent a few episodes up there. Grounded all that gear is. Talk about a target lolol.
It is my understanding that Lightning AND Rainbows in the same photo are also unusual as the conditions that cause each are unusual together. I don’t have a lot of the two of them dancing in my portfolio. This storm train provided me with many examples. Before this timeline I may have had one or two in my lifetime. It’s probably just me, I miss things all the time lolol.
“Sneaky Pete” the windmill has a commanding view most nights. Those evenings where the weather window to the BigHorn Mountain Range are open to my lenses. The latest part of the Golden Hour has the best light in my experience. The low angle of the sun accentuates the light by filtering the rays through the suspended ice in the atmosphere. The smooth yellow (top) to orange (bottom) gradients of Alpenglow colorcast everything highlighting reflective surfaces and ridge tops with the right angle.
There was no wind that night. The Sail of the windmill moved not for my camera. No shutter speed tricks would have blurred it’s lack of motion. We do get occasionally dead calm air. During air conditions as this, I tend to get suppressed rifles out. My activity is to Shoot and listen to the bullet going supersonic across it’s entire arc of travel. Whoooooooooosssssssssssssh Twack…. Hearing the bullet Twack it’s final backstop 1000 yards out. You can hear your heart beat if your no where near herds of cattle. Then you hear a lot of cow calls, moos, and bawls by calfs.
The 130 miles to the BigHorn Mountains are visible due to my homesteads position high on a ridge (pass between drainages). I am topographically elevated as high as the far ridge is above the Little Powder River Valley below it. I have a straight shot right to the core of the BigHorns. 13000 foot peaks are part of the Backbone of the Rocky Mountains here in America. They used to be a lot taller. The Powder River Basin at my feet used to be a lot deeper in the distant geologic past. More like the Tetons but bigger. Then the basin filled up with debris from the mountains and the elevations are balancing out a bit.
Getting into position on parallel ridges is certainly a challenge early in the morning. In the evening as this, it’s relatively easy to get there. It’s finding your way back that is the challenge. Role reversal almost across the board. As soon as the sun sets behind that ridge, the whole valley I have to travel into is into dusk and darker environments. Reversing the order of events between a sunset and a sunrise seems to be a universal constant with a few contrarian natural occurrences about.
Sunrise/Sunset. (classical reference intended). For one we rise, the other we set to bed . In a similar vein, it’s hard to get there in the morning and hard to get back at night. “En revanche mon ami”. Unlike humans, the horizon rises at night. However, if you look, in the morning the horizon drops downward in the morning. The Full Moon sets in the morning and rises at night. A lot of events seem to happen right at those two times. It must be a coincidence, or perhaps an ancient biological dependance on the cycle. Just a few more gears driving the wheel of life.
The coming of the light and the departure. It is the appreciation of the process that adds so much to the overall experience I enjoy with this work. I use the term “Terminator Crossing” to describe both sunrise and sunset in one word. If you have never heard of “Terminator” except in connection with “the future is not set” and Arnold, time to google Terminator. You see the Terminator on the moon all the time.
Good Monday Morning to you all from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I awoke today to pea soup thick fog blanketing the area which of course was dewey spider web hunting time. Did that a while this AM. I’ll take moisture any way I can get it. We might be getting some rain over the next few days if we are lucky (this was written June 29th). This week we are actively working on our fire truck so my posts this week are between tasks.
To this image. I am always trying to have a couple of “hero’s” in an image. A sunset by itself is beautiful in it’s simplicity. A starburst in it’s own radial existence is the wheel (hero 1). Then there is the lens pinhole artifactual starburst (hero 2). In my experience, the most complex sunsets are more eye appealing generally speaking. In and by themselves.. Add some depth though…. I see many opportunities in any one scene. Certainly this Antique Deering Seeder long ago abandoned became a favorite foreground object of mine to work with these big Wyotana sunsets. It has had a view to die for decades on this remote ridge. I love Close/Far perspectives and setting them up👀 📷
This might be straight forward with an infinite focus cell phone. Hard for me to say as I don’t use them as cameras much Not so easy with a manual mode DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. The camera made the star around the sun. The High F-stop setting (as high as the camera would go) led to that. It’s an artifact produced by the optics and a regular “star” of my close far perspectives. Remember that F-stop is a double edged sword. You turn it up, you get really a thick layer of focal sharpness from close to far. Plus a sun star…But you loose a LOT of light turning UP the F-stop. You have to compensate for that with the other two settings (shutter speed and ISO/camera sensitivity). Focusing this close is knowing where to set your camera.
Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.
I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘
Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️
Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.
I don’t see a lot of really strong “Belt of Venus” Pink even in the winter but it’s out there if ice is in the air. At As the long traveled reddish light hits the projector screen the ice collectively makes, that ice glows the color of the light. Just before sunrise, the blue darker clouds barely above the mountains on those clouds is the shadow of the horizon on them. That shadow “zone” will turn pink as the shadow drops with the sun rising on the opposite horizon. The clouds above shadowed by the cloud deck topping the sun slit also on the opposite horizon. So just a bar of sunlight making it to cinema screen.
