Occasionally, when the ‘seeing’ is good, I pull out my big gun optics pointing them toward the Jovian Moon system. There are many more moons around Jupiter than are on this image. These four however are the easy ones. The little 12 inch diameter optic I used for glass here is not up to the task unless I do much longer tracking time exposures. A 12 inch light gathering ability makes it faster than catching the same image with a smaller aperture. I have also found that higher resolutions cameras give you higher resolution images lol. This is an effective 4800mm focal length.
The year was 1609 and a fellow by the name of Galileo Galilei pointed a primitive Duch made gadget up at the massive Planet. Looking through the pieces of glass mounted like a skeletonized tube. Galileo was important in the early development of the telescope as he taught himself to grind glass to build his own instruments. He notices that 4 “stars” were circling Jupiter. Humm. That single observation set in motion the Brilliant mathematical mind that man possessed. He was obsessed with the new telescope working tirelessly to improve the state of the art. In 1609, he was observing an 20X view that the human eye could achieve. That is similar to a 24 power rifle scope. I can’t imaging observing this with less than a 1200 mm focal length and a 6 or so inch aperture. Let alone a rifle scope. Better than naked eye though in use before the improvements by Galilei lol.
Always grainy the pitch black capture of a Game Trail Cameral (GTC) is problematic to me. I have to look through thousands of blurry images to find one this good but…. None the less, they are always candid and without prejudice by the actors. They are always behaving naturally for those auto photon capture boxes. It takes a flash of an Infra-red LED panel to illuminate the scene. Our human eyes are incapable of seeing in this part of the light spectrum in the Infra-red band. The deer aren’t usually aware that something happened. Different cameras make different amounts of noise so sometimes they look surprised lol.
Knowing the characteristics of how the flash works on particular brands of cameras is a big deal I’m finding out. Placement of the cameras should always be that the “funnels’ one might channel the animals into the optimal flash exposure area. Just like it did here. If they would have been closer, they would have been white like the stick in the foreground. Take note where the trails are and set the camera back 15 feet for most medium settings from where you think the animals are going to be. You have a 5 foot on either side of that (generally) for sloppp.
Placement of these GTC’s is everything. It’s really the only control of the image you have is your composition and analysis of the scene. You have to figure out where everybody walks and cover that area sufficiently. Then just stand back for a few weeks to months and see what happened there.
I planted 8 cameras of the 17 that I just serviced yesterday/this am. 9 to go. I’m planting all with fresh batteries that should last the winter. If you avoid compositions where wind blows grass or branches in front of the lens, your batteries will last a year. If cattle mull around your cameras, the batteries will last a week lolol. I won’t be able to get to most of these cameras until the snow melts in the spring.
I pleased this came out of a hand held one shot camera. Taken before the last full moon, soon forest fires west of us will cover our skies with a Pall of smoke. This prevented me from working the full moon a few days. There were smoke issues weeks ago which explains the following.
Through as little smoke as possible by taking this when it was almost straight overhead. My neck doesn’t bend that way very well these days lol. Still imparted is a brownish tint to the image. This by the soot particles floating above. Quite obvious in the eyepiece of my camera. The trick is to get the right exposure to show it. I do this by comparing the image in front of me to the image on the screen. I usually have enough time to consider such time consuming activities with celestial objects. They are not flitting off like backcountry wild critters. Anything over a minute to compose or consider an image is a luxury in this game. This is why I think of myself a landscape photographer. Geologically Slow movements are a good thing to me. The moon is a relative fast mover for me lolol.
Taken with the same lens I use for some of my terrestrial close ups. Lots of animal images through this glass. It’s pretty good equipment for looking across the prairie. Not as good for Astronomic Glass Lenses used in Telescopes. (this is just a regular camera lens). Telescopic glass typically is coated differently. There is no aperture to add diffraction effects to your bright lights. Ever see rays from bright point sources of light like the sun? Those are edge diffraction effects particularly for close/ far perspective with the moon. For you techies out there, astronomic glass usually doesn’t do as well dealing with Chromatic Aberration (Sony G-Series 200-600 with a 2x in the optic path. ). I have MUCH bigger/faster optics that don’t do as well across the board for this kind of capture.
If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂
The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….
