I have to admit that I need to pay more attention to that sign. All that bird poop on the top of the post is relevant to a photographer. It tells me I need to park nearby with a big long lens for an hour. I bet meadowlarks hang out here.
This is a member of my “Right Turn Clyde” series. These all have a right turn sign involved and nature cooperating with it. The name of course is a reference to the 1978-80 Clint Eastwood movie’s. Those are “Any Which Way you Can” and Any Which Way but Loose”. The Orangutang “Clyde” when told “Right turn Clyde” signals with is huge arm. This usually busting someone in the chin that needs a good punch. Set in Jackson Wyoming at times, a great film but I digress.
So the rainbow was a vibrant one for sure lol. If I ever talk about ridge 2 that is the place I’m referring to. It takes me a few miles of backcountry travel on two track roads to get up there. There must be that pot o’ gold around somewhere…. 😜
The path to the top of that ridge is tortuously bumpy. IT’s not a good path just after it rained either as this rainbow implies. There is too much bentonitic mud (“gumbo”). I try not to destroy two track paths if muddy. I just don’t go out off county roads or well graveled private roads after a rain. Nothing like driving on a knife edge ridge in a pickup after a rain lololol.
Getting into position on parallel ridges is certainly a challenge early in the morning. In the evening as this, it’s relatively easy to get there. It’s finding your way back that is the challenge. Role reversal almost across the board. As soon as the sun sets behind that ridge, the whole valley I have to travel into is into dusk and darker environments. Reversing the order of events between a sunset and a sunrise seems to be a universal constant with a few contrarian natural occurrences about.
Sunrise/Sunset. (classical reference intended). For one we rise, the other we set to bed . In a similar vein, it’s hard to get there in the morning and hard to get back at night. “En revanche mon ami”. Unlike humans, the horizon rises at night. However, if you look, in the morning the horizon drops downward in the morning. The Full Moon sets in the morning and rises at night. A lot of events seem to happen right at those two times. It must be a coincidence, or perhaps an ancient biological dependance on the cycle. Just a few more gears driving the wheel of life.
The coming of the light and the departure. It is the appreciation of the process that adds so much to the overall experience I enjoy with this work. I use the term “Terminator Crossing” to describe both sunrise and sunset in one word. If you have never heard of “Terminator” except in connection with “the future is not set” and Arnold, time to google Terminator. You see the Terminator on the moon all the time.
When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.
Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.
If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.
Pretty up close and personal. She will get fat on Sweet Clover if she doesn’t bleed out from all the Coumadin in the plant.
Just a taste the sweet clover the bees are so busy with at the moment. There is a LOT of sweet clover this biannual year when it appears in mass quantities. A California Honey Company sends out hives to harvest the pollen from billions of blossoms up here in Wyotana. We are paid in honey every year. About two cases lol. We do our best but it does store for ever. There are jars of honey from the Egyptian tombs that is still viable as a food source. The high clover makes it hard for me to go across open fields for fear of running over Pronghorn Fawns in the grass. I can’t see in front of me with it over the hood.
This female Pronghorn has the coolest ears ever. They remind me of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. I’ve never seen this on other antelope which have pointy ears. I have to assume it was frost bite when she was young. I also have a photo of this animal from behind at another location/time where those little extra points on it’s ears look like horns. I had to do a triple take to make the decision boy or girl. I couldn’t see the dark cheek patches on the other isolated photo which I was looking at out of context. Obviously the same animal, different time… I determined the other photographed animal a doe too. This one is certainly a Doe. I’m not sure what to call her but I’m thinking “Saavik”. (classical reference).
I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow. A classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun is over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This will be the longest day of the year. It was a beautiful morning.
Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of. I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.
This late spring, the grass is not that high yet as it’s starting as a dry year. It may appear this Pregnant Pronghorn Doe was standing in high grass. Nope.. If you look carefully, you can see her hind leg folded up as she is actually bedded down. Also she would stand well over the Yucca right behind her. She rests unafraid of my presence. I actually thought she was standing while watching live in the camera. After a few minutes she didn’t move anything but her head I figured that out lol. That head is on a constant swivel as all Pronghorn practice situational awareness routinely. In my experience, they are on situation Orange most of the time and go red at a pin dropping. She can go from 0 to 60 even while pregnant as here though I suspect 50 might be her top speed capability in her “sensitive” condition.
