I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.
The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)
The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.
I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.
Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.
This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.
While I admire the tenacity of this lone tree. Living with out the benefit of the group shelter from the incessant Wyoming/Montana winds. Here on the high ridges all things are buffeted by hurricane winds yearly. The slopes leading up to them will enhance and focus the wind at times worsening the situation. Having an unparalleled view is a benefit, of this old sentinels exposed existence.
If this tree is certainly 100 years old (probably 200+), it has seen a mininum of 36500 sunrises and 36500 sunsets. I’ve only photographed well over 1000 from start to finish during my photographic travels. I’ve seen virtually (almost) every shade on the pantone color swatch book in the natural sky. And many of those missing color representatives created by others using excessive “filters” to enhance their highlights posted on the internet.. Some of the colors I’ve seen created by others are certainly un-natural. ART. The use of that color slider control on the phone are definitely missing in nature lolololol. I try REALLY HARD to be a photorealist. Blue Snow is a classic example. I’ve seen blue snow twice in my life. Both circumstances were in EARLY Civil Twilight. I see it daily posted in the forums. Generally I live in a blue snow free zone.
The color gradients I see in this image are the Alpenglow equivalent of a rainbow. It’s sort of the wrong order of colors as a classic rainbow but there are refractions here going on. I have to get up to the ridges at least 1/2 an hour early. Getting into position this time of year is always in question and often in doubt. I’m on foot for this particular location for this shot. .
I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.
The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂
The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.
This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.
Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.
Oh Christmas Tree (with all due respect to Mario Lanza I changed the title to my image to Oh instead of O….)
Even the Wildlings way out in the backcountry have decorated trees to enjoy this Christmas day. A trillion of these moments in space and time happen all the time. It is a matter of realizing the possibilities and having the technology (in your hand) to capture the image.
Each and every one of these trees was casting a hugely contrasting shadow. I just had to pick the place where I could see the whole shadow. Again topography controls / limits my photography. That gravity thing is also a problem.
This well blown snow accumulates around the Yucca Plants. While where I’m standing is only about 6 inches, there are places in the hollows where it’s knee deep. Getting here was half the fun of this photograph 📸🎄 I’m locked out of most of the backcountry now. I have to plow a road if I want to get up on the big ridge. A couple of miles of plowing but I like to wait for a big storm to come through and blow around. Let it drift abit before I take the time and diesel fuel to clear a path.
Hope Christmas morning was blessed with family and gift giving to all of you. It’s right around noon as this posts and it’s gonna be time for a nap sometime soon lol.
I often find Deer beds under trees suring snow storm. If the snow is falling straight down, the trees act as a pretty good umbrella to keep the white stuff off. It’s common sense (which deer have a lot of). Any shelter in a storm is better than no shelter.
Lone trees on a ridge are romantic figures up here. Battling the worst that the environment has to offer. 80 mph winds, -30 degrees for weeks (historically since I’ve been here) and terrible dry spells. These lone sentinels are king of all they survey. They don’t grow very fast. This tree is at least 100 years old. I suspect the big ones are several hundred years old. This fellow happens to be sitting on a fossil microsite. Just on the other side of the ridge, bare Hell Creek/lance Sandstone outcrops with large chunky dinosaur bone fragments weathering out. I even found a pretty nice toe bone from a hadrosaur there. I left it under a rock I found it next to so it’s out of the weather. can show it to a few random folks that happen to make it up here for the discussion.
The ridge in the foreground is several hundred yards out in this long distance telephoto shot. The ridge behind the foreground tree is 40 miles distant from the camera. Telephoto’s crush perspective something fierce. It’s hard to believe you can see individual trees at 40 miles out but there they are. 📷
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.
There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.
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.
Photographing Moor Rising: Lone Tree is a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. It’s a good skill to hone for when the right situation presents itself.. Like this 📸
You have to get working that camera on Manual if you want to do this kind of work lol. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of fstop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitiviey) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 Suffice to say, distance is your friend here and lots of lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet tall from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Full frame not a crop.
(Satire): I caught this hungry “Ent’s” hand trying to grab the moon. I actually had to step on his toe… err….. root to distract him. (But I got the photo first!)
