Hey Big Brown Eyes…. 👀 He is well camo’d this year….
So I check my posts every morning. This particular morning the computer that is dedicated to such tasks started looping and became useless. Crashing my FB account requiring a new password. I will post around 6 AM every day if I have my choice. I was out photographing sunrise and didn’t know until 7. That morning. So I spend the next hour fixing all the digital avalanche that disrupts schedules until I fix them. Part of that chore is to drive up to the ranches communication tower.
While waiting around for the computer up there to update (lengthy), I had some time to walk that ridge which yielded this very young Cotton Tail Bunny. It took some stalking and patience to get this close even with a long lens. Now I know there is a hunting season for them in Wyoming and Montana. I’ve never hunted cottontails outside of the Illinois cornfields of my youth. They have been controlled around our homestead by our 6 Barn cats. This one is over a mile away and perhaps outside their range. I still have my original 6 cats that are 7 years old each. They have survived dispite the Bobcats and Coyotes that love your average domestic house cats up here on the high prairie.
I’ve been observing this 10 inch version of the “mimmic thush” . Slate grey exactly this color, it is easily recognized by it’s “mew” sounds. Supposedly that is how it got it’s name.
As far as I can tell this one is totally fearless of the ranches barn cats. It goes over to make a big racket at the sleeping cats who now want nothing to do with it. I think the “Catbird” has found a way to deactivate the prey drive in a cat. He is in and out of the thicket, is VERY quick. I suspect the cats don’t have a chance, they know it and are just ignoring the non-dinner.
This particular bird is just slightly interested in complaining about my presence. Now and again I’ll be unloading cameras in the morning, over it comes to fuss at me. Well It was fussing while I was using a 1200 mm lens handheld at 18 feet. He is VERY bold and forward in his need to be present. A force to be reckoned with in his own mind I’m sure.
This is NOT a crop but a full frame image. Normally the background would be green in this image based on it’s location. At the moment it’s remarkably brown after the hail storm three weeks ago denuded the area behind. All brown now ….
Taken around 11PM at night of the LONG day we had a dangerous grass fire on ranch. I had gotten up at 3AM to work Neowise Comet the night before. LONG day. A lightning storm around 2 pm started a fire over a ridge about a mile from my homestead. Instantly upon hearing thunder I jumped in the Raptor. Used it’s agility to quickly get the heck up the 400 foot hill I climb to see around. Binocs come out. Sure enough, smoke in one of our fields and a rapidly growing area of flame in 20 mph winds. Crushed grass from hail and somewhat grazed down fortunately. It took me 20 minutes to get a fire truck to the scene. We activate the local calling tree. The counties involved were both Powder River Mt and Cambell County Wy. The fire was on the border. This conflagration harmed no dinosaurs.👀😜
We are under extreme fire danger up in the country this year with one of the driest June/July’s on record. Last year was one of the wettest. If you don’t like the Wyotana weather, stick around it will change. Such as it been since the beginning of time on earth lolol. We are loaded with hundreds of square miles of hour fuel. A Hour fuel is very combustible. Dry grass for example. Fortunately grass fires are easier to fight than timber fires. We kept it out of the timber.
So we fought that fire, after seeing the Bureau of Land Management crew sitting the fire overnight and wishing them a peaceful night under the stars, I went back toward the homestead only to be waylaid by this little thunderstorm (Mesocyclone) for another hour. Time exposures of up to 30 second. It was a little windy that night as I indicated. The trees are all blurred from moving around in the lengthly 20-30 second period of electronic shutter. Wind moving my truck/tripod is problematic. Particularly if there were any point sources of light around. Blurs result.
Note the stars in the upper right corner of the frame.
Crimson Sunsets with a boulder field acting as a sun moderating filter. Otherwise the glare is such it makes it very difficult to catch the detail in the clouds above. I point out that cloud frame is a Pariedoliac’s dream with a dozen faces, figures, creatures and imaginary anthropomorphic shapes. I’ve got horses, dolphins humans faces. I swear I did not put those shapes there or add dots for eyes or any of those cheating activities. This is a totally natural image with a pretty much closed down camera to light. That sun is bright. The human eye could not look into this scene.
