I was driving to check some game trail cameras at a nearby wildlife funnel. I saw the parents bolt for my presence. We surprised each other as I only check cameras when I’m in an area which might be several weeks. This image is a regular camera issue . I think it took me about 2 minutes to have a 360 degree game trail camera on the location. I have some excellent images of the the parents tending their eggs. The Game Trail Cameras worked without me bothering them. I have a few finished images of that apparently that I have yet to revisit but I’ll get there lolol.
There was NO hatch of this nest. . The parents were obviously disturbed by something. They left the eggs. (not by me as the trail camera watched them for a month tending eggs. ). Suddenly, they were gone. The eggs scattered. I don’t know what happened to them. I do have a pretty good series of very close images from them with the eggs. Several other animals apparently took advantage of the nest after that. I have blurry photos. The night a raccoon found them was the last. It’s hard to know why the clutch didn’t hatch and the parents departed. 😔
These wetlands are on ranch. They are spring fed, as such in 20 years I’ve never seen this pond dry up. Built by a dam on the old local section of the “Montana to Texas Cattle Trail”. A LOT of cattle have drunk water from this pond. The trains started hauling cattle..
“This Post Was Posted” is a 2:1 Aspect up to 40 x20 inches.
This fence is on the Montana border. Montana is (left) of the fence. . Wyoming is (right) of the fence. It’s 10,000 kilometers from the North Pole to the Equator. This fenceline is pretty durn close to exactly 1/2 way between the two important geographic features on the globe. This coincides with the 45 degrees north latitude. (the north pole is 90 degrees and the equator is 0 degrees. This is looking east and is just after sunset in early civil twilight.
Some of these posts are really really really old. Wood takes a long time to rot up here. We don’t get a lot of moisture at 14 inches average a year so it stays mostly dry and stable. This is a massive old cedar post used to anchor a good section of fairly tight fence. Our ranch is located on both sides of the border of course. We pay taxes in both states. It’s pretty close to 50/50 in each state. 2 courses of the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship are in Montana and 2 courses are in Wyoming as well.
RIght here at the border, under this fence, the Cretaceous Dinosaur Bearing Rock Formations magically change name from Hell Creek Formation (in South Dakota and Montana) versus Lance formation (Wyoming). Based on all sorts of reasons known only to the people doing stratigraphy, they arbitrarily named the same rock formations caused by the same environment at the same time, two different names. Hell Creek left, Lance right. Sort of silly I think but hey, I only have a Masters in Geology. I don’t have it Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I don’t worry too much about what I can’t change 🤔 Filed under trivia…
Thunder Basin National Grasslands (The only shaft of light I saw ALL hat Day. )
I was traveling back from Gillette Wyoming. Driving toward my ranch, I took the “back way”. It’s about a 30 mile gravel road drive through a REALLY big National grassland area. This road skirts the west side of the area. It passes right through some of the best places to see herds of Pronghorn in North America. I consider it the Serengeti of North America. There are several separate (huge) chunks of ground that make up the this amalgamation of reserves under this name in several states.
There are not many private inholdings within this area and nothing but large ranches surrounding the reserves. Right side of the fence is reserve, left side is private ground. There might be a few water and oil wells out there but they actually help the wildlife providing both connate water as well as deep hydrothermal water recovered from very deep oil production in the area. That deep origin hot water ( well treated) is a major source of water for wildlife as it remains unfrozen over most of the winter where it ponds.
I get the best Hoar Frost images from those geothermal ponds in the deep winter. It is a good 1/2 gravel road drive to the closest of those ponds though so I’ll only work them photographically a few times a year. If it’s -10 or lower, I’m heading that way for sunrises. Mostly those ponds are on the north side of this grassland complex. Gotta love vandalism of shooting signs. Shooting signs which cost hundreds to make, is senseless and a waste of good ammo. It’s also vandalism. 😞
Bolt Striking the Red Hills is a MASSIVE strike. That ridge is 40 miles distant from my Telephoto lens which was trained where the last bolt struck. Quite often bolts will strike very close to the previous ones. I look for patterns and focus on that area.