It was pitch black out around 11PM this stormy night of worrying about range fires. I usually end up going “up the hill” after lightning storms with a quality “FLIR” (look it up if you don’t know) to look around for heat signatures in the distance. I find stomping a fire out when it’s 10 feet across is much easier than 3500 acres. Loosing a little sleep and running around the ranch at night is a small price to pay. If I hear thunder, I am up before it fades from the distance.
So I tend to stick around watching such events, nothing better to do…. Might as well set a quality camera on a tripod. Placed under my front porch roof where I can go inside and be close by. I have a tendency to try not to let quality gear get wet. Conditions have been known to change rapidly during these weather events.
The leaves are blurred on the close tree left frame. They were rustling in the breeze which in time lapse photography means blur. The 25 second time exposure is pointed down my driveway to the main gate entrance. That log gate is a 120 yards from the camera. The ridge right in front of the bolt is 550 yards out. The bolt certainly hit the next ridge over which is right at 1000 yards or 3/4 of a mile. I was running the camera at this point. FLASH….. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. Booom… After regaining my eyesight, thought it might be a good idea for me to go inside and let a lightning trigger run the camera on automatic lolol.
The big white diamond on the lower left is a reflection off of 8 solar panels on a solar tracker. There are more panels you just can see the corner of in yellow sodium light next to it ground mounted. I’m thinking I got a little battery power from this lightning bolt
Location: The Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.
I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…
Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.
IT was/is VERY dry out. It has been in the 90’s for an extended period. Precipitation has been low all year. In HUGE contrast to the previous year.
A long day ended and an instant after I closed my eyes it seemed. Out of the night I was awakened by the rumble in the distance through the walls of my homestead. Generally being pretty quiet up here but for the roosters in the morning, I sat up to take notice. My fire watch instinct kicked in… On went the fire resistant pants and wool socks. I get to the porch all dressed up…. It started to rain…. pretty well.😜
Lightning flashed every 5 or 10 seconds but most of it was not visible to me where I stood. My window under a metal roof this night was fairly limited by the wind. I hesitate to put expensive gear out where left unattended, it might get knocked over or soaked. So I keep it close. I do keep a properly built “ground ring about my homestead. In 2 decades of living here. I’ve never had a lightning strike come into the house. I learned to build “ground rings” after building several Ham Radio Shacks and a communications tower on hill tops. Burying copper wire or water pipe recycled is a good way to get a proper path to ground before ground currents get you. It’s always better to have the best ground outside your place.
Augusts full moon is commonly known as the “Sturgeon Moon” because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of summer. Moons seem to be named after significant feeding events in human history. Not quite how that happens.
More folk names of this moon include: The “Wheat Cut Moon”, “Moon When All Things Ripen, the “Full Green Corn Moon”, and the “BlueBerry Moon”. Publicity seeking of course, this Aermotor Windmill jumped in front of the bigger personality photobombing the scene. Hehas been around for 80-100 years anyway. In the 1930’s there was a homestead nearby and supposedly a log mill. I have yet to find ANY trace of a log mill on my ground. Prairie Paparazzis as myself am always keen on finding out who is hanging with what. 😜
As I type this narrative, we are under a “New Moon”. Half way through the 28 day moon cycle. Coming up in October of 2020, there will be a rare blue moon. The last blue moon was March 31’st 2018. They don’t come around too often thus the term “Once in a Blue Moon”. I pay a lot of attention to lunar cycles in chasing this photogenic fellow. There are only a few days a month I can do this kind of work. Then usually several of those windows get closed due to weather. The time for Orange Harvest Moons is afoot. All the forest fires are going to supplement the color shows this fall. That is until the snow come. I’m betting on a hard winter up here.
The Telephoto time exposure of a gigantic spiral Lightning bolt. It was following the easiest path of least resistance. It’s hard to know but I’m betting this was a ground to cloud lightning. That is of course just a guess. Obscured is the top of the bolt. The shaft of falling hail blocking even the strobe passing behind.. The back of this mesocyclone had a pretty good down draft along with it. Down Drafts from big Mesocyclones tend to shake my Raptor quite a bit lol. I’m usually turning it 90 degrees to the action. Usually facing my window into the wind and rain. That’s hazardous duty for cameras lol.
