This image of Aurora Northern Lights 04/22/23 is a capture of the most amazing aurora display ever… Taken on the Montana/Wyoming border 60 miles north of Gillette Wyoming around 10:30 PM at night. Sony Alpha 7R4, Zeiss 35mm, f 2.0, ISO 1000, 20 second exposure on a truck window tripod.
Occasionally, when the ‘seeing’ is good, I pull out my big gun optics pointing them toward the Jovian Moon system. There are many more moons around Jupiter than are on this image. These four however are the easy ones. The little 12 inch diameter optic I used for glass here is not up to the task unless I do much longer tracking time exposures. A 12 inch light gathering ability makes it faster than catching the same image with a smaller aperture. I have also found that higher resolutions cameras give you higher resolution images lol. This is an effective 4800mm focal length.
The year was 1609 and a fellow by the name of Galileo Galilei pointed a primitive Duch made gadget up at the massive Planet. Looking through the pieces of glass mounted like a skeletonized tube. Galileo was important in the early development of the telescope as he taught himself to grind glass to build his own instruments. He notices that 4 “stars” were circling Jupiter. Humm. That single observation set in motion the Brilliant mathematical mind that man possessed. He was obsessed with the new telescope working tirelessly to improve the state of the art. In 1609, he was observing an 20X view that the human eye could achieve. That is similar to a 24 power rifle scope. I can’t imaging observing this with less than a 1200 mm focal length and a 6 or so inch aperture. Let alone a rifle scope. Better than naked eye though in use before the improvements by Galilei lol.
So I’m on a high Hill top, more or less on the local top of the world. There are a few higher points around but they are a good drive across open backcountry. Looking across the Wyoming / Montana border into Montana Sky with Wyoming Land under my feet. A VERY wide shot in excess of 90 degrees wide, this capture is about 1/4 of the sky in one image. This was a marvelous evening with very little smoke in the middle of a month + of worse smoke. We do get a day here and there of late without too much Pall. We have largely been spared from the worst of this. Having said that tonight as I type, the air is much worse than any night I remember. You couldn’t see see across this field late this after noon.
This is of course the backshow from this sunset. I have to constantly remind myself to look over my shoulder as the main show is often captivating. I have to say the lighting was only slightly red for a change this particular evening. I have been doing photography for a full month in overly red colorcast lighting so this seem pretty minimal. Considering the filtering effect of the smoke eliminating most of the blue from the light reaching the ground from the horizon. The sky overhead was blue because the light reaching there didn’t go through smoke. Blue only penetrates so far through the atmosphere before it’s filtered away. The smoke makes that happen much faster than your average evening in Wyotana.
A close / far perspective is never very far from my mind when working the backcountry. I often go places on ranch that I haven’t been for years. Sometimes that pays off in unusual ways. I really don’t find a lot of Pronghorn Skulls here. They are particularly rare here (anyway) with the horn sheaths still attached. Those fall off very easily as they are shed each year. To find a pretty well preserved skull already cleaned by the local insects…. it was a good morning lolol. I have a suspicion that when I get just the right place, I’m going to have this out at 100 yards with a HUGE sun between it’s horns due to the perspective. Stay tuned, it is riding in the back seat of “Clever Girl” until I find just the right composition for it.
I had been driving hills of late often going into 4 wheel low. The Raptor doesn’t have much trouble with the terrain. It takes me where I ask it too regardless of the smoke conditions. It seems to be able to breath just fine with it’s twin turbos lol. . Me I don’t like the air much, a little asthmatic from it, a slight cough. HEPA filter in the dash of the Truck AND in my living room at the moment. I keep the windows closed and limit my on foot time during this “inconvenience”. I normally drive TO the ridge and walk around. These smokey days, I’m driving all over the ridge and walking very little. Seems the smart thing to do. I’m also not putting my Mastiffs in their kennel. They hang out next to the HEPA and air conditioning vent.
Smoke “filters” from forest fires to reduce the light coming from our furnace make for interesting photographic opportunities. This added a sun rising a minute before the actual sunrise time. You will find sunrise time is not a fixed time. Depending on the atmospheric conditions prevalent at any particular terminator crossing, you might get a sunrise where the sun is actually below the horizon appear as if in a mirage. Perhaps a minute or two earlier than the scheduled time. I personally have never seen it rise later. Topography and the distance to your horizon may make a slight difference is rise / set times.