I do use lightning triggers on my cameras. These are boxes that automatically sense lightning by the pattern of flashes they generate. They Trigger my Sony’s in mere microseconds. I endorse no particular brand as the several I’ve tried all have their issues but “generally” work. None are “cheap” but then again, look what you get for your efforts. I might only get 1 in 20 bolts I try to get manually without time exposures. These are 1/4 second exposures at other settings that bring in the landscape.
In pitch dark, you just set the camera on a tripod, remotely trigger it or timer the shutter at about 25 seconds at let the lightning display. This technique is the best way to get multiple bolts. This capture however was a single discharge with multiple plasma channels reaching down. This is the kind of bolt that will start fires. Forested ground is particularly easy to burn. That ridge often has a fire call during dry electrical storms that pass through now and then.
We have a local rancher that helps as a Range Officer at our Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship in 2018 that had to leave the event. All because of a lightning strike near his ranch up in those very hills. The response of several departments along with hundreds of men saved his homestead. Unfortunately some of his ranch burned.. The grass will grow back greener the next year, I’ve seen it.
Perspective: Twisted Pine Sun Down during the golden hour this fall evening. I actively pursue close/far focus opportunities when ever I see them.
The landscape here on the high ridges looking to the south west, has 130 mile long landscape to the far ridges. Wood lasts a LONG time in this dry climate. We only get 14 inches of precipitation a year on average in this area. We probably accumulated 20 this year. This is the first year in my 20 years here that it was green in August and even in September.
Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019. Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was even late by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal so so it seemed to me. Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. I suspect it’s going to be a LONG cold wet winter. This belief is based on the fact that it already has been a long cold wet winter. It’s just Dec 1 too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.
We call these high ridges that we inhabit, “Little Siberia” which is appropriate as we usually have snow when others around us living lower don’t. We get some good winds up this high. I’ve had a recorded 78mph gust here back in 2012 I think. We get 60mph winds several times a summer. It’s natures way of tree trimming in the backcountry.
Twilight Over Turtle Butte is a capture from the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…
This is a Game Trail Camera Capture with only the IR flash and the crescent moon to provide light. This cameras is actually at ground level looking upward at 46 degrees and caught this pensive look up. I thought was pretty cool catching a Buck watching the Crescent Moon. I put a piece of thick plastic under it to keep dirt from being kicked up by rain as it’s literally at ground level.
I’m always complaining how Game Trail Camera images are to a one problems to fix. I didn’t have to do too much to this capture at all really. It’s pretty good for right out of a Trail Cam.
This is a square 18×18 inch aspect image only in B+W. The infrared in converted to Black and White easily. If I do IR with my pro-cameras, they come out pink so the software in the Game Trail Camera does a conversion. IR is ALWAYS grainy so what you see is what you get but the candid nature of these cameras keep me working them hard. I currently have 28 that I’m caring for. (just added 2 more).
I had pulled a pile of game trail cameras off summer trails and am moving them to winter hangouts. Certain traffic patterns develop that I try to recognize to know where to put these automatic image devices. Deer tend to hang out in hollows with access to water. If you can set up a “funnel” by leaving a gate open, or figure out where they hang out, you chances get better. Natural funnels are something to really look for. Water holes are obvious places to put game trail cameras. Everybody has a drink a few times a day.
Iridescent Clouds in the Backcountry was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.
Years ago I used to think this was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.
This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting. This reminds me of a shower glass door for some reason lol.
Perspective on Old Farm Gear ‘s timeline started as a sunset session. Going up this hill leads to this 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? No snow in this one lolol. )
Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of this ridge is a favorite summer lightning observation high point. Of course to photo lightning, you want to be in a metal vehicle high on a ridge right?? 🙃 This is also the “Closest” high point to my driveway. It’s about a mile from my door to this spot. The two track to here isn’t easily snowed over by drifts so I use this hill some in the winter to see what’s going on.
The rest of the year, this hilltop mostly connected to “Ridge One” here on the ranch is easier to get up on than some surrounding hills. Winter has a dramatic effect on where I can and am willing to travel. I haven’t had to walk back yet. The year however, is young and there are a lot of snows between now and when it will get warmer. lolol. We will have our share of 1 foot dumps this winter I’m sure. As the classical reference says: “Winter is Coming”.
Perspective Backcountry Ridge Sunset is a capture miles into the wilderness of the Wyoming/Montana border lands. I am always looking for frames and compositions, play of light and shadows.
