Commonly known as a “Mock Sun” or “Sun Dog, this is a Parhelian or “Mock Sun” It occurs at 22 degrees angle from the sun. There are many manifestations of this. I’ve only seen one better Parhelian off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area. At the Village in Jackson Hole mid winter back in the 90’s. This capture was a few miles back in the backcountry while I was driving parallel ridges for that mornings sunrise. This images sits on the border between Montana and Wyoming with both states ground and sky in the image. I never know what I’m going to run into when I go out.
Caused by Reflection and Diffraction is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object. In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles – most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark, or colored bands. Here Hexagonal plates of ice are falling actively from the sky. You can actually see some of them like white dots on the image. Ice Hexagonal plates Frozen in Space and Time as they fell (literally and figuratively).
It was a cold subzero morning for this sky show. This ice was hazing up the whole sky but I actually drove into this from an area with no falling ice. POP and there was an entire Parhelion right in front of my camera. Slide to a stop, enjoy the view while the camera comes out of sleep, compose, set the final settings, focus and click. The image is about 60 degrees wide overall. Love the Lone tree sun filter.
The Big Horn Mountains 60 miles to the west supplied the sediment of this exposed section of Tullock Formation (Fm). Tullock Fm. consists of alluvial fan and swamp deposits all the way back to the mountains. Sediments washing off the newly risen peaks were filling up the coterminously formed sedimentary basin (Powder River Basin). The huge coal mines we have here are mining the coal formed in those swamps at the base of the Proto-BigHorn Mountains. Those mountains were much higher when they were young plus the basin was deeper.
Huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted and correspondingly downwarped during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.
Understanding the geology here takes many books to read, its a long list and growing 🤔😀📷
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, WYoming/Montana borderlands
Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1 mile out.
I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows like this 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.
You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.
When rain storms move over my homestead, I tend to get out in a vehicle and gain elevation to the ridges That is, assuming it’s not too muddy as I’ hesitate to scuff up my trails. In the warmer months when rain is possible, I’ll jump in my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV to run up the hill just looking for rainbows. I find that the ATV’s have a much lower impact on the native soils than do the pickups but the ATV’s beat me up much worse.
I put 3500 miles on that UTV in one year. doing back country photography. That is equivalent to one and a half times across the country. It definitely beat me up lol. . All of that milage on an ATV was mostly travel within a 20 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch with 99 percent of that NOT being on county roads. Almost all Two Track. . My old Jeep and now my new Ford F150 Raptor are higher P.S.I on the turf.
SO distinct windows of light are shafting down from the mostly veiled / occluded sun off off frame top left. The rays are lighting up some atmospheric moisture between here and the darker background as well. Of course there has to be cooperation from mother nature here. Shafts of light across a flat lit sky is not terribly common but to have all the rainbow angles line up with those shafts….. IT’s an interesting confluence of events for such a scene. I’ve never seen anything similar to this even spending some time looking at sky.as I do. This all taking place over “W” Butte 30 miles distant from my camera up in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.
Here is a Unique rainbow. I see a lot of variations on the classic arched colorful rainbows. There are doubles, very rare triples and quads, complete circles and regular arches. This one definitely stands out in my mind. When I climb up on the high ridges, I’m never sure what I’m going to find. When rain comes over us I start getting ready to go up hill. IF the sun comes out, there are always rainbows but their presentation is always in doubt.
This one certainly didn’t disappoint. What is going on? Well “Spotlighting” is a situation where clouds block all but individual shafts of light. Like a spotlight on a theatre production stage. With enough moisture in the air, even the individual shafts can be visible. They usually go unnoticed on their own. You can clearly see the shaft coming in from the upper left. They are pointing directly at “W” Butte 30 miles distant from my cameras location in Wyoming.
Shooting across the Wyoming / Montana border here up into Montana. “W” butte is a well known Landmark and a wonderful site for the communication tower that is there. I personally have never seen this phenomena before and I see a LOT of rainbows. I never know what I’m going to find when I go up into the backcountry. The 180 mile across horizon to horizon Sky doesn’t hide it’s secrets from me very much 🤔👀📸
Double Back Country Rainbow (late summer Golden Hour, just 6 months out of season..)
