All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy. This is ART. Did I mention it’s art?. Viper Sky
But I really didn’t do that much to the original image which is a legit Sunset taken from my back yard. I typically can instantly visualize a sky that has been mirrored back on itself in the camera. This one, I saw the possibilities for mirror art before the camera is even involved lol. This is the same photo seamlessly folded back on itself like two mirrors at 45 degrees to each other. The left 1/2 was the original image.
In my Pareidolia infected mind, I see a large Snake with big fangs about to reach out and touch. Alternately there is a WONDERFUL Bearded Old Mans face dead center top frame. I never know what is going to magically appear at the “totem pole” that is usually formed at the “crease” where the two images are merged. I take great care to precisely align the center. Clouds and Trees are my favorite visual materials for this kind of photography and post click mirroring. I did very little to the image after the fact. If you have white clouds AND yellow/golden clouds in the same image. There isn’t much color manipulation that has occurred even though this is art and I have no rules.
This was a storm at sunset with rain falling but evaporating before it was hitting the ground. This is otherwise known as Virga. That would be a good google word for the morning … Have a great day all…
This storm hailed on me an hour prior to this click. I tend to follow behind these guys around sunset. Some of the scenery I see doing this is otherworldly. It was very dark on the ground as the silhouette shows. There was no way to properly expose the clouds still keeping the ground visible. Usually I can pull out the ground detail in the digital dark room. Not so much here. So I consider it a good use of negative space here lol.
This storm was quite a sporty little spitter on it’s way through the area. It was big and had a lot of various rain / hail shafts for me to run from lol. There were rumors on the weather there was golf ball hail on going somewhere under that. I was hit by marble sized hail. It seemed to follow me that night on the way in lol. I went 10 miles away from the homestead trying to get the photographic angle. The proper location is everything.
The Pink light is the “Belt of Venus” effect that is so common with a bunch of moisture in the atmosphere frozen or fluid. The pink light survived the longer trip through the low atmosphere. This light reflects back off the clouds to my photon capture boxes. There the photons are converted to electrons and stored for me to work on later. Have to love technology.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I started working this storm because I couldn’t get out of it’s way. There were a few rain/hail shafts pursuing me across the flats so I went up on the ridges to get a better look at the storm. It’s not often I get to see running water in these ephemeral washes. (Good word to google). This storm just Dumped Water with marble sized hail for some time. I’m estimating 2 inches of precip fell with right at an inch of ice in places. Here it had melted somewhat since it was 60 degrees out up at the local top of the world for this shot.
The water that was accumulating down river would have been significant from this storm. I didn’t go down to the flats where dozens of these little washes conjoin into a much bigger force to be dealt with down river.
The Storm was breaking as sunset approached. Passing to our east leaving me with a window to the sky. A crepuscular display ensued for our enjoyment.
The chill in the air that night was only matched in it’s uniqueness only by the mist rising then flowing down valley. Neither something I’m used to this drought year. A river of dense fog rolling down the valley. That vision has already published on the internet a week ago. The saturated air hitting all the hail ice covering the ground made a wonderful fog generator. Both evaporation and sublimation (another google word) was occurring along with the flooding locally.
The First Quarter Moon has risen 1/2 an hour too early to be in the optimal position for me here. It’s still mostly a rule of thirds composition lol. This was taken in mid Civil Twilight. Roughly 15 minutes after scheduled sunset. There were additionally a host of storms behind me to my west. I was in a dark environment looking at a 30K foot high+ projector screen. That reflecting the “Belt of Venus” color gradient back to my photon capture boxes.
The Mammatus usually means a collapsing storm but they can be affiliated with serious weather. Being under this monster would have been less than desirable unless you get lucky to get just rain. It does happen. I might be hyper-sensitive to hail after watching chickens egg sized hard ice fall with all other sizes below for 1/2 an hour this July. These guys ruin insurance agents profit/loss ratios in the summer. They can certainly cause massive damage in their wake. That storm has as much energy as a small atomic weapon wound up in it’s rotation. There is a LOT of mass there too remember. I wonder how many gallons of water is suspended up there … humm.