Taken at the top local top of the world with a hard boulder covered butte top protecting the sandstone below from erosion. Most buttes are built by cap rock protecting the softer sediments below from being removed. Ridges are formed because everything softer was carried away by water moving one grain of sand at a time. Just lots of time.
Photographic Musings. High F-stop for the deep focus plus loosing some light. (you’ve got an overabundance of light here). Low ISO because you sure as heck don’t need a sensitive camera here. Shutter speed is going to be fast but the boulder filter can lengthen that out a bit. Each of the Manual settings is a double edge sword. If you want deep focus, you need a lot of light. F-stop is your iris size inside the lens. A pin hole gives you very deep focus fields. But a pin hole doesn’t let in much light. Manual is all about balancing light.
This looks bad at first glance. One sees smoke rising from a structure. Trust me the century old house of the Historic Parks Ranch stands un-affected by the blaze 50 miles distant. That is just a REALLY big fire. Burning Hot in the drought ravaged Wyotana area to our west. This fire was just past the Powder River drainage on the Crow Reservation I believe. Perspectives, curved tree line, crepuscular rays and smoke plumes. PLUS an old ranch homestead with some blue sky peaking through. Very hard core, real world Wyotana in action.📷
I find that Really big fire plumes make interesting illusionary additions to background architectural constructs with in telephoto photography. Crushing distances like 50 miles versus a few hundred yards together is what telephotos do best. Add smoke, a sunset to an amazing old building well preserved and you have quite a composition in and of itself lol. I don’t get really big smoke plumes exactly in front of sunsets too often. I worked this over about 10 miles of north south backroads in both Montana and Wyoming. Those hills in the distance right are in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.
The most local actual newspaper from the small town Broadus Montana claimed June was the Driest on Record. I may have mis-read that. It’s durn dry here with July a bit better with all the water we got from that 30 minute long hail storm throwing up to 3 inch stones at us. Pool Table Ball sized stuff. This ranch avoided that hail storm, it went Just next door hitting us.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
In this twilight dusk capture, you can see both the updraft inverted funnel on the right feed warm air into the MASSIVE Mesocylone to my east. It spans the Montana/Wyoming border in this shot straight east. The Cold air coming down over the top left is streaking down to the front of the storm where all the action is. The rain is first as the top of the storm leans forward and the rain falls with the cold downdraft in front. As you go further and further into the storm, the strength of the updraft increases. Cold…. Thusly the hail falling gets bigger and bigger toward the rear of the storm just in front of the updraft region.
I re-emphasize… I’ve never seen such a good example of this before and I do this a bit. Far right frame you can see the inverted vortex of the up draft coiling into the storm. I watched it roil and rotate slowly snaking up into the storm. This sucks warm air up and the streaks are cold air coming back down. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline.
I’ve got a few other captures from this storm still working their way into my work flow. They will appear every few weeks I suspect. I’ve never seen this so well defined. So from the north west side of a growing to mature Mesocyclone, you will have the most interesting photos if the lighting is right. I will ALWAYS work thunderstorms in the evening or morning because of the lighting. We got 1/10th of an inch last night with the lightning storm. Kept everything from burning I think.
I heard lightning at 10PM last night and was going to go up hill until it started raining. Life in the Local Volunteer fire watch… (It’s called survival in these conditions. ).
It’s not too often I get to know a Whitetail Family. These two twins have now been well photographed this spring having spent several sunsets with them of late. I can drive up to good functional lens distance from them and not change their behavior any. After a few minutes, unless I move, they are not watching me. They were grazing. The Raptor I drive, shuts down it’s engine automatically upon braking to a stop. Saves gas I understand. It also makes it very handy to a guy who used to have to use the key to do that. These guys could care less if the truck starts or stops at this point. Initially I think it was a big deal. I left their proximity without spooking the group at all. Saw them later that evening down toward their water / night spot.
But the interactions between the fawns are what is the best thing to watch. Photographing twins is a pleasure at this age. (Them and Me lolol) Both are having fun in this fairly good pasture. Little Hail Damage here. Natural deer behavior doesn’t involve sticking their tongue at each other but I’d like to think it does. These two were definitely messing with each other at the time. Playing at the Dinner table.