This phenomena is termed “Atmospheric Lensing”. This is a physics of light discussion generally at grade school level. Most have not heard of this. Here the sun is not actually up. Bent around the globe light can be. This by the refractions caused by the differing densities of the atmosphere covering the planet in the thin blanket. As the horizon drops, the sun eventually catches up to it’s actual position well above the horizon. Not here though. This image bent considerably by natural forces. The sun’s outline heavily distorted. I’ve seen a variety of different manifestations of this distortion. This was a pretty cool one. Looks like a chubby Teen Age Ninja Turtle in orange to me lol.
OK, This is a confusing image to me. As a fairly astute observer of things, I’d like to think I can explain what I see. Or at least I’ve come close enough for government work a time or two lol. This one is an enigma to me and has left me scratching my head to nail it the causation for this down.
I’ll present my thoughts. You can decide what you think or add a second alternative.
Looks like: Rain is falling in shafts being blown by wind to the right. These rain shafts are being illuminated by Crepuscular Rays from an downward angle from the right to the left. This made a classic screen door or rectilinear pattern here. I was quite amazed at this rare sky. So many things have to come together to make this happen. Oddball for sure.
Crepuscular Rays are a mix of shadow and light. The irregular cloud shapes make irregular shadows. Those clouds block the light in places reaching the already formed rain shafts. The light appears divergent from the sun’s position. They form only when the sun is positioned behind an irregularly shaped cloud or mountain which lets the rays of the sun pass through a cloud in bands. They don’t always happen at sunset. This was mid-afternoon and off schedule for the phenomena which tend to happen at sunrise or sunset.
This subdued sunset brought to you by the soot in the air contributed by hundreds of western wildfires. Hopefully you’ve been off grid and out of the way of these plumes. Such a Pall changes not only the air quality but the amount of solar radiation that makes it to the surface.
This image is my best try to get the scene exactly as I remembered it. The wedge of smoke from various Montana fires were moving this way. The cloud front was forming in advance of the smoke pall with the smoke moving with the front. I have seen this develop before and got the heck up the hill well over an hour before sunset. I figures that as the sun dove behind that jagged bottomed cloud, that shadow would get projected in the smoke below. The result is a fan of crepuscular rays radiating outward away from the sun well above the cloud deck. This is a fairly expansive display. Taken through a very wide lens at 24mm .
This is the second nice crepuscular display I have seen from this years smoke/brown season. They are somewhat predicatable to me but to get the ducks to actually line up is an entirely different matter lol. This would be a nice candidate for a mirror/mirror ART treatment I’m thinking… I’ll have to make a note to reflect this back on itself. I bet a nice face will appear magically.
Probably the last serious rainbow of the 2020 was this late “Golden Hour” spectral display a few weeks ago as this posts. The Sun over my shoulder was HEAVILY Smoke Pall filtered giving the marked color cast displayed here. The total lack of blue light being obvious in the refracted spectrum. All of that was absorbed by the smoke. Missing the blue/indio components gives a very odd feeling to the scene live real time. I’ve said before it reminds me of the solar eclipse in 2017 that went through the area. This is certainly one of the more extreme rainbows I’ve ever seen. There will be more of this event as it flows through my workstation.
This capture of course is a long telephoto image right into the left leg of a very tall rainbow. Late day rainbows are closer to a perfect 1/2 of a circle. From the air rainbows are circles with your shadow in the center. On the ground though, your limited to half of the circle at most. But as such sunset rainbows are relatively HUGE compared to mid to afternoon rainbows. Mid-day rainbows are wide but not tall. This one was wide AND tall. This was right at the height of the smoke generation from the west coast fires as seen here almost exactly on the border of Wyoming / Montana. This rainbow’s leg itself spans the actual borderline from my perspective lol. Exactly 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator it’s marks the spot.
“Sneaky Pete” the wind engine is the smaller of 2 “brother” windmills of the “Pete” family on our ranch. Big Brother is “Re Pete” who lives 3 miles into the backcountry. Both are up in the rolling ridgeline country of “Wyotana”. Sneaky has been running for 20 years with a few rebuilds. He is 25 feet tall and pumps air for a ponds benefit. “Re Pete” is an antique still functional Aermotor Windmill way in the back country. Either would have provided served as a filter here. The symmetry stroked my OCD lol.
