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Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising
Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Backcountry Snow Moon Rising

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Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape
Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon Light Only Landscape

Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.

Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms

Photographic Musings.

This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.

The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)

Title: Moon Light Only Landscape

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Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black
Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black (This is the Moon NOT the sun AND full Screen is a Must).

Moony Alpenglow I’m thinking. This is a 20 second long time widefield exposure with the camera aperture at low f-numbers (wide open). ISO is less than 1000 for this. High ISO is an evil thing in night time exposures.

I don’t do much work late at night as I do photography all day so there has to be a nap time somewhere. On the occasional night when I’m up over a mile away from my door up on Ridge 1 late at night, I usually bring a tracker along. Set up on Polaris. Takes a few minutes usually. Your camera mounts right to the tracker. 300 -400 bucks on amazon.

Rule of 600 in Star Photography:

The rule states that the maximum length of an exposure with stars that doesn’t result in star streaks is achieved by dividing the effective focal length of the lens into the number 600. A 50mm lens on a full sized sensor camera, therefore would allow 600 / 50 = 12 seconds of exposure before streaks are noticeable. That is unless you are using a device that moves the camera the same rate as the stars move. These “trackers” are a fairly inexpensive gadget but you do have to understand how to find Polaris (North star). Then you can take sharp stars over long intervals instead of getting lines from them moving.

Of course 20 seconds with a wide open iris totally overexposes the moon. That was the point. I wanted to see the moony Alpenglow it was projecting even faintly visible to my naked eyes lolol.

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

Title: Moon Rise in Pitch Black

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Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting
Great Horned Owl Hunting

Great Horned Owl Hunting …. Familiar here in the borderlands.

OK, you might ask how do I know this owl was hunting?. Well he is sitting 40 feet in the air above my barnyard well after dusk. 43…. err soon 42 domestic ducks hang out there. This is on top of the big light pole that lights the barnyard. I heard him and got on my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which has two very bright LED light bars that are adjustable. So I slowly moved up to a comfortable distance (for me) and started working the scene. He was rather happy with his roost. I eventually walked all the way around him clicking all the time. It’s all handheld and it was very dark but most of the images are wonderful.

A Great Horned Owl is a big bird with plenty of presence. They can live 15 years in the wild and have up to a 5 foot wingspan. The predators body can be up to 25 inches long and they weigh as much as a blue heron at 5 pounds. They are all about claws and beaks though they have some of the best disruptive Camo colors/pattern I’ve ever seen. These guys are easy to recognize due to their “plumicorns” which are feather tuffs resembling horns. . They are not ears. I understand they are the most common own in the Americas. They range from the Arctic to South America.

Interestingly, the male Great Horned Owl is Smaller than the Female but has a much lower pitched call than his mate. “Hoo, H’ Hoos”!

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

Title: Great Horned Owl Hunting

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Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout
Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. This was specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. I love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Coyote Alert On Lookout

This Game Trail Camera Capture at 4 AM one night recently has Wiley up to get a better look. I’m diggin the stars in the sky behind which are a big bonus in the Black and White sensitive Infrared Camera capture. This night was moonless at that time as such, it was really dark. Flash goes the IR LED’s.

I drove my new truck out to this spot where I left this camera set just so in early November. This camera is about as far out there as I’d like to go even with the new rig. It’s seamless in it’s ability to handle the roads. Grass prairie however, driving over chunky/icy/crusted patchy snow is not fun in any vehicle. It’s funny the faster I go, the smoother the ride. Right up until you find that pit fall lolol.

A long time sitting/watching, this camera contained lots of blurry deer photos, a fox, a raccoon, another burry coyote but I knew sooner or later something would stop for the fallen log. I specifically placed this where I did knowing that this fallen log across the established game trail would cause somebody to pause or even walk on it. Love it when it works the way it is supposed to lol.

I run a network of 29 game trail cameras all year long but I don’t check them as much in the winter. Getting to them is an issue lolol. They keep on recording though if I set them up correctly. You have to avoid putting them where wind moving things will set them off. The only thing you really can control with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them.

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

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

Title: Coyote Alert On Lookout

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Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January
Waning Crescent Moon January

Waning Crescent Moon January (Moon followers Unite)

Different phases and faces of that celestial neighbor constantly present themselves to me during the day and twilight but I find myself not going out much in the winter after dark. I let my mastiffs do my wandering around the homestead at night.