Setting aside very difficult to capture Pronghorn Eyelash close shots of wild animals, the Holy Grail of Pronghorn Photography are bedded animals. Certainly I use long lenses that bring creatures up close and personal. However this was intended as a landscape composition that happened to have a Pronghorn in it lolol. I can’t tally all the things that have to align just so to get a capture like this. The layers of this composition are many (I count 9) which I LOVE to find while randomly driving along remote two track roads. I find new angles every time I go out here in Wyotana. This country is beautiful every which way you look.
This road actually does lead to right about where that rainbow touches down in a round about way. I followed this storm for some time. It’s actually a double rainbow but you have to look. The orders of colors reverse themselves in a double rainbow. This is all about the composition though having the rainbow is a nice spiff eh? 😀 📷
There are literally thousands of miles of backcountry county roads here. County road surface upkeep is highly variable from place to place. Some roads in this area are better maintained than others lolol. The quality of the roads certainly depends on how much revenue flows to the Road and Bridge Dept. in the particular county your driving through. Within 15 miles of my ranch I can drive into 2 different states and 4 counties. (2 in each state). Each has it’s own road department and quirks of road quality.. I haveexperience on my own ranch buying gravel for driveways. A single semi pulling a trailer full of gravel is expensive. Delivered to my place is around 900 dollars. Most of the expense is the distance. Imagine how many truck fulls of gravel it took to cover thousands of miles of roads here in the backcountry.
This is a road that is indeed very well maintained. Advice to the wise planning on driving off the Interstate onto the back road system of Wyotana. Have Tire repair kits, good spare(s) lots of steel in your sidewalls of your tires, lots of gas, supplies for a week and generally a hard map, GPS and satellite phone in your kit. Go nowhere without several days of water in your vehicle. That is if you get off the highways. You need to add a lot more defensive gear these days to drive on the Interstates lolol.
As I travel across our ranch, the song these guys sing fill the air during the warmer months. I do miss them during the cold months. There is too much snow for them to cope with now. Most of the grass would be covered by the white blanket. The composition was an obvious and not unwelcome deviation from my normal eyebrow close images of the wonderful little bird.
This seems to be a popular well aged cedar post with all the white decorations sitting on the top. When ever you have many acres of birds with one taller post, it is going to be used as “THE” perch. This one is well used or so it appears lol.
These little guys are hit or miss approaching them. All of my Meadowlark Captures are random encounters as I drive around my ranch. I’m not putting out traditional bird feeders around my homestead as my 6 barn cats would make short work of that. I do feed any comers certainly but chickens/ducks intentionally out in our barnyard when I feed our flocks. About 5 gallons of feed a day goes to my barnyard flock donating about 1/2 a gallon of it to who ever else comes by lolol. There are a lot of freeloaders eating off that feed trough. I can’t blame them.
The Meadowlarks are mostly insect eaters and tend to head south with the weather. Seeing these guys is a sure sign of spring but I seldom see them in the barn yard. It’s going to be a grasshopper year, I am afraid so they should be well fed. 🤘📷
Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. Those tree branches are very close for a telephoto perspective. I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy feathery cloud color gradient already on a remote high ridge.
Getting around in the backcountry during early twilight: Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation here. Everything else locally is lower. Having said that, we are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). I have to leave considerably before sunrise to get up to an eagles view location as this.. I extend my horizon to 50 miles to the east if I climb the right peaks. This ridge named by me as “Sunrise Ridge” but usually because I’m taking pictures of the sunrise OVER this ridge. Not FROM this ridge as this captured moment in space time presents. IT’s a way’s out from my homestead driving 2 track roads in the dark. I have excellent lights on my F-150 Raptor though.
The Dark Orange Alpenglow is caused by ice that like a gel filter on a theatrical stage, colors all behind it. This is the cause of the color reflected of those feathery wisps of a cloud deck. Photography from the remainder of this timeline was equally as good. Eventually, most twilights gradually taper to a blue morning as the suns light was higher and less filtered by the atmosphere. Blue light invades, shadows ignite with detail and dynamic range. This was early in twilight, about 20 minutes before sunrise that May morning.
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.
All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.
Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜
Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.