During the recent 2020 brown / fire smoke season, sunrises / sunsets are unusually interesting. There are a LOT of particulates in the air. The Deep Crimsons and yellow sphere of the sol are the only colors in the otherwise color bereft landscape. The feeling on this last of the few remaining warm nights was of an original Twilight zone episode I saw as a child. It scared the heck out of me. A fog moved into a community, next thing they knew they had been transported to an alien world. Scary stuff to an adolescent with 3 channels on the B+W Tube TV with aluminum foil on the Rabbit Ears. Some of you might have to reach back early on to remember all that.
Stark lighting, like being under a partial eclipse. It’s an odd look with everything terrestrial cast in an odd red glow. I compare it to a gel filter over a stage light. Just a really big light lol.
As I type this narrative on the 7th of September 2020, a weather system is moving through with mostly drizzle so far. It’s a classic fall weather system though and that is a good thing. We need moist days for sure to make it to the snows. Snow in the high country. I’m not draining the water out of my fire truck yet to winterize it. I don’t keep it in a heated building as it is bigger than you can image. Winterizing is a balancing act as too late, you freeze something. Too early and you don’t have water immediately handy when you need to put out a grass fire for instance.
I titled this Shock but I could have used Bow wave just as well. The atmospheric phenomena you are seeing here is a very complex interaction for sure. The color is real as is the wave in front of the sun. I was watching this clearly on my video eyepiece just as you see it here. The Pall of Smoke was significant even for recent standards.
Amazing light effects occur in a heavily occluded / smoky atmospheric haze. I have views looking west from the local that reach out 93,000,000 miles to the sun. Between myself and the sun are many miles of atmosphere acting as a filter to all but red and yellow light. (With all gradations in between like orange).
I think there are a lot of things going on here with the color and the gradients. You will note a baseball diamond shaped area of yellow above the sun is the highest sky where yellow can penetrate with a given intensity. (a calculus equation or two involved here I suspect chuckle). Less smoke between me and the light there. Below on the wave, only the red light can penetrate the haze. The closer to the sun, the brighter the light the haze has to block. The curve will be smooth around the base. Mother Natures Geometry at her best artist strokes. I love smooth gradients but naturally stepped gradients are massively cool. Maybe it’s just me chasing light again lolol.
I’ve seen this only a few times in my travels. I suspect it has a name but I haven’t researched it.
It took me almost 5 months to collect this image from one of the 29 game trail cameras I keep running in the Wyotana backcountry. They usually take relatively crappy images, blurred, too dark or too light, or just off frame. Each and every image I get off a 150 dollar Game Trail Camera has a host of issues that a 3 thousand dollar camera doesn’t. Of course, I don’t have to leave a 3K dollar camera out in the elements either lololol. I have to fix each game camera image I post within the digital dark room. I literally have to look at 1000 or more images to get one that even has a prospect of making it into my portfolio. This is one such photos. This is very close to the camera for it to be in focus in this moderate light.
I’m thinking he heard the “Click/whir/sound of the camera. This particular camera has a 360 degree circle sensor. If it senses movement anywhere around it, the camera literally swings around inside of the gadget to take a photo in that direction. So it makes a little whirly noise and a click when it goes. I like them because they cover a HUGE area from all angles. I can put one 360 degree game camera out versus 3 or 4 regular game cameras. Humm, tough choice…
This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.
I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…
Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.
As I follow the full moon traveling along the ridge lines, I saw this situation develop. As I travel parallel ridge lines, I descend as the moon ascends which keeps the moon “rolling” along the crest. Ridges here travel for miles and have deep gullies adjacent. My options are many to watch the lunar progress. So I’m moving along and stop. Suddenly the moon stops moving too. Seemingly confused by the wire obstacle in it’s path. Hard to get that much cheese from here to there over that so to speak… That fence line would have been a cheese slicer for sure.
