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BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT
BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

I used to do stupid things like go up in the back yard to watch a rain/thunder storm come in at midnight. This was indeed less intelligent than my IQ would indicate my choices might be. Apparently somewhat risk adverse at the time, I was actually driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which while it has a metal roll cage, had a plastic roof. This bolt woke me right up and could have put me right to sleep lol.

Doing a LOT of lightning shots every summer, I ordered “Clever Girl” (my Ford F-150 Raptor) from the factory WITHOUT a sunroof for a reason. IT’s always good to have metal between you and the storm.

Isolated from ground currents probably in the vehicle on rubber…Better than being on foot…. Having said that… I would not like to be under or even closer to that bolt. It felt like an artillery shell being launched. That along with the benefit of being blinded at the same time. Flash bang less than 1 second…

The old “Steel Yard” on the ranch is actually Over that hill. It consists about 1/4 acre of various antique farm implement parts and pieces with a lot of metallic objects. It is roughly 1/4 mile past that ridge line. I suspect the bolt hit a sharp edge there as moist drainage is also over there. I suspect that is where the ground currents went as I noted the sudden lack of Jack Rabbits down there after that too.

That was a very hard core strike from the incoming storm. It was time to go inside which I did post hast having learned my lesson. I’m much more careful now days but working on your porch is about the same thing as the Polaris with the fiberglass window into the metal roof overhead. Inside a vehicle or inside a house with a proper grounding ring around it. Never touch metal in your vehicles during a storm….

Photographic Musings:

This is a 25 second time exposure in pitch black around midnight. Long time exposures at night have unintended consequences. Red and blue colors make pink with both colors being enhanced. The silly long exposure at least with my Sony Alphas give me these hues. I can’t see the real scene of a long exposure on the screen of the Sony to argue with it. This is just a close estimate by the camera of the scene. I just saw a flash… What colors are put out by lightning? All colors…..there was some ambient light from our ranch pole lights too messing the colors up….

Why time exposure? You get multiple bolts with a 25 second or so exposure, ISO 125, f4 to start with… Work from there moving your f stop up a click each shot to adjust to the ambient light conditions as necessary. Review the images for results and pick your poison for the duration of the storm.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch ,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

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Flower Moon May 2020

Flower Moon May 2020
Flower Moon May 2020

Flower Moon May 2020

Black and White… Handheld rested truck window, 1200 mm Zeiss/Sony optic/ Sony Alpha 7R4 camera body. This is a single image not a mosaic of the moon as I occasionally do with much higher magnification optics. 18 x 18inches. no sharpening applied thus no resultant artifacts seen so often in other forum posts. As it came off the chip with very minor shadows/highlights contrasting.

Science musings:

NONE of the earth’s current selection of climates would be happening without the moon. Remember the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates. Anybody that talks about the “earth’s climate” is full of hooey to begin the discussion. (say’s the old paleontologist). ⚒⚒⚒

(Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).

The moon is our planets protector. It’s moving mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Maintaining the earths 3D relationship to the sun means stability. Stability means life can develop. Too much variability is a problem…

Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)

The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary to stabilize the Tilt of our planet like a stable slow motion gyroscope. (Tilt relative to the “Ecliptic” (another good look up). Most scientists will agree with me to say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. IT does wander over time BTW but a long time…🤔👀

Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky all year.

Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸

Location: A little over Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) plus pretty much every where else 😜

Title: Flower Moon May 2020

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Two Windows in the Storm

Two Windows in the Storm
Two Windows in the Storm

Two Windows in the Storm

A busy time lapse photo from a good camera on a steady tripod set up under the awning of my homesteads deck. The lighting you see is ambient inside our “compound” from various yard lights accumulated over 10 seconds…. The storm provided a 500 microsecond extreme flash giving me internally illuminated clouds. As the storm travels, it’s leaving stars in it’s wake in the pure dark sky. Got em!

Photographers notes:

Basically combining Time Lapse and Flash Photography .

This is not a composite in fact the bright star is actually a planet… Jupiter. The flash of the lightningwas instantaneous but the stars needed the 10 second time exposure. The results fit like a glove 📸. About 10 seconds at ISO 300 with f6 (ish) should get you close if you have a tripod, and a storm that leaves stars in it’s wake… Pouring rain (see dark areas)..

I wonder how long I can expose stars without streaking? 🤔🤔👀📷

500 divided by the Focal Length of your Lens = The Longest Exposure in seconds) before Stars “start to trail”.

For example; let’s say you’re taking a shot with a 24mm lens on a full frame camera. 500 / 24 = 21 seconds, which you can round to 20 seconds. Use the rule, it works. Hope this helps you avoid streaks unless you WANT them lolol. I think longer the better for that to taste…😜

Have a great Wednesday night all and be safe.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Two Windows in the Storm

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Red Fox Marking Post

Red Fox Marking Post
Red Fox Marking Post

Red Fox Marking Post

No this is not just outside Sanford and Son’s and no fake heart attacks here (Do you know the classical reference?)