When I do get out I after nautical twilight at night or before Civil Twilight in the morning. Usually I am completely focused on twilight. Some rare astronomic events have me peaking outside at cloud cover in the middle of the night. I really don’t sleep much but I do photography all day which makes my circuit breaker to pop sometime during the evening lol. I’m either on camera or on computer finishing these days. I get my chores done on ranch too. Take care of a greenhouse and a flock of 80 birds, 6 cats and my personal Mastiffs. I’ve been feeding haybales to our corraled/captured herd of Corriente for a few weeks. 34 longhorn cattle go through a 1200 pound bail of hay in 2 days.

I digress…. The “Waning” part of Waning Moon gets smaller each night until the “New Moon” where the moon is entirely in shadow. I do have some captures of just that 2 illuminated percent crescent. This moon will evolve over the next few nights into that sliver. This is a 4 picture composite of the face of the moon in real color through a 3200mm refractor optic. Handheld actually on the roof of a vehicle rested.

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

Title: Waning Crescent Moon January

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Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal
Moon Up Close and Personal

Moon Up Close and Personal

It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 at 3200mm, I need to take 6 images of the moon to mosaic together a full image. This top 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red so the color is artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are gear shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I’m currently using the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope as this image.

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

Title: Moon Up Close and Personal

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Jupiter and Main Moons

Jupiter and Main Moons
Jupiter and Main Moons

Jupiter and Main Moons with a bit of intentionally blank space … Excuse the text…

Galileo Galilei has made Many Contributions to science but one of the biggies was the discovery of 4 moons/satellites orbiting the bright Planet Jupiter. Galileo observed that the “stars” moved along with Jupiter in the sky. Seemly carried along with the bigger/brighter star. The moons were all lined up like ducks in a row. Just a week ago in 1610, he was gazing through an “astronomic instrument” . He had noticed those “stars moved apparently around” Jupiter. Several noted historically famous astronomers were enjoying the new fangled contraption. We call it a telescope. They failed to receive credit because Galileo’s work was more precise and accurate, he got the glory.

This arrangement is the worlds largest clock “on the wall” literally. Those moons move like clockwork. Galileo discovered this phenomena. Jupiter Moon time schedules in the form of books remained in use for hundreds of years. By looking at where the moons of Jupiter emerge or disappear. You can literally tell a good accurate time for use in navigation on ships. This works on Land too with Lewis and Clark using Jupiter and it’s moons to tell the exact time. They were in a sea of grass but the sextant works every bit as well there. You need to know the exact time to properly use a sextant to determine your position on the globe.

In this photo, I timed it for Europe just emerging from behind Jupiters shadow at that precise moment of time. Then I could have taken a sextant to give me Latitude and longitude. The sextant is used to measure angles between the horizon and astronomic objects.

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

Title: Jupiter and Main Moons

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Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck
Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck

I’m always trying to imagine things as a mouse would in my travels. My cameras don’t care if I’m taking a mouses viewpoint or mine at 6 foot. I put the camera on a plate to protect it. It was warm from being inside.

I actually don’t do a lot of architectural images, maybe 10 a year 🤔📸 Rare of the rare, I even have electric lines in this images which is certainly less probable. I never have them if I can avoid it. But I like to think I have an eye for patterns and a tendency for walking around with cameras. I’ll give in occasionally to my habits…. The two characteristics are synergistic if you have OCD as badly as I do 😜 I try to take advantage of this partnership when ever the two meet in the middle.

This phenomena was the result of a very gentle, very dry powder snow. It was like sand sifting through your fingers on that deck surface. One poof of wind and it all would have taken to drifts. AND this was about 4 inches deep for an idea of scale. The entire deck surface had this appearance. I thought I had seen most odd ball phenomena in the snows during my 3 decades living in Wyoming. I’ve never seen this phenomena before though I’d seen other photos of it. I didn’t have a deck in Jackson Hole as we had concrete there. I missed all that dry powder then where this is probably common. We are 2000 feet lower and warmer here. Snow sticks all the time to itself and covers this surface solidly.

Just not from that little mouses viewpoint.

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

Title: Perspective Snow on a Deck

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Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising
Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising

A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.