Based on empirical observations, Tampa Florida takes the record of lightning events/ strikes I understand. I spent years in that area. Having a memory of quite a few good storms over the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, there are moments up here…. Well let me tell you that 30 miles east of here is a little place called “Lightning Flats”. Right up on the North East Corner of Wyoming. Let’s just say it has it’s share of strikes over there. I know of animals getting killed by lightning up here. I’ve never known anybody killed by lightning to my knowledge. One is much safer in a vehicle as long as you stay away from metal and sticking long metal tubes out open windows….😜 👀
I watch very carefully and a a visual learner from natural events. I don’t always get it right so apologies ahead of time lol.
As this erupted, I watched the “bolt” Strobe multiple times. I can visualize it in my mind now as if it just happened. Flash flash flash flash four times. This was a one second exposure which was not long enough to pick up the barely visible landscape. I was trying to get the bolts alone that were consistently blasting this particular ridge about a mile away. Roughly hitting the same area as that part of the storm floated over the high topography, I pointed a telephoto (400mm) at that spot pre-framing the image. The cameras on my drivers window clamped to the truck.
At first I thought this might be a shake of the bolt but the branches off the main aren’t all doubled as they would be if the whole image was shaking. It wasn’t a long exposure as I indicated a second. The lightning trigger that controls my shutter took the whole sequence of the bolt I believe. Each ionization path following the one next to it. I think it would be a blur if the camera moved. I’m fairly conviced this is multiple bolts not a shaky camera blur artifact. What do you think??
Here’s a Close / Far Perspective for you. Moon Close, Mars Far…(ish). If you can full screen this, the moon is pretty sharp here….Good seeing that night.
There was an internet/Facebook meme that the Moon and Mars would be in the sky together with a GIANT Mars. Well here they are…. Mars was supposed to be the size of the moon. Darn it….. So disappointed…😜
Captured is the reality, only a “little” different than the meme circulating around with two big globes in the sky. From the human eye perspective this is a giant mars. (that little red dot far right frame). The moon getting close in the sky to mars was obvious looking up that evening. I don’t work night skies very much photographically as it’s off schedule to me. I get jet lag easily lol.
At any rate, I don’t see opportunity to take a planet and our moon in the same frame too often. Well I could zoom WAY back to be able to actually fit them in the frame lol. Only when a planet is close can you do this. The dynamic range difference between the bright moon and the little dim mars is tough to pull out of the dark.
Mars closes approach to earth will be on October 6th 2020 at only 38.6 million miles away. The moon is currently 224,800 miles out which is relatively close I suppose. It does indeed appear larger than it normally would further away lol. Not QUITE the same apparent size as our orbiting partner.. So if you read it on an internet meme, you might want to initially question the information.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Well somewhat over it anyway)
At night in the deep backcountry of the Montana / Wyoming borderlands. Surrounded by miles of uninhabited ground. One feels somewhat together with the surroundings. The smells of the evening permeate the light breezes of this evening. The cool air moving in the gullies. A marked chill versus the heat of the day.
The moon was rising on a parallel ridge and I wanted a detailed image of it’s face along with something terrestrial for it to hide behind. I know the moon prefers to hide behind things until it climbs high enough in the sky. It seems harder and harder for it to hide behind terrestrial objects the higher it gets. The “Hide and Seek” game soon ends as the topography ceases to allow such fun. All of us are subject to the rules of the universe. We may or may not understand that depending on our age I have noted. The moon is no exception of course 🤔 😜 .
The vision evolved into a truly orange moon by the time I took this image that night. As it was first rising on the furthest east horizon that night. It was VERY pink that evening. I’ve seen very few pink moons over the years. Surprised by the color I was. Astonished really. Lots of trees in the way of that rising. Not much I could do about it at the time so I moved quickly to a nearby lake and got some good images too. Great timeline in the history of timelines.
Taken 7 days before it posted here. This is one frame out of several dozen that I got from watching this storm. The limiting ridge is several miles away. This is an aimed telephoto shot on an area of sky I was watching. It was a “little” active there. This was well after sunset with a heavily overcast sky above. It was pitch black except for the bolts in the distance.