So to avoid being cut into cracker snacks, I figure it will take some computational power at least similar to the computers in Apollo spacecraft to make this maneuver. While I’ve seen the moon do many things. I’ve never seen it hike a fence. I see the same look on his face as I see on a Mule Deer. You know, that look just before they jump a fence. Sort of a mix of determination and blank stare if you break it down….. 👀
So this time delay sure could have thrown off all those critical tidal charts. That let alone the full moon effecting human behavior for longer. Full Moon and all that. To that point I’m sure this indecision slowed him down on his rounds. Must have made it up later though….But an apparent feat of athleticism as I continued my trip. I turned around, moved a few feet and JUST when I looked away and moved, it had jumped. Must have since when I looked back, it was on the other side of the fence…
First of all, this is the SUN, not the MOON. (Weird eh? ) Zooming in on Terrestrial objects in front of Celestial objects is often wrought with technical issues. Damn the torpedos, it’s the composition I was after of course. Dark Scene…..
The sun always moves to the right the same time it’s being covered by the horizon. That shift right has not much to do with the suns motion. After all the sun doesn’t actually set. The earth spins so the horizon is actually rising to cover out window to the furnace. The movement precludes LONG time exposures to get the landscape.
This is an odd perspective produced from me as the tree was really too close, the ridge still too close. Fortunately the sun is mid-field that is perfectly in focus. It is after all the point (huge) of interest here lol. The rest of the image is just a place holder for the odd scene’s relative position. It gives the viewer a frame of reference.
Sure is a deep brown sky though. It is essentially acting as a N50 neutral density filter lol. This was actually VERY LOW light as in camera shake and the leaves rustling in the breeze were a thing. When the sun is a little more bright than a candle at 100 yards, it’s like taking a photo of the moon literally. In fact the sun here was darker by a significant factor than the setting moon.
I get a few “Cathedral” Skies every year. This happened a week before this is published. Assuming you haven’t just returned from two weeks of Spelunking deep under a rock somewhere, we are living under a Pall of Smoke from western fires. Most of the west is enjoying unhealthy air qualities, and high temperatures. Low humidities, dry lightning strikes and a drought year long term continue to press the US.
This was not a short sky show either. 1/2 an hour… forever for me. I went into a how often do I see such a thing and started really accumulating clicks at a serious pace. The image changed by the minute with the rays changing / morphing as the clouds moved. The “Crepuscular” rays slicing through the heavy smoke above highlighting it with white unfiltered light above. Red Light traveling through miles of atmosphere making a shaft spreading below the sun.
Taken with one of my widest lenses. A 12 mm full frame Sony G series. The resultant image is well over 90 degrees wide and very tall. This is a major contender for the Largest Crepuscular display I’ve personally ever seen in my travels. It was a very unusual meteorlogic situation. Certainly an irreproducible set of circumstances. I’ll never get another chance like this in my lifetime I suspect. I took several hundred images on several cameras. There are many variations on this theme. Some are amazing like this one.
IT was/is VERY dry out. It has been in the 90’s for an extended period. Precipitation has been low all year. In HUGE contrast to the previous year.
A long day ended and an instant after I closed my eyes it seemed. Out of the night I was awakened by the rumble in the distance through the walls of my homestead. Generally being pretty quiet up here but for the roosters in the morning, I sat up to take notice. My fire watch instinct kicked in… On went the fire resistant pants and wool socks. I get to the porch all dressed up…. It started to rain…. pretty well.😜
Lightning flashed every 5 or 10 seconds but most of it was not visible to me where I stood. My window under a metal roof this night was fairly limited by the wind. I hesitate to put expensive gear out where left unattended, it might get knocked over or soaked. So I keep it close. I do keep a properly built “ground ring about my homestead. In 2 decades of living here. I’ve never had a lightning strike come into the house. I learned to build “ground rings” after building several Ham Radio Shacks and a communications tower on hill tops. Burying copper wire or water pipe recycled is a good way to get a proper path to ground before ground currents get you. It’s always better to have the best ground outside your place.
This is from the early July fire. Just got to this. The crews that fought our range fire each took on a little part of the blaze. The 20 mph winds didn’t help this job. We emptied our 1000 gallon tank three times during this blaze. Here it is all over but the busy work. We and others just managed to keep this fire out of the trees just over this hill. There are 30 acres of nice north slope pine over that hill top. This tree was slightly singed by the heat. The fire was out above ground but was smoldering /very hot under the pine needles at the base of these trees. We responded to the scene within 15 minutes of me seeing it. I automatically go up on the ridges after a lightning strike.