The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.

Photographic Musings:

In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Full Moon Rising

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Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

It appears (to me anyway), like a skull looking up/left. What do I know as I have an overactive imagination. Great image for Halloween or just the 2nd day of January when this first posts lolol.

Heres an image from April of 2018 that I just finished. There wasn’t much to do to it. This shot is an interesting distortion by the 400 miles of atmosphere the setting moon light has to travel through to get to my camera. Changes in air density and humidity make for surfaces that refract/bend light just a little bit. This is metaphorically an imperfection in a glass lens.

Your actually looking at the moon when it is geometrically below the horizon as that same aforementioned atmospheric lens is at work. The atmospheric lens bends the light so that the sun and the moon actually set a little bit after the scheduled time for setting. They also rise just before they are scheduled to do so because their image is bent around the planet.

Waxing Gibbous Moon leans to the right as it sets. The little crater dot on the 3 o-clock position is a moon setting position. That crater, (Mare Crisium is it’s name) will be positioned at 12 o-clock for a rising moon image/scene. Keep your eye on that little Mare next time you see a photo of the moon situated on the horizon.

The ridge in the foreground is about 1000 yards out in this 3200mm telescopic shot. It was quite pitch black when this was happening.

Good Evening All and be safe in what you do.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Skull Moon Atmospheric Lensing

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Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill
Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Setting up and sitting for night time exposures catching huge million amp plasma channels creates a lot of adrenaline (fun). There is enough amperage to melt sand in those bolts. You only do this from inside a “Faraday Cage” . Lock yourself in a metal drum, isolate yourself from the metal to become safe even if the drum is directly struck.

It has been my observation that anything you do any activity a LOT. Your going to get injured doing it, Having a metal vehicle surrounding you is a good thing while taking photos like this. Think about it. Your on a ridge line, high up in a metal truck watching bolts flash 360 around you. I’ve been very close to strikes before. I can’t say that I’ve ever been hit doing this. I watched a bolt hit a few hundred feet away driving up in Montana one day. Traveling I was driving along a rural road. Hard to miss the bolt strike the bare grassy field just off the road to my left.

• The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000. Just because your in a truck, doesn’t mean your safe. It does moderate the extra risk statistically. Please keep your hands away from metal contact. Lock your trays in the upright and locked position…… Even so… The lightning can also serious damage your vehicle’s electrical system (which would really suck).

When you order a new vehicle to do precisely this… You really don’t need a sunroof over your head. lolololol 😜👀⛈ They cost more and lighning can travel right through glass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lightning Highlights the Windmill

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Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight
Landscape Under Moonlight

Landscape Under Moonlight is a 3 second time exposure under very dark Nautical Twilight skies.

Nothing but Moonlight is illuminating this 40 mile deep landscape. The “Red Hills” are the distant ridge across the wide “Little Powder” River valley. I am located 600 feet above the valley floor on the Pass road (Trail Creek) to Rockypoint Wyoming. Looking toward the west/northwest the moon is about as far north as it travels in it’s movement around the planet.

There is no way to properly expose the moon AND gather the very faint light reflected back at my lens. So it might as well be as bright as the sun up in the corner. This is definitely hard to color correct. There were a lot of subtle hues and tones that weren’t natural because of the time exposure. The cloud highlights are indeed excessive as the time exposure allowed it to over saturate. Without digitally replacing that whole area of the image, I decided to leave it as it is.

Photorealism goes out the window a time exposure. They seem to always excessively expose something it seems lolol. Still the technology is very limited in it’s ability to see as well as the human eye which could resolve this. Reading under this light MIGHT be possible under moonlight . No camera on earth could bring this out with the moon’s face properly exposed. To do otherwise would be to have a composite image and not a genuine unaltered photo in this light.

Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road, Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. That’s Montana off in the distance. I am standing about 4 miles from the Montana border and those mountains ARE in Montana. (Wyotana)

Title: Landscape Under Moonlight

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Moonset in the Backcountry

Moonset in the Backcountry
Moonset in the Backcountry

Moonset in the Backcountry

Layers of ridges sprawl below the Crescent Moon perceptively nearing the rising horizon. This 2 second time exposure of a 3 percent crescent setting over the Red Hill.s That last ridge is 40 miles distant from my lens. Resolving the different darkness of distant ridges in early civil twilight was a secondary goal in this image. Of course, getting that shadow and full outline of that sliver of a crescent was my main goal. I love alpenglow.