Note the notched ear on the right fawn. I can follow it through it’s life now that it is familiar with me. Knowing how to recognize it is the game. Now for a name……
The morning that showed me this view was 14 hours earlier than when I typed this narrative. It’s rare that I take a photo and schedule it to be published the same day. Sort of like being a bouncer choosing who gets to enter a nightclub. If your a “looker”, you go right to the front of the line. There are several thousand images for me to finish at the moment lolol. They are sitting in a folder on my workstations desktop called “Images to finish”. Job security 📸
The texture on this wonderful old snag from 100 years of exposure to the elements. It is harsh here in Wyotana with hot high altitude sunny summer days and terribly dark cold winters. Wood rot here take a LONG time as 14 inches a year average of precip tends to reduce rot. There are a LOT of “Snags” around from the 1930’s fire that “burned until the snow fell” up in this country. This one developed even more character as those orangish spots are bruises from the hail storm that threw up to 3 inch ice balls at it. The Mountain in the knot hole is known to me as “Turtle Butte”. It is precisely on the Montana/Wyoming border about 1/2 and half. 🤔
This is the second of a series with this Snag. I worked it a few years back as well. The lighting was entirely different then and it hadn’t hailed lol. The old masters would go back to the same place again and again to get different light. It was harder to travel then. I just work a very large area of backcountry photographically.
In this high country, a spring fed pond is a rare thing. To find one with a reasonable view of almost straight west is a tall request. Not quite as tall as the smoke plume from this fire. My personal estimate is that thing is 40-50 miles straight west. I’m also thinking it is miles wide at this point. I had just spied it 5 hours before when a neighbor called me as to “what was burning on my side of the hill and where was it.
Spending the next 5 minutes to go up to a high ridge it was instantly obvious mid day. Fast forward to the “golden hour” and driving to a spot where I have a huge smoke filter to photographically work the sunset with. I called back the neighbor to let him know. Short discussion I had to zip off to intersect some other trucks headed this way. All of the ranchers in this region are on a hair trigger about responding to a spark. There is no worse feeling than watching a dry thunderstorm travel over an area only to see a smoke plume.
That fire is located pretty close to the Crow Reservation very near the border so your looking across from Wyoming to Montana here. We were covered by a pall of smoke all afternoon today (as I type this a week ago). I’ve had 2 sunsets to work from this fire so far. I bet it’s going to burn awhile as that is mountain goat country.
JUST after the sun disappears behind the rising horizon, I clicked this. The simple image of a sunset is only overcome by the beauty of the event. Watching thousands of sunsets from start to finish has taught me nuances in lighting. Both Causation and Effect become apparent with enough observation. There are an infinite number of angles to look at something. There are more that I can imagine in my mine. (more than infinity). 😜
Sunsets this time of year from my ranch are getting more and more straight to the west. From my position one mile inside of Wyoming, your looking at both states in this frame. Wyoming is to the left and Montana is to the right. Living on the border with access to both states has it’s advantages. I am sandwiched between two counties fire departments and get pretty good service lolol. This late into a drought year has me looking over Amazon and elsewhere online for firefighting tools. To have a smoke free sky like this image might take a while with a pretty good fire 50 miles west of here. You can’t see it here as this was the day’s ending before it started burning.
So enjoy the clear sky sunset while I’ve still got them making their way into my work flow. The last two sunset/sunrise I’ve worked have been heavily influence by the smoke from that fire. There will be other images of that fire’s smoke plume incoming and published here soon.
So how many faces/creature can you see / imagine on these distant storms. A “just after” sunset backshow with the dark clouds below the red being the shadow of the horizon. Montana on the left, Wyoming on the right.
This large mesocyclone was about 100 miles distant from my ranch a few nights ago. We had just fought a grass fire on ranch and this was the storm that started it all. That was a long day. I finished talking to the Bureau of Land Management fire crew that was going to sit on the “extinguished” burn site. Having someone around for a few days is a good thing after a fire.
The sun had already set in this twilight longer exposure (around a second). It was pretty dark. The smell of smoke and burned prairie in the air. I watched several snakes come out of their holes to leave the burned area at dusk. We got it out. Well, it was out 2 days later after I extinguished 2 other flair ups lolol.