Can you smell the wet sage and the ozone yet? Hear the distant rumbles of the thunder? As this HUGE MesoCyclone sitting over the whole northeast corner of the Wyoming and the southeast corner of Montana. This storm certainly spans the MT/WY border and probably is over in South Dakota as well. You can just see the edge of it to right frame. These big 40,000 foot high storms can be 100 miles across. Big spinning tops of a thunderstorm is a good way of thinking about MesoCyclones. They are the way we get most of our summer rain. Having moved over us the unfettered sun really popped in the refractions going on within the raindrops in the far distance. I’d estimate that rainbow is 1/2 mile out.
I see a lot of rainbows as I actually go to work after rain showers move through. It makes for a “Trip up on Ridge 1”. You know… go up the hill to see what is going on to the east. I see afternoon rainbows 10 to 1 over morning rainbows historically. Rainbows will move as you move. If I could have gained say 1000 feet in elevation magically I would have seen a full circle rainbow. A drone footage of a rainbow would show a big circle/halo of color. You see this with the 22 degree halos around the sun/moon. But rainbow alway present behind you when your facing he sun/moon. They are always down stream so to speak.
You might also notice that the order of color ROYGBIV is reversed to VIBGYOR on the double component of this twin rainbow.
This captured during a rare trip to Gillette for a medical checkup. I came out of my Dr’s office only to have this scene in front of me. This is a Gillette Owned Christmas Star up on a high hill overlooking the city. Personally I think it’s a secret gov’t project to get us to look up at that hill top. Sort of a “Men in Black” “Flashy thing” lolol. What DO I know. I’m just an observer during the day. I try to get out of town before nightfall. The road home is a gauntlet of deer on the road . Most nights I come across a half dozen groups crossing the road in front of me . It’s a 70 mile trip home so there is plenty of ground to cover.
I spend a lot of money on bumpers and lights for the time I do spend driving at night. Deer hits are a real thing in this country. My road work is mostly early morning chasing sunrise light on backcountry roads. This particular day in town was undertaken / initiated during twilight travel. I of course worked the trip to town photographically driving through the ThunderBasin Grasslands. Road Time is good photographic time in my experience. You cover a lot of ground. Slowing down a bit helps to actually tune in to what’s going on around you. 70mph is too fast to see around you let alone stop before that “Hawk on the post” flies away…
Speed limit on the gravel backcountry roads is 45 mph. 👀 There are lots of moving brown or black speed bumps to keep you honest…
JUST as the sun came up, lighting up that 15 mile distant ridge. Bright sunlight was about 10 feet over my head at the time. Less than aminute before I was lit up by the sun for my timeline.. In the distance the bright was working it’s way down the hill sides. The rain in the distance was far enough away to be a worth telephoto image. I was well over 200 yards out from Momma Angus to get her in focus along with the background with this long lens. Distance is your friend.
OK, another F-stop discussion…. High F-stop numbers take away a LOT of light from your light capture boxes. (camera). The higher the number, the smaller the hole in the lens for light to travel through. At the same time you make that hole smaller by turning up the F-stop number, you are thickening the “depth of field” focus depth. F-stop becomes a double edged sword. You can open up the aperture (turn down the f-stop number) and get a lot more light versus a pin hole at maximum fstop setting. But you loose depth of field/focus depth) So Bigger hole in the lens= shallow depth of field but a lot of light. A smaller hole in the aperture means less light but it gives you the ability to focus on things close AND far at the same time.
SO, you have to compensate for HIGH f stop numbers by adjusting the other two settings. Turning up camera sensitivity (ISO) boosts what little light that comes through a small hole in the lens. IT’s a double edge sword too though. More Camera Sensitivity (higher ISO) will give you a grainy image and introduce color noise. Speckles and big grain are not desirable so moderation is necessary.