Actually capturing a detectable outline of the whole moon seems to be “restricted” to moon captures fairly close to the horizon. I’m not sure of the physics involved in this observation anecdotal as it is. However, what I do know for certain: seeing the whole outline is a tough capture. I can actually see things like this in the camera’s live video at the time.

The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.

I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are Christmas shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I use the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope work).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moonset in the Backcountry

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Raccoon Caught Prowling Infra-red

Raccoon Caught Prowling Infra-red
Raccoon Caught Prowling Infra-red

Raccoon Caught Prowling Infra-red. This was of course a Game Trail Camera capture.

The secret behind captures like this is placement of the camera. Pure dark midnight captures are a process of putting the “wildlife funnel” at the right focal distance from your game camera. Note that the tree in the foreground is slightly out of focus. It got the raccoons face is right on.

By the nature of the type of light used here (Infra-Red), everything is a bit grainy. This is a result of a highly sensitive chip piking up only reflected IR light from the flash. He was caught by surprise by the sound of this particular 360 degree camera spinning toward his position. It usually freezes the animal such that the slow shutter speed is often enough to catch him. No blur is rare in these kind of shots. A moving animal would be a non-usable photo from the motion. A little noise will get their attention. You don’t want them running the other way lolol.

This location was picked because of many animals that travel here. It had worn away the vegetation on a landing down by a lake. I’ll leave it down there for a few weeks and there will be a host of interesting beasties walking down to this spot. I think I have 5 cameras game cameras placed here. This includes the 360 degree camera. Placed here. I went three weeks between checking the cameras. I’m about to pick them all up as this spot floods in the spring. It goes completely underwater by several feet. Water is scarce once the lake freezes over. The closest place is one of my stock tanks a good 1/3 mile up drainage. Conveniently there are 4 game trail cameras on that stock tank lolo. I’ll get this guy over there this winter I hope.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Raccoon Caught Prowling Infra-red

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Pronghorn In a Snow Storm

Pronghorn In a Snow Storm
Pronghorn In a Snow Storm

Pronghorn In a Snow Storm is a game trail camera photo. They really do a great job IF the conditions are just right. Perfect exposure for this Pronghorn Buck at Night while it’s snowing. This is of course, the exception not the rule of Game Trail Night Photos.

Of course this is entirely night vision Infra-red flash photography. The Pronghorn never saw any of the light but perhaps a faint red glow. He never knew he was captured. The snow didn’t amount to much over a few inches that night but I bet it was less than comfortable out there. Wet snow is it’s own blanket though on well insulated ungulate.

This is about a mile from my house and around midnight out in the backcountry. He’s pretty much in the open there, nothing to hide behind but an occasional hay bale for shelter. Every time I catch wildlings on film under weather I always have this empathetic impulse to invited them all in. I probably not enough room in my barn IF they would take me up on my invitation. There are quite a few critters running around here that are not cattle. It just depends on where you look. 🤓

This is a favorite gate and I will really miss it being open when the cattle come back into this pasture. It’s a fine location for catching the wildlings walking between water and feed pastures. MostlyI don’t see Pronghorn much after Early November. They migrate 30 miles south to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands to winter over. IT’s milder down there and there is some geothermal water that is always running.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Pronghorn in a Snow Storm

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Buck Watching the Moon

Buck Watching the Moon
Buck Watching the Moon

This is a Game Trail Camera Capture with only the IR flash and the crescent moon to provide light. This cameras is actually at ground level looking upward at 46 degrees and caught this pensive look up. I thought was pretty cool catching a Buck watching the Crescent Moon. I put a piece of thick plastic under it to keep dirt from being kicked up by rain as it’s literally at ground level.

I’m always complaining how Game Trail Camera images are to a one problems to fix. I didn’t have to do too much to this capture at all really. It’s pretty good for right out of a Trail Cam.

This is a square 18×18 inch aspect image only in B+W. The infrared in converted to Black and White easily. If I do IR with my pro-cameras, they come out pink so the software in the Game Trail Camera does a conversion. IR is ALWAYS grainy so what you see is what you get but the candid nature of these cameras keep me working them hard. I currently have 28 that I’m caring for. (just added 2 more).