This is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The planet Venus is Often in the pink some mornings. The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow like mid-summer before. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. Interesting year.
Right into the sun Captures with layers of landscape are actually one of my favorite images. I’m not sure how many of these I’ve taken. Likely they certainly number in the hundreds. Probably only 50 or so have been finished and published from my archives of photos that need to be finished (extensive). I think it’s a 70’s thing of mine… Could be just me
I prefer to do photography without additional “filters” in front of my lens. Pointing such right into the sun usually gives me ghosts of the sun I can’t fix in the digital darkroom. If your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range the mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 versions I used for this, you will have to use Neutral Density screw on glass filters in front of your lens. Those will act like sunglasses to your camera so it can actually see what’s going on. Please don’t try to do this with a DSLR style camera. They have direct light paths to your eye and blinding has happened. The Sony Alphas are a mirrorless design that is entirely a video in the eyepiece. No direct light path to blind you.
The trick on all of these is to not overexpose the sun but yet have enough detail in the shadows to bring out the horizons. It’s a knife / razors edge of tweeking exposure back and forth. You could also adjust f-stop since it’s not as critical here but is useful for eliminating light at high settings. Pointing a camera at the sun is an exercise in turning down the camera to light a LOT before you point it at the sun (hint). Don’t burn a spot in your cameras digital sensor…. . 👀 📸
This is the second image from this timeline I am publishing. Each has it’s own merits. I worked this wonderful scene moving around for the different compositions that are hiding from us. Our perspective is “where we are”. The goal of photography is to see past where we are actively moving to the “optimal” perspective possible for the scene at hand. There are an infinite number of options available here only limited by the topography I’m positioned on. There have been so many times I wish for a ladder of just a few feet to change the angle ever so slightly. This is of course why I drive along parallel ridges to work terminator crossings. I can move up and down the opposite ridge as it is my metaphorical ladder.
Terminator: This is the dividing line between night and day as seen from outer space. It’s a good way for me to describe EITHER sunrise or sunset to you if you understand what it is. That visible shadow/light line moves around a globe that is 24000 miles around in circumference one time a day. That is, the shadow of night moves in at 1000 miles per hour over us as the sun rises or sets. Likewise sunrise moves over the earth at 1000 miles per hour likewise. Terminator is an interesting google search… You see it on the moon all the time….
I hadn’t been to this particular location for a while, it’s SORT of off the beaten two track. Anyone notice the photobomber? There are no cattle in this pasture yet so lazy me tends to stay out of pastures I have to open and close gates to enter. I’m getting lazy in my old age… 😜 📸
That HUGE butte in silhouette(called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border 35 miles distant. I’m standing in Wyoming. You can actually see the communications towers that are up there. An 18 inch wide tower at 35 miles is what is called “resolution”. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Really high end camera backs give you very high megapixel count plus high dynamic range. The higher the megapixel count, the bigger you can print the image.
I seldom see naturally totally oversaturated clouds without me setting my camera incorrectly but the sky really was this color. I mention that because it’s looks very harlequin and un natural/odd to me. This is indeed what was down range of my lens that morning. I work very hard to get scenes to be a reproduction of what I experienced live real time. Looking back and forth between my video screen and the actual scene on almost every landscape/sunrise image is a good habit.
My process is to expose ONLY the highlights properly so as not to loose detail in them. I can worry about shadow detail in the digital darkroom. Interestingly, there was no detail in those crimsons back/bottom clouds to begin with. Nature doing the oversaturation is not that common in my experience. These cameras can usually look right through it to the detail hidden in the saturated area. IT wasn’t there to see from where I was…
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.
There are nice twilights and then there are ones like this one. It’s almost Art if it wasn’t absolutely real as I saw the event. The Golden Alpenglow derived from the ice in the air, was resultant from suspended ice in the air. The longest day of the summer (Solstice) and ice was acting as a projector screen. Filtering some of the light passing through to spotlight the sun’s long traveled red rays on the cloud deck above. This dramatic opening act was just a preview of the sunrise to come. Sometimes these morning shows last well over an hour…. This one was around that. One hour is FOREVER in my world…. 😜
The air at my back was moving with a definite chill. Mid-June is an odd time to have to wear a good jacket but at 5:30 AM with a breeze, dress for the part. I have found this location that I call Sunrise Ridge). Such is “Fairly” easy to get to. It’s about a mile of bumpy two track roads. The journey takes me past several Game Trail Cameras thusly I had ulterior motives. Some mornings as this are so beautiful for so long I end up with 8 or 9 hundred images for the timeline. I’m sure I surpassed 1000 with the various camera/lens combinations I used to study this drama. The longer the show, the more clicking that occurs amazingly. 😃
This is landscape close/far perspective version of a similar image I have in portrait image aspect. It was taken at a different place in the timeline. These skies morph by the minute. I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow.
Created is a classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun was over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This was the longest day of the year.
It was a beautiful morning. Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of.
I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.