I use triggered time exposures to capture lightning in my photon trap bottles. This particular image happened over 25 seconds. The first two bolts on the left happened 4 seconds into the exposure. The two others happens within the next 10 seconds with a few seconds of inactivity before the shutter closed. Then the camera too another 25 seconds to perform low noise processed the times for a proper rendering. I work these scenes with two camera quite often to alternate between the rigs so as not to miss much.
Needless to say, this is a busy shot and I’m glad I don’t have burning ground to my south and east. It was raining as you can see from the rain shafts. I’m thinking those bikers got drenched for the second day in a row. A geographic location called “Lightning Flats” is about 15 miles to our east. We could give Tampa Florida a run at times for it’s money. Lightnings a serious deal up here too.
Taken at 2 AM by one of my game trail cameras. Of course as an Infra-red Flash automatic camera I have no choices here except for 3 levels of flash, 3 levels of sensitivity to make it flash and where to put it. The later being more important. Now the moon was full and illuminating the scene nicely thank you. Touching noses with one of her fawn ID’ing each other in the dark conditions. The other fawn is probably with the other Doe as well.
I place this camera at the gate between this field of grass and the field behind the camera where the water tank is. We keep 4 different water tanks open 364/24/7 for anybody that needs it. It’s funny how they don’t hang around water most of the time . Preferring to eat a mile or so away from where they water most of the time. I suspect that is an adaptation to Pleistocene hunting pressure near water . Back when the Large Cat population of crazy types like Saber Tooth, American Lion etc were about…. These guys are adapted to escape from those cats no longer an issue. Nothing else alive on the plains today but humans in our machinations can keep up with them. They don’t have a lot to worry about these days. As a chunk of the Pleistocene Megafauna slowly disappeared, these ungulates survived the causes of that extinction. What ever they did, it worked and here they are lolol.
This is my last image of the Comet Neowise this time around. In 6800 or so years, I’ll get it next pass. It is traveling on a big loop around our sun. The bluish ion tail points straight away from the sun. The curved tail of debris off the nucleus is spewing off the curved race track the comet is on. This like so many chunks of gravel from a race cars wheels. Mr. Newton would be pleased to understand that his laws still seem to work. I estimate the light from this comet took about 6 minutes to get to my lens. It was far far away. At .7 Astronomic Unit’s distant from earth, it’s almost as far away as the sun itself when I took this. It is quickly getting further away and is only visible with good gear now. . 📷
Mostly I worked this comet with medium to wide lenses. I did however pull out a big gun for about 30 minutes. First of all let me say, This is a big aperture terrestrial lens (about 6 inches) and very fast at F4. Focal equivalent of 600mm. And I got about 6 seconds of exposure at ISO 3000. Any longer of an exposure and you’ll get long star streaks. I really should have tracked the stars and done minute long exposures at f200. Coulda Shoulda Woulda and all that. I keep pretty busy when I get a once in a lifetime opportunity with such clear dark skies. 👁
Tough to get set up as it was a little windy, big lenses have a high wind profile. A tiny wiggle ruins the image. I couldn’t even see the comet in the viewfinder. I was aiming blind literally. Set the camera in the general direction, take a photo, realign the camera and try again. This took 4 attempts to get it entirely in frame. If you look carefully you can see the tree line at about a mile distant from my camera. Close far perspective lololol.
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.
Yes, Comet Neowise images continue to make it into my work flow. It takes me a week from click to publish minimum these days. I suspect there will be a few more posted as I get to them.
A favorite Antique piece of farm history on ranch is the Deering Seeder. I’ve taken many twilight and sunset/rise photos with this customer. It sit’s very well for photos. Nothing like a toddler. Patient it is. It has been sitting here since the last naked eye comet passed by in 1996. It’s probably 80 -100 years old. It’s seen a few Comets in it’s day. I’ve worked 4 photographically but this is the first one with digital cameras. The others were all film camera work. This is the only comet I could see the two tails with.
I worked this “out of nowhere” new comet for many hours over several nights and morning. That is a long time but these exposures take my gear about a minute each to take. With 30 second exposures and 30 seconds of processing time in the camera afterwards, a minute length each photo session is a long slog.