I had pulled a pile of game trail cameras off summer trails and am moving them to winter hangouts. Certain traffic patterns develop that I try to recognize to know where to put these automatic image devices. Deer tend to hang out in hollows with access to water. If you can set up a “funnel” by leaving a gate open, or figure out where they hang out, you chances get better. Natural funnels are something to really look for. Water holes are obvious places to put game trail cameras. Everybody has a drink a few times a day.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Buck Watching the Moon

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Twilight Over the BigHorns

Twilight Over the BigHorns
Twilight Over the BigHorns

Full Screen is a good choice for this. . Twilight over the BigHorns was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight. I was returning home from a Photographic Road trip. My driveway offered this view as I returned to base.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The Big Horns of course are 130 miles from my camera at this location. The long lenses I use crush the perspective. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

Photographic Musings focusing on :

Shutter speed:

When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim. I use very sensitive gear and this late, handheld camera work is silly to attempt. This is a 2 second time exposure. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring. 2 seconds you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and a rested camera.

My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…

Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..

Walking human 1/200th.

Running anything 1/800th

Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th

Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th.

These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight over the BigHorns

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Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains

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Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground
Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground is a 2 feet x 3 feet image in full size. Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the early winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out.

The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.

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

Title: Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground

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Time to Change Pants

Time to Change Pants
Time to Change Pants

Time to Change Pants was taken by a Camera with a lightning Trigger on top of it.

I know this is out of season. I’m mixing into my daily posts refinished (to current standards) most of my older portfolio (4000+ images left to do. I digress..

There are many manufacturers of Lightning triggers and I endorse NONE of them….. Like game trail cameras, they all have issues I think lolol. In theory, they detect a bolt and automatically triggers the shutter. Your camera settings are highly variable depending on the light so I won’t . I will tell you that 1/4 of a second is a good shutter speed. I’m really glad I wasn’t standing by the camera just under a tin roof (to keep it dry (ish). I was inside my house tending to a project and about jumped out of my chair.

To this day I don’t know what in the barn yard this het. The trees are about 100 yards out from the lens across my “front” south facing yard. Since one bolt is behind the trees fingering down to the ground, I would assume that the bolt is to the rear of the trees. It looks a tad closer than that like it might have been inside my fence.

The time between the flash and the boom was non-existent so it was quite close. (5 seconds roughly for sound to travel a mile). So as a result of this photo, I’ll be using

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands, front yard.

Title: Time to Change Pants

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Low Sky Crescent Moon

Low Sky Crescent Moon
Low Sky Crescent Moon

At 239,000 miles away, this Low Sky Crescent Moon is a pretty cool image. It’s only a 5 percent or so crescent with edges distorted very sharply by the atmosphere. Taken this last week. I just got to finishing it but it did get pushed to the front of the line lol.

Using a terrestrial optic to do astronomic work is usually wrought with problems. This was taken while the camera was resting on my Jeeps Window. No tripod. No sharpening just as it came out of the camera minus a little crop. This is a full resolution 2×3 feet aspect image. I left a little extra black on the top because the moon would continue up and is actually centered vertically.

Seeing into the shadow happens occasionally but not on this one. Usually you see it with just a little atmospheric ice acting like a projection screen to the light that is in that shadow. Pretty inky black sometimes. The best shows are during the lunar eclipses where that dark shadow area is visible in the “earthshine”.

Seeing Details on/in Craters still is better right on the “terminator” (where the shadow meets the light). You can see the long shadows better which helps resolve the topography. Contrast is higher at the terminator.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Low Sky Crescent Moon

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Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail
Crescent Moon Setting Sail

Crescent Moon Setting Sail is BEST seen full screen.

Setting the mood:

The layers of ridges, the dark civil twilight slowly encroaching into nautical twilight. Then the stars will start to come out. Setting very quickly, less than a minute left before the horizon rises to cover the “Sail” of the ship so far away. The first ridge (black) is 40 miles away from my lens. The second Ridge is the Big Horn Mountain chain 130 miles out from my camera. Look carefully to see the outline of the whole moon. This is all very Subtle and it was quite dark for this capture.