At any rate:
You Pariedolia sufferers, (you know who you are), this image is classic fodder to let your imaginations run wild. The genetically derived propensity to see figures in random data. If clouds, water swirls, abstract patterns etc. set you off in a fantasy world….. good.
Personally on the left storm tower appears to me to be a Happy Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. On the far right tower is a wolf looking left or a bear looking at you. That’s the best I got out of this but some of you always push the envelope.
Windmill Weekday: Windmill Junkies Unite, (you know who you are). 🤘🤘
Perspective photographs properly done mess with your sense of depth. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is “Milling” his fate at the scary scene unfolding “just over the hill”. He can’t see whats coming. I can just sense his aprehension. These big fires out here can be devastating. Most ranches have some way to fight fires. Usually a “quick reaction” truck. Perhaps a wagon pulled behind a pickup with a sprayer rig on board. Several thousands dollars of equipment to safely fight a serious prairie fire.
I’ve lived up here on the border 20 years and have fought dozens of range fires.. I’ve lost track and they all blend together going back that far. Each and every fire was a community experience with familiar local faces. There will be 6 or 7 more finished images from this timeline.
Fortunately for us, this particular smoke plume was over 40 miles distant. We can’t travel very far in our big lumbering fire truck. For those fires we do show up at, we try to make a difference with the 1000 gallons of water we can carry. I’m in the process to fit my Raptor with a 100 gallon bladder tank. Quick reaction is good too. This HUGE forest fire distant started with one spark (lightning) and was small for a while. They it got big quickly. If some rancher had enough water and got to it with the first smoke, it would have been controlled. We had our ranches fire under control in about 3 hours. We were on it about 20 minutes after I first saw it.
10 line June Beetles larva eat roots of all sort of good plants so they are a shoot on sight critter. I tend to shoot them with cameras but they don’t necessarily get a catch and release program assignment. Only because they are a marvelous bug from a looks perspective did he survive this long. An inch and a half in length, maybe a 1/4 inch high. I have other captures of this hissy fit fellow.
The species puts on quite a show when you get a little too close or try to handle it. On a general basis I categorically consider them a grump. It’s not much happy here about my big “eye” lens in it’s face. Those 4 hooks on it’s front appendages are to be respected according to him. Waving them like they were big sticks, the still had other legs on the rock. He was standing up telling me in no uncertain terms to “leave him alone”.
This image doesn’t show it but those yellow antenna are made up of layers of antennas. I have another image showing it. This composition was his idea not mine. Bugs are like photographing young children. They do what they want but you can USUALLY get their attention. This one didn’t fly away and pretty much stood his ground if he could. I would look pretty big incoming with a big macro lens plus he would see himself in the lens mirror ….. aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!..
It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈
This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.
Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.
Sometimes the sunset sideshows I see are just overwhelming, then a Pronghorn Doe wanders into my “visual tunnel” that I’m working. Layers of interdigitating hills. Slow tapering like so many water waves on a pond. The Golden Hour Lighting and long shadows add to the contrasts and hues. Accentuating even the drought covered grass’s early brown season patina.
This was taken about a week before a grass fire blackened the hillside just before the tall ridge of trees near the horizon right of center. That whole field was burned over about a mile. I’d say 12 fire rigs of all sizes made a local debut for the 2020 fire season in this country. About 30 men descended on that ground within an hour of it’s announcement. It’s still very dry. We have been enjoying trains of lightning rich storms.
The Pronghorn doe was moving from Yucca plant (Spanish Dagger) to Yucca Plant enjoying the abundance. That is a plant that plans ahead. Their shape on the prairie causes snow to drift and cover them better than the surrounding area. They get a LOT of their watering in the winter. Their lush blooms are eagerly sought by most ungulates. I understand they are good in salads… 🙂
Besides the other minor world wide issues, locally: Drought Hail and Fire this year has surpassed in intensity the green well watered year we experienced last year in 2019. I’d like to play this year over and it’s not even close to done yet. Think I could do that??
Just after the sun had set, the Massive rotating storm started to loose the energy that was forming it. Fueled ultimately by rising air from it’s heating influence. Starved from it’s energy source. The Mammatus clouds as above can be a sign of the big rotating storm collapsing.