I’m really fond of close / far perspectives. Here 40 yards and 68,000,000 miles are the close / far figures. The lighting for this kind of work is delivered by painting the scene with flashlights over the period of the exposure. With 30 seconds to sweep the beam around, you can fill in all the important foreground objects. Getting both close and far in focus means high F-stop numbers. The result of high F-stop is deep focus yes. But: It’s a double edge sword taking light making it into the camera away. But then you have a long exposure to compensate for that. Edge of the possible photographic envelope. That is unless you are star tracking…..but how do you keep the seeder from blurring ????? 😜 📸
This is a hybrid technique photo of the Comet Neowise. Here seen stumbling out of the woods. He was lost in there for a while while I was driving to get to this remote location. At least it’s going downhill and after a rough few weeks around the “celestial block” , it obviously needed the gravity assist. Only a three mile diameter ball of ice/rock/dust. They are more like a big hard snowball with some gravel mixed in for good measure. Anybody ever get into one of those snowball fights? Boys growing up do funny things. Survived too…
The lighting here at “Look out Butte” is my way of “painting with light” before the camera. Used a flashlight to systematically bathe the landscape with light from the led’s. Then I tapped my brake lights a few times for just that tint of red in the otherwise brown grass. With a flashlight you highlight what you want. Learning how much to use is the trick here. I corrected for overexposure in the digital darkroom. I tried several different colored flashlights as well. Interesting variations on a theme. I have yet to work on those. Hybrid as I said. Lots of work to get the lighting right with multiple attempts each slightly different. Fun exercise with this often taken comet these days. Challenging.. 😄 📸
Those far trees are at least 200 yards out. 20 second time exposure. f4 lens. 22mm ISO (what ever it takes). F18. Tricky with pointing flashlights over 20 long seconds of open shutter. I hit the Snag twice intentionally with the thumb switched Surefire Flashlight. Made it stand out as planned. I can as I do it keep track where I’ve exposed to LED light mentally. One has to sort of wing it to do this. Wish I could explain better but my memory works in strange ways with images. I’m shooting this out of my Raptors drivers window mounted tripod. (Clamp) It has to be a calm night to do that in a vehicle. The wind profile of a Ford Truck is “enough”. Otherwise a sandbagged tripod is needed sometimes lol.
This spot is about 100 yards from the exact Montana/Wyoming border. 45 degrees north Latitude. Significantly close to 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. This image is looking across that border. Almost straight north at this capture.
The wind was very low but the 30 second time lapse here showed clearly any water movement with the slight blur. It was pitch black with the only light being the Comet Neowise and the star field to the north. I couldn’t have set up my tripod close to this pond if I wanted to. It’s hard to find standing water high enough these days to do this. I had to travel to make this happen. I worked this comet for 3 hours this night traveling backcountry under “fairly” low light conditions lolol.
You can clearly see the ion trail tail pointing directly away from the sun . THe chunky particle trial is leaning off to the right on the outside of the race track orbit it’s on. It will be back in about 7000 years so you better enjoy it now lol. By the time this posts it will no longer be naked eye. Binocs will work though.
Coincidentally I lined up the light pollution from the town of Broadus Montana 45 miles distant on the horizon. This kind of photography is WAY outside my normal operational envelope. It is REALLY dark out here. I essentially can not see ANYTHING in the camera eyepiece when I do this. Mirrorless cameras do this a little sloppily yet and I’m tempted to use an old DSLR for kicks to compare. Time exposures are tough on so many levels.
There are infinite possible stories about this 25 second time exposure with a very wide 12mm lens. I cropped the darker sides off to give it a square aspect to 18″.
According to NASA, this location (if we turn off our compounds lights which are the blue Stadium LED’s we use for our place) is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean. Certainly ranking up there for dark skies here at only 4000 feet. The Milky Way spiral arms exist every night. Even above you folks living lower or near population. It’s amazing our eyes can discern most of this but the sensitivity of these modern cameras is just tremendous. It just takes a lot of shutter time to catch it.
As you might have assumed, the twin Blue Glows over my signature are our ranch compound lights as seen from two miles away and over the high ridge between us. The orange glow is a proper exposure of the light pollution from Gillette Wyoming. What an interesting perspective from so far away. I’m parked in Montana with Gillette being some 60 crow miles south of me. The light pollution of all the sodium lights there causes the flow. It’s very faint but the longer exposures will bring out colors well. For those that like star colors, many are in this shot. The Comet Neowise was way over my shoulder at the same time naked eye visible.