Textures are revealed within the grain of the 80+ year old weathered wood. The Old Buck wagon is holding a place of honor (in his mind) a mile out from our homestead in our “boneyard”. It shares residence there with a host of other ranch utilitarian items deemed too important a resource to bury. The custom of the early days of pioneering in this country was typically to toss broken / un-fixable things into a nearby gully and call it good. Cracked cast iron with a mix of glass bottles in the mix. Some of the latter I do find intact from a known 1930’s homestead long since gone.
I’ve found abandoned two track roads leading to collapsed dug out houses in this country. Many have come before us in this high harsh ridge line environment. Life is easier down in the river valleys. Land was relatively free far from the electric grid and telephone in this remote high ground in the backcountry of Wyotana. Wagons as this were a critical technology that provided a lifeline to civilization. Providing ultimately all the products broken and discarded into the aforementioned nearby gully.
These wheels turned until they didn’t. Existing parked here a decade of decades. Now cattle rub against it, eventually breaking each and every piece of this historic relic. Living on a ranch in a semi-arid “steppe” environment preserves wood. Living with cattle on the ranch, destroys wood. The steel fittings last on. Wood to dust, steel to rust is the way of things.
With the addition of a single brush stroke thusly a forked tongue. The silhouette comes to life as the original namers of this landform imagines. I See that rattle snake certainly. Now the story is that a rattle snake den was blown up there in the 1970’s by the owner of our ranch that apparently enjoyed the use of dynamite. In the 1970’s if you owned land in Wyoming/Montana you could easily obtain dynamite for moving stumps, breaking rocks or any other legal purpose. I’m pretty sure it’s fairly difficult to obtain. Just the storage requirements would cost 6 grand (educated estimate).
The problem with Pareidolia (seeing shapes from random data) is that it is often multif-acted and complex. The snake head silhouette could also be a sedan doing a “burn out” spinning it’s tires smoke trailing behind. So many perceived shapes in random silhouettes. The shark above the snake’s head in the clouds actually has teeth under it’s snout. I can also imagine several variations of the upper dark clouds too but I’ll leave the rest for you to sort out in your own anthromorphizing moments.
The twilight that night from a veiled cloud was just adding layers of makeup to an already golden/orange alpenglow evening. We get alpenglow every month of the year as frozen ice in the atmosphere is fairly common in this region. There are BIG sunsets/Sunrises in Wyotana sharing both Montana AND Wyoming skies.
The science of this is a little complex but here it goes. The light source is the late day setting sun but bouncing off my back Ford Raptors hood…you know…glare..😎 That bounce is important though in getting the photo as it effects the light…
The reason you guys buy polarized sun glasses is due to that reflection. When sunlight hits the hood, the light bounces off with a majority of it being horizontally polarized. Mostly all those reflected light waves are in the same plane, not a bunch of randomly oriented waves. The sunglasses you buy are plastic lenses with all vertical lines which only allow in light that is vertically polarized. This blocks all the glare horizontally oriented.
SO that is called “Crossed Polarizers”. A double filter as it were. Take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and cross them at 90 degrees and try to look through them…. They go totally black.
NOW put something between the source of the polarized light (either the hood or the first pair of sunglasses). I used here a delicate transparent feather that will pass light…. It bends/ refracts light a little bit out of that horizontal plane so some of it makes it through the second filter this side of the feather. So you see the colors as a direct result of a single polarizing filter on my lens (hand held and rotated), the camera on a tripod and pre focused. F22, ISO 300 and 1/100th to get your camera close .. It was very bright but the filter cut out 80 percent of the light but you can change that by rotating the back filter…. . 90mm macro.
An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)
A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.
Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….
We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.
These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.
“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘
Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below.
This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. Differential erosion leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen.
Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos or read the text. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀. I digress,
Enjoying a veiled sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report or an occasional zinnnng…. . Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.
(May 2020, third/last supermoon of the year) I was fortunate to have worked them all. This month I only had one opportunity to work it against the landscape. I have 4 quality images from this month’s full moon which is about par for the course. Without a doubt this image is the best one I have obtained from this combination.
This one is somewhat similar to others I’ve taken and I’ve shot this tree many times as it’s only a mile from my driveway. However the burgundy (muted pink light) alpenglow, details in the dark and the dynamic range of this one makes my heart pitty pat… 📸📸
I’ve taken a few photos of this tree in front of various astronomic occurrences. It is indeed a lone tree on that position about 1000 yards away from where I took this image.
Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon. This makes using Tripods very difficult as you have a moving target. Maybe a monopod. This however was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree.
