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Sunset On the Grassy Hill

Sunset On the Grassy Hill
Sunset On the Grassy Hill

Sunset On the Grassy Hill

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Sunset On the Grassy Hill

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Herringbone Clouds Back Show

Herringbone Clouds Back Show
Herringbone Clouds Back Show

Herringbone Clouds Back Show

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

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

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

Title: Herringbone Clouds Back Show

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A Study in Drama

A Study in Drama
A Study in Drama

A Study in Drama

Pure Theatre watching a scene like this…

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: A Study in Drama

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Last Rainbow of the Summer

Last Rainbow of the Summer
Last Rainbow of the Summer

Last Rainbow of the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Last Rainbow of the Summer

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Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing
Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

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

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

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

Title: Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

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Sunrise Smokey Atmospheric Lensing

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Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light
Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Rectilinear Sky Rain and Light

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Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower
Mantis on the Last Flower

Mantis on the Last Flower

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Mantis on the Last Flower

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Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond
Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

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

Reality Check:

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

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

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

Title: Smokey Windmill Ranch Pond

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Perspective Snag Sunset

PerspectiveSnagsunsetBlueComplex060621A
PerspectiveSnagsunsetBlueComplex060621A

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Perspective Snag Sunset

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Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise
Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

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

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

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

Title: Ridge Country Smokey Sunrise

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OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama
OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

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

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

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

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

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

Title: OverCast Fully Involved Drama

OverCast Fully Involved Drama

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Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming
Wedge of Smoke Incoming

Wedge of Smoke Incoming

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

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

Photographic Musings:

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

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

Title: Wedge of Smoke Incoming

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Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky
Inverted Crown Sky

Inverted Crown Sky

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

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

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

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

Title: Inverted Crown Sky

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Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn
Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

You might have seen small drops of water on grass, plants and trees shining like pearls in the early hours of morning. Often misinterpreted as rain left on the grass but not so much. For those of you that are learning this stuff…

Dew drops are formed due to condensation of water vapors. Air around us contains water vapors which we call moisture or humidity. Hot air contains more moisture versus cold air. At night when the relatively warm / humid air comes into contact with colder surfaces, water vapor present condenses on the cold surface in the form of droplets. These tiny drops of water are of course called dew drops.

The dew formation is enhanced when the sky is clear and reduced when it is cloudy. When the sky is clear and the trees and plants are cooler at nights, there is more evaporation of water and hence more dew formation. But when it is cloudy, trees and plants do not get cool in the night. This results in less dew formation. As the sun raises high in the sky, these dew drops evaporate into air directly.

It seems to me… We really don’t have an excess of dewey mornings here on the MT/WY border. Maybe we have more but I’m not seeing. This is after all a very dry environment. Frost is a similar phenomena but below 32 degrees.

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

Title: Dewey Backyard Crack of Dawn

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Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe
Well Fed Feeding Doe

Well Fed Feeding Doe

Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.

Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….

Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.

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

Title: Well Fed Feeding Doe

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Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight
Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

Cattle Country:

The cowboys have been awake for 50 minutes . Takes time to get geared up/. Grab some breakfast from the hen house… Then there is tack on the horses to apply. A few big Black Angus Bulls strayed from the local herd managed to successfully negotiate the fencing separating 2 herds. The separate owners would prefer not to mix cattle if possible lolol. The cow hands will go separate the bulls. Horses work best moving Bulls. Trust me on this… I’ve done it both with horses and with ATV’s. Not even close the two experiences are lol. One is comfortable, the other is stupid lol.

Even the best of fences, while keeping good neighbors, is but an inconvenience to a Big Angus Bull with love on his mind. Operations generally try to keep Bulls Pinned and landlocked with another pasture between them and the next herd. Even 5 wire barbed wire can be easily over come by nearly a ton of BIG willed fellow. Thick skinned they are. Not many made into couches due to that tendency to scar themselves up a tad in the spring.

Bull Fences must be well built. Any structure that you intend to work any significant number of “head” over the years has to be a long term engineering project. Well built and heavy. Iron is best of course. There are MANY sucker rod and drill stem pipe fences built/welded together up here in Oil field country. They are permanent additions to any cattle operation.