You can clearly locate yourself with this one. Sagittarius the Teapot is the low constellation down in the light pollution. Just pouring some tea I think. Jupiter is the bright Planet. Saturn is the less bright planet to it’s left. On the full sized file I have you can clearly see the moons around Jupiter. This reduced resolution social media .jpg has nothing on the 200 times bigger original file. There is just a SLIGHT star motion track on this pushing the envelope for the lens I was using.
After a long day of fire fighting, I was done with thanking the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Fire team that stayed out sleeping under the “Stars” outside their fire fighting rig. For this fire, most neighbors, surrounding ranchers and local fire departments had departed before dark. The BLM crew “sat” on the fire over night. They left the next morning for another fire and another set of Meal’s Ready to Eat on the menu. Thank you fire crews and first responders everywhere. You have to love lightning hitting the ground in a tender dry environment full of grass.
That evening on the way home, the lightning show continues. The big round wall cloud that bolt penetrates blinded me at around 20 miles distant. Because this is a time exposure, you have a whole series of bolts recorded in this 30 second time line. One after another over a random few second intervals. I’d say there are 4 flashes in this particular capture. It takes another 30 seconds to process the image internally in the camera. This effectively puts the camera out of commission while it is processing the data. This is why I run 2 cameras alternating back and forth lol. It does keep you busy 📷
That Wall cloud is a really well formed one. I love climbing ridges and getting these views but that was a long day. I gave up after about an hour as the action faded. There are a few more good catches from this event. Long day done.
Old growth pines are some of the tallest things around me here in the backcountry. I get a few miles back off the gravel county road, one pasture starts looking a lot like the next pasture. You really have to have a sense of your position. One wrong turn out here and your in a hole that might take a while to extricate the Raptor from. I try to stick to existing two track roads as to not further any damage to the grass lands. Tall trees are sign posts to me as they and the ridges they live on silhouetted against the sky. It’s easy to get disoriented out in grassy pastures a square mile in size. Fortunately, the stars were quite visible so navigation didn’t require a compass.
I’ve had to resort to using a compass a time or two up here. We don’t have efficient cell service and I really don’t trust GPS very much. I way prefer visual, if not, a good old compass will do just fine. Remember to set your compass for changes in magnetic declination (google this) as the magnetic pole does wander. I’ve had to reset my compass several times in the last 4 or 5 years.
Neowise takes about 20 seconds open shutter (exposure) at f-4 to bring in (say ISO 2000) the image. Your settings will vary depending on your lens and camera. The trees illumination however is the result of a moderately bright LED pocket flashlight being swept over about 10 seconds across the surface of the tree. It was TOTALLY dark for this capture. Just star light, a little “curl” light and a little flash light.
Can you find the Comet??? It’s a big comet plus it is in the photo….👀
Here I caught Comet Neowise trying to hide. I consider myself a landscape photographer…. Images in my mind of mountains and Waterfalls come to mind. Instead I get trees with their own mystical ways of trying to conceal others around them. The comet knowing this, took full advantage to hide from your faithful photographer. In all honesty this is supposed to be a naked eye comet but hiding apparently is a Cometary tendency…. 😜
Using time exposures at night is an interesting pursuit if not outside my preferred work environment. Backcountry at night is an entirely different type of travel. Of course I have excellent lights on the Raptor but they tend to overpower with long time exposures. Instead I used a small handheld flashlight over 20 seconds and hand painted the trees with light. Sweeping over trees I wanted highlighted several times with the beam over that interval. Places I wanted dark, I didn’t sweep the light across so much.
The two dead trees (one standing and the fallen soldier below) were killed when this steep hill side slumped/slid about 20 feet shearing off their deep roots killing the trees. The jumbled surface around them still less than a century old, testifies to the earths inexorable movement toward the ultimate sink, the sea. The newspaper headline reads: Neowise Comet Hiding over Century old Landslide lolol.
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…..
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.
Have you ever seen eyes looking back at you from the trail? Perhaps you just sensed it…. You know, a chill in the air, the light leaving you, it’s a long way home and your on foot. You shine a light and something is returning some of that light to you…. Humm.