We had to pull about 300 feet of hose to get back into those trees. The ranch uses a 5 Ton M813 truck with 6 wheel drive, a big old diesel, 10 speeds, transfer case and the works lol. I’m the driver. No air conditioning as I like to know what the crew is doing in the back is experiencing as far as heat and smoke. I could drive through places that those guys on the back might not like too much with the windows up lol. I’m a good driver on air suspension seats which help my bad neck. I wear a brace driving that big boy. It’s a tad accurate in reproducing the uneven ground under the the wheels (It’s bumpy). 54 inch high radials too lolol. One of these days I’ll post a photo of the source of this water stream lol.
This is not a crop so it’s a BIG image for a salamander lol. This guy was a good 8 inches long and more or less happy in the water it was in. The hard part was getting him to stay still long enough to focus/click. He was hunting.
Brightly colored says “Stay away” as mouthing these guys will get your pets or kids sick. Even touching and then transferring it to your mouth can be detrimental to some individuals. Pretty much nobody bothers them but BIG one eyed (Cyclops to his perspective) photographers. IT had just rained probably wetting the crack he was in enough to entice him out to hunt. They are voracious eaters. I’ve found them along with toads by yard lights at night. The insects that are attracted to the light attract the Salamanders to the area.
Taken during the day is a rare thing for me to find them out. Usually not enough bugs out for them to attack. They go deep in the white season going torpid from the cold. Suspended animation.
An ancient heritage: Their development in the Late Carboniferous Period. An “Ancestor” started gulping shallow breaths of air with primitive lungs somewhere along the line. Eogyrinus (dawn tadpole) was a thin Crocodile (ish) critter that was fairly big at 15 feet in length. Modern Amphibians are distantly related to those early forms. The early paleontological developmental history is the topic of some debate not for this forum.
It’s really scary when your compositional mind works real time live in the camera….Got it… I had to adjust my position sufficiently to capture these Mule Deer Bucks (all) balancing on the tightrope all and positioned between the fence. Click…. I had forgotten about this image and it languished in my “To Do” folder. Found it!.
So this of course is the second leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch All Ungulate Relay. The Deer here are in second place with the Pronghorn having lapped them a few minutes ago. The runners here are all grouped up drafting one another thinking they still have a chance. (their mothers read the the “Turtle and the Hair” as fawns). Persistent/valiant but the Pronghorn are hard to out run.
It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers. The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago.
Paleontologist recognize that age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). BTW… The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Just saying 🤔 👀
Here’s a Close / Far Perspective for you. Moon Close, Mars Far…(ish). If you can full screen this, the moon is pretty sharp here….Good seeing that night.
There was an internet/Facebook meme that the Moon and Mars would be in the sky together with a GIANT Mars. Well here they are…. Mars was supposed to be the size of the moon. Darn it….. So disappointed…😜
Captured is the reality, only a “little” different than the meme circulating around with two big globes in the sky. From the human eye perspective this is a giant mars. (that little red dot far right frame). The moon getting close in the sky to mars was obvious looking up that evening. I don’t work night skies very much photographically as it’s off schedule to me. I get jet lag easily lol.
At any rate, I don’t see opportunity to take a planet and our moon in the same frame too often. Well I could zoom WAY back to be able to actually fit them in the frame lol. Only when a planet is close can you do this. The dynamic range difference between the bright moon and the little dim mars is tough to pull out of the dark.
Mars closes approach to earth will be on October 6th 2020 at only 38.6 million miles away. The moon is currently 224,800 miles out which is relatively close I suppose. It does indeed appear larger than it normally would further away lol. Not QUITE the same apparent size as our orbiting partner.. So if you read it on an internet meme, you might want to initially question the information.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Well somewhat over it anyway)
I sometimes HAVE to take a little time away from my daily serious photo-finishing work. The need is to play inside of the digital darkroom of course. All work and no play makes Frank a dull boy….. Leading off this AM with some Tile Art.
Inside my greater sphere of photographic/graphic arts interests are a few creative ones. This versus the photorealist my OCD normally requires lol.
One of my favorite play time activities is to put together what I call Mosaic Mirrors. This one I made 3 “Totem” poles in. Were ever mirror images meet, mind magic occurs. The totems either side of the center arch are a stack of Creatures great and small. For you Pariedoliacs out there, this is full of endless wanderings and imaginings. All of the imaging was taken from a photo of the sun setting over a fenceline next to a tree in the backcountry.