Lastly you have shutter speed. Slower than 100th of a second you risk blurring the cow. Any movement from her would blur under longer exposures. Rule of thumb is 1/100th for minimum handheld telephoto (rested).
Volcanic Rainbow Turtle Butte (a little out of season).
Rainstorms were moving through the area this late fall day. This was before the first frosts. That seems a long time ago sequestered in the house most of the day. Various levels of Cabin Fever begins to creep into your psyche. Most ranchers get outside enough and maybe some light to keep them sane. A lot of times their wives go first unless they get out too. You’ve got to get some sunlight during the winter.
Sort of a cheap “Skittles™| knock off I’m thinking lolol. Rainbows are not fixed objects but will move as you move across the landscape. (Did you know that?). If you jump in a car and stay sunward of rain shafts in sunlight, you’ll have a moving rainbow. So to find the place to line this up you have to travel. I’m glad the Sun wasn’t much right (behind me) as I would have run out of ridge and gone over a cliff lolol. That has happened to more than few photographers
I all that conical / pyramidal butte “Turtle Butte”. In this late summer shot, you can see the normally mild mannered wanna be volcano, spew rainbows everywhere. Now we know where all the rainbows came from. They sky is stocking up. Makes sense. That butte is EXACTLY on the Wyoming/Montana border. That border is PRECISELY 1/2 way in between the Equator and the North Pole.
Well it’s time to start the gold mine because I know there’s more that one “pot o’ gold there’. I’ve seen numerous rainbows on that ridge…. Just saying… I’ve got the entrance all engineered out and ready to get the timber for. I figure if this isn’t a pretty durn close location for that gold mine, I don’t know where is. I wonder if Amazon delivers timber for mines? I’m sure the UPS driver wouldn’t mind.
Running with it
Microscopic gold is actually mixed in with the Hell Creek Sand. Tons of it on my ranch. You’d go broke mining it but it’s there. The term “Diffuse” applies to the tiny particles of gold. After all, all things end up in the sea. This ground is built of sediment temporarily paused. Stopped between stutter steps to the ocean. Now gone mountains west of us provided the sand, transported eventually to be laid down here now hardened to bedrock. (Mountains eroded long before the Big Horns rose. Those eroded mountains spread as sand across the continents surface as Hell Creek/Lance. Those ancestral mountains are long since history. But their substance remains in transit to the sea along with all the “Whiskey” I’ve ever swallowed.😜 As I say, all things end up there. w
What I’ve done here is take a very long lens and zoom up on the right leg of a particularly well lit rainbow. It was a ways out anyway as this is a 1200mm lens about about a mile distant from the lens. Rainbows WAY out there are a requirement for this kind of image. Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena.
Location: Biss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are 4 arcs here in this image but that second wheel was hard to work into this lol. I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has a few 👀📸
IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. I don’t like to squish around in the mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol.
Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow”
Science of this:
Here you can see a fainter secondary rainbow above and to the left of the primary rainbow. The primary rainbow is caused from one possible reflection inside the water droplet. The secondary rainbow is caused by a secondary reflection inside the droplet, and this “re-reflected” light exits the drop at a greater angle (50° instead of 42° for the red, deeper hued primary bow). This is why the secondary rainbow appears above the primary rainbow. The secondary rainbow also has the order of the colors reversed as well with red on the bottom and violet on the top. ROYGBIV to VIBGYOR 😜📷
What’s good about temperature inversions? Rainbows in winter that’s what. Snow below, raining above 👀📷 There is no such things as a snow bow like this. Rain ..
That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The trees in the foreground are well in Wyoming. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.
Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… I also doubt he saw Winter Rainbows over that Butte. I’m still trying to figure out where the 7th’s calvary’s pay (in gold) was stashed.
That is a sheet rainbow caused by liquid water drops. They were refracting colors out of the bright sunlight at the end of this winter day. IT was freezing cold at the surface around 20 degrees. suspect it is not a common phenomena as I’ve never seen one before. It had been dark all day and just toward the end we got some sun. I climbed the nearest ridge and dropped my jaw. Good thing I remembered to pick it up and captures those reflected/refracted photons in my photon capture box. (camera).