I like images that tell stories. First of all this is a Game Trail Night Camera image. They are all grainy and noisy. I didn’t care because I thought that the story this tells is priceless. A moment the flash went off, the eyes of what ever is standing out there definitely got the attention of the two Mule Deer Bucks in velvet antlers. It’s something that is eyes forward so I’m not going to speculate on what happened next. Eye’s forward reflecting creatures tend to be cats. I wasn’t there to get the context of the shot though. Facts are this was taken with an automatic camera at 4am. I was just getting ready to work the sunrise barely at the start of my day, these guys were already doing adrenaline for breakfast.
I found no sign of a kill anywhere near that camera so likely this was just a harmless encounter. Deer Predation does occur up here by several creatures. I won’t make any speculation as to what it is but it sure got their attention for this particular moment in space and time lol.
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.
You really need to full screen this Colors in stars… you know, seeing a colored star hanging out there….. Cool stuff.
I should have had this tracking instead this is a 10 second time exposure of this naked eye comet. You might note that the comet has TWO tails. The smaller bluish tail that is more vertical is pointing away from the sun. The other tail has a slight “Curl” to it which is why astronauts call a comet a “Curl” in the vernacular. Two early Perseid meteor streaks graced this image on the left side.
The Comet orbits the sun and the large particles it ejects always are “thrown to the outside of it’s orbital ellipse . We are only looking at 2 dimensions of that cloud plus the sun is very large so your also dealing with perspective here. Generally think of a race car on a curved track, throw something out and it’s going to end up on the outside of the track.
The straight tail is almost always bluish. It is made up mostly of ionically charged very small/light particals. It results from the interaction of the suns magnetic field with the comets. That ion tail always points directly away from the sun. You might google this for a complete discussion as this is too lengthly for this forum.. Know that comets have two tails if you get nothing else out of this narrative.
Thought you can see it naked eye as a diffuse rather large object in the northern sky, right under the big dipper more or less. You have to be under dark skies with no clouds of course. Far away from city lights is best. Now if you want to use a pair of big binoculars, your going to get this view or slightly smaller. This is a 110mm lens f4, 10 second exposure. ISO 5000…. (very high thus the grain as it were) The biggest problem I had last night working the comet for 3 hours, was wind. Time exposure of anything is rough with wind around moving things like my truck (which was my tripod. ).
You still have plenty of opportunity to photograph this comet. Look into the north sky under the big dipper past around 10:15… Bring a tripod for sure and a wind shaded spot. I will be tracking it next chance I get. (the camera moves with the stars rotating a little each second.) By tracking the sky I can extend the time exposure to minutes and use a lower ISO (camera sensitivity). This one is a challenge with these mirrorless cameras as you really can’t seen this at all in the camera’s eyepiece….. Occasionally just the nucleus appears in a grainy blackness on the screen. This was a camera mounted to a truck window and me not breathing during the exposure….😜
This 92 percent Illuminated moon was rising in the eastern sky the same time the sun was setting. I used the same camera, same 1200mm lens at full magnification, both handheld front rested on a truck window. Taken a maybe 30 seconds apart. I took the moon image, turned around already spinning dials on the camera to choke out the excess light from the MUCH brighter sun. This is all done without any external filters on the Sony Alpha 7 platform. A Rising Moon and the Setting Sun. The sun is closer to the horizon, note the sculpted edges from atmospheric lensing distortion. The moon’s edges are crisp.
Granted it’s a big long terrestrial lens at 1200 mm. No astronomic telescope here, this is the same lens I use for bird eye brow images. This image is of course a composite of course with the two being on opposite sides of the sky at these particular moments. The sun and the full moon are “seldom” seen in the same side of the sky. 😜
Boy talk about a blank look on the suns face. Currently, the sun has NO, zip, zero sunspots visible on it’s face. We are at the low of a very quiet / low sunspot activity/number during the current solar minimums. Right in the middle of the low we are. A good google search this AM would be “Maudner Minimum”.
You might note that the two disks are essentially the same size. This is part of the reason the sun can cover the moon during an eclipse. The moon just had it’s supermoon status revoked last month. Moving a little away in it’s orbit. It’s still very large but would if in the right place would result in a ring of fire eclipse as just occurred in the southern hemisphere. These types of annular eclipse occurs when the moon is a little further away not quite covering the suns disc. A ring of fire shows all the way around the central moon silhouette.
Location: A bit over: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)