Often I’m doing this thinking of classic mid-evil architectural arches and will sometimes build a floor. Here I built a reflecting rippled water mirror under the sun. Technically this was fairly easy to do, I just enjoy the resultant bilateral symmetry that instantly pops into existence. More than just fun though are the amazing anthropomorphic shapes that always form from that symmetry. Those with the tendency terribly to see faces or animals in random data can get lost in either making or studying these. I’m the former. I could make these all day. Tree limbs are particularly are suitable as subjects. Plus you don’t have to get a signed model release. 😜
I like to end most days with a photo of a sunset. This is from about 10 days before the image actually publishes on line. I am currently that far ahead in setting up my post. I hope you enjoy the evening. Be safe all.
Well if you see figures/shapes/forms in clouds, this image is fodder for your imagination. I’ve got several anthropomorphic figures floating around in my head from this image. I saw it at the time and thought it worthy of your time. Primarily I can imagine a woman on her elbows crawling but you might go with a lamb or some other figure. Whats nifty about this tendency is that no one really constructs the same vision inside their head. The next person is always going to see something different. The snake eye in the upper right just caught my eye too. Maybe it’s a rabbit: lolol.
This is a Photo taken across the 40 miles of the Little Powder River Valley from Wyoming into Montana. I’m sitting on the west side of the pass on Trail Creek Road in Wyoming. The border is 4 miles to my right.
What a long afternoon of photography this day ended with. Near the end of this timeline, I had been out for 3 hours following a Mesocyclone across the landscape. No rainbows this day though. Only lightning and serious weather to deal with to our south. The sun stayed away till the end.
Location: The Pass on Trail Creek Road To Rockypoint Wyoming USA.
I worked the storm that led to this photo for almost 3 hours. “Devils Tower” here is Hail Covered White. This was taken about 10 days ago when Crook County Wyoming made national News with it’s weather. I doubt more than a few dozen people saw this phenomena from this direction or at all… Sun only lit it up for a few minutes while I was working this storm over volcanic neck complex with several long lenses. I have never seen the Tower covered in hail before. I believe this is as white as I’ve ever seen it. The storm that dropped all this ice clearly visible on the three Missouri Buttes too was a big one. It ran east to west about 20 miles south of where I was observing it from.
I’m just starting to work this timeline finishing the images and writing appropriate narratives for each. Lots of lightning captures from this storm. This capture is at the end of the timeline.
Remember these posts are all book pages in my eventual coffee table book. Currently it’s over 1800 pages long about life and times up here in Wyotana. Admittedly the tower and the Buttes are all Wyoming. I’m standing about 4 miles south of Montana in northernmost Wyoming. I consider about 10 miles either side of the border (Wyotana).
Bear in mind this in early August, not winter. It was 80 degrees when I took this. An ice covered national monument is always an interesting image I think lolol. At the time I actually said “WoW out loud. Slathered with hail appears to be the towers fate . I hope no one was on the trail walking around it. If so they saw it up close and personal. All the while “slathered” too lol.. Hopefully no one was hurt. Hostile Environment sometimes up here. 📷
Location Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, Campbell County Wyoming.
This “Wave cloud” does not have a specific classification to scientists, there are various situations that form wave patterns. I’d call them “Stair Way to Heaven” clouds if the name were not taken already lol. (classical reference). Finding a stable thin layer of atmosphere that the temperature doesn’t get colder with hight. This stable layer can be disturbed by waves of adjacent air to move along it. Similar to water waves in a pond. It that stable layer has enough humidity, a cold wave crest will cause cloud formation. The cloud evaporates on the way down the wave. I have only seen this phenomena a few dozen times and never this well developed under a mesocyclone. Every other time it has been a herring bone sky under altocumulus sky cover. This was unusual to me anyway.
Another form of wave cloud is a lenticular cloud often accused of being UFO’s. Those are mostly formed over significant geographic high points (mountains, big ridges etc). Saucer shaped. But they are also related to these and a similar phenomena. I’ve never seen them trail 20 miles off into the distance before. That is the ranch communication tower about a mile from my position. This was an unusual storm that moved over for this. It was mostly wind and rain. No hail and little lightning. Not very strong but interesting none the less. I never know what I’m going to see when I climb up these ridges.