This particular day was a storm filled afternoon. I suspect that HUGE bolt is 40 miles distant on the “Red Hills” (The name) making up that distant ridge. I use what is called a lightning trigger to “click” my shutter during hours where a time exposure would over expose. You can use neutral density filters on your camera to do time exposures during the day. I’m sort of a purist and don’t like screw on filters in front of my lenses. I have had images ruined by ghost images due to their effect. I point at the sun a lot, lightning probably isn’t that different. Bright Light and all that.
At night however, a long exposure might do you. In pitch black, storm flashing away….need a tripod, with a timer or remote thumb trigger for your camera, start at ISO 300, F4 (ish) and say 20 seconds. Let it flash, wait a second, then click…. Don’t touch anything until the shutter closes. Then look to see what you got. Go longer or shorter exposure to bring the image into reality. Now you know pretty much what I do to do this.
This was taken the day we had our grass fire. I had been following up with the Bureau of Land Management Hot Spot Team. I was talking to the crew until about 11:15 when it became apparent that the Comet Neowise was going to be behind clouds. Time to go to sleep, a few miles back to the homestead all the while noticing HUGE multiple lightning flashes 20 miles to our south. The silhouette of the hill on the skyline is called “Bowman Hill”. Bowman is 15 miles south of me.
Now it takes my Sony mirrorless cameras (which work only OK) for the Comet Neowise) do a pretty good job on 30 second time exposures even in windy conditions taking photos of flashing lighting. I was definitely ridge topped here having to climb out of the bowl our homestead is in to see this. Those same sony cameras take ANOTHER 30 seconds to process that 30 second time exposure before I can take another exposure. Problematic so I work 2 cameras at the same time alternating 30 second clicks and I basically get full time coverage of all the bolts possible. But I can still only take 2 photos a minute at best. (that make sense??).
So anyway…. That is the center of a Mesocyclone all lit up by that flash. The wall cloud demarking the tip of the massive spinning top of this 60 miles across storm. The intensity of the storm at a late hour was remarkable with flash after flash discharging every few seconds over all. But many of the flashes were deep in the storm backlighting several surfaces. Stars…..
This is a pretty good capture of a mid-sized mesocyclone that is sitting on the Montana / Wyoming border along Rt 59 north of Gillette. It’s a growing one that went on to cause some trouble up in Montana. Missed me by 40 miles. That is how far away that is. This gives you a pretty good idea how big that growing storm is. I’d say it’s 20 miles across with a 10 mile wide rain shaft under it. Bear in mind that these storms can grow to 100 miles across and very high heights. Forty thousand feet is not unheard of for a big storm. They do spawn tornados but we only see about 1 a year over a pretty big local area.
The biggest threat from them is hail. Large areas of grassland get flattened by big hail stones. Often the grass’s heads are knocked off leaving stubble. Property damage as I just experienced is significant if one of these goes over your ranch’s homestead. We are looking into replacing every surface of the buildings here on the ranch again. Last done in 2008 when we had some soft ball sized hail but not as much. This year we just had up to 3 inch but mostly golf ball for about 30 minutes with a 30 mph wind from the north. I keep finding all sorts of broken things.
Game trail cameras always give me problematic images. They are REALLY worth working as I have seen some AMAZING behavior and images from them. Many hundreds of them to date that are EXCELLENT situations. I’m thinking this is 256 shades of grey anyway out of that infrared camera. This capture is amazing to me but it’s probably just me. 👁 👁
This random photo could have had a buck with big antlers in it but I still REALLY like it. There are more shades of grey in this “Black and White” than most I have seen of late. (Millions of shades of grey). IT’s a little grainy and there is a 3 pixel wide white line around all of the silhouetted tree. This is the problematic part of game trail cameras. It would take hours to eliminate all those white lines in that tree. Finishing photos is my passion but I’m a busy guy lol. Catching fun contrasts like this makes all those used up AA batteries to do so worth it.
I’m not sure who said “Grey is the richest color, it makes all the others speak. Grey causes a range of emotions from the underground coal mines under West Virginia to the Stars above all our heads. Current computer displays are 16bits per RGB pix or 65,536 shades of pure grey. Most of the charts available and printed for artists/painters/photofinishes are 256 shades of grey.