A generic thunderstorm cloud contains enough water drops to fill up a 275 million gallon container. That’s around 2.3 billion pounds of water. Alternately = 1.1 million tons of water. Assuming a thunderstorm produced one inch of rain over one square mile. This would be 17.4 million gallons of water . Weighing 143 million pounds. Amounting to around 72,000 tons). Heavier than air all of it. Lots of energy to keep it all suspended up there eh?
Here the well risen moon had a window to my part of the world through a break in the storm system moving through. Those are REALLY big clouds at over 40 miles out. The rain under them is covering Devils’ Tower way under their base. I wish It was visible as it would give a much better scale for the size of these storms.
This was late in the day around mid-golden hour (about 7 pm in August). The talk is there will be snow in Wyoming this weekend. Hopefully we will have a wet fall which could moderate next year considerably by killing off grasshoppers. They don’t do well in wet. Prefer dry years it seems. I mean if your going to have a drought, you might as well have bugs eat all the grass that’s left lolol.
There was close to a 2 inch rain on this ridge with lots of water running in the local creeks. In the rain/hail mix was marble sized hail. I tried to get out of it’s way. The hail shaft seemed to follow me and went right over me. Trying really hard to be a distant observer of this stuff, it’s harder when there are a 1/2 dozen hail shafts moving through the area. Some places get rain, others get nothing. Usually the areas that gets wet. Getts really wet lolol.
Location, Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This storm passed over me about 30 minutes before. Those are my truck’s tracks looking back from whence I came. High up the hill from my current vantage point well of the ridge peak. Big views on that side of the hill but a better perspective down the red dirt road up one of the better sledding hills in the winter you’ve ever seen. Maybe 20 cars a day drive this during the summer. Just a few oil well service trucks and ranchers travel this. Trips to town are 70 miles to Gillette Wyoming or 90 miles to Belle Fourch South Dakota. This is a pretty remote spot in Wyotana. It is only 10 miles to the nearest asphalt road here though. All down hill too, literally lol.
That was a deluge of a storm coming over where I was. I tried to avoid the storm but the course was unpredictable without cell signal with affiliated radar. I just need a doppler rig on the roof. Big Hail is NOTHING I want to run into. I’ve got enough damage on my truck from it. I try really hard to stay out of the weather but several storms went through the area and one was bound to run over me. It did. No damage and I got some really fine images from the event. I have about 1/2 an hour of cool phenomena related to a good hail storm that will work their way into my publishing timeline.
So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…
Back to my normal programming: OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.
That Butte (called Turtle Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.
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. 📸
The Emergency Alert was going off on the Local Radio Station warning of golf ball sized hail, 60 mph winds with dangerous lightning. I’m not much for heading down the basement. I’d rather drive up a local ridge and watch it all develop. I don’t have cell service up here in the backcountry so I don’t have radar. I have to react visually to what I’m seeing. Fortunately this one wasn’t moving directly at me staying about 20 miles to my south.
These storms are huge and while we did get a direct hit, the 50+mph outflow from it was “sporty” up on a high ridge line. I often have to set up and tear down camera gear very quickly to keep them from getting wet. Rain coming in a vehicle window is not good for high end camera gear. I know there are rain coats for cameras lol. Just another layer of complexity I think. I’ve been known to pull off of the ridges onto the leeward side of the hill to get out of the highest winds. Some of these Mesocyclone can get pretty sporty before you know it. It’s always good to have a plan be. I’m about a mile away from someplace I can pull behind/under at this particular spot.
This is a classic wall cloud surrounding and acting as a floor to the massive cloud above. The back side of these storms (right) is usually the worst hail. Those shafts are hail not rain. The hail is often hidden in the rain too. That tendency caught me off guard during our big hail storm in early July this year (2020). I didn’t see it incoming. No radar remember…. In the front (left) , you can see the rain precipitation wedge in the front of the storm ahead of it’s motion. The down drafts forcing the rain sideways forming the wedge.
I like to end most days with a photo of a sunset. This is from about 10 days before the image actually publishes on line. I am currently that far ahead in setting up my post. I hope you enjoy the evening. Be safe all.
Well if you see figures/shapes/forms in clouds, this image is fodder for your imagination. I’ve got several anthropomorphic figures floating around in my head from this image. I saw it at the time and thought it worthy of your time. Primarily I can imagine a woman on her elbows crawling but you might go with a lamb or some other figure. Whats nifty about this tendency is that no one really constructs the same vision inside their head. The next person is always going to see something different. The snake eye in the upper right just caught my eye too. Maybe it’s a rabbit: lolol.