The pine trees were coated with a thin layer of ice on the windward side and ALL the grass was coated. I found a spot where the light was funneling in through that break in the trees. The Sky was incredible but alas this kind of show is fleeting. I only have a few minutes before it darkens up and everything goes to bed for the night.
Many deer bed down on this ridge and I’m always walking upon their “melted” spots in the snow along the rim of the hill. They usually are bedded on the down wind side of the hill. I’m thinking I need a game trail camera or two down in those bedding spots. Sunsets like this don’t happen every day, some are boring, some are clear sky but now and again, I get lucky. The skyshow turns on and I get a few minutes to work intensively. Lots of operational tempo ongoing during that final 15 minutes of the horizon rising to the sun to cover it.
The show is not over usually with the sunset. But it is hard to predict what will happen to any particular sky. I try my best, I’ve come home before with a WONDERFUL twilight show that suddenly developed while I was coming off the ridge lolol.
From My viewpoint at 130 miles out. This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that night was climbing up the back of the peaks. It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this image collection. I had a visual window to the peaks that lasted at most a few minutes. The sun was still over head and this was very bright and hard to see. The lighting was high overhead and slightly oblique to the images. It’s a tough photographic environment lol.
Getting to see weather move over these 13,000 feet high ridges is a rare treat from this far away.
These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.
Miles into the backcountry, it was a chilly -2 degrees F. The ridge with the cloud veil blocking the blinding sun. This Perspective: Snag to the Sunrise is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. A lot of this snow has melted since the image was taken. A few days of autumn return but with mud…
There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the north side of trees, the sun rising to the south west was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worth light. This square aspect image is full resolution to 18 inches by 18 inches.
The is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage. This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I usually work ridges in the early winter leading to road work only in the late winter. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges without me plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. I start going on road trips late winter when conditions look photogenic. The two tracks are drifted over badly is the rule. Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint.
I am trading off my Jeep for a taller vehicle (F-150) some of my viewpoints might change lolololol. Hopefully I will be able to get through a big higher snow with this new rig due sometime this century I understand …..😃
Satire: This young punk pine tree was sure that getting his needles “noodled” would upset his adult mentors. The 1/8th inch of ice sure gave him a frosty “do”. I suspect he was about ready to go hang out down in the gully where he could watch things move down drainage at a geologic pace. It’s not a very exciting place to grow up out in the backcountry.😉
Back to my normal programming…
SO it was -2, I was walking a high ridge, the pines were all ‘noodled’ on the north side of the tree. . The sun has been up for maybe 20 minutes so thusly is just cresting the ridge. The crisp air is moving and seeping into my gloves/mittens which are almost always my limiting factor. I’ve worked up here with -30 wind-chills many times. I’ve had various cameras (mostly old used Canon 5D’s) freeze up at those temps. . Rapid temperature changes aren’t good for anything but you don’t want to keep your cameras cold either.
“Winter is Coming” (If you don’t know the classic reference by now, you need to read a few books lolol). I actually enjoyed the audiotapes of “game of thrones” tremendously while building things in my shops.
In reality it’s been here since Oct 1 and the day before was fall. (fall was on a tuesday this year). Oct 1 is when winter started up here which continue till April anyway. Winter does bring certain photographic opportunities however and I enjoy the crisp cold. It’s easy down here at 4000 feet after living at 6200 feet in Jackson Hole for a decade. Warm here but MUCH windier here in the borderlands.
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.
In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry can be a very contrasty thing after a storm. This vista surprised me coming up over the ridge behind the camera. I instantly stopped of course and started composing the final frame. What dramatic contrast…. I honestly don’t see this very much this pronounced. That was a very interesting (if not cold at -2F) morning up on that ridge. It always is after a storm and the cold. That is BIG country back there.
I call this phenomena spotlighting for obvious reasons. There is about 4-6 inches of standing snow up on the ridges and I’m still driving about in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a new vehicle incoming if Ford will put it in production lololol. (We have a vin now 🙂 ) Winter is coming though and I’m going to have to get plowing some snow to get up in this country. This particular spot is about a mile up a long hill to get to. Roughtly the same distance to the far ridge in the shadows with trees on it. The far right side of that ridge (ridge 4) is a full 2 tiles out. Distances are deceiving out here. The closest ranch house in that direction is about 10 miles of hills and gullies that have to be driven around. That would mean about 20 miles of driving lololol.