Widely known as the “Watermellon Beetle” They cause damage. It’s about 1.5 inches long, and take a defensive pose with a hissing sound when picked up. The are a member Family of Beetles called Scarabaeidae or the scarab beetles. This one is named Ringo I think.. I’ve seen some other beetles around here somewhere too….. just saying 😀
THe antennas are the coolest ever. They have a series of overlapping scales called lamellate plates. They are very complex. IT had them folded here. Their long lived life cycle is two years between larval and adult. The larva feed on roots in the top 14 inches of the soil.
So eating on lush succulent sedum I just had to move the pot to the light. He was fine with my invasive macros in his face. Even my very bright led ringed lens that must look like the sun incoming. This is natural sunlight however. It was in and out of the clouds so the timeline was extended. I left him sitting here. They do eat foliage but after the hail, the grasshoppers and now June Beetles in July… I didn’t even have him spend the night in my refrigerator like I normally do big bugs I want to photograph lolol. One sitting, two different macro/camera set ups. Patients exemplified.
If I find many more, I will have to take action though this is the first I’ve seen this year. You have to kill them in the larval stage in the soil. We have Tachnid Flies which parasitize them and keep them in check.
Wonderful Naturally derived cross. An animal version of the “fairy stone”, a mineral which exhibit this natural cross. The Mineral Staurolite is the famous one as a natural cross former. The interpenetrating crystals making the multicultural symbol. Here, a now extinct animal making crosses. More or less a small croc donated one of his vertebra to the ranch fossil collection. I walk by, dig a hole and pick it up… There are in excess of 10K fossils in the pile currently. This a good palm sized vertebra. is the dorsal side. That is the spinal canal with the flexible backbone providing channel for side to side bending. Thus the hourglass shape. Commonly I find isolated disarticulated vertebra from this 6 foot long creature .
The end of the Cretaceous was a rough killing many groups of creatures. Champsosaur lived on past that punctuated extinction event. It’s a terrible index fossil lol. Birds were the only dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction that occurred right at 66 million years ago. 75 percent of all marine fauna died during this extinction. We Paleontologists suppose that an equal amount of terrestrial species failed to survive the event.
Covered in Upper Cretaceous Sands, our ranch has quite a few fossil sites. 25 microsites and one bone bed have been discovered. I even found about 20 percent of one particular Triceratops on an adjacent property. It’s not just dinosaurs. Creatures you would naturally associate with terrestrial river deposits….. Amphibian, Reptilian, Dinosaurian, Mammalian, Avian, Stingrays (fresh water), Tuna (fresh water), Molluscs, gastropods, snakes and fish fossils are all found. Leaf /vegetation found in these rocks are often carbon film but are present in the shales. The literature about these formations is extensive.
Summer sunsets happen early. This one at 5:31AM. The ridge I wanted to work for this had a good view of the crescent moon. Working the crescent moon from 5 AM until it was lost in the haze. Keeping busy with cameras is a good thing. I was loving the roiling distortion around the edge of the solar disk. It’s a result of the atmosphere distorting the shape and the details. The sun is ACTUALLY below the line of sight (below the horizon). The atmosphere is bending it’s image around the corner for a few minutes at the rise.
I have Sirius XM radio plus a reasonable audio system in the Raptor. This has been a good thing up here. I went out doing backcountry photography for years on an open ATV with my cameras in a open basket. No tunes…. I’ve work open ATV’s to -30. Having had cameras literally not work from the cold…. I put 3500 miles on that ATV one year doing backcountry photography only in this area.
This year, I’ve accumulated 1300 miles of only backcountry driving. In the Ford Raptor’s first 6 months. The Raptor is an all weather, all terrain, comfortable photographic studio for me to work from. There are not many places it would not go within reason up in this region if I asked it to. Think of it as a “Free Runner” which is a truck built for racing courses like the Baja 500. So far, it will do anything I ask of it that I’m not afraid to do. 📸 🤘 More hail dents than I like on it though….. ☹️
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission first discovered this icy visitor on March 27, 2020. So Neowise the Comet was Named after the space craft that discovered it. It used its two infrared cameras, which are sensitive to the heat signatures given off by the icy core of the eventual comet as the Sun started to turn up the heat.. Many come as close as 62,000,000 (62 Million) close to the earth this pass around the sun for it. The NEOWISE space Craft is going to re-enter our atmosphere as it’s mission ends and will be replaced by the next generation machinery.