So Game Trail Cameras play an important role in my understanding of game and predator patterns of movement. I have discovered that every canid that goes by this stick either pees on it or chews on it lolol. Apparently it is a community boundary between Coyotes and Red Foxes. I see Coyotes coming in from the east and these guys from the south. There may be some overlap in their territories but I suspect the two different species are NOT the best of friends. Top of that stick is definitely chewed on by many animals.

These Remote auto cameras definitely clue me in to behavior that I would normally have NO chance in capturing. I could sit down in this gully in a regular wildlife blind for days without any activity with a regular camera. Not that I have anything better to do on any particular day lolol. I think I’ll let the auto cameras do the work. These two were definitely on the hunt though. They just had to pay homage to the marks other left behind as a matter of due course I’m thinking.. 👀😜

Night images via Infra-Red flash are all to capture grainier than daylight images. The quality is more like a well printed newspaper than a high quality/resolution capture from a 5 thousand dollar camera rig. They may be grainy but they sure are Candid!. This is an 18 inch by 18 inch aspect final📸📸📸

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

Title: Red Fox Marking Post

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Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture
Infra-red Coyote Capture

Infra-red Coyote Capture

These guys are ghosts anyway. At 2 PM on a moonless overcast night, this Coyote was prowling around one of the ranches well treed washes. Several miles into the backcountry my Trail Camera String of 29 rigs (as of spring 2020) has a great capture every now and then. This pregnant female is a good indicator that the species will survive way up here on the high ridges of the MT/WY borderlands.

If I am smarter than the Wiley Coyote caught here, I anticipate where they will walk, place my Trail Camera at 18 inches (hopefully above the flat snow level). I find 18 inches is about perfect for most work. Putting these cameras in the perfect place is a matter of looking for and finding signs of animal heavy use. The cattle pressure up here obliterates or obfuscates a lot of subtle animal signs/marks/tracks. I also try to figure out where I’d go if I were a Coyote . I’m not aware of ANY dens ON the ranch. Surrounding ranches I’ve generally been on but haven’t searched as well as I’ve looked about my ground. This is BIG country with lots o’ hidy-holes.

According to the camera, it was 5 degrees F with a new moon when this image was taken. Game Trail Camera Captures using Infrared vision/flash are ALL grainy and lumpy. This is because there is literally no light at this capture. It was likely black as pitch in a box on the top shelf of the basement closet.😜📸

The 200 dollar game trail camera does a lot better in this environment than any several thousand dollar pro camera lolol… Still the relative quality is of a newspapers low resolution dither of dots….. Tough in pitch black lolol.

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

Title: Infra-red Coyote Capture

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Moon Sign

Moon Sign
Moon Sign

Moon Sign

Right Turn “Clyde” series…. (Lot’s of detail in that dark )

This was less than easy to do. Handheld long lens rested on the Ford Raptor’s open door, (Clever Girl herself) with the 48 inch Rigid LED light bar lighting up the reflective sign. The trick of course is to get back far enough to get both objects in the infinite focal length. Then you still have to place enough light on the sign…. Now I handicapped myself by sticking with the truck. I could have walked back another 100 yards with a monopod and still have the same light on the sign.. I’m not always tolerant of windy/cold and this was a windy/cold night. Taken about an hour and 20 minutes AFTER sunset, the only real sources of light was the 98 percent April (Pink) Moon and my headlight. That is a dark night sky behind.

There were stars but even this crazy high dynamic range camera couldn’t sense/see them. The clouds right around the moon that were lit up, made it into the cameras data stream. Getting any detail around a moon of such wispy clouds scantily covering a moon is not something I’m able to accomplish some nights. Very very iffy that process. I’m thinking an average cell phone is not going to capture this.

This April 2020’s moon was every present for 4 photo-sessions in a row. I can’t remember a full moon interval where I’ve gotten to work it so much. The April supermoon, our orbiting partner was as close as it gets this year to the earth for this.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Moon Sign

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This Picture Stinks

This Picture Stinks
This Picture Stinks

This Picture Stinks

Running a network of 29 game trail cameras is a lot of work. I have to replace batteries at least once a year plus getting around to check them. I have been known to have to look through image after image of grass setting off the camera wearing out the battery. I’ve seen too dark, too light and then there are the good ones.📸

Taken in pitch black conditions at 1am in the morning, this little one was cruising along a local game trail that I have covered. Many creatures great and small walk their way through here. There is a lake about 1/4 mile down gully and this is how most of the critters in the area get there. The trick is to find where the ‘highways’ are then plant cameras at the height that you want to cover. I like to keep the “target” zone about 10 feet out for optimum focus. Besides placement, the ONLY control you have over a few settings like movie or photo in these game cameras. I find this is THE BALL GAME. I endorse no particular brand of Game Trail Camera. You do get what you pay for I have found.