All of this ground in this image is underlain by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Dinosaur Fossil Bearing Sandstone. This is prime country to find dinosaurs. I found a partial Triceratops just left of the frame around the corner or a hill so I have some basis for saying this lol.
Pine Noodle Frosty Sunrise is a perspective at -2 degrees F. There was a breeze and I don’t care how you dress, something gets cold lolol.
For some reason, I’m drawn to perspectives under icy sunrises. Focus close requirement(1) plus a sun show far (2)is my goal. Putting them in the same focal field is top on my list for planning this capture.
These two “priorities” fortunately compliment each other while in your Manual Mode camera settings. High light gives you the ability to set your widest lens to it’s highest fstop setting f-22 (ish). This cuts back light considerably which you need . It also lets you focus on things 10 inches in front of this particular wide lens AND have the background in focus. I always pay attention when I’m buying lenses to look for ones with the shortest distance to focus close. (macro) but if you want to do this, you need a wide angle say 12-24mm lens with a close focus.
Shutter speed 1/100 – 1/400 depending on your light conditions and ISO (camera sensitivity) is low like ISO 100 or ISO 200. This was a very bright light environment in the distance but just. The sun was just clearing the ridge.
The right gloves for cold work. There are many brands but I use:
The joy of -2 degrees is that the gear doesn’t like it, but my fingers take the brunt of the cold abuse. They don’t operate the equipment as well either if chiled.. I wear glove/mittens by “Red Head” that have the ability to open up your fingers. Fine detailed adjustments on a camera take more tactile feedback than through a glove sometimes. Finding your location on your camera body is the biggest problem. I find it is always better to have warm fingers and have quicker control of the camera bodies settings oddly enough lol. “Red Head Mittens” have been used by this photographer down to a -20 windchill with good results. I was tougher then though……
Weather this year has been cooperative in getting the Setting BigHorn Sun over the Notch between the 13,000 foot high peaks.
The Sun apparent motion is from left to right as well as down so it actually set on the peaks to the right. It’s kind of tricky to figure out where to set up for an image like this. I’m WAY out away from the range at 130 miles for this shot and the area in the sky this image covers is tiny. Hold up your thumb at an arms length and your covering it from where I am. Those are HUGE peaks, they just get smaller as I move away. The sun doesn’t change size so quickly lolol.
This sky was a Sunslit. The sun came down from the thick cloud deck above to light up the narrow strip of the sky. The relative difference in dynamic range of the bright sun and the much less bright land makes silhouettes. My eyes could have seen details in the land if I wasn’t totally blinded by the sun at that moment.
I remind you it’s not the sun that is setting. It’s the horizon that is rising. Things are as they are, not as they seem or as you were told. This is the basis science works off of. The trick is to determine how they are … The essence of discovery is the effort to discern the way things actually work. Electricity comes out of the wall right?
Perspective “Brace Yourself” looks cold….It was indeed quite chily when I took this. -2F with a good breeze is chilly in my book.. Taken a few miles into the backcountry off the main gravel road.. Traveling ranch Two track trails to the spot.. There was 1/8th inch of ice on virtually everything, . Ground under the snow, grass, barbed wire and posts all were laden with a coating of the storms warmer beginnings..
This was a good snow because I was actually noticing I was driving through deeper snow up on the ridges. Most snows so far this winter have been relatively minor in their effect on my travels… No blowing snow off the ridges in this snowy iteration. It wasn’t a particular windy storm. Thus there are no drifts to deal with, however, there is deeper snow on the ridge line which CAN build up if there is a crust. This makes it more difficult later (sadly). . It seems 5 inches of flat snow with ice under it starts getting problematic climbing steep backcountry hills.😜. I have slid backwards down many a long hill in the snowy backcountry…. denied access!!! 😫
So as the Winter progresses, the cold brings to mind a late November from 2000 that was -30 for well over a week straight. I mean all day for a week at -30F degrees was a long week here on the ranch. As I recall, I was driving back and forth from Jackson Hole to my Ranch north of Gillette (almost 500 miles) during that week . I definitely respect November weather in Wyoming.