Slimy Sunday I guess. We had a pretty good quick rain move over and dump a few 10th’s of an inch. This little 8 inch (or bigger to 14″) Native to Wyotana Tiger Salamander Amphibian decided to come out. Must enjoy the wet while it’s about. It’s unusual to see them in the day as they hunt at night being voracious insect predators.
Known commonly as a “mole” salamander. It has been hiding down a deep crack usually next to foundations of buildings or elsewhere. Where they tend to go deep in the winter, they need some water to keep themselves properly wet. They don’t like their skin to dry out. We have some moving water between two small deck ponds that has been running for 20 years. That is a favorite habitat for them. Most lakes and ponds in the area will have these. Some can live up to 16 years in the wild.
These guys are not fast. A brightly colored creature is telling you something…. This typically means “Warning” do not eat me. It turns out that they secrete toxins all over their sky. (Don’t eat or mouth the skin). Juveniles are way more toxic than adults generally speaking. You DON’T want your dog to eat one or a toddler to mouth one of these. Depending on how much exposure to the Salamander it’s had…. You should even wash your hands after handling any creature. It’s a good idea to double scrub after these guys. The first sign is slobbering but it can lead to death.
They have a wide spread distribution and rank as the largest Salamander in North America. They might be coming out at night right under your nose and you don’t know it.
A few days a month I get a chance to get SOME light from the sun at the same time the full moon is rising. This is a little late in the timeline where there is still enough light to catch the outline of the ridge. The Full Sturgeon Moon slowly emerging from hiding behind this lone tree. IT turns out the moon is shy until it has no choice and has to be exposed. I mean it turns all sorts of shades of pink, orange and red so it MUST be shy. He might have been ducking behind that tree to relieve himself before he starts the night shift. I mean the man in the moon is obviously a gentleman trying to be proper after all.
Getting Details on Close objects and far objects in the same single photo…. A matter of high #f-stop setting which give you deep focus. It also steals light preventing it from getting in the camera. So a long shutter open time is a good thing. Not too long as it will over expose the moon, not too long as this hand held shot would be blurred. I find 1/30th freehand minimum for blur. A monopod will go 1/15th. Tripod you have to keep moving, not handy, a few seconds exposure on a moving moon. That’s not good. Basically, your walking over uneven ground, moving in opposition to the moons movements. It rises, I walk closer to the hill. It goes to the right, I move to the left. Set your ISO to get a visible image on your screen. Rule of photography 127 is “Get the photo” Damn the ISO…
Ol’ “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is up to his old tricks again. I find he is more than willing to try to interfere with the clock work universe. Here he is trying to slice and dice up the moon again. I’ve caught him several times attempting what must surely be a crime anywhere but Wyotana.
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite) 🤘
“Sneaky’s” full time job is to pump air into a small pond that has barnyard ducks on it. This de-stratifies the pond and makes it more able to deal with the extra poop load from the ducks. It also keeps a pretty good hole open in the ice during most of the winter. Well, with the help of the aforementioned water fowl helping. He has been very good at pumping air over his career. I can’t even imagine how many times it has turned around over a couple of decades.
Photographic Musings: (Long but instructive)
More angles in this thing…didn’t have a clue what to use as a level horizon lololol.
Fellow students, what to do you have to do to get this kind of shot?
OK, Full Moon up during the day (maybe 2 chances a month IF the weather cooperates). Then the moon about 2 times a year lines up just so with the topography. (Topography is my master). It has to be somewhat windy.
Where to set this up, you have to be at least 300 yards away from the close object (windmill) with a 400mm lens. That puts the windmill in the same focal depth of field as the moon at infinity. I work up to 1200 mm this way for some distance perspectives. The further back you go with a larger lens will give you a relatively bigger moon in the image.
THEN with all that conveniently arranged, you have to Set your camera to the dreaded M – mode. I know, it’s scary in there. Set your priority that you need most. Blurred windmill…… OK, 1/15th of a second exposure to allow the blur. That’s pretty much set in stone so adjust the camera shutter to 1/15th. Balancing the exposure now is easy now.