This is a Photo taken across the 40 miles of the Little Powder River Valley from Wyoming into Montana. I’m sitting on the west side of the pass on Trail Creek Road in Wyoming. The border is 4 miles to my right.
What a long afternoon of photography this day ended with. Near the end of this timeline, I had been out for 3 hours following a Mesocyclone across the landscape. No rainbows this day though. Only lightning and serious weather to deal with to our south. The sun stayed away till the end.
Location: The Pass on Trail Creek Road To Rockypoint Wyoming USA.
First of all let me say this was the storm that went over “Devils Tower” about 3 hours later. Traveling about 3 hours later I photographed the “Devils Tower” all white from the hail . This storm made national news I understand though I didn’t see the coverage. I got a bird’s eye view of the center of this huge Mesocyclone. The area of hard precipitation with this storm was at least 20 miles across. A good metaphor to this is a big spinning top with that wedge shaped area of precipitation a down draft from above. It is a huge storm just drifting where it wants to go. Areas under it are going to get “Slathered” by either hail or hard rain or both. Usually sideways from the downdrafts affiliated with such a large storm.
The lightning bolts were at least 40 miles out from my location. I was up much higher on the ridge than the surrounding ground for the perspective. View straight south from “Rattlesnake Hill” over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Headquarters. . I’m essentially standing on the Montana / Wyoming border looking straight south.
My time exposure here was only 1.5 second. I’m not sure which bolt went first. It was WINDY from the downdrafts affiliated with that storm. Being on a ridge top only enhances that. I try to stay out from under those lightning area by using telephotos to suck me into the image. I have been surrounded by it before in my younger foolish days. It is intelligent to respect lightning and hail very much from these storms. I will dive for cover as I deem necessary. Safety is a concern.
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.
One of the hardest moon images to capture with any consistency is the haze you can see around the moon in some cases. A thin veil of clouds, more of mist obscures the face. Secondarily, it leaves a smooth gradient of haze from it’s fuzzy proximal colors to the periphery. I can think of only a few dozen times I’ve gotten an image this good from any camera. This is the Sturgeon Moon. Sept 2020.
The difficulty comes from the high dynamic range. It’s like getting a star field in the same image as a properly exposed moon. It’s rare rare rare to be able to do it inside the camera in one shot. Usually they are composites. No one can cheat the way light physics works. Optical sensor chips used in the high end Sony Alphas are pretty adept at covering high dynamic range requirements. I think it really has as much to do with the particular lighting conditions the photographer encounters.
If your interested, this was done with pretty good terrestrial glass. Should have used astronomic glass. Look very carefully at the right lower edge of the moon. See a faint red line? No matching line on the left side. (bear in mind I’m VERY OCD about color). That artifact is caused by “Chromatic Aberration” in an otherwise excellent lens. It’s a good thing for you fellow students to learn about. Google “Chromatic Aberration Lenses”. Think a 2000 dollar lens should do this…? humm..
For a Pronghorn Buck to allow himself to get ridge lined is always fun. When I convince one to so cooperate, I prefer there to be a wondrous Cloud Scape to back his twilight silhouette. 😜
This afternoon was one of long shadows. Only part of the sky was exposed to the sun. The Pronghorn and I were in deep shadow of the clouds further obfuscating the remaining light from the set sun. The view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on that horizon. The grounds mists further obfuscating the clear view that way.
No light worthy of your attention that way. I turn my lenses off away from the dark sky. Looking to catch the back show of the clouds in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape. But this young guy got in my way. I did actually get to move a bit but I didn’t have enough topography behind me to get the landscape lower beyond this close ridge. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to gain altitude short of standing on the roof of my truck lol. No far horizon for me this time lolol.
He was good about me moving around as there was a HUGE deep gully between our two positions. I’m thinking he was feeling pretty secure. Intrusions much closer than 200 yards usually get their attention. Even really skittish Pronghorn are good past that typically. It’s hard to sneak up on them running around in the backcountry. I’ve seen their red line humans aren’t to cross even further out.