I will plow the main two track up to this ridge this winter. It’s a several mile job with a skidsteer with tire chains. That takes a while if it drifts over and I will eventually be locked off the ridge by drifts working across my previously plowed paths.
I love lots of angles in photos. This one qualifies plus the close focus. 📸
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes is literally a photobomb in real life.
I was of course amazed at the lighting coming from that mornings veiled Sky. Shooting the veiled sun strong enough for silhouettes to form fools the observer to thinking this wasn’t a very bright sky. I’m shutting down the camera to light (high fstop, low ISO, and fast shutter). By Looking at the furnace in the sky, we need a fast shutter. Convenient if a couple of really fast hawks come flying by. 🤔
So I’ve got that camera/long lens set up pointed from about 300 yards back from the Windmill. The trees are Full sized old grown Pines at 30 to 40 feet high but they are 500 yards distant up a slight ridge. Telephoto lenses crush perspective distance. This is a long focal depth of field because of the higher f-stop setting I chose. High fstop takes away excess light AND gives you deep focal fields. (from the windmill to infinity here).
Looking through the eyepiece at the time with fingers on the setting options (3 only in manual mode to learn about). . I had it all focused and as the birds moved through the focus field they lit up on the video screen. The camera highlights things that have high contrast with their backgrounds. This shows focus areas. An advantage of quality mirrorless cameras is that they can tell you things. What you see is what you get with them.
This is a pull back as your eyes would see this scene at around what a 50mm lens sees of a Big Sunset Over the BigHorns Mountains. If you were on my ranch watching from 130 miles distant.
I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. I have many captures from this night worthy of finishing. I’m standing a few hundred yards north of the Montana/Wyoming border to take this so it’s across the state line.
This kind of sky show changes by the minute. Looking tightly into the setting sun is dramatically bright but the shadows add up and it’s actually pretty dark where I stand. The Camera shows me the scene on a video screen so I’m not going blind from this.
Exposure time is so important in getting the colors right. I see the actual image my camera is going to save BEFORE I click the shutter. So I can actually check the color of the sky in front of me and the camera Once you realize a high f-stop and low ISO are necessary to take this kind of image, shutter speed becomes your variable to match the colors in your viewfinder to the actual scene. (applies to mirrorless camera users not you DSLR guys).
The mountain chain in Silhouette to the right is part of the Red Hills at 40 miles out from the camera. That range is an erosional remnant of the sediment apron the BigHorn Mountains spread out this direction. There are no sediments from the Big Horn mountains “Fanglomerate” (google word of the day) that reach my ranch. It’s likely that those that did have been removed from above by erosion. Those distant mountains used to be a lot higher. Plus Powder River Basin between here and there was a lot deeper.
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
What I like about a Windmill Blowing Clouds Away is that it is a dual illusion image. I can also clearly imagine an “Imperial Battle Cruiser in the cloud shape. Anybody that has actually not seen Star Wars Imperial battle cruiser…. you should stay under your rock lolol. OK, I understand that there are a few people that don’t like Star Wars but I have a history with Harrison Ford.
Back in 1999, I owned a little internet ISP in Jackson Hole named Blissnet and Harrison had an email address there. I also owned the macintosh repair operation in Jackson and was on call for macintosh work. I was called into his place by one of his people. Met Harrison and worked with him on several projects. I have many stories that I could share but I will share this one.
Harrison had bought a Mac Power book and a program that he could speak into and the software would type what he says. It was a fairly complicated install with external mics and headsets. The program required the user to read just one of several options of first chapters of various books. He chose the first chapter of Moby Dick.
So Harrison Ford is sitting immediately right of me reading into his computer the first chapter of Melville’s masterpiece. I had goose bumps the size of the Tetons.😝. He was brilliant and actually performed the verse as he went. Not standing up but it was by far the best read of ANYTHING I have ever heard.
Maybe some more HF stories later as I digress at some future date…
This is the first of 2 images I’ll post from this timeline . Remember that at sunset, the sun is actually moving sideways to the right but not quite as fast as the sun is dropping. (the horizon is actually rising). We are spinning on an axis that is tilted over 20 degrees to the Ecliptic so the sun travels at a 20 degree down angle as we spin. It me a few minutes to work out exactly where to be for this sunset. I’ll post the next image in this timeline of this Sun Settling on the BigHorns tomorrow.