Less longevity built in, this particular Wood Plank Fence is quite old, still willing to hold back the cattle pressure from the other side. We are just an inch of precipitation yearly from being called a desert… as such wood lasts a LONG time. Many decades of life.

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

Title: Perspective Corral Fence Twilight

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Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad
Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

(Tad bit of Satire mixed in…)

I am always watching the moon making sure it keeps on it’s appointed rounds. Here I caught it resting on top of the local cheese cutter “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. The moon is like a big bird standing on an alligator’s back if you follow my metaphor. All that cheese sliced in one fell swoop… 🙂

Close / Far Perspectives in the world of Smokey Skies is a hit or miss proposition. The moon was up high enough to be above most of the smoke hugging the bottom few thousand feet of this air column. The sunlight however coming in over my right shoulder was markedly red as the sun was a bit lower than the moon to the horizon. The sunrise was before the moonset giving me about 15 minutes to work. Both in the daylight at the same time is a rare monthly window. My job was to catch the moon goofing off on the job. I only got to work 1 out of 3 good mornings for this kind of capture.

Evidence: Here you can clearly see the Lunar Disk sitting, resting on the arm of the wind vein belonging to this local windmill. I’m not sure how he makes up the time he wastes sitting on his tail around here. I catch him reclining on trees all the time but It’s a big planet and getting around it has got to a bear. The moons orbit is 1.5 million miles long. I’m always seeing him sitting down on the job. He’s aware of it as when ever he notices me, he starts moving again. Sorry about the windmill not spinning, I have no control over his actions most of the time …..

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

Title: Windmill Landing Pad

Windmill Landing Pad

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Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

Sunset Over Layers of Landscape
Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

The smoke that evening was intense. The air conditioning in the truck barely moderated the sneezing I enjoy in such air. Going out into this for long is a health risk certainly. There are all sorts of negative effects from enjoying the air as this. A good allergenic episode is my typical response. I know others that are put out of action by this kind of Pall. This kind of pollution can push some individuals over that cliff too. My advice is to stay inside if you can. As I type this the thermometer is approaching 100 degrees. I hope the animals find relief from this. They can’t come in as much as I’d like it for a while. Then there is the clean up thing….

The brown landscape color is accurate to the scene. The lowermost darkest ridge is 3 miles, next is 10 miles. The low ridge past that is 13 miles. Finally the 4th layer is 35 miles out with the sun hanging around 8 and 1/3rd light minutes out. This is as thick as it gets without blotting out the sun. I COULD have easily watched this outside of the camera with my naked eye. I don’t however suggest doing that. Always use appropriate eye protection. OK, maybe a very quick glance at this level of illumination.

Usually the Sun is FAR too bright to expose both landscape and it’s surface properly. Here because the sun has been smoke filtered a LOT it is possible to resolve the ridges. Normally hidden in the glare. The smoke acts like a theatrical gel over a spotlight. It allows only the longest wavelengths of light through.

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

Title: Sunset Over Layers of Landscape

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Windmill with Smokey Filter

Windmill with Smokey Filter
Windmill with Smokey Filter

Windmill with Smokey Filter

The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.

I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.

Photographic Musings.

Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.

Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.

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

Title: Windmill with Smokey Filter

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Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots
Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..

Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.

Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.

This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.

Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.

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

TItle: Looking For Lost Spots

Looking For Lost Spots

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Just a Smokey Sun

Just a Smokey Sun
Just a Smokey Sun

Just a Smokey Sun

Getting the opportunity to image skies like we have been experiencing of late is once in a lifetime (I hope). I’ve lived in Wyoming for 30 years (10 in Jackson Hole and 20 here in eastern Wyotana. ). I’ve seen wildfire skies from smoke palls before. Never even close to the severity put on display for so many. If you have been living under a rock (not a bad idea these days) of late and haven’t experienced these… don’t. You won’t like it.

There is a very odd feeling associated with living under the plume from major fires up wind for weeks at a time. Having experienced the 2017 total solar eclipse, I have a basis by which to compare. The feeling of the sun dimming is perceptable under both phenomena. As a friend said, “it is like the sun is broken”. Nothing is getting the energy it prefers so even the few plants that are actively growing aren’t storing the sugars they need for the winter. All of the west is under this pall variously through out the last month. Weeks at a time.