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
Dry lightning…..Taken right off my front porch this time of year is not what I’d like to see. It’s a little dry for this crap. I will set up a camera with a lightning trigger under the metal covered porch roof at just the sound of thunder. In a heart beat. I like to see some rain around those bolts though durn it…. .
Historically this spot on the front porch has been a water safe place for the fairly expensive camera rig not to get a shower. Fortunately I didn’t have one set up during the serious hail storm we had a few weeks back. Big things 3 inch hail stones crashed through the skylight of that porch the other day my cameras are usually under. Didn’t hurt the tripods set up there though. Lucky… Any of this kind of activity has some risk either personal or financial attached. I’m just glad I don’t have to photograph charging African Elephants with only a camera and a jeep. Now a lightning bolt will mess up your day just like an elephant only a lot faster.
I have ringed my house with an effective grounding rod system. It is better grounding than we are. (Ham Radio) Wireless computer connections, wireless phones make most communication safe during lightning. Don’t use the wired ones though. We have had lightning strike our back yard trees several times killing a few along the way. It’s not good to be outside in this country when you live around the trees. The ground tends to be wet which tends to enable ground currents to travel. Those electrons will ruin your day too. You have to just love lightning 😔 It does have the qualities one of which is being photogenic. 😀 📷
Pareidoliacs of the world Unite. I swear on a stack of geology books that I didn’t alter that cloud from how it was that day. The lighting was perfect. There area whole sequence of these photos from two different cameras but I only finished this one. When anthropomorphic faces come out of the natural chaos of things taking notice is prudent. This is indeed a telephoto up close and personal with a floating head (or at least that is what I first and still see in this).
A cloud it may be. If you suffer from Pareidolia as our ancestors did, you have a survival advantage. You see faces quicker out of the edge of the woods, or a human form at distance. In the earlier days of psychiatry, we were considered psychotic with this tendency. I consider it an ability that has been passed on to me through the generations. Apparently it kept my ancestors alive better than those that don’t as easily see faces. (or they just managed to dodge all those mid-evil castle sieges). All of us are a product of those that came before us and these tendencies are handed down genetically from our parents.
So blame your parents if you have this affliction. I must admit as a blond haired boy I would lay on a bank of grass watching the clouds make shapes more than once. Oh wait, I still do it lolol.
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.
This happened 8 days ago as this posts. One of the first pictures I took in this timeline. I’m thinking I have about 18 images I’m going to finish eventually from this event. I was perfectly positioned by a coincidence of cosmic proportions lol. Of the 360 degrees on the compass, the sun setting behind a forest fire …. I’ve never seen such from this angle sun passing through. It isn’t something I’ve ever experienced.
For you Pariedolia sufferers, there is an angry Micky mouse trying to eat a landing bat for sure.😜 That pall of smoke TOTALLY blocked the sun behind it. The eventual play of light from this event was spectacular as you will see as the captures from this timeline make it into my workflow. Heck, this is pretty much a unique vision. ….
That is the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Homestead on the lower left of the frame. It makes a good scale for the HUGE WIDE image above. This was from my 10mm widest lens I own kind of optic. The top of the frame is past the zenith of the sky and the width is something like 130 degrees . That fire is Straight West of my ranch so Montana is literally on the right with Wyoming on the left. I’m standing in Wyoming for this capture but not by much (100 yards or so)
So how many faces/creature can you see / imagine on these distant storms. A “just after” sunset backshow with the dark clouds below the red being the shadow of the horizon. Montana on the left, Wyoming on the right.
This large mesocyclone was about 100 miles distant from my ranch a few nights ago. We had just fought a grass fire on ranch and this was the storm that started it all. That was a long day. I finished talking to the Bureau of Land Management fire crew that was going to sit on the “extinguished” burn site. Having someone around for a few days is a good thing after a fire.
The sun had already set in this twilight longer exposure (around a second). It was pretty dark. The smell of smoke and burned prairie in the air. I watched several snakes come out of their holes to leave the burned area at dusk. We got it out. Well, it was out 2 days later after I extinguished 2 other flair ups lolol.
At any rate:
You Pariedolia sufferers, (you know who you are), this image is classic fodder to let your imaginations run wild. The genetically derived propensity to see figures in random data. If clouds, water swirls, abstract patterns etc. set you off in a fantasy world….. good.