This big old sun dog happened one cool sub-zero morning. Ice crystals refracting light were falling out of the air in front of my camera everywhere. All the white speckles are ice crystals close to the camera. I was just driving along a high ridge as is my typical backcountry drive. It suddenly appeared as I was driving along. The ice fall moved over me.
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Alternately, refraction from drifting in freezing moist air at low levels as diamond dust as here. Those “mock suns’ are from the aforementioned “Diamond Dust”. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was VERY bright.
This half circle halo is 22 degrees from the sun. These 22 degree refractions are present with and without mock suns in my experience. This particular Sundog even has a sun pillar above AND below the sun itself. Pillars develop as a result of ice crystals slowly falling through the air, reflecting the sun’s rays off of their hexagonal flat surfaces.
I’ve only seen one better sundog off the face of the Jackson Hole Ski area at the Village mid winter back in the 90’s. This was a few miles back in the backcountry pretty much across the border with sky in both Montana and Wyoming. .
This 22 Degree Halo Perspective is a really gold colored on in my experience.
I’ve seen them white before like the clouds on the right but the mid-golden hour lighting seemed amazing to me. Click The halo is actually a transmissive rainbow of sorts. Most rainbows are reflective with the sun behind you and the. This 22 degree Halo is between the sun and you.
Sun Halo’s are not uncommon but you have to look at the sun to seen them which can be a bright thing,. Usually you have to squint eyes then block the sun with your hand to resolve them against the glare. The discussion on what a sun halo is caused by would be about 300 words so I’ll leave that for another day…..
The ranch gate here I framed quite formally with a very wide (120 degree) 10mm lens. It’s a precise frame to the Landscape/ 2×3 aspect of this capture. Done in the camera not really in the crop as this is a full sized 2×3 feet image at high resolution.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual)
Your lenses will differ but this lens focuses as close as one foot . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera. Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). Google f-stop and learn what it means (if your trying to learn how to use your camera. (I buy some lenses based on how close they focus at a minimum. There are ways to shorten focus distances but there are problems with that too lol.
Spanning the Montana/Wyoming border with Montana on the left, this backcountry rainbow was fun the other day.. This little storm got me quite wet. The cameras where a challenge to keep dry for this one. Had to wipe a lot of lenses lol.
So Taking a photo of a Blurred Windmill during the day with amazingly divergent Rainbow Twins behind, and a totally random lightning strike hits just as you hit the shutter… Priceless lolol. I swear this is not a composite and is an unmolested image. Filed under totally random things that happen if you press the shutter button enough. Technically the lightning photobombed “Sneaky Pete” the windmill who is the champion photobombing windmill of all times. I have no control over his actions 😂 . I certainly didn’t have a lightning trigger on this camera (I own and use 2 of them WHEN I work lightning). I was taking a double rainbow lolol. Flash boom.
Good Morning from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch
The rainbow off of Lookout Butte the other day was nice to see. When it rains and the sun comes out, I automatically run up the hill to get the rainbow that is almost alway there to greet me.
When there is only Red Light Late in the sunset, this resultant Red Rainbow backs up “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. I have no control over his actions. He and his brother “Re Pete” the windmill photobomb my landscapes all the time. I have no control over their actions…😂
The left leg is definitely in Montana, the right leg no doubt in Wyoming.
I’m pretty sure that’s a rain or hail shaft NOT an anticrepuscular ray. Hard to know but I definitely got rain in my Jeeps window on this one :).
Looking through the rainbow is a difficult thing to do. At several miles out, this left leg of this rainbow was an effective filter for the landscape beyond. It gave me a whole new appreciation of this process .
I’ll be hit or miss on posting the next few days but I’m starting to figure out the software side of this gallery thing… . We are still having some bugs.
Have a great Sunday Night and I’m just happy to be able to post after my first weekend miss in several years.. :).