The closer you get to the west coast, the worse it gets. There is so much smoke, you can see it from space easily as it whiffs around the globe with the prevailing winds. In a few weeks it will come back around at us from the west again. This will effectively block sunlight and lower the amount of solar radiation we will receive. There are complex relationships involved with local temperatures. I believe the Pall will lower regional temperatures than they would have been without the smoke (duh). Anytime you reflect energy away from the surface, you loose temperature as the sun is the furnace here. Might just be a very cool winter as a result of all this soot in the air. The west coast just put a bit of particulates and CO2 into the air. Forest Management is a good investment.

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

Title: Just a Smokey Sun

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Sunrise over Windmills Shoulder

Sunrise over Windmills Shoulder
Sunrise over Windmills Shoulder

Sunrise over Windmills Shoulder

This is an amazing image to me. It is VERY hard/rare/unlikely/difficult and otherwise tough to get detail on the back of anything standing by the sun. I’m easily able to read AEOMOTOR (with the A covered by the sail). I’ve run my cameras for a bit. Having pointed at the sun a few times. I don’t believe I’ve EVER had this result…. This is a very odd color.. almost salmon. Never seen it before either. Seeing the surface detail on this side of the windmill… priceless.

First of all, this is a smoke Pall (of course) blocking about 80 percent of the suns light. IT’s very even smoke though and effectively a filter for the sunlight. The face of the Windmills Sail are in shadow. The ability of the best consumer technology is limited by your camera’s sensor chip being able to resolve the differences between really bright and really dark. This is known as Dynamic Range. THe human eye has 21 f-stops of dynamic range. The Sony Alpha 7R4 I used for this has 15 f-stops of dynamic range. That is really high for a camera in the current crop. Being able to see detail of a black cat in a coal bin in a bright white room is what dynamic range is about.

This is “Re Pete” the backcountry windmill. Big brother of “Sneaky Pete” the windmill that hangs out by my residence. I have to travel a bit and go through some gates to get to this guy. He is positioned on a wonderful little area. We call his home the “Treed Pasture”. Named that for the thousands of Jack Pines living there. This guy is functional. I’d have to change the pump leathers to get it running again though. It worked last time we used it in around 2008. Probably eeds some lube I suspect. He’s 40 feet up there and that sail is 8 feet across. A man can stand on that high platform and not come to the top of the sail. These are big machinations.

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

Title: Sunrise over Windmills Shoulder

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Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

Distant Thunder Mesocyclone
Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

When I see these big Monsters on the horizon, heading up to the ridge tops is my destination. I have fairly long views from there. From my house, I might see about 1/2 of this from behind the ridge I stand hon. This prairie Mesocyclone was slowly rotating about 30 miles to our north and east. A Mesocyclone is a Mature BIG thunderstorm. They are HUGE.

I’m in Wyoming for this looking into Montana. This storm was worrying folks along the South Dakota / Wyoming / Montana triple state line. If effected all three states as it moved to the south east during it’s lifetime. I see about 15 of these big storms a summer. I will work all of them with a box-o-cameras given the opportunities lol. They are wonderful ever changing photographic subject that move very slowly. (unless your under them lol).

I’ve always considered Mammatus clouds as evidence that the storm is being deprived. Without daylight heating, the storms cease growing. Thusly it is slowly collapsing. Not clearly defined is the exact causation of mammatus clouds. “When Moist air drops into dry air below.”… Essentially they are upside down clouds similar to a cloud top billowing. Similar to the growing tower of a thunderstorm before the “Anvil” forms from the top of the storm traveling faster than the bottom. The bottom has friction with the ground where as the top not so much.

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

Title: Distant Thunder Mesocyclone

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Deer Grazing in the Light

Deer Grazing in the Light
Deer Grazing in the Light

Deer Grazing in the Light

Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.

This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet

The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.