An infrared flash was triggered by Pepi LePew’s heat signature opening the shutter at the same time. Automatic cameras are wonderful in that I didn’t have to sniff this guys odiferous passing even once. Generally I’m pretty intolerant of skunk smell. Interestingly enough I’m always the one that has to deal with them when trapped. The discussion is alway, “you trapped it, you deal with it”….. I am pretty sure this is why women live longer.. 👀😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: This Picture Stinks

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Full Moon Lone Tree

Full Moon Lone Tree
Full Moon Lone Tree

Full Moon Lone Tree

When I see a Full moon rising at the horizon, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This particular lone tree up high on a ridge has faced the worst wind/weather this high country can throw at it. It is a true old soldier. (April Egg/Fish/Pink Moon 2020)

The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from the parallel ridge is was working in the dark for this capture. The moon is a little further behind the ridge.

Photographic Musings: Clear as a bell this evening. I worked the sunset but this moon rose about 80 minutes after that. It was dark and a true night sky. About half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. This I captured only because I was moving along at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy lolol. Light is VERY fleeting.

I work the Moon’s “Shadow” line on parallel “opposite” ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. This is where the cool stuff suddenly pops up to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see lighting that is virtually impossible to capture with the technology. This moon is relatively easy by comparison lol. Of course, a full moon behind trees is a very common occurrence. It happens every time a full moon is up, at many angles millions of places around a woods. It’s being in the right place at the right time with the right gear to catch the image. That is the hard part.📷

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

Title: Full Moon Lone Tree

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Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon
Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon

Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.

I look at this with awe as it’s a rare confluence of lighting that allows a good halo to be captured around the moon.

Photographic Musings:

To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop/biggest aperture on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.

I used a big super-telephoto fast Canon lens on a Sony Alpha 7RII to do this work. That lens is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.

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

Title: Once in a Blue Moon

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Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow
Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

Super Blue Blood Moon taken Feb 1, 2018,. This is was the first of it’s breed seen in the United State since 1866. . The white part is the actual fully illuminated moon. The red, the earths shadow (pre-umbra and umbra) make up the bloody red disk. 3200mm astro glass.

A blue moon of course, happens when there are two full moons in a single month. Technically this Blue Moon is a fudge (again) by NASA since the actual full moon happened in the morning of Feb 1st not on Jan 31st by less than 2 hours in some places. I love it when NASA fudges. 🤔

Blue moons are not quite as rare as the old saying implies. On average they occur once every 2.7 years. The lunar 29.53 lunar month migrates across the 30 or 21 day calendar month. February has never had a blue moon….. There were two blue moons in 2018 due to the discrepancy in timing adding up over the years. There were no full moons at all in February 2018 for instance. There is some calendar magic ongoing as these lunar shows migrate around.

This moon was a super moon being at it’s closest point to the earth in it’s orbit at slightly under a 225 thousand miles. This compared to the average of 238 thousand. What difference could 13000 miles make….14 percent apparent size difference. It’s hard to see with your eyes but I see it comparing things like windmill sails to the lunar disk size from the same spot in the road at the same focal length. I have these fixed objects to compare the moon’s size with lol.

Location: Over Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. It was durn cold for this one lolol.

Title: Lunar Eclipse Earths Shadow

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Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon
Perspective and the Moon

Perspective and the Moon

I pay a lot of attention to Close / Far perspectives when I am out with a box of cameras. So many choices, how about a telephoto at 800 mm at 150 yards out from the branch. Such lighting only possible by parking an off road LED light bar close to the branch in question and start walking down hill until you can get both objects in focus. There are equations to figure out your focal distances but it depends entirely on your f-stop setting and particular lens. The higher the fstop, the less light into your camera BUT you get a deeper depth of focus. (i.e. both objects at infinity).

Mostly, completely missed are a million of these moments in time depending on the angle and time you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. Steep slopes help align a low moving terrestrial object with a terrestrial object (hint). I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 100 percent of the photography game. Time in important, knowing when to leave a scene is as important as anticipating a scene.

The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning yourself before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. If the moon is rising, I have to walk closer to the hill to keep the perspective. If I move forward about 20 feet, you can’t see the branch . Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a small chasm. I wonder how many photographers have walked a little more back, a little more, and more. Only to find out that there wasn’t any ground there. 😔

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

Title: Perspective and the Moon

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Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts
Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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 mid-winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining at the time about 30 minutes after sunset. It was overcast. Quite dark thus the long time exposure. 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 in the “open” 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… No definite formula here…. 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 settings will vary based on lighting.

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. Lightning Triggers are not necessary with a time exposure.

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

Title: Double Trouble Lightning Bolts

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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