This Comet is a surprise visitor at our door. It’s orbit actually brings it inside the orbit of Mercury. That is a very rough ride for a chunk of ice and rock about 3 miles in diameter. It was super-heated (as it were versus deep space) causing a very good display of our celestial wheel turning.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a naked eye comet and the brightest in over 20 years. Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995 – 1996 which I worked extensively with a film camera from a dark sky location near Jackson Hole. By the time this posts on the 24th of July, Neowise (the comet) will be pointing it’s tail(s) to the left. Look under Ursa Major in the north Sky around the top of Leo Minor. It will be getting dimmer quickly. I’ve only had 2 opportunities to work it. About 5 hours total work under the night sky around here is a change as I tend to sleep between the evening sunset and morning sunrise. What I’m saying is I don’t do a lot of night photography any more with my current schedule.
I like to look back 6 months or so every once in a while. It reminds me how much I enjoy the season we are currently in lol.
A January Full Moon Setting (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020). Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages. A few definitions that apply to this moon….
A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history.
The Blood red that month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔 Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.
Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon last January. Most of my images are posted about a week after they are finished so this posts the 24th of July, taken the morning of the 10th of January. IT takes a while for me to dig back into my “Images to finish folder” sometimes. I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 4 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore lolol. 📷📷🤘
I recently posted another from this timeline. Real Color. I’ve seen no better red double than this sunset back show capture before. I wish I had a chopper to go up about 300 feet though. Seeing this as a 360 circle would be a bucket list item but only if I have my cameras with me…. Intentionally maneuvered the reflective back of a “Right Turn Clyde” Sign dead center as it was just right to reflect the sunlight directly in the center of the rainbow.
I have this thing for holographic red dot sights on carbines. Not that that tendency had anything to do with this composition lol👁 . If you’ve ever used a good Trijicon™ holographic rifle sight, some of the reticles look just like this. The reflective sign is exactly at the “Antipode” of the sun’s position in the sky behind me. Good google word for the evening… 🤔 👀 📷
So why is a “Red Rainbow” rare. Well it can only occur at the perfect time of the day under specific circumstances. Mere minutes maybe if the photographer is lucky. I worked this with 3 cameras in those few minutes. Water can only refract (not reflect) a rainbow using the color of light the situation provides to the rain fall curtain. At the trailing edge of that larger area of rain, the deep cranberry is also rare. The partially occluded sunset behind me is acting as both refraction plus reflection here. The 22 degree rainbow is obvious but the other red is reflecting off the water falling directly coloring the clouds and sky. Both phenomena are involved here.
Really it’s all about the source of light which traveling through dirty atmosphere (not implying pollution, could just be moisture). The red light is the furthest traveled light through our atmosphere. The cranberry color is literally my favorite. This is as close as I can get this to how I saw it. I could have easily lightened the lower grass in the digital darkroom. That’s not how it was. It was very dark just like this with just a spotlight of light for me to capture. Thank you mother nature.
Sunset Back show, remember to turn around once in a while…. Now I know where the concept of “Sharknado”™ came from. Those fellow sufferers / enjoyers of Pareidolia as myself might see any number of anthropomorphic “things” in this late evening cloud. There are other “figures” hidden within. The random chaos of the storm provides a rich source for our imaginations. You just have to get past the “looking” thing onto the “seeing” thing. Pretty much everyone can see shapes in random data but some of us have it “bad”. My habit is to look for images that will make interesting mosaics or mirrors. This less complex illusion just screamed shark at me. Thusly, it’s image is immortalized now. The digital storage universe of the internet keeps everything we post… all of it….just saying lol. 😜
Actually I note the color gradient from pure white clouds at the top down to orange on the bottom of the deck. This cloud is acting as a projection screen for the natural gradient that is in the sky as the horizon covers the sun. Light passing through hundreds of miles of atmosphere is red to orange in color. Light passing through high atmosphere is white (all colors). The top of the rising storm, bathed in white light. Unfettered by the junk in the air we breath. The lowest part of the storm cloud, is reflecting filtered orange light. JUST below the cloud deck on the far right there is a cloud that is blue / dark. It is in the shadow of the earth.