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

Title: Deer Grazing in the Light

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Moon Over the Mountains

Moon Over the Mountains
Moon Over the Mountains

Moon Over the Mountains

Starting with the first ridge about 10 miles down range. That would be the furthest west of the ridges in the Prairie Dog Hills. Between the first ridge and the last ridge here is 25 miles. The moon is a little further away at 1.3 light seconds for light to travel from there to here. That exact number depends on whether the moon is closer or further away in it’s elliptical orbit around the earth. The terms apogee and perigee come to mind to describe the furthest away and closest the moon is to the earth. A difference of about 25,000 miles (significant if your walking).

This particular morning was one of the few I got to work on that months moon’s timeline. I like to have both the moon AND the sun up behind me to get landscapes like this. There are only about 3-4 terminator crossings a month that I can work this kind of scene. Rarely do I see everything cooperating as this to get a wonderful color pallet on a morning landscape. They are usually TOO red for my taste. This is just about right to the lighting several minutes after sunrise. At most I get 15 – 20 minutes of the actual full moon above the horizon coterminously with the sun. A photographer has to work fast. It’s a bad time for batteries to go down lolol.

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

Title: Moon Over the Mountains

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Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana
Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Channeling Japan in Wyotana

Boy the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing on this country. (Except Deep Sea Food lol) . Those swanky Japanese Maples are perhaps more photogenic than the backcountry Jack Pines seen here. But not much. Old growth and 60 feet tall survivors of the “big fire” back in the 1930’s. Here they bask in the colorcast smoke filtered light. The smoke from the fire all over the west. The sun size show the crushing of perspective by this long lens. Those trees are a mile distant.

These survivors dominate the ridge on the Wyoming / Montana border. This ground was more like the ridge behind them 100 years ago. No low branches is an adaptation to range fires. Those trees that loose their lower branches to heat from earlier fires do better the next time around. This growth habit is not reflected in the young progeny around the old still standing soldiers.

Living Hundreds of years on this ridge, the family here is tightly knit. I would imagine they are all related closely from a single pioneering ancestor. No doubt from way back in local early post glacial history. These pine trees of course release their seeds by way of cones falling scattered around their base. Those cones only open in response to a grass fire that is not too big, not too small. When the fire burns past, you get a generation of young pine trees that sprout up afterwards. Unless the fire is too hot. Fed by a century or more long build up of fuel in the grass. Old logs, branches and layers of pine cones.

Facts are that regular fires are GOOD for the ecosystem by regularly cleaning up the forest litter. Preventing HOT uncontrolled fires is a good idea across the board. Those fires burn the seeds they release and set the trunks of the old grown on fire destroying them in the process. Regular small fires help, large hot burns not so much. I’ve fought a few fires during my two decades on ranch. I don’t like fighting back in the woods too much. Not that I like fighting fires at all lol. Controlled burns are a GOOD thing. It spreads out the work over decades safely instead of all at once where you just loose things. This is not new knowledge. Common sense.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana .

Title: Channeling Japan in Wyotana

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Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek
Deer Hide and Seek

Deer Hide and Seek

Satire:

Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.

Back to my normal programming.

Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.

Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.

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

Title: Deer Hide and Seek

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Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave
Setting Sun Shock Wave

Setting Sun Shock Wave

I titled this Shock but I could have used Bow wave just as well. The atmospheric phenomena you are seeing here is a very complex interaction for sure. The color is real as is the wave in front of the sun. I was watching this clearly on my video eyepiece just as you see it here. The Pall of Smoke was significant even for recent standards.

Amazing light effects occur in a heavily occluded / smoky atmospheric haze. I have views looking west from the local that reach out 93,000,000 miles to the sun. Between myself and the sun are many miles of atmosphere acting as a filter to all but red and yellow light. (With all gradations in between like orange).

I think there are a lot of things going on here with the color and the gradients. You will note a baseball diamond shaped area of yellow above the sun is the highest sky where yellow can penetrate with a given intensity. (a calculus equation or two involved here I suspect chuckle). Less smoke between me and the light there. Below on the wave, only the red light can penetrate the haze. The closer to the sun, the brighter the light the haze has to block. The curve will be smooth around the base. Mother Natures Geometry at her best artist strokes. I love smooth gradients but naturally stepped gradients are massively cool. Maybe it’s just me chasing light again lolol.

I’ve seen this only a few times in my travels. I suspect it has a name but I haven’t researched it.

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

Title: Setting Sun Shock Wave