Research/google the word “Ecliptic”. It is an important concept to be able to figure out opportunities as they “line up” lol. I traveled about a mile from my house for this one. I’ve been pursuing this all week. The weather window for my limited opportunity for this line up has been open all but 2 days so far. I have about another 3 or 4 days I can work this . There are so many good images from this totally nutty sky above the 13000 feet high mountain range.
I forgot to mention that I’m 130 miles distant from those peaks and that the range looks small in perspective to the sun. The sun doesn’t change size (get smaller very much as I drive to the east to get further from it. However the mountains will continue to get smaller until I can’t see them if I keep driving. (Make sense?) Further away, small mountains, sun is the same apparent size as long as I stay on the earth lol.
Here you see the third leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Ungulate Track and Field Triathalon. The Mule deer team is over 2 laps back with the Whitetail team a did not show at the starting line. Whitetails are always unreliable/flighty but I blame their management for the miss. They will probably show up tomorrow for the event scheduled today. Typical of the Whitetail species.. 😜
WE are looking at 10 Pronghorn slight downhill run where something spooked them. They decided to take a jog to the left. I see these guys running about daily and they can cover ground. I never push animals as they tend not to appreciate and remember. My next encounter would be shorter and further away if my vehicle acts like a predator and follows. I work out of a Jeep (currently) in the backcountry as a human form would cause them to run sooner. It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN.
Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers.
The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (Winter Storm incoming as I type this narrative).
Sunset Across the 130 mile Distant BigHorn Mountains is one of quite a few BigHorn Range captures over most of last week. Amazing stuff 😲📸
Watching this alignment start up with the sun WAY left of the range less than a half hour before this. The sun will always move from left to right as well as downward. Of course it’s the horizon rising but you already know that. (The sun isn’t moving here, the earth is spinning) . The earth is tilted on it’s axis
That tilt is relative to the solar systems flat plane called the ecliptic. All the planets are circling the sun on that plane. The earths north/south axis Currently, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its path/orbit around the sun. But this tilt changes/wobbles like a top. During the long wobble cycle that averages around 40,000 years. (Based on good scientific work eh? 👁
The tilt of the axis varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Because this tilt changes, the earth is exposed to differing amounts of energy from the furnace over that interval. Paleoclimatology is something I have dabbled in. I will tell you the sun is the driver of our climate so one would assume that global changes occur as the way you face the sun. Yup, the climate has been changing since it all started as a pool of molten rock accumulated in a gravity well lol.
SO back to this photo:
This time of year, sun sets dramatically from left to right as the horizon rises here. But it rises from left to right at sunrise. (The phrase to google here is Ecliptic solar system). So tracking this and watching it change by the minute was very impressive.
Bright bright bright stuff. Shutting the camera down to light ALMOST taken with the len cap on (it’s that bright lolol) You only have 3 main things to set on your camera by working it on manual mode.
They are: “ISO” (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (aperture or pupil size of the lens) and Shutter Speed in parts of a second (s). Figure out what is important to you (deep focus or freezing motion?). You set f-stop high for deep focal field . F-stop low for shallow depth of focus field. F-stop takes away light so high f-stop (small hole in the lens) is good for high light situations. Priority 1 taken care of.
Your next priority (2) is ISO (camera sensitivity). Low ISO is ALWAYS best because High ISO give you too much light AND a grainy appearance in the image. So LOW camera sensitivity (or slow ISO 100). High ISO is best for LOW LIGHT situation. Really HIGH ISO over 2000 is for the dark if you need it only. I consider ISO evil to go high with.
Last thing on the list is shutter speed which is your variable to adjust the total exposure. You adjust until you get the result you desire. On an older DSLR reflex type camera, you look at the image on the LCD on the back of the camera body AFTER you take the photo. With a Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera though, you get what you see on the screen INSIDE the camera, WHILE you are moving the dials the image reflects the changes you make. What you see is what you get. Instant feedback, MUCH easier for you to learn on. So if you made it this far in my text, and your looking at cameras, pick a mirrorless model, preferably a full frame/large sensor camera. Full Frame cameras have higher dynamic range than smaller sensor cameras. 📸
Don’t USE a standard DSLR camera to take sun photos and YOUR camera may not be rated to take this heat. Large sensor cameras spread out that light and don’t melt like some smaller sensor cameras would here. More important, don’t blind yourself in a DSLR even trying this. Seriously!👁
Banded Sky over the BigHorns was captured last week as this posts.