Sunset you remember is actually horizon rise. It’s the world that is spinning to make that happen not the sun moving lol. In this image the sun had already set, twilight was shooting across the earths surface at 1000 miles per hour away from my lens looking to the east. The line of light and dark called the terminator. That line of night/day demarkation SCREAMING over our head twice a day.
A Daddy Long Legs spider surrounded by it’s 3 dimensional home/web decorated with hundreds of condensed dew drops was a lucky find. Talk about a harmless spider. (I know, some of you REALLY don’t like spiders). Others buy them as pets. I always thought they were too fragile personally as the big spiders crack like an egg. Some of you may not know my wife and myself ran the only pet shop for 6 years in a big college town. Sold that in 1986…. (one of my 9 professional careers). I have sold a LOT of Tarantulas to Frat Houses before. They seemed to like scorpions too. Needless to say I’ve been bitten, stuck, stung, and otherwise generally chewed on for 6 years by all the exotic stuff that went through our pet store.😜 I was much younger then.
Setting the stage:
We are in the middle of a 6 month long drought. That morning was HEAVILY pea soup fogged. The sun was deeply veiled to the point of the fog filter being quite effective at making this possible. Pointing the camera into the sun to capture darker detail is the challenge. Don’t try this with a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras won’t blind you in the process. That is a very bright sun at the top. Looking into the furnace as it were.
So when the relative humidity hits 99.9 percent, dew condenses on any cool object. Droplets in the moving air collide with larger drops nucleating around intersections or rough points in the webbing. Anywhere there is a SLIGHT disruption of otherwise smooth air flow, frost or dew will deposit there. That depends on the temperature. For a good google this afternoon, search “triple point of water” in google and see what comes up.
As with most of my work finished on a big computer monitor, full screen is preferred. Click the image to enlarge.
I’m always trying to experiment with different lighting when I do night time exposures. Here I used my yellow flashing light on the top of my Raptor (I often block backcountry roads for 10’s of minutes at a time so I like a warming strobe). So the flashing strobe is like a flash bulb but in yellow. Of course we are in a drought and the grass is brown anyway. The color cast added to the scene I thought for the Close/far perspective. I have another version of this with LED white light. Just as this, the suffuse foreground lighting diminished up the hill. Stay tuned for that image.
The star field is just about properly exposed, sharp and well populated. Interestingly, the longer you leave open the shutter, the more stars that keep appearing. Our sky here on the Montana/Wyoming border 70 miles from the nearest bright city is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA. One of the darkest skies in the United States. If you have a sensitive camera and a steady surface you can just about fill the frame with stars. There is close to 1000 visible in this photo alone.
When you are leaving the shutter open for 10-15 seconds at a time, ANY movement of the truck the camera is mounted on will ruin the image. It was periodically gusty during this shoot. Therefore MOST of the images I took during this timeline were ruined by the movement. No fixing 1000 stars with blur tails. Ground tripods with really long lenses are better than vehicles due to the smaller wind profile.
This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.
As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘
I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.
The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.
Radiance: (Websters) : the quality or state of being radiant 2 : a deep pink : the flux density of radiant energy per unit solid angle and per unit projected area of radiating surface. (1 and 3 nailed this) I’m thinking that I’m digging the Flux Density here but maybe it’s just me. Of course totally square natural frames and visual tunnels always are a nice hero or two to add to the images mix.
All images are combinations of light, angle and the subject(s) of the composition. My job is to bring them together into a coherent mass… jumble if you will. Coherent being the key word. Chaos is the tendency of the world but bringing order to chaos is what I often pursue. Those are the images that somehow bring a semblance of logic to the disorganization that is so prevalent in our universe. They make sense to our minds sense of balance and proportion. Leading they eye naturally as the masters of the 16th century figured out toward the focal point of the image. Here is a sunburst as the center. Ago old technique, modern technology to look into the eye of the furnace that keeps us warm.
This “Golden Hour” capture is classic to the intensity of the sunsets in air full of ice. Alpenglow glow colors the air golden. Only the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset qualify as the “Golden Hour”.