I seldom see such a clear sky on a night that had very heavy alpenglow. (Starts out red, goes to orange and then this umber color. This is certainly the best moon sail I’ve ever captured this late in twilight. (just minutes before Nautical Twilight) Not having grain in an image like this is a gift. Only the moon edges blurred by several hundred miles of atmosphere is coarse.

Photographic notes.

Being a student of such things I think it worth noting that being able to differentiate the two ridges in this image or see the un lit side of the moon is almost magic (high technology we don’t understand) This is a brand new Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back and the dynamic range on this camera is PHENOMENAL. It also gives me 100 meg raw files to begin with 🙂 (60 meg .jpg out of the box). Put it on good fast glass and it’s a Monster for low light.

Dynamic Range??? What is that?? Low light??

. The Human Eye has 20 f-stops of Dynamic Range.(DR) This newest Sony has 15 f-stops of DR compared to less in MOST other cameras. The ability to see black cats in a coal bin and make out the individual hairs on the cat is good DR. . DR is all about seeing MORE levels of black or whiter on duller whites between. Seeing a white weasel on snow and picking out white hairs is all about DR. Or in this case, resolving a difference in what I thought at the moment was a dark silhouetted single ridge landscape but the data was there.

The inability of a camera to take the photo of stars behind a properly exposed full moon is due to that (at least) 5 f-stop difference between the human eye and some of the best technology we use. (as a normal consumer anyway). IF you ever see a properly exposed detailed Full Moon AND there are stars in the background of the image…..It’s a composite image combining a star field in photoshop which is very easy to do. If the artist is presenting it as a photo, he/she is a fibbing a tad.

Stars behind the moon.

I use pretty good (very good) gear and I CAN NOT take a close up (long lens) photo of a Full Moon where you can see the properly exposed details AND have stars in the photo. I see fakes ALL the time. Literally I have worn down a few batteries out trying to do so lolol…It is however, really easy to do it in photoshop all day lol. A veiled moon is easy to get SOME starts through the cracks in the clouds but not an unfettered full bright moon. A single Bright Planet like Jupiter MAYBE. Not a star field….. “ain’t gonna happen”. It goes against the Laws of Physics involved.

Gear, Sony Alpha 7R4, Canon 600mm with a 2x on a good tripod. 1 second time exposure, ISO 250, f-11

Location: From my front yard: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Crescent Moon Setting Sail

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Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Alpenglow Across the Barnyard
Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Caught Coming Home the other night: Alpenglow across the Barnyard

Really dark scenes like this are best caught on a tripod. I have a vehicle window clamp that works pretty well for lenses under about 8 or 9 pounds. I’ve had several cameras on that window before lol. One is easy. The reflections in the windows of this rather large Barn Structure we have (286 feet by 94 feet I believe) which is about the size of a regulation foot ball field. The Moon was up far to the left and I was trying like heck to see it’s reflection in the windows but I couldn’t get low enough to catch it. Durn Ground was in the way. Some things you just have no or little control of.😜”Alpenglow Across the Barnyard”

Time exposure, night time about 30 minutes after sunset at the beginning of Nautical Twilight. About 2 seconds worth of shake free camera. (you have to turn down the volume on the stereo AND turn off the car to avoid that. A real mood breaker since I tend to do photography with some jamming tune in the backcountry.

Alpenglow:

When you have a LOT of “stuff” in the atmosphere plus a LOT of red/orange light filtering through it, leads to Alpenglow. The low angle sun light plows through hundreds of miles of air, clouds, moisture, and dust. In this case, ICE is a major sun projection screen lighting up with the infusion of colored hues, mostly orange here but I’ve seen EVERY color in Alpenglow. Often the Gradients can literally be a rainbow gradient. I’ve seen and photographed it numerous times.