That leaves only two other things to adjust, ISO (camera sensitivity) and F-stop (aperture/iris size in your lens.) F-stop controls your depth of field which you want very deep. So a high enough F-stop number to focus both is required. I used f-22 for this. Lower f stop settings will thin your depth of field. You would have to move back too far to fill the frame.
One setting left. Turn your camera sensitivity to what is required to give you the proper image in “live view” or in your mirrorless camera. In a mirrorless camera, what you see in the eyepiece is what you get. You get to watch your settings change live real time in the eyepiece. What ever it takes. Rule number one of photography is to get the picture. Damn the high ISO if it is needed. Fortunately this is still some daylight in the frame. 📷
Bee Flies are Harmless to humans as they do not bite. I have only seen this species a few times and they are “Flighty”/hard to approach. I’m thinking I cheated and used a sex lure. I didn’t intend to of course. I had just mounted a fire fighting mattock tool with a yellow fiberglass handle to the racks on the Raptor. The Yellow Bee Fly must have just fallen in love instantly. I had brought my cameras out to the truck a few minutes before planning to head out shortly. Looking over I froze in my tracks. I got my camera and he was still there…..
Holy Crap I thought. I took 3 progressively closer images until he wasn’t in the view screen anymore. This was from 10 inches away or there about. Natural Sunlight just cooking down. This actually makes the capture harder since bug are very active when fully warm. Hair Triggers so to speak.
Those are HUGE eyes for such a small Bee Fly. This accounts for their tendency to fly quickly. These are good bugs too. The adults just sip nectar but the larva eat some bad bugs in your garden. I like to see these guys. They are just not very common in my area. Pretty small is the word…. It might be 1/4 inch eyes to butt. I’ve seen them more early in the spring on Dandelions though.
I actually saw this scene live real time resolving it easily with my eyes. To my knowledge, there is no way to photograph it using only one photograph. The difference of illumination between the reflection in the water and the brightness of the moon was too large for my gear to resolve. So I took an exposure of the moon properly followed by an image of the water properly exposed.. Merge the best parts of both photos and here you have a composite art work reconstructing the scene as I experienced it. The technology commonly in use today is inadequate to capture such a scene with this extreme dynamic range in a single frame.
In other words, I can take a good photo of the moon and see nothing in the water. I can take a photo of the ripples in the water but the moon is bright white. The only way to see the scene the way my eyes did, is to merge those digital images. Human eyes see a wider dynamic range than do cameras thus far in their development. I could see this very well except it was pretty far away. Technology is chasing the 21 F-stops the human eye can discern where as the best cameras I can afford will give you 15 F-stops dynamic range.
I figure in 5 or 6 years and as many generations of chips I will be able to do this in camera. It was very cool to have this all line up though. Getting topography and Celestial objects to cooperate is a once a year thing at best when weather cooperates. I was back about 400 yards for this from the wind driven choppy water. Because it’s a composite, technically this is ART imitating an actual scene. 600mm F-4 lens. At f-11.
I know this is a very dark image but it was very dark. Late Civil Twilight at dusk. What? You think T-rex only ate during the day? 😜 Yearning for some cheese I’m thinking.
Here the background narrative here is that we here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch use a “Way back Machine” (time travel) I acquired on e-bay. The estate of Mr. Peabody was disposing of it. (The 1960’s cartoon). So I sent a couple of pokes back to the end of the Cretaceous after tinkering with the machine for weeks. Got it working.. It’s hard to get all those old tubes and electrolytic’s they used back then. Lots of dust too… (Years old discussion)…👅
So we saved the moon 66 million years ago but I understand someone stepped on a butterfly. (You can be my friend if you know that reference. ). 🤘
The Plasma-Cut metal art over the Ranches “Gate 1” has been the cooperative subject of many a yarn woven into my art. It has been the subject of many a photographer over the decades since it’s inception. I created the image on my computer in photoshop (drawing). Then I had a file sent to someone who utilized computer controlled plasma-cutting of metal. This angle however is silly close to the previously mentioned foreground gate art. To have both objects in the same focal field takes some “manipulation” of the settings in manual mode. This was hand held as is most of my work. I’d say I use a tripod once a week for 5 minutes. I do use a truck window to steady a camera from the driver seat most the time. (Rested camera). I also use rocks to rest a camera. 📷