I only get a couple of times a year that this line up occurs. I can travel further north and/or south if necessary. My limiting factor is always weather windows that long . The places you can see/work the Big Horns located within 20 miles of my Ranch, I can count on both hands. There is a lot of high ground for sure but getting up there is another thing lolol. A lot of snow will keep me off the really high hard to get to ridges this time of year.
Northeastern Wyoming is big country with bigger views. It is 130 miles to the Big Horns as seen here. The clouds are probably 50 miles behind that. There is a 50 mile horizon the other directions. I know a peak that you can see South Dakota AND the Big Horns by simply turning 180 around and looking both ways. That’s close to 200 miles easily.
Big Sky country applies to both Montana AND Wyoming as the right side of this image is in Montana. This image is 130 miles deep and 130 miles wide at the horizon 😲📸
As a 2:1 aspect, The full file is 40×20 inches at 300dpi. Real colors. I always expose the highlights properly as per the sky I’m looking at. Color Density is Strongly controlled by your exposure time. If you look at your mirrorless camera screen, what you see is what you get. By changing shutter speed I could have turned this all golden yellow. If full disclaimer: This is a side by side 2 image composite of 2 high resolution images. BIG file and high res.
I’m not sure of the seed plant here. Grows in big bunches. Not a lot of them on ranch so they are probably a noxious weed I don’t know lolol. Anyone got an idea??
Our ranch is about 1/3 pine treed pastures and about 2/3rd’s grasslands. Autumn down on the flats off the old growth treed ridges is a different perspective entirely. Thats a good mix of winter and summer pasture. You don’t want your cows in pine trees as the pine needles they eat cause spontaneous abortions from the turpentine they contain. Deer do just fine with them but not cattle.
Autumn happened on a tuesday this year in full disclosure. This is actually winter in this shot between snows/melts and was taken about a week ago as I type this. (2 weeks from when it posts. ). Up here in the remote ridges/high backcountry of Wyoming/Montana borderlands, we have a pretty long ramp up to full winter. That ramp is pretty steep this year so far lol.
The sun was just dropping below that cloud deck highlighting everything in a gold light with about 15 minutes to go to sunset at this point. I love perspectives and wide lenses
A Wind and Solar Set is a pair of usable energy alternative where nothing else is available.
I’m using “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill to pump air to de-stratify a small pond (it helps keep it open some too for barnyard ducks).
The ranch has 24 big solar panels generating electricity which mostly does water pumping in remote sites. The are most cost effective where they are no where close to electric lines. I think we have 3 wind generators set up and working small things like battery charging. As such I’m probably one of the greenest guys you know. We still pump lots of water.
The coal generated electricity pumps water to water the livestock. It’s about 30 gallons of water a day per cow in the summer. A herd of 200 cattle ( small herd) will drink 6000 gallons of water a day on a hot one….. Solar does one of our pastures completely. It was expensive to put in.
Windmills earned their keep historically with a plethora of brands dotting the landscape. There were a lot of these in this country which got electricity very late in the mid-50’s. Telephone in the 60’s. SO many of those windmills were the primary source of water for the ranch. Some places had springs up here on the “high ground” but not too many.
Most of the easy water was down in the river valleys. We are a ‘dryland’ ranch with a couple of spring fed lakes but no running water all year. We do have streams and washes that get exciting during heavy rains. Flash floods happen all the time down in the gully system around here. There is water storage on the surface here but Windmills definitely made a difference in the ability to settle the west. This Wyoming/Montana borderlands country was settled late in the early 1900’s by small ranchers.
Anybody see a face to the right of the Windmill Sail? I didn’t do it. Natural faces in clouds…
Sunrise over Coyote Ridge is a really long lens capture overlooking a long ridge about 10 miles away.
The Crack of dawn is literal here as the cloud bank above was very obscuring of much light . The rest of that morning was toast due to cloud cover sadly. I often go out and get only 1/2 or a 1/4 of a sunrise sky show. Clouds move in an mess it up….