You can count the number of architectural silhouettes I’ve published on both hands I’m pretty sure. My tendency is to work nature not the man made stuff up on ranch…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Crescent Moon in Twilight

Crescent Moon in Twilight
Crescent Moon in Twilight

Alpenglow with the Crescent Moon in

Very clear Skies, Alpenglow below with a Crescent Moon in Twilight. This Crescent a few days ago was a 5 percent illuminated disc. It will be a new moon tonight if we see it. Winter weather is occurring as I type this and next week look cold…. (Your reading this about 6 days after I typed it). This image was actually taken in my driveway which ended up just about the last image I took that day. I locked the front gate behind me as I go into our homesteads electric fence deer resistant perimeter for the night. I have to close the gate though as they will go across the cattle gates without a gate in the way. Title: Crescent Moon in Twilight

That night there was so much ice in the air , it produced one of the finest Alpenglow displays I’ve seen in quite a while. This was way to the left of the main show to the west. The camera her was almost straight south by south west. The real show was in the west but the moon wasn’t so..🌙lick…

This was later in Civil Twilight just before the boundary time 28 minutes (ish) after sunset to Nautical Twilight. 28 (ish) minutes later than that Astronomic Twilight starts (so do you know the difference?) It’s a good google if you don’t. Night starts the second the sun goes down and ends with the tip of the sunrise in the morning. Remember it’s not the sun that moves, it’s the horizon that is rising or falling across the face of the sun that your watching. Things are as they actually are, not the way you think they are or the way you have told they are 🤔🙏

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Fawns Morning Drink

A Fawns Morning Drink at the water hole on a foggy morning
A Fawns Morning Drink: Trip to the Stock Tank

After a long trek, it finally made it to the Stock Tank to take a fawns morning drink after a walk across a divide from an adjacent pasture at least a mile away. These stock tanks (4 of which I keep open over about 3 miles of water pipeline from my main well all winter flowing water for who ever drops by) is critical for the local deer population. Most of the Pronghorn Migrate south about 20-40 miles but the deer stay around and probably couldn’t if I didn’t keep this resource available. Been keeping water sources open for 20 years in the backcountry.

Framing a Game Trail Camera image is like adjusting your underwear. You think you know know how you want to do it. Butt you definitely know it when it’s right and then only after you take a few steps (photosI mean 😄. Most of the cameras preview/show you a photo of what the camera is seeing but it is when the camera is “Open”. Not much help… So you set it up pointing it basically blind just generally pointing it in the right direction. Then there is the assistance I get by animals nudging the cameras,. They help by licking them, trying to chew on the nylon straps that hold them to trees etc. The animals are always trying to help me by cleaning the cameras with their tongue…. ewwwwww. I see some goooey things stuck to lenses now and then lolol.


This was early foggy twilight plus the Infrared Flash from the Camera. I left the white eye in for a change. Perhaps it should be all black ?. This was obviously from the early summer as the Fawns have all lost their spots a few months ago. I have a folder of over 1000 photos from this summer yet to be looked at let alone finished lolol. Job security 😀

18×18 inch square aspect

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Fawns Morning Drink

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Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red
Bucks Under Night Vision Infra-Red at Night

Quality game trail Camera image of 2 Bucks Captured by Infra-Red. Out in the deep backcountry, they don’t have too much to fear up here but a few lions and human hunters… This particular night was full moon lit up so there is pretty even illumination here. There was definitely and IR flash as you can see from the highlights in the grass. I seldom get images “at night” when EVERYTHING in the landscape is visible. It takes a full moon to do this…. Hunters moon and all that. 🙂 It’s rare for me to have black and whites except from my Trail Camera captures. Most of the night shots are un-usable. This one…I think I’ll keep around lolol. 📸


This image reminds me of the old joke about the beer drinking drunk slurring out “how much are Dddeer nuts” and the bartender say’s “under a buck”.
These are well hung…err racked… err I mean nicely antlered bucks obviously🤣🤣

Still in Velvet in this September Image. That gate is currently closed to keep cattle in the far pasture. So this wildlife funnel is down for a few months and the cameras doing duty somewhere else… I move cameras around as the gates open and close around the ranch. It is a constant shuffle. I really don’t like cameras in with cattle as they goo them and otherwise mess with them. I’ve had them open cameras before which is less than ideal for the generally water resistant nature of the devices. I’ve got closeups of blurry cattle tongues “wiping” the lenses of a 200 dollar Game Trail Camera. Perfect lolol.

I’m thinking the deer in the background is a bigger buck but the contrast isn’t there to see it easily. Again, this is a game trail camera image so it’s a bit coarse.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Bucks Captured by Infra-Red

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Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters

Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters
Coyote Hunting for Trick or Treaters

We don’t get a lot of Trick or Treaters up here and I believe this Coyote isn’t interested in treats… I’m thinking more trickster here.🎃😄 I think we have gotten 2 small groups of “trick or treaters” in about the last 8 years. They were lost I think and saw just the yard light lolol. Pretty remote up here…. 🙁

At any rate, this Game Trail Camera footage of this fellow is actually showing it squatting marking the spot with the number 2 I think I stepped in tending the cameras… Sniff Sniff… This is one of those Caught in the Act moments around 1AM that moonless night. Pitch black Infra Red flash, no visible light but maybe a slight reddish glow at the camera. Click!

Game trail Camera images all have various problems for me to fix. But to a one, are candid and of course, they are working when I’m not so I’m all for them lol. It takes a couple of trips to collect all the chips about once a week. Some will go all winter without me being able to access them so spring thaw can be helpful in my photo output :).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Coyote Infra-Red Capture

Coyote Infra-Red Capture
Coyote in Pitch Black Under Infra-Red Light Only

I caught this Coyote Infra-Red Capture in Pitch Black conditions using Infra-Red Light only from this “best quality” Game Trail Camera. He was moving slightly but this is an excellent photo from that technology. He was down by a “landing” by a large pond and this spot has been productive for animals coming down to drink from that pond. Game Trail Cameras have come a long way but if someone sold one that gave me better images than I currently can get, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Musings:

Several cameras are planted in and around this location onea lake shore. Game trail cameras have always given us interesting images from there. Many creatures come down to this “landing” to drink. They then usually reconnoiter the relatively sheltered bare ground there under a big tree on the waters edge. I’m waiting for a Great Horned Owl to get down in this camera trap. I got one image of a Great Horned Owl here a few months ago but it’s image randomly was cut off right at it’s eyes. . The rest of the image was wonderful. I fixed the aim of that camera lololol. I’ll get him next time it comes to drink here.

I currently have 4 cameras looking in and out of this particular area. I can do it with one 360 degree game camera. Having 3 others looking in make for a sure good shot from at least one of the cameras. This stuff happens pretty fast, animals don’t dilly dally around too much. All business late night out hunting for this coyote. I hear groups of them out in that direction but I’ve never caught a “pack” on a game trail camera yet. Working on that I am. 📸

Location: Not even 100 yards from the Montana/Wyoming border, Bliss DInosaur Ranch.

Coyote Infra-Red Capture

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Moon on the Rocks

Moon on the Rocks
Moon on the Rocks

Moon on the Rocks is a capture off the top of a local butte. Capturing the Moon and terrestrial objects in the same focal plain is a hobby of mine as I’ve said before. I only get roughly 2 days a month of this opportunity so 24 days a year at best. Usually the weather doestn’ cooperate and seldom is the seeing so good as to have the details sharp so low in the atmosphere. That old atmospheric lens distorts the details so readily, nights like this are a gift to me. No haze, no distortion and a rock outcrop far enough away AND at the right angle….Click !!!

Moon shot Photographic Musings: Taking an image like this is an exercise in getting distance and topography to line up for you. Distance from the hills is a big deal….. Your working your camera on Manual now right?? 🙏 Highest f-stop on the lens is your first setting. (your priority). High fstop gives you a Chance at focusing both the terrestrial Hill top AND the moon in the same image. Deep focus is the only way to do this.. Your other two settings ISO and shutter speed are easy since you set your shutter speed next to the maximum you can hold the camera steady at say 1/30th of a second for a rested camera and your holding the body or use a tripod (be quick cause the moon moves). Tripod moon shots can be a second long (unless your tracking) with the moon if you have a very high fstop and a low ISO (camera sensitivity). The ISO is the last thing you adjust to bring your image into view and ideally into perfection. Mirrorless cameras are easier than DSLR’s to figure this out with so if your just starting with cameras and your buying, buy a mirrorless. You get to see your settings work live real time before you click unlike a modern DSLR camera that you look at the image you just took AFTER the click. No direct light path to the eye as your looking at a video screen inside the camera. You now know all I know about this 🤔

I hope your Monday is going well. I’ve been on computer since 5AM😎…. Mixed Skies but sunrise looks to be a clear sky (boring) sunrise so I’ll stay in and do digital darkroom work (12 degrees outside).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Moon on the Rocks