Practicing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other tripping over sage. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.Bear with me as capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a serious challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this. This composition is a tough one to capture in this low light/long focal field combination. 📸
2×3 aspect to 3 feet. Rested 1200 mm lens on “Clever Girl’s” drivers window.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
There are actually several models/makers of this and similar vaneless windmill that this one could be. I’m not sure which it is positively…
Windmill technology had been around since 200 BC in China. By the 11th century with big mills in Europe. To grind grain and drain swamps were their main use. The technology brought into Europe by the Crusaders returning home. By the 1700’s the industrial revolution using water and eventually steam power reduced their use considerably. (Notable exception for the dutch). But in the Early 1800’s the new settlers to the Great Plains of America had a use for the wind engines. The Emigrants from Europe brought wind power with them. The western frontier provided a crucible. Upon which the technology constantly proved it’s merit. Pumping water was it’s task.
In the American West, settlers used wind to do work and conquer the land that otherwise would be marginal without a water source for stock. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, small wind generated water wells were ubiquitous across the country. Almost as numerous as the mills were the companies manufacturing them great and small.
As rural electrification proceeded the number of Windmill’s declined starting in the 1930’s. We used a windmill in a remote pasture until 2006. We ran a water pipeline from an electric well about 2 miles to it. There is also a solar powered well on our ranch.
Talk about a long landscape.. This is a VERY long shot… The Pronghorn here (all Males) are traveling but were nice enough to frame themselves at this remote ranch gate. The first ridge out in the “Prairie Dog Hills” is 10 miles distant from my camera. The “Red Hills” off in the distance are 40 miles away from the lens.
It’s obvious that Spring has Sprung. The grass is turning green. It is rocket fuel for the animals that have been eating brown grass all winter. Green season is one of birth and new growth up in a harsh country of long winters and frozen climate. These males survived the long winter this year.
Under this lighting condition, I was lucky to get as much detail as I did. The effect of extreme distance is with a REALLY long telephoto, is that even objects a mile away are in a different focal plain that the distant mountains. I had to resort to a low F-stop number to open up the aperture in the lens to let way more light in. The dark conditions just before the sunrise were such that deep focus was not an option while still capturing moving animals with no blur. I had to cave into the light and use the evil low f-stop number for a long shot. I really don’t like to do that. Rule #2 of Photography is to : “Get the Photo”.
In early morning light, I got this silly capture the other day out in the small herd of Corriente’ cattle that let us live here. This old Spanish breed generates individual cows that are each their own character in a circus skit. Being no exception, this 4 year old mother to be has the physical limitations of not having fingers to reach in there and yank that cactus spine out of there. (I’m just guessing it was a sticker but certainly it might have been some NASTY tasting plant). Alternately, she was probably just telling me what she thought about having a long lens pointed at her.
I was working photographically this “lick after lick after lick” scenario for a few minutes anyway. I’m never sure how long some timelines occur over as a time warp surrounds me during camera clicks. I try to train myself NOT to have tunnel vision particularly when shooting pistols and cameras. Going focus forward (tunnel vision) situation will cause you miss things going on around you. I wasn’t looking for this while working a mother and calf about 70 degrees to the right. In my peripheral vision I saw a motion, got it. Rule 1.1 of photography: Have a camera with you.📸📸
This was actually framed live this precisely with the horns JUST fitting into the frame IN the camera not cropped after the fact. The problems using a fixed (non-zoom) lens is that you have to move back to make the subject fit into the frame. Usually by the time you move, the opportunity is toast. Rule 1.2 of photography: Get the picture… 📸📸
I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a flat. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 70 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year. The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years at least for this isolated survivor. The county road continues for miles on in this huge backcountry. Traveling interstate makes you miss scenes like this. With a 45 mph rural speed limit, you might take a while to do the cross country on these roads so plan accordingly. 😀👀
A Cottonwood Tree grows in a wet area but will put roots deep into the ground. I haven’t done a ring count on this tree but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Cottonwoods here are easily hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge Cottonwood, about 40 feet high but very wide for it’s height. It HAS to be lonely in it’s obscurity along this long passage in the fabled middle of nowhere. The nearest stoplight in any direction to this spot is around 65 miles.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1900 when this area was first settled
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace an unveiled sun is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Anything to reduce the light into the camera (filter).
Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Working cameras, my mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun to start with. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a star shape into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps operating a camera outside that normal envelope.
Any attempt at a photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
(Illusion of a Tsunami wave coming into the shore but it’s all clouds)
Getting just the right angle toward a sunset with the foreground is a challenge sometimes. I wander the hills sides and ridge tops of the remote borderlands of Montana/Wyoming. I the the big distances in either an UTV (Polaris Ranger Crew) or my Ford Raptor F-150. The distances in this area are such that covering a lot of ground is a necessity to find these locations. I always ride to the distant ridge but usually am walking around for the duration of what ever event I’m photographing. My timelines smoothly go from mounted to unmounted captures.
By walking or riding along parallel ridges, I’m able to see first and quickly compose these scenes. As I’ve always said, if I can see it in my environment, I generally can capture the scene in these high tech photon traps I use.
Looking into the sun is an “edge of the envelope” activity that is best left to mirrorless cameras as I use. DSLR cameras are dangerous to do this with as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. Mirrorless cameras have a video screen inside of the eye piece viewer. There is NO direct light path to blind you with concentrated light from the lens. Please don’t try this with a DSLR camera. You CAN capture this with a DSLR but you have to do it without looking through the camera WHILE you are taking the image. Set up your rig before you point and don’t look through your DSLR camera at the sun…
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. Here I actually walked to the ridge top to work this visual tunnel.
There is SO much going on here. Looking through a tunnel but what to what light at the end lol ?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge towards the sun. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too. Gotta love yellow late afternoon Alpenglow…
I am fortunate to use technology that lets me evaluate the wonder of such scenes. I see live real time images as this in my view finder. Mirrorless cameras are WONDERFUL that way. You couldn’t even look at your focus with a DSLR camera without risking your eyesight. Bright scenes and DSLR are not usually good friends.. If you don’t know the difference between the two camera types, it’s time to do some homework. Particularly if your considering a purchase. I now consider DLSR cameras as the “Beta Max” of the current production camera world.📸
With perfect light, these three cooperated for a “sitting” for my telephoto. I was sitting about 50 yards out from them in my Ford Raptor and was SLOWLY working my way toward them. I take images as I approach, stop, move a little closer, take some more and so on until I get the full frame image I was looking for. Now it always doesn’t work for me with Pronghorn being as spooky as animals come. The only way I can get this close is by working up to them.
Boy are they Pregnant each and all. Last year was a very good year for precipitation. I never had to start my fire truck (second time in 20 years). So I’m thinking that 2 out of three (right two) probably have twins in the oven. It’s still a while till they birth so I will be keeping my eye open for fawns in the grass when I travel before too long. Deer will birth sooner than the Pronghorn.
It’s that time of year of renewal up in the high country. The green grass is rocket fuel for many creatures. Must be wonderful after dried salads all winter for them. I don’t feel too sorry for Pronghorn since they eat a lot of sage brush lolo.. I suspect their diet is improving rapidly with the oncoming green. The brown season is waning. Long live the green season!☯
I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well but not usually in a lake. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere of course . A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling like parachutes hexagonal plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about twice the angle of your normal vision.
The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required for this to occur. The crystals, flat 6 sided plates all. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that a pillar 5-10 degrees pillar is not unusual. This is silly tall. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).
I arrived at this remote location about 5 minutes too late to get the sun on the lake. Mapped in my head now… 👀📸.
This is an 90 degree tall image. Almost straight up is top frame. HUGE tall pillar and pretty durn good dynamic range in this capture. To look into the furnace but still be able to make out the landscape ladder is extensive DR. Most cameras would show that as a black silhouette. Try it :).
Sun pillars are shafts of reflected light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.
I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is due to a 12mm lens wide lens.This is not quite 2 times again the subtended angle/width of view afforded by your normal vision at around 55mm would.
The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice positioned at a high angle are required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way/orientation due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read sunpillars 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).
Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.
This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.
Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.
On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.
Close far perspective:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. 📸
Taken a few days ago. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky orange around the glare of the sun placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp post. When taking such images, shutting down the camera to light is a necessity. The lens is an 28 inch long 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔
Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor and diffraction effects are rife. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun overwhelmed and diffracted around the branches. though. Makes it look like it on this side of the tree lolol.
I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field but will tend to cause those diffraction effects where the light wraps around and hides the branches.