The moon got away of course… Good thing I did because if he grabbed that moon for even just a few seconds…all those tidal charts would be off…what a nightmare.🤔📸 So it seems I saved the world yet again from catastrophic schedule disruption. This has got to be like the 10th time I’ve stopped these Ents from grabbing that old hunk of cheese😂
This old man “Ent” (Onodrim to the Elves) in the Backcountry. There are many strange things lurking in the hills up here. I saw this “Ent” immediately even through he froze still so as to fool me. Only from this angle is the face so convincing. … Click..
During the smoky days of the summer of 2019 we only had a few weeks of forest fires giving us red/umber sunsets up here in the
high backcountry of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands north of Gillette Wyoming. The Rim of the Powder River Basin immediately to our west and western Edge of the Wyoming Black Hills at my doorstep easterly. We have 180 mile horizon to horizon views here.
I live and work in this environment if you don’t know me or follow me yet.
The Bliss Dinosuar Ranch sits on a series of high ridges high above the surrounding drainage here on the Montana/Wyoming border literally. We are 70 miles from the nearest 3 color stoplight here but there is a 4 way red 50 miles away🤣
I prefer to drive in the backcountry on two track roads which I do about 10 miles of day of. I encounter many strange beasties and beautiful scenery along the way.
I usually have 6 or 7 camera/lens options with me and hopefully I’m able to capture just a tad of the little zen like things I see everywhere up here.
The Lone Tree watching with less than “One minute to Sunrise” has seen thousands of such sights. I struggle to catch but a few in my photon capture boxes. It’s all where you spend most of your time. It’s got me beat up on that ridge🤔
This is still a night sky being in twilight before sunrise.
Channeling Japan here in the Wyoming and Montana borderlands is not an easy thing to do. 1: This really is not Japan, and 2: the vegetation is entirely different here lol. Same sun….. More like a wet Afghanistan with more sage and less landmines than Japan lolol….
This is a 2 to 1 aspect ratio image. Up to 36 by 18 inch printing.
Getting the Reflections of a Full Moon in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana is a matter of finding a lake lol. We are mostly a dry land ranch. We do have a few small ponds near our well driven hydrants and this one is no exception. We also had a very wet year to keep this one full. I’ve seen it totally empty this time of year.
DISCUSSION about the Blissphotographics.com gallery…
This image was taken Saturday Morning finished and put into the Que saturday evening.. (I’m about 4 days ahead setting this up Saturday night in my gallery software to ACTUALLY post on tuesday at 3. Seems silly but I’m posting to over a million people now on dozens of social media sites.
It will take me time to get all my portfolio loaded into the gallery site but it seems to be working up until now. It only took a full month of concerted work by several folks me included. This is the only way to do it. You will find my responses to your comments might be delayed a few days at time. I read everything though. I just have to take physical time and visit each forum I post in lol. I appreciate ALL your feedback and comments.
So if you see something you like from my work, it will certainly find it’s way to my gallery page given some time.
I was fighting Dew on the lens with this Pink “Belt of Venus” RIGHT at the Crack of Dawn. THere was a lot of dew on the grass and the light was very pink/red that morning. A side show to the sunrise ongoing to my left. Never forget to turn around lol.
I work well over 400 sunrises or sunsets a year these days. Some I miss, others I choose not to pursue. I’ve been known to sleep through a few rises but I don’t miss many sunsets. Just clouds in the way slow me down a bit. Grey flat light and I are like matter and anti-matter lolol.
This very feminine Snag Tree is a favorite of mine at certain times of the year. When the moon and topography lines up, I’m all over this kind of scene. Without a doubt one of my personal Favorites. The moon fits Precisely into the three branches. They are NOT behind it lol. I do this kind of precision positioning as sort of a requirement of this kind of image.
Everyone have a great weekend and be safe in all you do.
The Lone Tree on the remote back country ridge line has been a sentinel there for decades of high winds and exposure.. The soil he’s growing on is clay and rock with just scrub brush and sage around it. Nothing special for it, but this tree is one of my favorite subjects. He has a 180 mile wide horizon to horizon view from it’s perch. I can see him from close to far away both sides of the ridge for both sunrise and sunset.
If you like what I do, you might follow my social media pages, or my personal Facebook page where I answer questions and respond to comments.