Personally on the left storm tower appears to me to be a Happy Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. On the far right tower is a wolf looking left or a bear looking at you. That’s the best I got out of this but some of you always push the envelope.
Windmill Weekday: Windmill Junkies Unite, (you know who you are). 🤘🤘
Perspective photographs properly done mess with your sense of depth. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is “Milling” his fate at the scary scene unfolding “just over the hill”. He can’t see whats coming. I can just sense his aprehension. These big fires out here can be devastating. Most ranches have some way to fight fires. Usually a “quick reaction” truck. Perhaps a wagon pulled behind a pickup with a sprayer rig on board. Several thousands dollars of equipment to safely fight a serious prairie fire.
I’ve lived up here on the border 20 years and have fought dozens of range fires.. I’ve lost track and they all blend together going back that far. Each and every fire was a community experience with familiar local faces. There will be 6 or 7 more finished images from this timeline.
Fortunately for us, this particular smoke plume was over 40 miles distant. We can’t travel very far in our big lumbering fire truck. For those fires we do show up at, we try to make a difference with the 1000 gallons of water we can carry. I’m in the process to fit my Raptor with a 100 gallon bladder tank. Quick reaction is good too. This HUGE forest fire distant started with one spark (lightning) and was small for a while. They it got big quickly. If some rancher had enough water and got to it with the first smoke, it would have been controlled. We had our ranches fire under control in about 3 hours. We were on it about 20 minutes after I first saw it.
It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈
This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.
Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.
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….. ☹️
Sunset Back show, remember to turn around once in a while…. Now I know where the concept of “Sharknado”™ came from. Those fellow sufferers / enjoyers of Pareidolia as myself might see any number of anthropomorphic “things” in this late evening cloud. There are other “figures” hidden within. The random chaos of the storm provides a rich source for our imaginations. You just have to get past the “looking” thing onto the “seeing” thing. Pretty much everyone can see shapes in random data but some of us have it “bad”. My habit is to look for images that will make interesting mosaics or mirrors. This less complex illusion just screamed shark at me. Thusly, it’s image is immortalized now. The digital storage universe of the internet keeps everything we post… all of it….just saying lol. 😜
Actually I note the color gradient from pure white clouds at the top down to orange on the bottom of the deck. This cloud is acting as a projection screen for the natural gradient that is in the sky as the horizon covers the sun. Light passing through hundreds of miles of atmosphere is red to orange in color. Light passing through high atmosphere is white (all colors). The top of the rising storm, bathed in white light. Unfettered by the junk in the air we breath. The lowest part of the storm cloud, is reflecting filtered orange light. JUST below the cloud deck on the far right there is a cloud that is blue / dark. It is in the shadow of the earth.
Sunset you remember is actually horizon rise. It’s the world that is spinning to make that happen not the sun moving lol. In this image the sun had already set, twilight was shooting across the earths surface at 1000 miles per hour away from my lens looking to the east. The line of light and dark called the terminator. That line of night/day demarkation SCREAMING over our head twice a day.
The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.
About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.
The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.
Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…
I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.
Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).
Sometimes little ephermeral ponds for even mid-summer. Late that particular afternoon a line of storms was moving to my left and this Shelf cloud was putting on a show.
Shelf clouds are not to be confused with wall clouds which are typically symptoms of a severe often rotating individual cell. This one was at least 60 miles long from my perspective continuing well back over my head almost to the horizon. I have the components for a really really really Tall image, maybe 12 to 2 in this width. Needless to say this was very impressive to be under. I wasn’t in the best place for a close far to using what I had…..
Must be good water😂 the cattle have been drinking it right? I think that water is mostly melted hail. Lots of water is collected over the 80 acre drainage that feeds this little water hole. Couldn’t be anything living in that I’m sure…….? 👀 It’s a dry summer. The grass here was just trampled by a hard hail storm July 5th. Late in the afternoon, it flattened pretty much everything that didn’t have a woody stem. Most trees were heavily cut up by the up to 3 inch stones. The dry year grass crop with was terrible to start with. It is all flat now along the strip of the hail path. I really do respect this weather up here. It’s all business when it’s active. . Crop insurance is an important consideration in any business plan.
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.