Up here in the Wyotana borderlands, the “Sun Slits” where the cloud deck blocked the horizon can be beautiful for sure. The RIdge got it’s name as I’ve seen Coyotes up there numerous times…. It’s a big overlook over there. When your up on the “ridges” you have a 180 mile across east west horizon I can see.
I actively photographically work 5 different parallel Ridges. Miles long, they are a quarter to half a mile apart. Each with it’s unimpeded views of the horizon. I move along the shadow line (terminator) of the opposite hill and the sun/moon looking for opportunities and frames.
This is a lot of negative space in an image but I personally like sun close ups and silhouettes of ridges lol.. The low angle light traveling through atmospheric turbulance is clearly distorting the suns edge. The ridge line up close is sharp as a tack and focused. It’s the several hundred miles of air between that ridge and the sun that is causing that effective blur on the background.
The blur effect is effectively a mirage. Since the sun is (literally) actually just below the horizon line of sight at that time…. The atmospheric lens is bending the sun’s image around the horizon before it is physically in the line of sight. . This is not line of site 🤔
I also remind you this is not the sun moving, it’s the earth rotating and the horizon dropping away from covering the sun. Things are as they are not as they seem 😲
These scenes are BLINDINGLY bright so don’t point your average DSLR Camera into them and expect to not be blind if you look through the viewfinder. I use only mirrorless cameras and if you don’t know what those are, don’t try this at home 😎. Protect your eyes. I watch this on video to set up my camera.
Crescent Moon Setting Sail is BEST seen full screen.
Setting the mood:
The layers of ridges, the dark civil twilight slowly encroaching into nautical twilight. Then the stars will start to come out. Setting very quickly, less than a minute left before the horizon rises to cover the “Sail” of the ship so far away. The first ridge (black) is 40 miles away from my lens. The second Ridge is the Big Horn Mountain chain 130 miles out from my camera. Look carefully to see the outline of the whole moon. This is all very Subtle and it was quite dark for this capture.
I seldom see such a clear sky on a night that had very heavy alpenglow. (Starts out red, goes to orange and then this umber color. This is certainly the best moon sail I’ve ever captured this late in twilight. (just minutes before Nautical Twilight) Not having grain in an image like this is a gift. Only the moon edges blurred by several hundred miles of atmosphere is coarse.
Being a student of such things I think it worth noting that being able to differentiate the two ridges in this image or see the un lit side of the moon is almost magic (high technology we don’t understand) This is a brand new Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back and the dynamic range on this camera is PHENOMENAL. It also gives me 100 meg raw files to begin with 🙂 (60 meg .jpg out of the box). Put it on good fast glass and it’s a Monster for low light.
Dynamic Range??? What is that?? Low light??
. The Human Eye has 20 f-stops of Dynamic Range.(DR) This newest Sony has 15 f-stops of DR compared to less in MOST other cameras. The ability to see black cats in a coal bin and make out the individual hairs on the cat is good DR. . DR is all about seeing MORE levels of black or whiter on duller whites between. Seeing a white weasel on snow and picking out white hairs is all about DR. Or in this case, resolving a difference in what I thought at the moment was a dark silhouetted single ridge landscape but the data was there.
The inability of a camera to take the photo of stars behind a properly exposed full moon is due to that (at least) 5 f-stop difference between the human eye and some of the best technology we use. (as a normal consumer anyway). IF you ever see a properly exposed detailed Full Moon AND there are stars in the background of the image…..It’s a composite image combining a star field in photoshop which is very easy to do. If the artist is presenting it as a photo, he/she is a fibbing a tad.
Stars behind the moon.
I use pretty good (very good) gear and I CAN NOT take a close up (long lens) photo of a Full Moon where you can see the properly exposed details AND have stars in the photo. I see fakes ALL the time. Literally I have worn down a few batteries out trying to do so lolol…It is however, really easy to do it in photoshop all day lol. A veiled moon is easy to get SOME starts through the cracks in the clouds but not an unfettered full bright moon. A single Bright Planet like Jupiter MAYBE. Not a star field….. “ain’t gonna happen”. It goes against the Laws of Physics involved.
Gear, Sony Alpha 7R4, Canon 600mm with a 2x on a good tripod. 1 second time exposure, ISO 250, f-11
Location: From my front yard: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands